Today is Poetry at Work Day. I love my work and I love poetry, so this is clearly one of my favorite days.
You can read more about the day here, and while the stated “purpose” of this day is to recognize that poetry exists everywhere, and that there are poetic aspects of everything, including one’s work; I think it’s equally valid to simply take this opportunity to share some poetry while at work.
Of course I love and appreciate the “real” reason behind the day and am 100% on board with encouraging the world to look with eyes that see beyond the obvious and to take time to observe how things shift when we open the door to non-surface-y exploration.
But I like the idea, too, of simply sharing poetry with one’s community, which when at work is one’s work community. So I’m going to do a bit of both.
Because I believe in the power of sharing poetry and I share it a lot, I often get variations on the questions “What do you see in poetry?” or “How can I understand/see/appreciate poetry?” or “How do I look at the world with the eyes of a poet?” So, although, I don’t have a work community, I can easily imagine trying to answer these questions if I did.
Serendipitiously (which also happens to be part of the magic of poetry btw), yesterday I came across a poem that I think answers these questions perfectly, and would certainly be the one I’d choose to share at work today.
“How Can You Become a Poet?” by Eve Merriam
take the leaf of a tree
trace its exact shape
the outside edges
and the inner edges
memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
(and how the twig arches from the branch)
how it springs forth in April
how it is panoplied in July
by late August
crumple it in your hand
so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness
chew its woody stem
listen to its autumn rattle
watch it as it atomizes in the November air
then in winter
when there is no leaf left
Isn’t that a perfectly lovely poem? And a beautiful invitation to look at the world around you more deeply? Which turns out to be what I consider the very essence of what poetry offers. You can read more about Eve Merriam here.
My part of the world has been locked in a frigid winter embrace for a while now, and the trees have long bared and entered their winter dreaming time. But yesterday I couldn’t help but smile and wonder how the little tree next door has managed to hang on to every one of its now-dried-out-brown leaves as though it were fully clothed. It seems a little magical and I can’t help but imagine it has something to do with my slightly magical neighbors who have extraordinary green thumbs. I take inordinate delight in being in close vicinity to this mystical little tree.
Leaves have also been on my mind, as someone said to me the other day, as she neared her 30th birthday, how she was entering the autumn of her life. I thought that was an exceptionally curious way to feel, particularly since almost a decade ago a friend said the exact same thing when she turned 40. With this latest declaration I felt a door open, and I suspect one of the things I’ll be exploring more fully this year is society’s and my own ideas about aging.
But no matter where that exploration takes me, I have no doubt leaves will wind themselves into my language and symbology. They already have.
So tell me what you think Do you find anything poetic about your work? Discovered a poem that touched off an exploration for you? Are you willing to see magic around you? Do tell – you know I love to hear.