Hurray for April. Yes, April is the ideal month to celebrate poetry, especially that poetry that raises the roof beams, making room for all the fresh, blooming air, pressing the bleak winter away while standing ankle high in mud puddles. Puddles are the playground for spring madness and feet soaked in gooey earth just like e. e. cummings said in his poem In Just:
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
Then came my senior year at Murrah High School, in 1965, with my great, good, four-leaf-cloverful luck having Bee Donley as my English teacher. She taught us that poetry mingled all the great issues of life in such a profound poem as Dylan Thomas’ The force that though the green fuse drives the flower (1934):
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
So as a young child I adored the pure innocence of e. e. cummings (not to mention the cool way he spelled his name in lower case). As a teenager, I was mesmerized by Ms. Donley’s eloquent teaching of Dylan Thomas and the depth and width and height of “real” life as captured in the great green force. Then as a mature adult (in years but not in heart), I was introduced to Mary Oliver at Lemuria mainly through our children’s manager at the time, Yvonne Rogers. Ms. Oliver became my official priestess of the higher arts, a word magician, and a most spiritual priestess who kindled the scared beauty of the earth and animals and filled my imagination with wonder as in this poem from her collection Dog Songs:
Every Dog’s Story by Mary Oliver
I have a bed, my very own.
It’s just my size.
And sometimes I like to sleep alone
with dreams inside my eyes.
But sometimes dreams are dark and wild and creepy
and I wake and am afraid, though I don’t know why.
But I’m no longer sleepy
and too slowly the hours go by.
So I climb on the bed where the light of the moon
is shining on your face
and I know it will be morning soon.
Everybody needs a safe place.