Friday, December 5, 2008


I've been wondering all day what and how much to post. I just got up off of Sophie's bed where I've been lying for a half hour or more, curled around her. She had had a bunch of seizures and I was trying to somehow breathe calm into her. When I closed my eyes I started reciting the Hail Mary prayer over and over but instead of saying "pray for us sinners," at the end I said, "pray for Sophie." I also visualized us, together, flying through the air and could swear that I saw something golden behind my shut eyes. What it was kept escaping me but I knew it had something to do with the words shook foil which I think is a line from a poem. But I'm not sure. It was a beautiful image.

So I had that to post but I really wanted to title the piece "Yams" because of a conversation I overheard last night while waiting for Mark Doty to read his poetry at the downtown public library. Mark Doty is one of my favorite writers of late -- his memoir Heaven's Coast is a touchstone for me, and I was thrilled to see him and listen to his poetry and wise, warm comments about poetry and life. But before the show started (and he read with two other poets), I sat in my seat and couldn't help but eavesdrop on the conversation behind me. I knew the women were on the edge of the end of middle age or already a few years into whatever comes after middle age. I knew this by the sound of their voices and later, when I looked, I was right. But I digress because here's the conversation I heard:

Lady #1: "I'm so sorry that we didn't make dinner beforehand."
Lady #2: "Oh, don't worry."
Lady #1: "No, I feel bad. Why don't you come over afterward for a yam?"
Lady #1 (again): "I had half a yam this afternoon but have the other half leftover. You can have the rest.
Lady #3: I do love a yam.

I found the image above on a google search, and weirdly enough it led me to a site called the Yam Art Museum. What are the chances of stumbling on something so strange and wonderful if I didn't have a blog?

And when I checked google for "shook foil," I got this which I knew I knew from somewhere:

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; Bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

- Gerald Manley Hopkins


  1. I love me some Gerald Manley Hopkins, just as I love me a good yarn. And that museum? I've heard of it!

  2. Overhearing conversations like that prove to me that God has a sense of humor.
    I hope your prayers gave Sophie some comfort.

  3. Poetry is such a beautiful mystery to me. And who doesn't love a yam? :)

  4. And now you send me back to re-read Hopkins . . .

  5. Elizabeth - I love the yam story. And I love it that you're writing so much. What a great blog! xxoo

  6. Vicki, thanks as always for responding!
    Julia, I'm with you on God and humor...
    Lisa, poetry IS a beautiful mystery -- such meaning in so few words
    Jeneva, I've always been more of a Herbert fan, but this poem is nice enough
    Barbara, I love this blogging thing and thanks for your comments!

  7. This blog is about the poetry OF mothering.
    You're on some kind of a roll here.



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