Early Evening Hours.

My early evenings after work and before dinner are usually spent alone, waiting for my husband to get home from his shift as a security officer. It's the perfect time of day to be alone, I think. The day's tensions slowly release their grasp around my shoulders, and I can cleanse myself of it all with a book and a glass of wine, or with my writing, or in doing the thing I've been meaning to do - tidy my side of the bedroom, change our sheets, clean the kitchen. 

In the quiet, I resist the twinge of loneliness, the urge to turn on the radio or watch television. If I wait long enough, let my ears adjust, I can hear the world unwinding with me. Our apartment sits near an industrial park, just past a busy highway and on the edge of a forest preserve. The trees muffle the sound of trains and planes and cars so that I can hear birds going wild with the sunset, calling to each other at the end of the day as the sun slips below the horizon. 

That sound, of birds, of rustling leaves, and that light, the long shadows of a day at its end, always reminds me that I am never alone, and the words of Mary Oliver and Walt Whitman meet me in that place of brief and whole contentedness...  

by Walt Whitman

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me — he complains of my gab and my loitering.  
I too am not a bit tamed — I too am untranslatable;  
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me;  
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds;  
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.  
I depart as air — I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;  
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;  
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.  
You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;  
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,  
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;  
Missing me one place, search another;  
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.



Sam said...

I challenge myself in the same way, Bethany, though I don't know if I'm as successful at it as you are. I need constant reminding to let my mind drift, and to let go of focus, so something can come to me.

and I am especially touched to see Leaves of Grass here. It has a special meaning to me ... and to anyone who has ever loved someone who "bequeathed themselves to the dirt".  Be patient. 

Bonnie Carrillo said...

Time spent at twilight one with nature I find humbling.  It truly is the most beautiful moment; your description is perfect.

Andrea Beltran said...

I love reading your posts, Bethany. They transport me. And thanks for the Mary Oliver poem. I need to read more of her poetry. Any specific collection you'd recommend?

Bethany Suckrow said...

Walt Whitman is one of my favorite poets, Sam. Yet another beloved author we have in common. ;)  His words are indeed touching - so vivid and bold. I love the way he uses language to connect humanity with the natural world. 
I first read this passage when I was in college and chose to recite it for a final project in my Oral Interpretation class. It's been a few years since I last read it, but returning to again in print, I was surprised at how new it felt, even though I remembered every word.

Bethany Suckrow said...

That is probably the best compliment I've received as a writer, Andrea. Thank you!
I haven't read a collection of Oliver's poems; I've found them through other collections, like Garrison Keillor's 'Good Poems' and by seeking out her work online. Keillor's book is one of my favorite collections, though. All its pages are dog-eared and love worn, and it never leaves my bedside. :)

Bethany Suckrow said...

It is humbling, isn't it? Humans are so apt to believe that the world is about them. One needs only be quiet and listen to nature for a moment to realize that "meanwhile the world goes on" like Oliver says in the poem I shared early this week. :)

Chris Ciolli said...

What a great post...it really transmitted that peaceful/lonely moment of time alone that all creative people need.

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