When I was in college, one of the required classes for English majors was “Introduction to Poetry.” One assignment was to write a sonnet, a challenging form under the best of circumstances. At the time, I had two small children and was working part-time in addition to taking classes. It seemed like there was never a moment to take a deep breath, let alone write a sonnet. The busyness of my life was my muse, and I ended up with a poem that included ringing telephones, crying children, and burnt food. (The poem itself is buried somewhere in my attic; count yourself as lucky that I didn’t have time dig it out of its cardboard sarcophagus.)
I thought about this poem last night while trying to decide what to share for Poetry Friday. Somehow, twenty-five years later, I’m as busy as ever. Last week, we were on our way to Pennsylvania for my niece’s wedding, and although I had an idea of what I wanted to share, I ran out of time and posted nothing. The same thing happened earlier in the week when it was time for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? and Tuesday’s Slice of Life.
This morning, I woke up determined to share a poem. I googled “poems about being busy” and found I’m not alone in my feelings of frustration at all there is to do. In “Notes on Distraction,” a wonderful post on The New Yorker blog, Giles Harvey writes about noticing a man glance at his watch during a performance of “Einstein on the Beach” as a “vignette of our contemporary busyness.”
Poet Marie Howe has captured this “contemporary busyness” in her poem, “Hurry.”
We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to?
read the rest of the poem here
This morning, I stood at my kitchen window for what seemed like minutes, just looking at a maple tree covered with yellow leaves glowing in the morning sun. It was lovely not to feel busy or rushed at that moment, even if it was just for a minute or two. I thought back to the closing lines of Harvey’s essay:
“In a world of speed and distraction, the slow, demanding art work is more indispensable than ever, for it holds out the possibility of those elusive commodities: stillness, clarity, and peace.”
Be sure to visit Diane at Random Noodling for today’s Poetry Round Up. You’ll be sure to find a moment of “stillness, clarity, and peace.”