December update (featuring a poem by Mark Jarman)

These are the gray days of early December, with stacks of papers and portfolios piling up to block the view.  I'm yearning to pick and trim a tree, to bake gingerbread cookies and read a book in front of the fireplace, but most of those things will have to wait until the last class is taught, until finals are given and grades are turned in. I know I'm not alone: this time of year it can feel like so much stands between us and celebration.  So today I want to share a poem I love by Mark Jarman, one that's all about celebrating--and finding the sacred--in the natural world.  Busy and distracted as we are, so much waits for us to notice it and give it a name, as Jarman does here:


Is this word truly fallen?  They say no.
For there's the new moon, there's the Milky Way.
There's the rattler with a wren's egg in its mouth,
And there's the panting rabbit they will eat.
They sing their wild hymn on the dark slope,
Reading the stars like notes of hilarious music.
Is this a fallen world?  How could it be?

And yet we're crying over the stars again
And over the uncertainty of death,
Which we suspect will divide us all forever.
I'm tired of those who broadcast their certainties,
Constantly on their cellphones to their redeemer.
Is this a fallen world?  For them it is.
But there's that starlit burst of animal laughter.

The day has sent its fires scattering.
The night has risen from its burning bed.
Our tears are proof that love is meant for life
and for the living.  And this chorus of praise,
Which the pet dogs of the neighborhood are answering
Nostalgically, invites our answer, too.
Is this a fallen world?  How could it be?

And can I just add that "the night has risen from its burning bed" is one of my favorite lines of poetry ever?


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