On deep sworn vows, and time

Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.

When I first read W.B Yeats' poem A Deep-sworn Vow back in my late teens, I loved it straightaway -- and re-read it so often that it became committed to my memory.

Back then, I was probably most attracted to the author's solid position in the glamorous state of unrequited love. He is clearly still pining for this person, but he's sticking to his principles and cutting off contact after having been wronged in some way.

But reading the poem today -- at an age that's a few years past those fervent dig-in-your-heels beliefs often held in the heat of youth -- all I can think is that I hope Yeats eventually did reconnect with the subject of A Deep-sworn Vow. The people who affect you that deeply, those who occur to you in vino and in dreams, are often the ones worth forgiving (or at least being on speaking terms with) in this short life.

A point I can steer toward

"...this father-friend
who liked to show me the shape I would become
rather than cutting my edges so I could fit a preferred cast more to his liking
since it seemed what he liked best was to recognize native clay
solid in its mystery
and observe how its wonder was synecdoche for the indescribable majesty of
its being observed by someone.

Hard to believe
he will no longer age
as I continue changing
growing strange to whatever I once was.

But he’s growing still
as something like light in me and my family
and as I feel tossed lightly and dropped suddenly
living as we all do
like a dinghy in a vast sea
I know there’s a point
I can steer toward
since his life will be my lighthouse
so that I’ll always know how to go home."

--An excerpt from the truly wonderful eulogy to his father Chris Wetherell posted on his blog last week.

The absence of the witch


For a while I've wanted to share what is, hands-down, my favorite Emily Dickinson poem. For those who claim to need a translator to read poetry (ahem, B) here's a six-word summary: It's about love, loss, and eternity.

I've had my hands full lately with lots of fun stuff: traveling to see family and friends, trying to stay abreast of Ookoo work, and starting a new and exciting reporting job. Here's hoping you still have love for this witch, even when I've been absent from your blog feed for a couple weeks.
Long Years apart can make no
Breach a second cannot fill--
The absence of the Witch does not
Invalidate the spell--
The embers of a Thousand Years
Uncovered by the Hand
That fondled them when they were Fire
Will stir and understand.

The imminent light you offer

Forget about your shoes; people will judge
you by your shine, the imminent light you offer them.

Be a lamppost in wilderness, be the elephant
in the showroom.

--from the Jeannine Hall Gailey poem "I Forgot to Tell You the Most Important Part"

I'm reprinting this bit of the poem in earnest, but Hall Gailey may have been poking a bit of fun at the exact type of one-size-fits-all advice I so love. I'm not a cool kid, so I can't quite tell-- I just straight up like the poem.