I bring you today a beautiful, expressive poem by Mona Van Duyn that I received
from a dear friend. This poem inspired me to some thoughts, which I captured in
this writing, which follows Mona’s poem. Have a beautiful day!
the Morning, Northern Maine
At six a.m. the log cabins
nose an immense cow-pie of mist
that lies on the lake.
Nineteen pale goldfinches perch
side by side on the telephone wire
that runs to shore,
and under them the camp cow,
her bones pointing this way and that,
is collapsed like a badly constructed
pup tent in the dark weeds.
Inside, I am building a fire
in the old woodstove with its rod overhead
for hunters' clothes to steam on.
I am hunting for nothing—
perhaps the three cold pencils
that lie on the table like kindling
could go in to start the logs.
I remember Ted Weiss saying,
"At the exhibition I suddenly realized
Picasso had to remake everything he laid his eyes on
into an art object.
He couldn't let the world alone.
Since then I don't write every morning."
The world is warming and lightening
and mist on the pond
dissolves into bundles and ribbons.
At the end of my dock there comes clear,
bared by the gentle burning,
a monstrous hulk with thorny head,
up to his chest in the water,
mist wreathing round him.
Grander and grander grows the sun
until he gleams, his brown coat
glistens, the great rack,
five feet wide, throws sparks
of light. A ton of monarch,
munching, he stands spotlit.
Then slowly, gravely, the great neck lowers
head and forty pounds of horn
to sip the lake.
The sun stains the belittled
cow's hide amber.
She heaves her bones and bag
and her neckbell gongs
as she gets to her feet
in yellow blooms of squaw-weed.
On the telephone wire
all the little golden bells are ringing
as that compulsive old scribbler, the universe,
jots down another day.
Mona Van Duyn (1921-2004).
transformed Mainer (Mainiac) I can relate to this. I was there with Mona,
smelling the pictures, feeling the essences of what her pen relayed. The moose
in Maine know that they are King of the jungle of pines, spruce, fir, poplar,
maple, all of the brethren of the forests and meadows of the back country. I
like her depiction of the moose sinking his immense head and 'sipping the lake';
that is exactly what they do. Many's the time I have gazed out over the waters
of one of the trillions of lakes in Maine and watched as a moose waded into view
and with a great sigh breathed in the delectable goodies on the bottom of the
Watching moose is one of the sightseeing tours of Maine. In Stratton, where I
come from, since the ski area, Sugarloaf USA came into being, there is a tour
bus that regularly makes the trip ten miles from the base at the mountain to the
salt sheds on the outskirts of town on the Rangeley road. They watch expectantly
for the one to several regal giants to flow out from the trees to extol
themselves of a delicacy sprinkled with salt, pleasing to the palate.
This sport seems to have replaced the twilight trips that we used to make 5
miles further down the road to watch for the deer that gathered just outside the
trees at the edge of the fields to forage for delectable grasses. This almost
nightly trek for the towners of Stratton was high on the list of the easy, slow
living pace that was prevalent where I grew up. We had no computers to draw us
to their tempting goodies to help digest our supper. We had no hurried trips on
an undigested stomach to hurry into town and fight the traffic and people for
our place in line. We had no frantic trips to take the kids several miles across
town to another basketball, soccer or baseball game, for our games were played
on weekends and the bus to the out of town game was within walking distance, as
was the court just down the school stairs and the field behind the school.
Our recreation was done as a family, and was tuned in to Mother Nature. How'd we
get to far away from those days? Who's idea was it to forget the treasure that
nourished us, and gave us a sense of self? Why did we choose to move away from
all that in the name of progress? Were we so bored with it all that we thought
we needed some more stimuli to sustain us? I guess we were moving away from our
old ways in search of what we really represented. I'd say that we needed to find
what else is out there, in order to be able to look back and realize what we
It's still there for us to pick up and carry again. We don't have to turn on
these computers again and again in order to feel a part of the world. All we
need do is sit and recall those days of old. The difference is in the living of
it. Memories do not a healthy body make. Memories don't give you the fragrance
of the mixture of earthen life, unduplicated anywhere but where it originates.
Memories don't give you where you are now, and what you represent in the scheme
of things. Memories are for your enjoyment and your clue to how to live your
life now, and what not to do in the future. Memories are reminders of what
you're missing and give you the opportunity to turn around what you do not like
and create what you do.
I would dearly love to stroll through the woods of Maine once more with that
familiarity that walked with me in every step. I would love to gaze out at that
sparkling lake full of life and beauty, knowing that you just can't get any
better than this. I am 3000 miles from that Maine lake, but I am not that far
from a treasure of Mother Nature right here in Arizona where I can dip in a hot
springs pool any time I want to. I can go down the road to sit on the shores of
Roper Lake. I can travel a few miles and wind around down through the canyons of
route 60 with every turn bringing a new vista to take my breath away. I can
watch the sun set behind Mt Graham while listening to the birds heralding the
majesty of another day well done.
I brought myself here, no one else did. I made the decisions that led to this
moment in time and place. I created my life as it is at this moment. I am the
one who created the memories that occasionally draw at my heartstrings to come
back home. When I get past that tugging and remind myself that is in the past,
then I tell myself that the feeling of home can apply to anyplace that I am. I
realize that my memories span all places I've been. So what does that tell me
about memories and home? It tells me that there is no such thing as ‘away from
home’. This is it my friends. Home is right where you are loving and feeling and
wishing you were somewhere else. Somewhere else is home too, so what does that
tell you? Home is everywhere.
Home is in your heart and under your feet. Home is the beloved dog that you pat
with such adoration. It is the shadows that decorate the mountains at the waning
of the day. It is the field of Yucca that burst into soft white along the
roadways and over the rolling hills. It is the splendor of the rainbows that
smile at you with their upside down smiles telling you that the rain is a
blessing because it begat that smile. Home is the rough road that takes you into
the hidden places you could not go with your sleek little car.
Home is the feeling that you get from any experience that gives you that rush,
the feeling of comfort, that awe at the beauty, the catching of the breath, the
tear in the eye from the knowledge that you are seeing God at play. We all know
this home. We all live there. We have our own tales to tell of the memories that
shaped and molded us to the place where we now call home. Every moment is a
special one created by us, and shared with the world. From the moose at the lake
to the coyote crossing the desert, we see our versions of home and the treasures
that create our memories.
We are the poets of our lives. We are the creators of our homes. Treasure
yourself, and all that you bring into your life to decorate it and make it real.
Then go out and enrich others' lives by being who you are completely, and in the
richness that you create.