Monday, June 1, 2009

Off Topic

This morning, I was potting up seedlings of Danae racemosa as part of my volunteer work at the Smith Gilbert Garden in Kennesaw, and I kept thinking lines from a poem I had read, years ago, that mentioned another Danae. I knew that when I got home, I would have to look up the poem, and I did.

The poem is online now, but I first read it in a book, The Poetry Dictionary, by John Drury.

Here is the poem:

The Yellow Steeple
by Andrew Hudgins

On my way home from work, I jumped the fence
and cut across the Baptist cemetery.
As I walked over Sarah Pratt,
I saw a workman standing on a scaffold
and swatting a coat of yellow paint
over the peeling whitewash on the steeple.
He dropped a can of paint, and as it fell
the paint dispersed into a mist
and spread a rain of yellow dots
across a corner of the cemetery—
the bushes, trees, headstones, and me.
It ruined my coat. I didn’t care:
I felt like Danae when she
was loved by Zeus in the golden rain.
Then, looking up, I saw a hawk.
It didn’t move at all—not once—
but hung arrested in the air
till I released the breath I held
in awe of its pinpoint, predatory grace.
Still watching it as I walked home,
I barked my shins on a marble angel,
slid down a bank of slick white mud,
fell in the creek, and came up laughing.

It was one of those sustaining days
when you’re absolutely sure you have a soul.

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