Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

June 2, 2013

On Poetry: Poetry captures smallest moment

Have you ever been on your knees in the middle of pulling up dandelions and wondered what the heck you’re doing? They’ll just come back. It’s an endless battle. Is it worth it? Then have you ever noticed your heart kind of sinking — a sense of futility?

The thing about poetry is, the smallest moment can be seen fully, seen for what it is and also for the feeling it opens up in us.

It’s time to pull up dandelions (unless we spray them to death).

Some yards near us are absolute goldmines. (I, personally, think they’re lovely, but not after they quit blooming and turn into tough wads of leaves.)

Peter Campion gets it just right, what it feels like to pull them: the sudden “pock” of the root coming out (if we’re lucky).

Milk coming from the stem, the heap of them snarled in the driveway.

Then suddenly this poem’s not about dandelions — it’s about us, and now. “It happens still.”

This feeling of what? That things (even our own past) are impermanent, unsatisfactory.

There’s that sudden feeling that no matter how many weeds we pull, things are going to decay and fall. Small creatures will eat patterns into the driftwood. Nothing stays.

But then the speaker in the poem notices that there’s a release that follows this feeling.

There’s a tinge of silver, which we recognize from the dandelion leaves.

What’s that? What do we recognize? That there’s nothing behind all this judging what needs to be pulled except our own stories about how things should be.

We make up our world!

Notice the poem says we make up stories “as If” the only power we have is that of children, who call the dandelion a flower. It’s a weed, it’s a flower, it’s either and both.

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