Friday, November 07, 2008

Poetry Friday: Rebus

I've been thinking about choices we make, about how hard it can be to see how they fit into a bigger picture. About how our choices and actions affect others ... ourselves ... people we love and people we hate.

I love the way this poem sees life as a rebus, a visual puzzle that, sometimes, we seem unable to piece together or decipher. We look, we squint, we reach for our glasses. We ask friends if they see the same thing we do. We shake our heads and hope that the sum of the choices we are making will add up to a life well lived.

Jane Hirschfield asks not to "understand it, only to see." But I want more. I want to understand it, too. I'm stubborn that way.

I'm relieved, to say that the least, that there is One who does understand, even when I cannot see the rebus of life for what it is. I pray that in those times I cannot focus on the picture, that He will step in, clean my glasses, and help me not only to see, but to understand. And perhaps, even to understand why I cannot see what others do, or why they do not see with my eyes. Unlike the poet, I don't wish to reach the dispassionate place in which I see the rebus uncolored by hope. I'll hang on to the hope, but I will strive to let go of my own desire, and let it be replaced by His.


by Jane Hirschfield

...Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table

This rebus—slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life—
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

(read the entire poem here at the Poetry Foundation)

The Poetry Friday roundup this week is at Check It Out.


Melissa Wiley said...

Beautiful, Karen. And I mean your post--I haven't clicked through to read the poem yet.

TadMack said...

Boy, the poem requires me to read and step away and return to re-read. Wow.

Liz said...

Thanks, Karen. I want to understand too, but sometimes I guess you just have to trust and love.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this beautiful, thought-provoking poem, and your own musings.


Sara said...

"How can I enter this question...?" That's all I ask some days. Not the answer, but a way in.

I want to understand, but then I think: what responsibility would that understanding give me that I don't already have now? I'm not sure. But I'm sure I love Hirshfield's poem and that you shared it.

J.A. Palermo said...

Beautiful poem. Thanks for making me stop and think today.