Last Wednesday, a writer friend unexpectedly took me to a poetry reading. As it happened, she also gave me a belated holiday gift, a collection of poems by the same poet, her favorite, Billy Collins. If you don’t know his work, please check it out…
I thanked her the next day, for taking me ‘to another realm’. Laughter, beauty and inspiration, I told her, were the things that I dis- or re- covered there. Like fresh air, water or an open, silent vista. What I needed, when I needed it, but didn’t know that I did. I presume and hope you have sometime had that experience. The reading was at Symphony Hall, an elegant setting, although I had never been quite so far from a reading poet before… I actually watched him on the ‘Jumbo-tron-style’ screen! His generous gifts of story and poem were not at all diminished by the distance.
That simple and most excellent evening was the cause of my delay, posting here on Thursday morning, instead of my self-imposed deadline of Wednesday evening. Thursday passed by as many days do, filled with tasks and such. Risking TMI, I will share that a nasty GI bug or food poisoning (my own cooking?) awoke me overnight and I spent Friday and Saturday abed. Weak, tired and bored, I had the opportunity to read his poems (and others) and to think in the manner only stretches of un-busy-ness allow. That is to say, deeply, which I believe implies calmly. To be ‘relieved’ of even the brain power to plan “what I will do when I feel better” was at first frustrating, then allowed a deeper sinking into self.
Please know that I have no idea what courage, stamina and spirit it must take to survive a truly lengthy recovery from serious accident or illness. I only wish to say how this string of events has unfolded for me, from a seat in the second balcony in Symphony Hall, to physical distress to bed rest.
There are on-topic things that I could write about and post today. Mark Bittman had an excellent Op-Ed in the NY Times last week, which I want to discuss. Here’s the first paragraph, for a taste. There are so many reasons to admire this man: a chef with a global view.
In the last few years, it’s become increasingly clear that food companies engineer hyper-processed foods in ways precisely geared to most appeal to our tastes. This technologically advanced engineering is done, of course, with the goal of maximizing profits, regardless of the effects of the resulting foods on consumer health, natural resources, the environment or anything else.
Among other things, his piece led me to a new book called Lethal, but Legal, whose author discusses the ‘Corporate Consumption Complex’. What a delightful surprise to encounter unknown kin of my ‘Processed Food Industrial Complex’! Written by an academician, the book contains the results of mountains of research that I barely dreamed of attempting. Many thanks to Professor Nicholas Freudenberg, whose words I will surely be sharing here, as I read about the Triple C.
In conclusion, however, here is what I wanted to share with you today. The aforementioned string of events in my personal life has become a simple necklace, with four tiny, hand-molded beads. In the past few days, I have written drafts of four small poems. They are not especially good; in fact they are not yet poems, really and they may never reach that goal. There are a few nice images and a nice ‘turn of phrase’ or two. But the thing is – I wrote them. A little fissure into the inner world of image and emotion, wrought by chance.