Dec 7, 2008

What Life Does


Starfish

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the pond, where whole generations of biological processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds speak to you of the natural world: they whisper, they sing. And herons pass by. Are you oldenough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life's way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,
so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.
- Eleanor Lerman


Stolen from Whiskey River


14 comments:

QP said...

I'm so glad you are spotlighting this poem. I know Christopher left it for Starfish, but I read it like it was addressed to me and it was.

Robin Starfish said...

Nice steal. I heartily approve.

LauraB said...

What QP said. Damn if it didn't feel like someone had watched it all as tho on film...

Thanks for that find...

Irrelephant said...

And here I thought you'd gone all soft on us. *G*

Starfish. I remember the first trip I took to the Pacific Coast, to Oregon. I'd never seen water wider than a bayou, and I was moved all the way down to my crusty, dusty soul. I remember how thrilled I was when I saw my first starfish, bright orange and white, clinging to a wave-bashed rock. Then something in my mind *clicked* and all of a sudden I saw hundreds, saw anemones, saw tiny hermit crabs and zebra mussels and I nearly fainted from the sudden inrush of information.

Powerful stuff. Thank you for reminding me of that. *s*

julie said...

Joan, your sculpture and figure drawings are really amazing. Wow!

Liberty Girl said...

Eloquent, nice, yes, now back to the snark.

Liberty Girl said...

Och, missed the gallery link. Fine work!

C.S. Perry said...

Right On.
A day maker.

PeggyU said...

Pie for the dog as well. (I like that line :) .)

Did you take the photo of the starfish? Your starfish obviously have a more luxurious life than ours. That one looks like it is stretched out on warm sand, waking up from a nice late-afternoon nap. The only starfish I have seen around here are cold, dark purple, grumpy looking things, submerged in tide pools or clinging fast to rocks or piers.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh yeah. I took that pic with my cell phone. He was waving at me, showing me his tiny feets!

I always go empty-handed to beach, believing that it will offer up some lovely gift for me to return with. It rarely disappoints. I left the starfish, but took his pic.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Joan, you are an artist and a great writer!
That starfish really helps me sea. :^)

Joan of Argghh! said...

No Ben! I didn't write the poem!

:o)

Robin Starfish said...

I failed to notice your gallery link the first time through. Whaddami, blind? The work of your hands are of wordless beauty.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Why thanks, RS! Very kind of you.

I love your new gallery, btw!