Today’s Thoughtful Thursday brings poetry of hope, strength, and a mother’s love. It’s (still) National Women’s Month, and these three powerful women poets give us some much needed optimism, inspiration, and mothering “realness” to help us cope in these bewildering times.
Poet, teacher, saxophonist and vocalist Joy Harjo (b.1951), a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, offers a hopeful vision of how the world turns in “Once the World Was Perfect”. Prolific writer and poet Marge Piercy (b.1936) (a personal favorite of mine), reminds us of the strength and power of buckling down and getting things done in “To Be of Use”. And finally, January Gill O’Neil, an award winning poet who a newcomer to Thoughtful Thursday, gives us a wonderfully moving and accurate depiction of a mother’s love in “Hundreds of Purple Octopus Moms Are Super Weird, and They’re Doomed”.
May these poems provide inspiration and a welcome respite from all the craziness that surrounds us. We’ll get through this!! Share these with your children, stay safe, and enjoy.
Once The World Was Perfect
Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Hundreds of Purple Octopus Moms Are Super Weird, and They’re Doomed
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade.
The article called it “a spectacle.” More like a
garden than a nursery:
hundreds of purple octopuses protecting
clusters of eggs
while clinging to lava rocks off the Costa Rican
I study the watery images: thousands of lavender
wrapped around their broods. Did you know
there’s a female octopus
on record as guarding her clutch for 53 months?
That’s four-and-a-half years
of sitting, waiting, dreaming of the day her
babies hatch and float away.
I want to tell my son this. He sits on the couch
next to me clutching his phone,
setting up a hangout with friends. The teenage
shell is hard to crack.
Today, my heart sits with the brooding
octomoms: not eating, always on call,
always defensive, living in stasis in waters too
warm to sustain them.
No guarantees they will live beyond the
hatching. Not a spectacle
but a miracle any of us survive.
January Gill O’Neil
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