Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Researching sadness

As my close friends know, I often revel in the melancholy. It makes my extroverted happy-all-the-time friends quite nervous, but I need it. Some days I crave the grey, the unknown, the mood in between. I'm having a quiet day today, and took a break from job searching and picked up Words Under the Words, a book of selected poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, and opened it to "The White Road."

The White Road

I can't even count
how many of my own feet
walk the white stone road today.
As if the feet of past years
tramped alongside,
and the future feet,
anchors already forming
in the sea of blood,
Why should such a simple sadness
well up like a crowd?

Now I've even forgotten
whose sadness it was to begin with.
May it belongs to the nun
who waits for the 6 A.M. bus,
whose headscarf is white
and always tied.
Maybe she feels lighter today
having dropped it.
Or the man at the state hospital
who kept singing
"These are a few of my favorite things"
though his cigarette trembled
and he wore pajamas in the afternoon—

These stones have smooth backs.
They could be praying, or sleeping.
I could be anyone else,
researching sadness,
finding out how it adheres to the world,
bubbling and thickening, flour in broth,
how women who have lost children
sometimes feel like women
who have lost homes in fires
or men in their fifties who feel
the days shrinking in front of them
sometimes weep for a neighbor boy's dog.

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