Climbing out of myself

There are so many Merwin poems that are on my mind today. “A Contemporary” is one. “Looking for Mushrooms at Sunrise” is another. Maybe I’ll go to the park and read from The Rain in the Trees. What if I could send you a postcard from where I am with a poem on it?

Sky Above Clouds is an enormous, gorgeous painting by Georgia O’Keeffe that overwhelmed me at the Art Institute in Chicago. It’s 96 by 288 inches, which doesn’t really capture its scope. I remember exiting a room in the European wing and being completely struck. Its blues and whites and grays fading into the horizon.

It’s almost a crime to include an image of the painting when experiencing its full expression is so important. Promise you’ll go see it.

Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965
© The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A Contemporary

What if I came down now out of these
solid dark clouds that build up against the mountain
day after day with no rain in them
and lived as one blade of grass
in a garden in the south when the clouds part in winter
from the beginning I would be older than all the animals
and to the last I would be simpler
frost would design me and dew would disappear on me
sun would shine through me
I would be green with white roots
feel worms touch my feet as a bounty
have no name and no fear
turn naturally to the light
know how to spend the day and night
climbing out of myself
all my life

– W.S. Merwin

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