“There’s never an end to dust
and dusting,” my aunt would say
as her rag, like a thunderhead,
scudded across the yellow oak
of her little house. There she lived
seventy years with a ball
of compulsion closed in her fist,
and an elbow that creaked and popped
like a branch in a storm. Now dust
is her hands and dust her heart.
There’s never an end to it.
from Sure Signs, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980
I’ve been enjoying some poems that are “simple” but nicely wrought. They typically have central metaphors: “a ball of compulsion” a rag which is a “thunderhead”. The old woman’s elbow creaking and popping. And all to become dust.
I’ve been indulging in an old woman’s mimsy whimsy. I’ve always tried to be inconspicuous, wearing black and navy garb and never daring beyond “neutral” colors. Recently I developed a “compulsion” to find purple and red handbags; yellow and green shoes. Rebelling against my innate frugality, I wanted to show pops of color in my outfits.
I’ve also turned to Wendall Berry. I mourn Donald Hall more than I might have a decade ago. In these times I want my poet’s to be “well-versed in country things” and I want them to be the opposite of Donald Trump and that terrorist group, The Republicans.
My mind can no longer handle the baroque or the intricate. I need to escape–whether it’s via a word from Donald Justice or a phrase from Ted Kooser. Whether it’s a red shoe or a purple one—anything that is not prosaic in today’s sense.
How I wish Aunt Carrie were a round to dust the detritus out of the White House! Look at the beautiful image of Mr. Kooser and the deep and warm browns. Then look at my gaudy shoes. How can I live with such conflicting ideals?