A Favorite Poem (Issue #12)


As I had mentioned in my previous “A Favorite Poem” post, I am catching up from last month’s lack of “A Favorite Poem” poem, by featuring two in this month!

I had already shared with you the first one a few weeks ago, and so for today’s post, I am presenting you the second one, which I actually found through one of the blogs which I follow on WordPress. I will link the poem here, as well as put the poem in this post.

All That Is Glorious Around Us (by Barbara Crooker)

is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. Or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,
confetti from autumn’s bright parade. And I think
of how my mother struggles to breathe, how few good days
she has now, how we never think about the glories
of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs,
simple as the journey of water over a rock. It is the nature
of stone / to be satisfied / writes Mary Oliver, It is the nature
of water / to want to be somewhere else, rushing down
a rocky tor or high escarpment, the panoramic landscape
boundless behind it. But everything glorious is around
us already: black and blue graffiti shining in the rain’s
bright glaze, the small rainbows of oil on the pavement,
where the last car to park has left its mark on the glistening
street, this radiant world.

Barbara Crooker is a Pennsylvanian poet whose work reminds me of Mary Oliver’s, another poet who I really admire (Crooker even references Oliver in the poem itself!). Touching on themes of nature, maternity, and death, Crooker offers readers reflective, meandering images which represent, what I believe is, the speaker’s wandering thoughts as she struggles to solidify them, in order to come to terms with her mother’s death, and how the world can still be beautiful even when one mourns.

Also, the images themselves: I had to stop for a minute to let Crooker’s images sink in, as they were absolutely beautiful. From the “sublime peaks” of mountains to the otherwise-mundane descriptions of “white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,/ watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,” the poem definitely is meant to seduce the reader in a kind of “sad beauty:” the solitude in the café, the year’s decline through the autumn season, and again the speaker’s reflection on her mother’s death. The poem starts in solitude and ends in solitude, with the “black and blue graffiti” (in contrast to the “red and gold leaves” a few lines before) and the “last car…has left its mark on the glistening/ street, this radiant world.” Through all of these moments of being alone, it is no wonder that one feels subdued, yet at the same time finds splashes of color and fleeting moments of vivacity through the “oxygen cascading down our throats to our lungs” and “water…rushing down/ a rocky tor or high escarpment.”

I highly encourage you to check this poem out. Considering that this was the first time that I have heard of Barbara Crooker (and found her poem a pleasure to read), I am now interested in discovering more of her works! Enjoy! 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

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