The songs my mother sang to me were the first poems I heard as a child. The lyrics of many of those songs remain with me. I still sing them as I drive. Fill the dishwasher. Vacuum up the cats’ fur from the carpet.
My mom sang poetry; my dad recited it to me as nursery rhymes. I was “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” who was asked, “How does your garden grow?” I was that rascal Jack, nimbly jumping over a candlestick.
My grandmother was “Old Mother Hubbard [who] went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone.” And that dog was Smokey with whom my grandmother lived, or Kentucky, my young brother’s dog.
Songs, nursery rhymes, and then in fifth grade the required memorizing of a new poem each week: “The Owl and the Pussy Cat,” “Little Orphant Annie,” and “The Modern Hiawatha,” which was by far my favorite and which I still delight in reciting today—much to my listeners’ chagrin—some sixty-six years later.
Since those fifth grade days of being exposed to a wide range of poetic language, I’ve read and responded to poems from poets of both the past and the present. Two bloggers—Penny and Teresa Evangeline—have introduced me to a number of contemporary poets who have enriched my life in the past two years. Repeatedly poets reveal to me the light at the end of the tunnel. More often they help me realize the deep down humanity and thirst for goodness that is the essence of each of us.
And so today I want to tell you about Weeds, a book of poetry I’ve just completed by a blogger many of you may know: McGuffy Ann Morris. I’ve had the book on my bedside table for over a month now, picking it up each evening, reading a poem, and then considering what it offers me: the truths about my own experience of life.
In Weeds, Morris offers us the wisdom of the years she’s spent here on this planet we call Earth. It is a wisdom hard won and for that reason treasured. She is both observer and muse. Here are just three samples of her poetic observations:
Life is an open book
Each person a character
pasted on a page of time.
I go back in time,
the battlefield of memories.
I need to recapture
Moments lost, moments stolen,
Looking for myself
As I really am, not as you
Perceive me to be.
Reflections fade into shadows.
What I once was has faded;
What I am yet to be becomes clear.
I did not choose to be here,
To be a part of this.
Forever now will I be both
Reflection and shadow.
In Weeds, Morris moves back and forth between the antipodes of life—from difficult to glorious. As a reader I saw her struggles as well as her triumphs. And yet, as with all poems that come from the depths of the human experience, I also found myself for she presents the realities of our lifelong journey through time and space, memory and experience.
The only slight hesitancy I had in reading Weeds is that I’ve come to enjoy unrhymed poetry more than rhymed. Several of Morris’ poems rhyme and when I first read them I found myself testing out the rhymes rather than reading for what the poem had to offer me in terms of my own experience of life. But as soon as I reread without stressing rhyme, I discerned the message that existed—for me—within the poem.
That is, I believe, a sign of good poetry—that it speaks to the human condition as each of us live out that condition in our own lives. I encourage you to read Weeds and to find yourself within its poems.
As Morris says on the book cover of Weeds, which I believe is her anthem to life, “There comes a time to assess and to weed our lives, in order to find value in the harvest. This book is a culmination of personal lifetime experiences and observations. To each, their own.”