Reunion with Wordsworth

It was half a lifetime ago that I read those lines:
Yes, those “Recollections of Early Childhood.”
William, today we meet again in the library:
You, in a volume embossed with gold,

And I, with my weary hands searching
Through the shelves of time for vanished youth.
Years ago I was already exhausted and aging,
But I found consolation in your truth.

No less thankful am I at your present greeting,
For it allows me to recover those early years
Of laborious thought, and to begin creating
A rhyme for the adulthood which I now hold dear.

My gain is double, picking this flower twice,
Refreshing my heart with its delicate persistence.
This private hour spent with you will suffice
To direct me to a greater and sweeter distance.

Oh, questions and answers made the student old,
Even though I daydreamed in all my classes.
Still, I carried all the books my arms could hold,
Longing for their return caress.

The tender mind will always study alone
Whether the book remains open or is closed.
What must be faced is that inward home
From which bare thoughts are dressed in words,

Into which no friend or scholar can perceive the deep
And radiant strains of my bouquet’s singular petals.
Only heavenly grace can sustain the poet’s need
To reflect on youthful days and time’s passing.

William, I shall sit with you next year in May
When the daffodils bring you renewed delight.
Then, we can mediate further on that sunny day
And go forward with a mature yet courageous mind.

Written 1984, Revised 2013
Copyright © 2013 Natalia J. Garland


The Clock Stopped Ticking

Suddenly the room became soundless
When time’s movement refused to relinquish
The next breath of its storehouse of minutes —
From its inward and measured repetition,

From inside its circle of luminous tick-tock.
Now, the markings of the past are permanent
Within the broken space which I had attended,
While the air is mute in suspended pain.

Must this minute be eternally divided?
Why is there no more music, be it sad
Or festive? Why no butterfly in the field,
Though its bright wings escape my hand?

Forced into the past, without a window
To bring the fresh air of morning,
I see my heart like the heavy walls
Burdened forever with fixed mementos.

I never expected time to die as such, so stifled,
Not being lifted to a final destination, and I
Not noticing the world invade even my solitude
With its confusing ways and prying eyes.

Return to me, oh unbroken progression
Of nights and days, and of old into new.
Carry me into the next minute’s readiness.
Finish your deliberation and let me continue

To collect souvenirs from the resultant seasons.
Then, I ran with hope to my clock, the province
Of possible new beginnings, and I shook it to see
If it had saved any minutes for my safe passage.

The clock began to tick yet again
With the steady movement of its hands.
I held its life in my hands
And placed it softly on the table.

Written 1984, Revised 2013
Copyright © 2013 Natalia J. Garland

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Summer

Medieval statues compel me to rest
By the feet of their flowing robes,
And from our bond upon the earth
I feel both stone and flesh endure
Their old wounds at time’s impasse.
Broken hands reach around empty space,
Wanting to fold our lives tightly
Within the cloth of prayer’s territory.
Chipped faces lift from a common depth,
Begging God and man not to depart
From this occasion to fulfill their hope.
Centuries ago these works of art upheld
Loftier positions within church walls
Where their forms were clean and whole.
Lamps were kept burning before them
And sainthood was their only theme.
How far they have journeyed, how long
They lived for the sake of other life,
How much they continue to suffer
With each era that pauses at their side.
My life is only a moment, but a moment
Seeking protection is beyond measure,
Belonging now in this gallery of devotion.
My heartbeat was rendered from a dark distance,
Imperceptible to me until heard in this gathering
Of the invisible yet manifest arms of God.
Shapes from history have included my witness,
Volume has appeared through that which is missing.
Existence becomes a collectible quest
In which the beloved entities are always kept.
In stillness they move forward,
They gaze, they reach, they give forever.

Written 1984, Revised 2013
Copyright © 2013 Natalia J. Garland

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Winter

Darkness of the street, my dreaded teacher, led
Me this hour to my sorrowful journey’s end.
Her deceptive interpretation of the world,
Where rusted beasts sputter and whimper,
No longer escorts the night of my soul
To the barren and chaotic conclusion that
Human beings are unwanted and unknowable.
Her lesson, though obscured in smoke, became discernible
When I patted her harsh metal with my unpolished hand
And then realized her powerlessness to respond in kind.
In horror, I hid.  Then she pursued in her corroded car,
She passed by, she left me in the spinning dark.
Slowly the years ensued while my conglomerate mass
Of mind and heart painstakingly wrote to itself,
Attempting to console the moribund individual,
Identifying with illusory streets rather than real
Rooms which cherish many minds and hearts
Whose harmony is sought with all of history.
Pity the street, for though she led to golden steps,
Already she has sped away through city shadows
Where destinations are but temporary, numb vapor.
My gratitude goes with her as I finally turn and explore
Colors and textures which I never before thought possible.
I have gotten old, but creation is old, and now we participate
In the heartfelt discovery of one another’s hope –
Hope that our portraits will reflect our habitat
With gentle brush strokes and strong lines.
To be worthy of rosy cheeks, of twinkling eyes,
To face one another across the room and know
That our feelings were common among us long ago
And continue to evoke response in present company –
Such is the daylight of my soul’s counterproposal.

Written 1984, Revised 2013
Copyright © 2013 Natalia J. Garland