What to Do by Joyce Sutphen

Wake up early, before the lights come on
in the houses on a street that was once
a farmer’s field at the edge of a marsh.

Wander from room to room, hoping to find
words that could be enough to keep the soul
alive, words that might be useful or kind

in a world that is more wasteful and cruel
every day. Remind us that we are
like grass that fades, fleeting clouds in the sky,

and then give us just one of those moments
when we were paying attention, when we gave
up everything to see the world in

a grain of sand or to behold
a rainbow in the sky, the heart
leaping up.

What to Do

This is the kind of advice which I am always eager to hear, from a poet who has a way of expressing it unlike the directive voices of those who say they know with certainty what to do. Wake up early, she says, to greet the day before others rise. Wander from room to room, as one might when one is unsure of what could be enough to keep the soul / alive; when we are searching for words that might be useful or kind. Because kindness, I believe, is always necessary in a world that is more wasteful and cruel / every day. And always possible, the Dalai Lama tells us.

She reminds us that we are as ephemeral as grass, as clouds, and yet, we are given just one of those moments / when we were paying attention. One of those moments when we see the world in / a grain of sand as William Blake wrote over 200 years ago, a reminder that we are all connected to the natural world. And in those moments of paying attention, there it is, the heart / leaping up. You know what that feels like, don’t you.

Really, that’s all it takes, a brief moment of awareness to see past the cruelty, without words, and feel our heart respond. What to do in the moment can be that simple if we allow it to be.

11 thoughts on “What to Do by Joyce Sutphen

  1. Thank you Janice.
    A beautiful poem especially for so many people in lock down in Australia & around the world as we continue in our human battle against this ferocious, ever-changing Pandemic virus.

    Like

  2. Each time I read one of your selections with the invitation to pause in the moment – like this one – I find myself pausing long enough to take in the glory of the natural world right outside my window. Thanks, dear Jan, especially for “Really, that’s all it takes, a brief moment of awareness to see past the cruelty, without words, and feel our heart respond.” xoxox

    Like

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