The Sixth of January by David Budbill

The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking
out the window through the softly falling snow
at the last bit of gray light.

I can’t say the sun is going down.
We haven’t seen the sun for two months.
Who cares?

I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.

How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.

The Sixth of January

I have come to appreciate David Budbill’s spare and thoughtful poems. As his daughter said, he lived ‘a remote yet engaged life’, in rural Vermont, in ‘contemplation of life’s big questions’. I find his poems simple but far from simplistic.

You cat-lovers will recognize the iconic image of your cat sitting on the back of the sofa watching the softly falling snow at the end of the day. As to that last bit of gray light, he refuses to admit that the sun is setting. It’s more that We haven’t seen the sun for two months, – winter in northern climes. But, he adds, Who cares? so what?

He tells us the lack of sunshine is irrelevant when one is listening to this stillness, only the sound of tea being poured into a cup, a music you may well recognize. And here is the question: How can this be? The sound of such stillness on a January afternoon: Such calm, such peace, such solitude / in this world of woe. How is it possible this quietude exists in the tumult of this world?

I would say that it exists in this poem; may you find the solace of calm and peace and solitude in your days.

12 thoughts on “The Sixth of January by David Budbill

  1. I love David Budbill’s poetry. Thank you Janice. I sense the moments he describes. Lots of gratitude for you. Xo

    My comment but cannot post –

    Love you lots. Things going well on the coast.

    T

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  2. Wondering which year this January 6 nestled into … that date now etched into many memories as anything but calm. Budbill couldn’t have foreseen. Lack of light – certainly! I’ll print this out to read on future January 6s – reminder that far more days with that stamp were relatively peaceful. The “who cares?” gives me pause – I want to lean both directions at once: care deeply yet accept what is.
    [Thanks for sharing this!]

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    • I know Jazz, that date has such unfortunate connotations now, though this first appeared (as far as I can tell) in his book Poems of a Mountain Recluse in 1999. I agree, who cares? holds both the deep caring and acceptance of what is. thanks for your comments, xoxo

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