One by one, the flowers open, then fall toward the quiet shrine of the afternoon and the melancholy candles of evening. Remembered landscapes are left in me the way a bee leaves its sting: hopelessly, passion-placed. Do not mistake the wound of the world for the world, an ever-faithful companion presence. The day turns, the trees move — wrapped up in the ocean like a cloak.
I wrote none of these lines. I plucked them from quotations I’ve copied into my journal these last few months, and arranged and punctuated them in a way that has fresh meaning for me. I like the way they talk to each other. I like to imagine the lines’ authors talking to each other, too. The poem is called “Commonplace” from the old notion of the commonplace book, a personal book of notes and quotations.
The authors of the lines are (in order): Wang Wei; Billy Collins; Charles Wright; Frances Mayes; Robert Sardello; Wendell Berry; and whoever wrote the 104th Psalm, plus Eugene Peterson, who translated the line from it that I use here.
This is a type of poetry I refer to as a “florilegium,” though I recently learned (from more experienced and better-read friends) that it has a long tradition already, under the name “cento.”
These same friends form a small group of supportive writers that has nourished my person and my writing for three years now. They met recently to write and share their own centos, and I — long story short — completely spaced the invitation. So I’m late to the party today, but friends, if you’re reading: I’ve gathered these lines together thinking of you. Thank you from afar for the creative nudge. And here are some roses for you:
One thought on “Commonplace”
Lovely, Tara. We missed you!
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