I don’t write poems slowly:
I’ve only twenty minutes before the kids get up
you see, I’m raising two pueris aeterna
and I guess, puella aeterna, you could have once called me…
I’ve learned the value of the slow.
I’ve been reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, how her brother
spent weeks, months or even years
drafting a poem (what luxury!)
and how she walked
from Rydal Mount
to the broad shores of Windermere
and lamented the felling of ancient oak trees
How can I say
I’ve learned the value of the slow?
I now take time, to linger in the moment
when I can; luxuriate in it, even:
still the blood, still the heart
(still the fear)
when the deep past of your own history
slams into you like a brick wall, it can be
too hard to bear
so many layers, how do we navigate?
Periods seem almost geographical in their vastness
merely seconds, in the clockwork of the universe.
Go slow, festina lente:
hurry up and wait.
I see the layers of history in my home town
compare them to the layers of my life:
the car garage
was once a bus depot, before that
a tram shed.
There are no trams now, no canal, no port
I remember some of it, some of it not at all, but I know
cities grow like people
too fast then not at all
nothing after all is eternal
the value of the slow:
of time in which
there’s nowhere left to go.
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Written for earthweal
For this week’s challenge, Brendan asks us to ‘write of slowness.’ He goes into some detail about what this may mean, in terms of how we deal with the climate crisis, and also how we write poetry.
The Latin terms were introduced in Brendan’s essay: Festina lente actually translates as ‘make haste and go slowly,’ but it reminded me of the phrase ‘hurry up and wait.’ ‘Puer aeternus is the archetype of speedy spirituality – the flying young man whose feet can’t touch the ground.’ I was once this in female form: puella aeterna, the eternal girl: