A Hopeful Poem in a Distressed World – Ed O’Rourke

Joe Zarantanello writes poems every week and sends one out on Monday mornings.  I share this one with you.

Joe and I were teachers at St Thomas High School in the early 1970s.  For many years, he and Pam have run Loose Leaf Hallow in Bardstown, Kentucky.



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Field Notes: “Don’t Be Afraid”
Several versions of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor play in continuous loop as I sit down to transcribe the notes I scribbled on my walk this morning.
“So much loss…” the voice keeps on keening, as I lace up my boots, grab my hat and walking stick, and head out the door.
Rule of law hanging by a thread, so many precious human beings slaughteredin the killing fields of Ukraine, and in the supermarkets, schools and streets.
Our mothers, sisters and daughters jerked back into second-class citizenshipon an ordinary Friday morning, and that night a dear friend dies in her sleep.
You didn’t want to go to bed, because if you went to sleep, you would wake up with the first full day of not having her in your world. 
The only way I know how to metabolize such bittersweet heartache is to walk down our gravel drive, and out to the fallow field under the vast blue sky.
The former empire of wild mustard that reigned in early summer is gone.Clumps of tiny white asters and imperious Queen Anne’s Lace rule the day.
A charm of goldfinches feast on what seed is left in the tall, burnt out thistle as a redwing blackbird surveys the scene like a zen mountain hermit on her 
telephone wire, and offers her shrill lament — “Gone…Gone…Gone….” and then flies off, flashing the broken heart on her sleeve for all to see.
As I walk on, near the end of the field, I see an absolutely new plant — which blows my mind, as I have been walking this road for 40 years now!
I stop and jot notes: straight, like a surveyors stake; spine prickly; long, radial, saw-toothed leaves; two dozen cone-shaped, spiky green flowers turning purple.
I look closer, and I see there’s a bee or two feeding on every flower.And as I turn and walk back home, there is still a deep ache in my heart.
And like this new plant, I won’t give this ache a name. No, I’ll just keep walking, and keep paying visits every day, to see what it’s meant to become.
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

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