On This Date by Annie Lighthart
On this date many things happened.
Governments were heaved into being, creeds
were repeated, maps and speeches given and believed.
There was quiet on this date. A little boy lived.
There was sleep, and one birdcall stitched all the way through.
On this date there was longing. Someone walked
through a room. One hand brushed loose crumbs into the other.
The earth received them out the side door on this date, on this day.
About Annie Lighthart:
- Here is her bio on her website
- Her first book of poetry: Iron String (2013)
- Annie used to teach poetry at Boston College but now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Michael A. Faletra (Ph.D. Boston College 2000) who is a professor of English and Humanities with a focus in Celtic studies and medieval Anglo-Saxon studies. They have two sons: Sam and Benjamin. Annie has helped him on translations of Anglo-Saxon poems. To see how Anglo-Saxon’s fit into the development of the English language, see my post here. Wales, as some readers know, has a special place in my heart.
(1) Memorial Day
Today is Memorial day in the USA — a day to remember the people who died while “serving” in the the United State’s armed forces. The US also has a Veterans Day which is more inclusive — you don’t have to die to be remembered.
Empires, countries and tribes have waged wars for thousands of years. Each told their citizens why they were the righteous warriors, the deserving people. Each used propaganda and deceit and force to get their people to die for their rulers. Celebrating their deaths and “service” is part of that propaganda.
Annie’s above poem, “On This Day”, has the line “Governments were heaved into being, creeds were repeated, maps and speeches given and believed.” The poem alludes to the histories we tell — the events of various years and days. Our view of history is deceptive — one twist is “The Great Person Theory of History“.
That view, like Annie’s poem also suggests, ignores the common person, the daily events, the mundane emotions and simple aspirations. These are the things we all share, while governments tell us to kill each other. So instead of “honoring” the dead on this day, maybe we should remember with sadness how we all kill each other — tricked by the hidden agendas of others.
(2) The Second Music
In the last year, I have started learning a bit of bass guitar. The rudimentary practice has already helped me to hear much of music which I have missed before. The above poem of Annie’s talks about the background, which is really perhaps the appropriate foreground, if you culture that state of mind.
Some religions claim that “God” or “Spirit” or “The One” is the real background, and that this life is a distraction. I don’t believe that any more. But I am a mystic at heart: I feel the various background hums, the enlivening bass lines behind the apparent. I often like turning my focus on those tones.
I list her a few poems of Annie’s that hint at perhaps the same. I am not sure of her position on these issues, or even if we are really similar, but that is the beauty of poetry to me at times: I can let them mean that to me today.
See more excellent poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology
Other Related Posts of Mine: