Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bearing Witness to the Times: The Why of Daffodils

Photo by Lars Kasper

The Why of Daffodils

This week
The daffodils began to bloom,
The first few opening up
Across the lawn.
In some way
I know why –
I planted the bulbs myself
A few years ago.
They will continue to rise and bloom with the season
Long after I have left this place.

Whoever comes to live here after I'm gone,
Whether they live in strife or bliss,
Will witness the bright yellow flowers
That show themselves each spring
Like the crimson poppies in Flanders fields
Where soldiers fell,
Or the lilacs of lavender that bloom in the dooryard
In spite of grief over a slain hero.

It is that tenacious and enduring "why"
To which I confess no knowledge,
And claim no understanding.
Why are we comforted
By such recurrent beauty
In the presence of our sorrows?

Does nature’s hand
Speak soft reminders
In the wake of every tragedy
To bind us to some grander purpose?
When politicians speak madness
And armies pound cities to rubble
Will springtime daffodils
Call hearts to the essence
Of a life lived in beauty?

Do I really know why there are daffodils in my yard
Even when hate divides a nation?
Can we join with lilacs and poppies
To hold that poignant hope
Found even in war-torn communities?
Can those wounded in body and spirit
Open their eyes to see
The natural rhythm of spring
When blossoms break forth?

In as much as they turn our minds
To the underlying wholeness of being
The daffodils evoke
Thankful hearts
Even when reason
Evades the mind.

Perhaps this is the why of daffodils –
That in the midst
Of our inflicting pain upon one another
And our bringing desolation upon the land,
The earth is ever nudging us
Toward an unspeakable gratitude.

                                              ~ Charles Kinnaird

CNN Photo

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The best thing that poets can do is to bear witness to the times – articulate what is happening in the moment; speak to the real life experiences of your people.  I am setting myself a goal to write a poem each week that reflects what I see and experience in the life of our nation... if I can write one poem a week there will be some chronicle of our sacred/tested/doubtful union.


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