friends and beer and poetry
In no time Ian was walking through the front door to Sticks Library, grinning as I frantically waved, smiling like an idiot--I'm not going anywhere for Christmas this year, deciding to do my own thing for the first time, and since I have no visitors coming this visit felt particularly special.
We headed out for dinner, Ian humoring me as I bombarded him with 100 questions about the Farm, about his job in NY State, about all of our friends and former co-workers. I don't even know how he was able to eat, answering my questions at the rate I was shooting them. After Santa's visit at the Library, which I had to be at, we spent the rest of the night grabbing a couple drinks at a local bar, then picking up a 6 pack of Great Lakes Beer and reading poetry in my living room; something Ian and I have in common, aside from our both having Bachelors degrees in English, is that we're both big lovers of poetry--one of the first conversations we had while he was visiting the farm, considering a position in the kitchen, was about poets and writers we admired. He's a Yeats man, I'm a Whitman girl.
Today as I said goodbye to my friend, and said a silent prayer for his safe drive home, I thought too of the poem I read him last night--he doesn't like Billy Collins, and Collins is one of my favorites--and which may have been his first step in a conversion to Collins' poetry.
where I happen to be sitting,
the humidity or the clouds,
the scene outside the window--
a pink tree in bloom,
a neighbor walking his small, nervous dog.
And if I am drinking
a cup of tea at the time
or a small glass of whiskey,
I will find a line to put it on.
with a sigh.
She thinks I ought to be opening up
my aperture to let in
the wild rhododendrons of Ireland,
the sun-blanched stadiums of Rome,
that waterclock in Bruges--
the world beyond my inkwell.
I tell her I will try again
and travel back to my desk
where the chair is turned to the window.
I think about the furniture of history.
I consider the globe, the lights of its cities.
I visualize a lion rampant on an iron shield,
a quiet battlefield, a granite monument.
And then--just between you and me--
I take a swallow of cold tea
and in the manner of the ancient Chinese
pick up my thin pen
and write down that bird I hear outside,
the one that sings,
then sings again.
--Billy Collins, from “Picnic Lightning”
*not sure if I spaced the poem correctly, copied it from another site that didn't have any of the stanzas separated.