“Look Very Carefully”: The First Day of National Poetry Month and Autism Awareness Month
On this first day of April, the first day of both National Poetry Month and National Autism Awareness Month, I share this image of quiet, stillness, beauty, peace, and promise. The photo was taken by Benj’s great-uncle Pete and sent to Benj in a special 13th birthday email a few weeks ago. As Uncle Pete wrote to Benj, “if you look very carefully—[you can see] small pink buds emerging on the tree branch.”
Thinking tonight about the value and preciousness of poetry, and of the value and preciousness of my autistic son, I look at this photo and remember Wordsworth’s famous lines:
“All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”
and Whitman’s assertion:
“If [the poet] breathes into any thing that was before thought small it dilates with the grandeur and life of the universe.”
To me, this photo epitomizes emotion recollected in tranquility, brims with and breathes a poetic spirit, and dilates with the grandeur and life of the universe. It also symbolizes the fragility, the vulnerability, and the beauty of every human life.
Uncle Pete’s admonition to “look very carefully” also reminds me of one of my favorite poems, by the Wordsworthian Mary Oliver:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
A Doorway Into Thanks Indeed . . .
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