Friday, October 27, 2017

"Those Who Seek Nature" by David Pring-Mill, Poet of the Week

Those Who Seek Nature
David Pring-Mill

There are those who seek nature
to set beauty on their irises
with the hope that fantastic views
will be absorbed within,
swirling down their pupils' vortices.

They believe
a sensory bombardment
of clear water, steep stones,
sun-lit crests and foreign cultures
will drive out what is in their minds,
expelling any inferiority
or empty state.

In this fervor for nature,
there is a transparent desire
to make their own beings transparent,
so that nature will be seen through them
and its grandeur will be theirs.

Above my path,
a pumpkin sky was carved,
with slits in clouds.
The orange of these masked heavens
almost seems to hang on the hill.

Brightness remains
on the road, light and dust
becoming silver,
with pretty plants noting
asphalt borders,
in the way an airport at night is seen by
white and blue runway markers.
Here I see Menzies’ Larkspur
with stems dispersed and dried
in deep purple and rich blue,
advancing towards
the burnt-out mountains,
our scorched edge.

I live now, breathless,
for the closing of this day,
with its final enormity.
The enormity of nature
requires a reevaluation of oneself.
The altered sense of scale,
the drunken measurement
of everything, means that the soul
cannot account for itself.
Then the mind becomes
an inspired mathematician
fighting after a new formula.

There is no way around the self,
in the middle of nature, no way
to separate the hike from self-reflection.
Those fleeced nature-lovers
with their Instagram mountain selfies
expose the wild-eyed, insecure
narcissistic streak that runs
deep within man’s search for meaning,
trickling out of philosophical pages;
It is the call of awe
and reimagined purpose.

This world tumbles and smooths
rocks and people alike.
On the edge of a cliff,
I stop, holding
my fingers apart
against the wind and its aroma of pine,
with the narrative of my life
somewhere back
in the right-angular land
and pulsating streets,
where people are trying
desperately to drop
into the depths of the present.

Past lovers allow for an alternate reality,
A plausibility that can’t be challenged.
The smell of hair and sweat
can become sweet things,
sweetened by love or nostalgia.
Past lovers came with different smells,
even different types of clothing and accessories
texturing the half-seen sights of each day,
and certainly would have brought
different conversations full of ideas,
words and consequences.

And yet, within nature, time is mocked.
The wind is deaf to each
history declared.
Nature was injured by people
proclaiming progress
and that idea of progress is rooted in time.
But forests are the same now as they were then,
with ecological adjustments, but still
those trees stand with their superior height,
Still those mountains loom with their craggy might,
And so time disappears within nature
And your own timeline is reconsidered
before dissolving, too.

Poet’s Notes:  Many poems have been written about nature. Artists of all stripes frequently depict nature, the source of boundless inspiration. Tormented people go to nature to be healed. In this poem, I wrote about the psychology underlying those relationships.

Recently, the New York Times published a dual book review written by Charles Petersen, which made interesting commentary upon the history of hiking and the varied motivations of hikers. 34 million Americans go hiking each year. Peterson notes that many authors of works about hiking “take this experience as the occasion for an anguished excavation of [their] past.” Peterson’s article “Take a Hike!” can be read here:

Editor's Note:  This is David's final appearance in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  I am sure that I speak not only for myself that his poetic gift will be dearly missed.  I have invited him to keep us apprised of his future achievements and hope to keep the readers of Songs of Eretz informed of them.

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