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A Thank-You Note In Verse

September 10, 2023 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

I am a poet of profligate propensity. I have written poems for my wife, children, grandchildren, and friends. But also for students, nurses, doctors, cleaning ladies, secretaries, waitresses, postal deliverers, real estate agents, and bank tellers. And that is the short list. The poems are thank-you notes in verse and they are always gratefully received
A thank-you note is fine, but does not achieve what a poem can. The camera picks up a visible image. But a poem can capture something that is invisible and reminds the beneficiary of something that is true, though inexpressible. A generous expression is infallibly matched by a grateful response. The eye of the poet, unlike the lens of the camera, captures a hidden reality that we need to affirm and cherish.
Percy Bysshe Shelley stated the matter in unsurpassed language: “Poetry captures the vanishing apparitions that haunt the interlunations of life.”
“Interlunation” is a beautiful word. Literally, it refers to the time that elapses between two full moons. Figuratively, it refers to the moment between to visible events that eludes the camera. Mozart held that the silence between two notes is more important that the notes themselves. The silences allow what is spiritual to enter the picture and captivate the listener. Silence introduces a message from beyond.
For Shelley, the interlunations of life allow the entrance of another world, one that is always on the edge of disappearing. The poet is sensitive to this world which, when expressed, seems insightful and perhaps even beautiful. Poetry conveys something of a spiritual order that we need to affirm and celebrate.
Martin Buber said something similar to Shelley’s statement in his classic, I and Thou: “There are moments of silent depth in which you look on the world-order fully present. Then in its very flight the note will be heard; but the ordered world is its indistinguishable score. These moments are immortal, and most transitory of all; no content may be secured from them, but their power invades creation and the knowledge of man, beams of their power stream into the ordered world and dissolve it again and again.”
There is a critical difference between the music score and the music played from that score. Only the true musician can bring this difference to life. The poet sees what everyone else sees, but sees something more, something that we need to know but cannot extract from what is visible. Someone said that to love another is to hear the song that the lover alone can hear.
I wrote the following for our cleaning lady on the occasion of her departure:

Reliable, capable, and humorous,
And virtues that are numerous;
You give our house fresh meaning
Through your scrubbing and your cleaning:
And if you must depart,
We will not forget your art:
Though you banished footprints, which is your role,
You leave your heart-prints on our soul.

This modest verse evoked tears and a warm hug. What our cleaning lady needed to know is that she is more than simply a person who cleans our house, but an “artist” whose work is both appreciated and remembered. Moreover, she has made a positive and lasting impression on me and my wife. “Thank you” seems inadequate. What is real but initially unexpressed, receives its final poetic expression as a tribute to something that could easily have passed into oblivion without its due recognition.
Observing the laughter of two children, I wrote the following for their parents:

Sunshine travels many miles
Before it fills our skies;
And starlight journeys light years
Before it greets our eyes;
But the laughter of our children,
Life’s infectious spice;
Is a sunbeam that originates
in the heart of Paradise.

The parents were most pleased and promised to frame the poem and display it in their home. The laughter of children is deeply significant and reminds us of another and better world, something that would greatly diminish us to forget.
Someone once said that poetry is a beautiful way of remembering what would impoverish us to forget. This is true and it is what drives the poet to keep writing poetry. The poet is a sleuth who finds clues to a spiritual order that he must try to express.

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