Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Looking Down"

There is a mute abandon in the prim
And music in the silence of relief,
There is refreshment in the grey and grim
And peace in the unravelling of grief.
There comes an appetite before a feast
That some would label hunger out of fear,
And laughter, too, sleeps half the day at least,
And trees are gladly leafless half the year.
You ask why poets pick depression's bones
When lilacs beckon to be picked instead;
Why downcast choirs moan of mud and stones
When half the heavens shimmer overhead.
There lives some voice within us that seems made
To praise the sun by singing of its shade.

Daniel Waters, in First Things, October 2005

When I took this photo, I could just hear someone asking, "What are you taking a picture of?!" We were surrounded by leaves in the prime of their fall changing, green fields, and colorful rural countryside.

Why did I take this picture? What was I taking a picture of?

I thought it was beautiful. I was struck by the way the bare limbs were simply there against that plush background of clouds. And the few leaves still hanging on seemed to say something about life. These trees were alive, even though the signs of life were scarce. And because the trees were bare, you could see the play of light in the sky behind them. (As I write that, I realize the sky is not "behind" the trees, except from our perspective.)

And then I found this poem, which I offer as further explanation of why I took this picture.

This morning we woke up to rain, and it has not stopped the whole day long. The whole day was gray. I drove by water standing a foot deep on one street. Part of our driveway is submerged in water. The dogs could not go out to play. We never saw the sun today, night has come again, it's almost 10pm. It's dark and still raining.

It's a day of "looking down." Of silence, grey and grim. Of leafless trees and the moan of mud.

And yet it is Sunday, and a voice within praises the sun.

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