I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.
Here is Luci Shaw’s poem “Arrangement in space and time” from Polishing the Petoskey Stone: New and Selected Poems. Luci Shaw has served as a writer in residence at Regent College (Vancouver, BC) since 1998 and is the author of eleven volumes of poetry.
Spring-cleaning should have
rid me of them. Summer should have
gathered a fresh bunch.
But this armful of autumn
is almost as antique as the pot
that first received it—the mouth
open like an O, like the rough
circle a woman makes with her elbows
to accept a bouquet.
Brittle, the milkweed stalks break
clean as bones and show the same
straw color. Freed from time, no
seasons pump their juices,
extend their shoots an inch an hour
after rain, swell the silver
strands in their pale purses.
Like dust, timelessness gathers
on the pods and the thin, split
blades. Having lost growth,
they have achieved a kind of
immortality, there where they fill
the winter window,
spilling their tarnished silver
and some old gold.
Previous poems in this series:
- C. S. Lewis, “Evensong”
- Tomas Tranströmer, “Open and Closed Spaces”
- James Weldon Johnson, “The Creation”
- Denise Levertov, “Living”
- Wang Wei, “Morning, Sailing into Xinyang”
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty”
- Mary Oliver, “The Kingfisher”
- Osip Mandelstam, “Consider the River”
- Kwame Dawes, “Peach Picking”
- Anna Kamieńska, “A Prayer That Will Be Answered”
- Judah al-Harizi, “The Sun”
- Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”
- Tu Fu, “Clear After Rain”
- John Milton, “On His Blindness”
- Rainer Maria Rilke, “It’s Possible”
- St. John of the Cross, “Living Flame of Love”
- Jacqueline Osherow, “Autumn Psalm”
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring and Fall”
- Marilyn Nelson, “How I Discovered Poetry”
- T. S. Eliot, excerpt from Choruses from ‘The Rock’, II