Sunday Poetry

Meditation By the Stove

I have banked the fires of my body into a small but steady blaze here in the kitchen where the dough has a life of its own, breathing under its damp cloth like a sleeping child; where the real child plays under the table, pretending the tablecloth is a tent, practicing departures; where a dim brown bird dazzled by light has flown into the windowpane and lies stunned on the pavement-- it was never simple, even for birds, this business of nests. The innocent eye sees nothing, Auden says, repeating what the snake told Eve, what Eve told Adam, tired of gardens, wanting the fully lived life. But passion happens like an accident I could let the dough spill over the rim of the bowl, neglecting to punch it down, neglecting the child who waits under the table, the mild tears already smudging her eyes. We grow in such haphazard ways. Today I feel wiser than the bird. I know the window shuts me in, that when I open it the garden smells will make me restless. And I have banked the fires of my body into a small domestic flame for others to warm their hands on for a while.

Linda Pastan

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