Saturday, January 05, 2008


[Sunday Scribblings prompted us to write about "New" this week.]

Which is better: a new sweater, no pills, perfect in shape, colors bright and even? or an old sweater, thin at the elbows and droopy at the hem, faded and splotchy, and a size too big?

Your choice: the book you've been waiting to read, now safe in your hands, spine uncracked, pages white and flat, with every corner still at a sharp 90-degree attention? or the yellowed pages of the book you know practically by heart, with the 3 pages that fall out if you don't take care, and the wavy edges from when it got too close to the bath water one night?

Another option: The sparkling glass bowl, newly freed from its bed of tissue paper to stand scratch-free on the table, waiting to be filled, or just admired, with colors that wait half-hidden to surprise you when the sun catches it just so? Or the earthenware bowl, heavy and dark brown, surface crazed with minute cracks, with chipped edges rubbed smooth over generations, waiting in the drawer to be filled with the recipes your grandmother used to make?

And to top off this post, here is a new poem, just born this morning.


The best place to dig is out behind the school, all the way
at the back, next to the chain link fence, at the roots
of the large oak tree, in the rain-made mud.

I take a stick, a twig really, that the oak
didn't want any more, and stir the mud, mixing
the water sitting on top and scraping up more dirt from the bottom.

With the stick I scrape aside
the mud, pulling it up and out of the hole, smoothing
the sides as I remove the muck and expose
the drier dirt below.

I poke the stick at the hole's bottom, twisting
to make more dirt flake, so that it, too,
can be scraped out.

The stick's bark comes off in my hand, leaving
smooth wood beneath. The fragile tool bends
and creaks with each push
into the dark brown, solid earth, until finally
it snaps and then I have
two sticks.

I rub the end of one stick against a rock
to sharpen it. The new point
carves lines in the bottom of the hole
while the other stick, turned sideways, pulls out the crumbles.

I carve my initial.
I carve a wavy line around it.
I carve a slice across it,
then another and another until I have a multi-rayed
asterisk, shaggy around the edges, and there
is no trace of my initial.

With both hands
I pull the scraper stick across the surface to erase it,
scooping out more dirt, leaving the sides smooth as I try not to miss anything
loose in there, in the hole that is as big
as four of my now-grimy fists.

I look down at the hole, at the whole, noticing
how empty it is, my hole.

I drop two acorns onto the smooth bottom and start pushing
the dirt back in. The sticks splinter and I throw them aside, using
my hands instead, and sometimes
the edge of my shoe, to mound the dirt back
into and on top of the hole.

I pat down the dirt.
I step and stomp on the dirt
so that only I will know
the hole is there.


tumblewords said...

So very interesting! Nicely done...

Sassy Lucy said...

The poem is outstanding, but even the thoughts is new better or the things well loved? Makes you think. I think I prefer the well loved.
I am new to Sunday Scribblings, which is what brought me here. My entry can be found:

Maria said...

Interesting post. I am torn between loving the fascination of something new and the comfort of something old.

And the poem was lovely. Only you and those acorns know....

sister AE said...

Thanks, tumblewords.

Hello, Sassy Lucy. I must admit I don't want to pick between old and new - each has their place and serves their purpose.

Hi, Maria, and thanks.

Janet said...

1. Depends on where I'm going
2. Depends on the mood I'm in
3. The earthenware bowl EVERY time!

sister AE said...

Hello, Janet.
1 - I agree
2 - I agree
3 - oh, but I have a thing for art glass (and no place to put it)!

Sherry said...

Each has it's merit and it's beauty.

Robin said...

I love the questions you've posed, but I don't think I can answer them. Or rather, I can't choose. I think all have value in the right time and place.

One of my most prized possessions is my great-grandmother's rolling pin, while another is the brand new (or not quite brand anymore but still new) kitchen drawer that it sits in.

sister AE said...

Hi, Sherry and Robin. Exactly so.

Redness said...

Lovely thoughts & words, Happy, Happy 2008.

sister AE said...

thanks, Redness!

Stacy said...

Just this morning I began reading an old favorite book; so well-known to me that I can recite my favorite lines.

So I guess that I know where I stand on this question.

Happy New Year!

sister AE said...

Hi, Stacy. At least for today!

Heather Kathleen said...

i love the old reliables. and agree that new has its place.

your poem? i was watching over your shouler as you dug. i was right there.

Jo said...

Cool poem and the questions are well posed.....

sister AE said...

Hello, Heather Kathleen. It'll just be our secret then.

Hi, Jo, and thanks.

Clare said...

Hi Sister AE! Happy New Year and I've missed you -- it's good to be back and catching up and reading your magical and spirit-filled words! I love your descriptions of the new and old books, and the glass vs. earthenware bowl -- each evokes so much feeling. And your poem "Dig" is amazing -- I LOVE it! I especially love the lines "rain-made mud" and "a twig really, that the oak didn't want any more" -- and the ending was such a wonderful surprise and delight. So beautiful!!

sister AE said...

Thanks, Clare. I've missed you too, and I'm looking to see what your recent travels have inspired you to create.

Remiman said...

sister AE,
New refreshes and old comforts; we need both to feel complete. You've expressed the warmth that both can bring.
Your poem is a perfect example of the old propagating the new that in turn will get old and the cycle continues.
Very apropo post!

Anonymous said...

This was such a beautiful post and poem. I like things both comfortable and new. Especially, becasue I cannot live life without change and new discoveries. Happy New Year and have a great 2008.

sister AE said...

thanks, rel.

hello, tonguetiedmuse. I'm glad you like it.

Oracle said...

OLd Jumper, New Book, an I think I need to hang around and read some more nice poetry =]

Here via Michele

sister AE said...

Hi, Oracle. Dig in and enjoy yourself.