Don’t look now, but we’re running out of month of May.
May I offer up a poem, then, dedicated to this dying month, the one we consider the heart of spring?
It’s our old friend Robert Bly, one of those poets who seems especially attuned to nature. I like that in a poet, even if poems about nature have gone out of style and get rejected with some regularity by poetry editors who are looking for something more contemporary and hip (don’t tell the rose hips that they are no longer hip, will you?).
In the Month of May
In the month of May when all leaves open,
I see when I walk how well all things
lean on each other, how the bees work,
the fish make their living the first day.
Monarchs fly high; then I understand
I love you with what in me is unfinished.
I love you with what in me is still
changing, what has no head or arms
or legs, what has not found its body.
And why shouldn’t the miraculous,
caught on this earth, visit
the old man alone in his hut?
And why shouldn’t Gabriel, who loves honey,
be fed with our own radishes and walnuts?
And lovers, tough ones, how many there are
whose holy bodies are not yet born.
Along the roads, I see so many places
I would like us to spend the night.
The last line of stanza one seems almost aphoristic: “I love you with what in me is unfinished.” You may think such lines flirt with cliché (and why not, as they are attractively French), but I find the vein of truth a comfort food of sorts because, well, I’ll die unfinished, too, just like you.
In stanza two, Bly tries to describe the indescribable, which gives him room to run on about love and the ineffable beauty of same.
Then, in stanza three, we get everyone’s favorite angel, the ever-ready Gabriel, only here he’s eating honey, radishes, and walnuts—humble goods which, in his hands, sound heavenly.
It all wraps up big-picture. My God. The unborn yet, ready to take our places. Ready to fall in love as we have and as all four of our forefathers have.
Not many poets can get away with this stuff, so please, don’t try it at home. Just leave it to the professional drivers on a closed course.