Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person by M.C. Richards is a treasure of a book. An anthroposophist-potter-poet from the Black Mountain School meditating on creativity and poetry (cliff notes from Brainpickings here)–it’s the kind of book I can hardly imagine having the good fortune to stumble upon because I could never have imagined it existed. Good thing the library is closed and I can read it as many times as I like.
Poetry is the created presence. Word-poem is its echo, for poetry is the glow of genesis out of which poems are made. Poetry as an art trains us to experience what lies in the kingdom of its origin and its consummation.
We are most poetic when we are the most in tune with created presence–person, place, thing. Life itself may be poetic.
Right now, it is hard for me to write poetry, unless you count the thirty page poem-in-fragments that was my attempt to find the words to say goodbye to my children should I die suddenly while working on the so called “front-lines” during the pandemic.
It turns out, though, that there are no words for that. So I gave up, and turned back to the other poem, the one called my life unfolding, the floor as usual in need of sweeping, and my girls calling me to be near them.
Along the way, I’ve watched as my initial terror has slowly potentized into an inner antibody that bolsters me against fear. Most of the time, it works very well.
The centering consciousness in poetry brings together those experiences and objects which appear separate, finding in the single moment of felt perception a variety of elements simultaneously aglow.
It occurs to me that we are near the center of the spiral with this particular cycle of social distancing. We don’t know exactly when it will be over, but it’s been about six weeks of moving inward, and it looks as if the shift out again has begun, even if it takes another four to six weeks to finish traveling there.
Along the way, we’ve sown our seeds into garden beds, the folds of our bodies, the cracks in our dreams. Who can say what will grow, or how we will be transformed.
I find myself slowing my steps and mind for the movement outward, planting each foot (when I remember) on the ground as if it, too, is a seed.
Perhaps this is what we do when we center; we bring the world into this womb of all, this central hearth where spirit glows.
Sometimes, on my runs in the arroyo, I lie down in the sand and pretend my whole body is an ear.
I hold still and eavesdrop on silence and birdsong.
I grow warm. Feel myself glowing. We shall see what comes from that womblike hearth.