On Sunday I clicked on a link to Jungle Red Writers a favorite site, because I have read or listened to books by every one of these authors. Following through the blog’s discussion of poetry favorites, I reaquainted myself with well known verse, but also with verse I had not read before.
One of them “Windchime” by Tony Hoagland struck a cord in me. When my mother died in 2011, I received two sets of windchimes, they hang in my front yard. They are different in size and tone, but when the wind blows they create a cacophany of trebles and bass fill the air as they move with music. Everytime I hear their melody faintly in the gentle breeze, vibrato in a storm, I remember my mother. For in the chiming of those man-made works of metal and wood, I sense her presence even in her absence.
I often give windchimes as a memorial now, because of what mine have meant to me. I do not know if others feel anything like I do about them, but it is true we give what we like, whether others like it or not. I suppose I do it hoping others will experience the comfort I have. That in the hole, that gaping space of air, scattered debris to sort through, that in the very present absence, there remains a presence, a clamoring of pipes and clapper everytime the wind blows.
Because of the last verses of Tony Hoagland’s poem, I sense a spouse on the precipice of leaving, who decides instead to stay.
By Tony Hoagland
She goes out to hang the windchime
in her nightie and her work boots.
It’s six-thirty in the morning
and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,
windchime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she’s trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.
She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the windchime
because it wasn’t there.
No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands upon the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.
I hope you also find a poem for this National Poetry Month that resonates like this one has for me.