Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the space my body fills

I have an affinity for trees. For me, they emit a certain sense of
security and peace that surpasses that of some humans. They dance
in the wind, throw confetti in the fall, creak, sing, and reach for the
stars. They are always there for me and I feel a special bond of
kinship. Funny, one of my childhood nicknames was "Tree", which I
didn't particularly like. Although, looking back, it was very telling.
"Willow", as it turns out, is befitting, as well. I guess I will always be
a tree.

As you already know, I adore the adventure of the hunt at flea
markets, garage sales and thrift stores. It must be the thrill of
allowing my sixth sense to take over. I was out and about Friday
afternoon and happened on a garage sale. The elderly lady had just
a few dismal items displayed in her driveway, and normally, from
the looks of it, I would have driven on by. But something urged me
to stop and take a gander. One of the few old books she had
displayed on a broken lawn chair was The Space My Body Fills,
poems by Etta Blum. I walked straight over, picked it up, paid the
woman $1 and went on my merry way. She probably thought, "Well,
that's a girl who knows what she wants."

Etta Blum was born in 1908 in New York City and earned her
master's degree from Columbia University. She was married to the
Yiddish writer, Eliezer Blum. I was previously unfamiliar with Blum's
poetry, but soon became totally captivated. I felt as if she wrote
these two poems just for me. Maybe she did.
.
.
I Am the Tree
.
.
I am the tree ascending.
At the topmost branch
I've become the bird,
starting from tip to
climb into above.
.
Afterward, cloud.
Why not?
.
My purposes are clear.
.
.
.
The Fountain, the Fire
.
.
The fountain, the fire,
the smoldering,
and the embrace of love.
I touched fingers lightly
to all of these.
I became a tree among the trees
(my leaves pretending to be wings)
before going to sleep.
.
I said to the birds:
"Who will tire first,
you or the fountain?"
.
.

artwork: Weeping Willow by Claude Monet

65 comments:

  1. Wonderful post Willow. I love trees; I'm sure I lived in one in a previous life (maybe a wood louse!). The poetry is lovely. I shall look more up. Thank you for this lovely break in my work day!

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  2. love trees as well, they are so grounding & I too feel secure around them. I feel a tree is a good representation of individuality (the leaves etc.) yet the interconnectedness & interdependence of all things. The 1st poem kind of says that same thing to me, a tree then a bird then a cloud, all different yet all one and the same.

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  3. Hopeful, passionate and humourous
    Those are some wonderful traits :)

    And when don't the Muppets make you laugh?

    Thank you this was wonderful and just what I needed.

    Peace - Rene

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  4. Beautiful post Willow. WOW! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Fine post Willow. There is something about the simplicity of those poems which make them even more powerful. I've only read them twice but they won't go away.

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  6. That book was waiting for you..I love it when the path is so clear..and couldn't Etta Blum say so much in so few words? Thanks..

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  7. Loved the story of finding the book. It was calling you! And the Muppets clip is Hee...larious!

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  8. Lovely poems . . . and a fine picture too.

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  9. Reminds me of, reminds me of...What's his name?. I'll look him up and get back to you. Anyway, one of my very few favourite poems.

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  10. great find...some beautiful poetry...i love trees...the woods are my favorite place to walk no matter the season, just to listen to them.

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  11. oh and congrats on the POTD mention today...

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  12. Hey, Brian, congrats to you, as well! "Couch" was a fabulous post.

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  13. I love those amazing finds at garage sales. The keyboard I'm using was a $3 find just up the street and just when I was needing a new one.

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  14. Thank you for introducing us to Etta Blum.

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  15. Do you ever feel guilty at a garage sale when you don't buy anything? I have to admit I prefer estate sales and flea markets because they don't feel so personal. Usually at an estate sale the owners of the junk are deceased so I know they don't care one way or another if I like their junk. But at a garage sale I always feel like the people are watching, hoping that I'll find their junk worthy of adding to my junk. And if I don't buy anything I'm always wanting to say, "Really, it's nothing personal. I just don't see anything I have to have today." When I'm actually thinking "Whoa, my junk is better than their junk."

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  16. Interesting--I'm not familiar with her but I liked these poems. thanks for the introduction!

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  17. Hi Willow. My home is wreathed in oak and elm trees and I know all their nooks and crannies. I love them too - that is until all the leaves fall and I have to rake them up. All 100 trillion leaves!

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  18. hi willow - well you know i love trees - i listen to their stories and share them later on! etta blum is a beautiful writer - she's new to me. i could eat up that second poem it's so beautiful and ending with "i said to the birds: who will tire first, you or the fountain?" oh my my!!!! you were meant to find that book because she wrote that for you willow. have a lovely evening at the manor. steven

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  19. Really enjoyed that Willow and I'd never heard of Etta Blum either so thank you for posting two of her very interesting poems. The coincidence was obviously universe-led.

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  20. You found yourself of treasure!
    Love the poems and the way you discovered Etta Blum's poetry.

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  21. I am always amazed how we are drawn to exactly what we need. I love trees, Willow. I look out at great big pine trees every day, and I can feel their energy. They are very comforting. You can do worse than be a tree.

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  22. here's a thought for you, Willow... Find a tai chi teacher who practices on a spiritual level and who teaches tree chi kung. Going to the woods, especially old growth, letting a tree call to you, standing with arms forward toward the tree, palms facing the tree, feeling both the vertical and radial energy of the tree enter your body and exchange with yours... this is an amazing experience! You might be able to do it just from that description... the formal practice of tree chi kung takes the energy exchange one step further.

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  23. Willow, oh this is just too cool! And you sound like you can jsut glance at a yard sale and instantly know if there's anything worthy. I'm right, aren't I? I'm a "scanner" when it comes to browsing on the pass, especially if I spy a book. But you probably guessed that already-heh. Love the Monet and poetry. I will seek out Blum at my library :) Happy Tuesday!

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  24. I agree, Willow! Trees were the stars of the only poem I can still recite from grade school:

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.
    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
    A tree that may in Summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;
    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.
    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    -- Joyce Kilmer

    And of course, there are also those most glorious heros of middle earth, THE ENTS, my favorite trees of all time!

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  25. Hi! Willow,
    Your post about trees is very interesting...I too have an affinity with trees...after reading your two poems...I thought
    immediately of Joyce Kilmer's...(Oh! Yes, a relative of actor Val Kilmer, methinks?!?)
    ...poem about trees


    From your "Sunny" disposition I can tell you aren't
    the Weeping Willow Tree!

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;-D

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  26. Serendipity plus finely tuned flea market instincts, willow! Wonderful poems. Thanks for the intro. I shall seek out more.

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  27. Oops!...It look like another commenter...was thinking the exact same thing!
    DeeDee ;-D

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  28. those are all really nice Willow!Love trees too :)

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  29. I love the story about your prophetic nickname of tree and you became a Willow.

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  30. I feel a real affinity with trees too - I love to be among them and feel strengthened and energized.

    The poems are lovely - I had not read Blum before.

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  31. Willow, what I found touching was a comment from our own Australian Jackie French (gardener / author) - that to plant a tree is to provide an asset for your family to come - as in the case of an ash tree (for example). What beautiful furniture it will make one day - and room to grow another. xx

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  32. OHHH!! How lovely!
    And to showcase Rowlf the dog & Sam the eagle! I love the Muppets! Thank you for the smile :)

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  33. You have such a beautiful site, Willow... I just had to subscribe!

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  34. Very lovely... I'm not familiar with Blums work, but I will check it out. I love the title of the book.
    Also, as an aside, as I was scrolling down your blog my cursor went over your picture and I swear the hand waved to me! I tried to make it happen again, but no luck. Weird. Eerie. Spoooooky...

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  35. My hand waved? Spooky. Well, the manor is haunted, you know.

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  36. I like the word picture your line about trees "throwing confetti in the fall." I now have a very nice scene in my head thanks to you.

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  37. Tolkien knew the wisdom of trees. Just look at the Ents!

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  38. A lovely find Willow

    Happy days

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  39. A great find, and lovely poems! Thanks for sharing them.

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  40. I haven't heard of this poet and so thanks for the introduction Willow. How interesting your nickname was 'tree!' Mine was apricot and so together we could have been an apricot tree. Taa for your comment on my Blog. I know my perfect home is out there somewhere - over the rainbow. This is the part where we hold each other and sing! xx

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  41. So now I can also tell you: "Ciao TREE!" :)
    Etta Blum, I didn't know her, thanks.

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  42. I am not familiar with her poetry but I do like what you've posted here.

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  43. I LOVE these poems, thank you for the introduction. I'll have to look up more on Etta Blum.

    I would love to know about your heading photo...maybe I have missed a post about it (it's been a crazy month or so). It's so rich and intriguing to me.

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  44. Diana, thank you! It's an old metal mailbox at the front door at Willow Manor. Small snakes like to take naps in its cool interior.

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  45. Oh, that's so lovely! I grew up in NC where Weeping Willow trees were abundant! Love them. Love trees. Love this post.

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  46. I was interested in Robin's comment about the tree tai chi. I practice this and didn't know others "gave and received" this way, with the name of "tree chi kung" - a favourite place where I am always doing Tai Chi is the Botanic Gardens. A lovely quote-
    "Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?" Alice Walker, The Colour Purple, 1982.

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  47. Im checking out your latest obsession

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  48. Pam, I love that quote from The Color Purple!!

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  49. I'd love to come with you on one of your treasure hunts--you always come back with such great finds!

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  50. Thanks for sharing this jewel-like painting by Claude Monet! And the poetry was the frosting on the cake.

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  51. Trees are my favourite plants too! I love poems of Etta Blum too, she's very concise.

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  52. Hello Willow,

    A lucky find! I really like the second poem. Great fun with the muppet clip too!

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  53. I'm off to find that book. You consistently make me more creative and joyful about almost everything.

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  54. I too love trees. Thank you for sharing this poem and your wonderful afternoon "find".

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  55. I thought I told you, but I don't see it here so maybe I didnt. Just in case I'll tell ya again.
    I have something for you over at my blog. Come and visit :)

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  56. No one has mentioned your roots yet, Willow and I know you have mentioned your geneology before, with roots going back to.... who was that again?
    Johnny Depp? =D Seriously, part of your "treeness" also encompasses your "roots" and the various "branches" of your family. Etta Blum's poems from The Space My Body Fills are interesting in their imagery floating all around the spaces surrounding trees. Monet's Willow Tree was a beautiful lead in to your post about a special passion of my own.... trees. Have a cool and shady afternoon!

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  57. We have more trees on our property than anyone in the neighborhood. When we moved in the house was brand new and the first thing we set about doing was planting trees. Now, 20 years later, we have a welcoming, lush paradise of shade in the front yard. Why everyone didn't do this I'll never know. I've been known to cry over a bad pruning job or the loss of a tree.

    Good for you for listening to your heart and finding a book that was so meaningful to you.

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  58. Every home I have had I have had a thinking tree. I tree that I can put my back to and watch my dog and take in the day.

    My thinking tree now is my favorite one yet...

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  59. What a great find in that poetry book.

    I love trees and get very sad when they are chopped down unnecessarily. I will always remember standing in my garden in Nigeria one morning and discussing with my wonderful male housekeeper, the problem of the branches of one of the flame trees interfering with the electrical wires. So we decided to trim it. I left it in his hands and went to play Bridge. Early afternoon, I am standing on my back patio and thinking 'something is not right here' lo and behold - he had had the whole tree cut down. I was so upset, I could not speak. He was so upset he was in tears but I knew in my heart of hearts he had understood perfectly what I had had said but saw an opportunity to make a quick buck never thinking for one moment that I would react the way I did. I am sure 26 years later, that the unfortunate tree is still to grow to its original height.

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  60. I am not familiar with Etta Blum, but now I am going to have to look up some of her work. I love what you posted.

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  61. I can only applaud your sixth sense Willow. I too am of the order of the tree, just not the willow but the oak.

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  62. Willow,
    Oak, just call me Oak, and come by and surcease in my shade.
    For I too am and love trees.
    rel

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  63. I too am enchanted by trees, and I never read Blum...but now I will :)

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)