Finding wisdom

There is wisdom in the mountains –
the wisdom of high and lonely places –
and the birds have wisdom,
the knowledge they carry
deep inside, unspoken,
of moving with and against the air.
The cat knows how to be still,
how to coil energy in muscle,
how to spring. The tree knows
how to grow, how to seek strength
in the soil.

She’s never trusted her body
to crave the right things. She’s
never stopped to listen – has
crammed her feet into the wrong shoes,
cinched her waist tightly,
read the labels on tins and packets
obsessively, counting numbers
that don’t count. She’s over-ridden
her own desires so often
she doesn’t know what she wants.

The bee knows how to dance.

Inside that bean there is a plant
that needs water, earth, light,
to grow tall. Touching something
with its twining tendrils, to cling
and coil, and seek support,
opening its flowers to the bee –
that dancing bee, that carries
sweetness and information in
equal quantities – always the mystery
of growth and flower and fruit and seed.

She sought wisdom in distant places,
danced under full moons,
read so many books that told her
who she was, as if some distant
writer knew her better than she did herself.
She listened to whalesong,
had her skin rubbed with oils,
cut out gluten, dairy, carbs,
ran so fast she met herself
coming back.

There is no wisdom in the soil,
but you can find it there, if you dig deep –
it’s in the digging. There’s no wisdom
in a loaf of bread, but you can find
a kind of wisdom in the making of it.
There is no wisdom in the ocean,
but if you sit there, reading it,
you’ll find the wisdom that you carry
deep inside,waiting for sun, and air,
water and food, waiting to blossom,
waiting to fruit. Be still.

There’s no real wisdom in a poem, but you can find your wisdom there.

This is for Day 17 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poems springing from the diving board of Jim Harrison. Today’s quotation isn’t from a poem, but from an essay: 

“Prolonged exposure to nature gives one a sort of grammatica pardo*, a wisdom of the soil.”

~ Jim Harrison,  from A Really Big Lunch

*to be worldly-wise; know the ways of the world

Technically,  A Really Big Lunch is not a book of poetry; it is a series of essays by Harrison.  I am currently reading it. Warning:  it is outlandish and best read with much wine and a propensity for laughter. I used this quote because, like much of his prose, it has the stuff of poetry and because his connection to nature is a big part of why I connect with the poetry.

 As always, everyone is welcome to join in.  Write a poem inspired by this quote, post it, credit Harrison, link back in the comments, stop back by and read other poets.  Cheers! Jilly

10 thoughts on “Finding wisdom

  1. such a very fine poem that it needs to be read more often to be appreciated but even a first read makes me ooh and ahh with admiration – love the coiled cat and
    “dancing bee, that carries
    sweetness and information in
    equal quantities”
    – and the contrast with that poor deluded woman who is so far from the earth and yet I can identify with her! (not to the extent of a Kardashian though!!)


  2. This is so relevant and the dance of the poem with its left foot and right foot tells it with great accuracy. That final line, coming together in the center of the dance pulls the reader back to the beginning of the poem. We find wisdom within ourselves, for ourselves. All else is chasing after the wind.


  3. If this is what comes after being spaced out and exhausted…then I think I’ll be watching you more closely. Wisdom tumbling after truth from stanza to stanza…..I mean, where do I start to compliment you? Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

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