Fully Occupied

"To be a poet you must be crazy about language; and you must believe in the uniqueness of every person, and therefore in your own. To find your voice you must forget about finding it, and trust that if you pay sufficient attention to life you will be found to have something to say which no one else can say. And if at the same time your love of language leads you to develop your vocabulary, your ear, and your form-sense, and if you are scrupulously honest, you will arrive at writing what you apprehend in a way which embodies that vision which is yours alone. And that will be your voice, unsought, singing out from you of itself." 

~ Denise Levertov

Arts Castle (Winter 2009)

The Métier of Blossoming    
by Denise Levertov 

Fully occupied with growing—that's
the amaryllis. Growing especially
at night: it would take
only a bit more patience than I've got
to sit keeping watch with it till daylight;
the naked eye could register every hour's
increase in height. Like a child against a barn door,
proudly topping each year's achievement,
steadily up
goes each green stem, smooth, matte,
traces of reddish purple at the base, and almost
imperceptible vertical ridges
running the length of them:
Two robust stems from each bulb,
sometimes with sturdy leaves for company,
elegant sweeps of blade with rounded points.
Aloft, the gravid buds, shiny with fullness.

One morning—and so soon!—the first flower
has opened when you wake. Or you catch it poised
in a single, brief
moment of hesitation.
Next day, another,
shy at first like a foal,
even a third, a fourth,
carried triumphantly at the summit
of those strong columns, and each
a Juno, calm in brilliance,
a maiden giantess in modest splendor.
If humans could be
that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried,
swift from sheer
unswerving impetus! If we could blossom
out of ourselves, giving
nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!