Sunday, February 3, 2008

Home (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

This morning, rather than contribute something of my own, I decided to read a piece from a poet whose work I have grown to love in the short period of time since I came to know of him.

My friend Patti Digh is smitten in love with obsessed with fond of Billy Collins and his work--if you have not read of her most-recent adventure which included Billy Collins, you will find it an entertaining story. Her fondness for his work led me to find some of his poems, and I have to admit, she has great taste. I have a book of his poetry on my desk at work for those 2-minute nano-vacations I take during the workday.

Today’s poem is Consolation, a work of Billy Collins which I find states perfectly my own case for staying home when others believe that the rest of the world beckons in a manner which cannot be denied. Oh, yes it can.

That’s not to say that I don’t travel, or that I hate to travel. It is simply the truth, for me, that I love being home. I love the familiar conveniences, the smells of my own habitation, the sense that I am exactly where I belong. Every part of me can rest here.

For your convenience, I am including the written version of the
poem, as well.


How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyed camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Today’s Sacred Sunday, for me, is focused on home, and the
feelings it gives me.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I also have gotten hooked on Billy Collins since turned onto him by Patti. And I wholeheartedly agree with you and with him both on this one. I once took two weeks off work and then spent more time and energy than I wish to recall explaining to people that no, I was not going anywhere. I was staying around town to enjoy the local coffee shops.

patti digh said...

I fear that in your wonderful strikeouts detailing my real condition in regards to Mr Collins, you might have forgotten a few: adoring of, in awe of, lusting after, grateful to, laughing with, enlightened by...

Rick Hamrick said...

Kelly--it is for just that reason that no one other than my team of three others and my own boss ever know when I will not be in the office.

In fact, when Julia and I were gone from Colorado for more than two weeks last fall, many people in the office never even knew it because I spent a couple of hours each day in the early morning, while my lovely wife was snoozing, clearing up any problems and just getting chores handled at work, remotely. I really wanted to avoid burning out my team, because we loved having that much time away! You can't get that if you don't concern yourself with the folks you leave to act in your stead.

Rick Hamrick said...

Patti--thanks for chiming in! You are the only one with the right to express most completely for Mr Collins. I'm grateful that you stopped by and did exactly that.

I stumbled upon a 50-minute video of his appearance in Aspen last summer, and I have learned a great deal about some of my favorite of his works--he commented between the reading of each poem.

My favorite: after reading "The Lanyard," he said other boys he knew went to a different, perhaps more-expensive camp where they could do ceramics in addition to the option to braid little plastic strips into a gift for their mothers. Many made badly misshapen cups during their ceramic adventures, and one lucky mother who had received such a cup approached Billy after one of his readings. She pointed out that the cups had a real purpose: they were lanyard holders.

Carla said...

Wonderful! I soooooo connect with the sentiments you expressed in your post and Billy in his poem. Just loved hearing you read it, Rick -- yes, hearing -- I'm catching up on friends' blogs in bed, and LOVE to be read to especially at bedtime -- so thank you for providing that extra special treat tonight. :)

Rick Hamrick said...

I'm happy you enjoyed it, Carla.

Sleep tight!

Sphincter said...

Nice! I think I'm a fan of Mr. Collins now.