Rose Cook’s Notes from a Bright Field

I first came across Rose Cook’s poetry when another blogger put up “A Poem for Someone Who Is Juggling Her Life.” I love this poem and I’ve shared it here, as well.

Sometime this winter I decided I would like to take a longer look at Cook, and I ordered a copy of Notes from a Bright Field (Cultured Llama Publishing, 2013; “Juggling” is included in this volume). Cook lives in England and is also a photographer and a performer.

Her poems are not obscure or difficult (which is territory I keep plunging into, during this month-long trek through poetry books), but they are nuanced. I love how she opens the book with these lines: “How to begin my song? / Two geese fly over / creaking love, / but how shall I start?” Although it’s hard to pinpoint a single theme for this book, the notion of a traveler — through fields, down unexpected roads, through life — is certainly possible.

Here’s another poem, a sonnet, from Notes from a Bright Field: 

Two Cups 

Now she’s dead I do it all the time.
I’m always setting out two cups for tea.
I bought her favorite biscuits just last week,
I can’t get used to not having her here.
There’s no one else to tell about the birds
or when The Archers start or to ask
if we should risk the plants out overnight.
The frost might come and then you’ve lost the lot.
I’m always setting out two cups for tea
and shouting her it’s raining, but she’s gone.
A woman comes to clean. She’s very nice.
She doesn’t talk much though and we don’t laugh.
I find I have too much time by myself.
I’d give anything to have her back again.


Be Still Sometimes

I have been reading Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. It’s a book about dying in America, and–for anyone dealing directly with this subject (and who among us is not?)–it is full of gems. One of them, in the chapter about his own father, is ODTAA syndrome: One Damn Thing After Another.

Anyway, I went searching this evening for Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey,” so I could share it with my friend Therese (who is definitely suffering from ODTAA; you don’t have to be dying to do so). And I found this poem, which I thought Therese could use as well. It’s for Sarah, too.

Poem for someone who is juggling her life

This is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over
because someone juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.

Rose Cook, from Notes From a Bright Field (Cultured Llama, 2013)

And did you even know that there is an International Juggler’s Association?