in by e.e. cummings (Literature as a Tool)

I hesitate to even post something like this, because my post about “Terence, this is stupid stuff!” gets so many views by, I’m sure, serious English students looking for someone who knows something about all this.  (And how I envy students of today, with the world at their fingertips!)  That’s NOT me.  I was once a (drunken) semi-serious English student, but I didn’t learn all that much, and I don’t have any natural ability or intelligence for it, either.

But I do love, to an extent, to read, and to write, hence the blog.  Through the years some stories, poems and songs have stuck with me and have special meaning to me.  Some have to do with sobriety.

A few are poems by e. e. cummings.  I think he is the first poet I ever loved, back in seventh grade, when I was twelve.  I was just starting on my downward spiral that would end, ten years later, with me finally getting sober.  I still love e. e. cummings though I can feel a little embarrassed about that, if I pause to consider how I might “look” to more literary folks.  But I won’t pause to consider that today.

Instead I’ll share the poem.  My post about the 12th Step and being brave and serene in bereavement was so very heavy.  A lot about my days is heavy, with the ancient critters and my dying neighbor.  But there is a cycle.  I feel it, as I talk to someone newer in the program, someone who still has young children to teach and to mold (as much as a mother can).  I can look back and see what benefited my children, what was obviously good, what worked out well.  It’s the same, of course, with sobriety.  Many of the people who kept the meetings going for me and who helped me and taught me are no longer with us.  But their legacy will be with me tomorrow when I make the blasted coffee so that someone who decided to check it out will find a warm cup there tomorrow night.

in

Spring comes(no-
one
asks his name)

a mender
of things

with eager
fingers(with
patient
eyes)re

-new-

ing remaking what
other
-wise we should
have
thrown a-

way(and whose

brook
-bright flower-
soft bird
-quick voice loves

children
and sunlight and

mountains)in april(but
if he should
Smile)comes

nobody’ll know

~ e. e. cummings

“a mender of things” has always spoken strongly to me of my experiences in AA.  I have seen the resurrection of people from so many different places, stages, situations, that by now I truly couldn’t count.  Otherwise, without the program, “we” surely would have thrown me away.  Society would have, if they were lucky, because I was a burden and, more than that, I was dangerous.

“eager fingers” and “patient eyes” also describes the program in many ways.  There is such eagerness for the new person to “get it.”  AA members go way out of their way to help.  And patience doesn’t begin to describe the long-suffering hope I’ve seen displayed again and again and again.  People gave it to me and they weren’t wrong to do it.  We know so well that all it takes is that final “click” for someone to start down the path of sobriety.

In that sense, it doesn’t matter how old or close to death someone is.  I know that the past, last, three years of Phyllis’ life were made much better by her association with AA.

I don’t have as clear a concept of the last part of the poem.  Some of the “if he should Smile” and “nobody’ll know” could relate to the seeming randomness of who recovers and who doesn’t.  And I say “could,” meaning, in my own reading.  I’d be shocked if e. e. cummings had AA in mind.  I think it’s a safe guess that he didn’t.  That’s not the way I read literature, to try to get at the “author’s intentions.”  I’m writing only about the personal meaning I give the poem, that causes me to enjoy it.

So, the “mender of things” could be Jesus, and in a certain frame of mind, I can see it that way.  But I don’t need to by any means.  I certainly believe that the force for good in the world that Jesus was, and is, fits perfectly.  But there also seem to be other forces at work.

And the ancient critters have had good, good, long, long lives.  And they will make a space, ultimately, for others – maybe not yet born.  My part of the world is filled with unwanted, unloved, healthy animals that get killed because there’s no room.  I have no room today, but maybe tomorrow.  And my daughter has already taken in two pound purries, so that part of the child-rearing thing has worked out.

a mender of things

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