I was in Madison last Friday for a poetry event. Since I was there, and the morning dawned bright and brisk, I thought I would get out and enjoy nature, taking my walk to a new locale. Once I walked I got hungry. While eating I discovered in my email inbox a poet I wanted to spend more time with. These three things combined in my mind as the perfect way to experience a city.
ramble. replenish. revel.
My ramble took me to UW-Madison's Arboretum, a diverse eco-system, lush with spring. An hour passed easily as I hiked through forest and wetlands and prairie lands. Birds chirped. Trees creaked. And I was able to learn a little more about the space with descriptive signposts. Armed with a map from the Visitor Center I only got a little lost and was able to orient myself with numbered markers, eventually winding my way back to the car.
Afterwards, since I'm a coffee person, I searched for a coffee shop that served fresh and local food. I found a great one with lots of personality at the Chocolaterian Cafe. I heartily agree with their tagline: Everyday. Chocolate. In fact they were featuring a chocolate bar that paired two of my favorite ingredients -- dark chocolate and figs. Even before I ordered I snagged the last one.
The food was hearty and full of flavor. I enjoyed a cup of their featured soup African Peanut and Curried Chicken Salad. I lingered over a cup of cafe au lait, parsing out to myself one section of chocolate bar. Around me other patrons read in cozy chairs or tapped on laptops or visited with each other. Art was displayed on the long wall that connected the front and back of the restaurant. Truly a pleasure to the senses!
I had heard of H.D. or Hilda Doolittle before, but on this morning of mornings her poem from Sea Grass struck just the right tone, so I downloaded the whole collection and perused it with my cafe au lait. It's in the public domain so free on Kindle. She was a contemporary of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and a leader in the Imagist Movement.
The light beats upon me.
I am startled—
a split leaf crackles on the paved floor—
I am anguished—defeated.
A slight wind shakes the seed-pods—
my thoughts are spent
as the black seeds.
My thoughts tear me,
I dread their fever.
I am scattered in its whirl.
I am scattered like
the hot shrivelled seeds.
The shrivelled seeds
are spilt on the path—
the grass bends with dust,
the grape slips
under its crackled leaf:
yet far beyond the spent seed-pods,
and the blackened stalks of mint,
the poplar is bright on the hill,
the poplar spreads out,
deep-rooted among trees.
O poplar, you are great
among the hill-stones,
while I perish on the path
among the crevices of the rocks.
from Sea Grass