04 November 2011

An Open Letter to Marilyn Nelson

Dear Ms. Nelson,

Thank you for writing Carver: A Life in Poems. The voice you achieved was incredible; at times I found myself reading as though the Doctor himself wrote the poems. Of course, he would have been capable. As you revealed so skillfully, Carver was a true Renaissance man.

I'm finding that there's something magical about mixing science, good science mind you (as you and Carver know it), and all that's poetic. I have half a mind to say that's what the Lord, the "Great Creator," had in mind all along; beauty dancing with the naked elements of all that's been made. I have half a mind to say that's how "The Lace-Maker" saw things as well. For (as you know), the man of your book could see a flower for its delicate, passing-away appearance as well as its function. Perhaps, he might say, its function contributed to its beauty as much as the way it glimmered in the moonlight.

Ruellia Noctiflora
I can't decide whether to be angry at God for when he created Carver, or to praise him. For all the beauty I found in your work, I felt just as much anger at what he faced. In the end, of course I'll praise him; the Lord places his people perfectly, and Carver was no exception. In fact, as he was convinced, I know he was called to be the man he was in the face of hate, "for just such a time as this...." Yet, there's still part of me that is stirred to anger when I think of his brilliance and the way he was judged by many for only his skin.

There's a little selfishness in this too - I can't help but wish I had studied science with his direction. Maybe I could've seen then what I'm seeing now about creation. I have you to thank for opening my eyes to Carver; at least now I can further examine what he would have taught me, albeit from afar.

If you're reading this, you will have already seen that I've used your words for my blog description. Really it's more about my blog-name, Man O' Clay. When I read those words, again that which is scientific and poetic, I was moved to awe. In the same poem you said, "There is a primal, almost mystical/connection between humankind and clay,/from the footed, bellied first receptacles/to frescoed Renaissance cathedral walls." I do my best to remember this fact every day: I am dust.

Upon the dust with his breath aflame,
Into limp lungs now alive,
He gave Adam, and us all, a name.

I don't think I can say enough to you; more than once I was moved to tears through your words. I guess I will say, however, that I will be reading more of what you write - as well as more about George Washington Carver. I know I don't have as close a connection to him as you do, I don't have a "Moton Field." Yet, there is that forever of connections at the cross.

Again, thank you.
Man O' Clay

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sesOur library has this and now I have it to read and ponder!

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