I did some dishes this week and emptied the dishwasher. That’s progress! While at the sink I had my trusty walker for balance. I tried to put more weight on my left foot. The ankle is still very stiff from non-use and the soleus muscle, moved from the back of my calf to the front, is still saying, where am I?

fiestawareWhile at physio this week with Janine, she said no more hopping. It feels good to be putting my left foot on the floor. It’s amazing how something we take for granted has to be learned all over again.

I was able to do a bit of dusting on the weekend and Sarah did the rest. Getting in touch with my own home again is something I look forward to. I do perk up from going out to lunch and seeing my friends, as my spirits are lifted, but I don’t have a very long list of activities I plan doing again out in the world besides walking. It’s really this space that I want to be in touch with again.

“This is where I want / to love all the things / it has taken me so long / to learn to love” as David Whyte wrote in his poem “House of Belonging.”

And this is where “Only when I am quiet for a long time / and do not speak / do the objects of my life draw near” wrote Jane Hirschfield in “Only When I am Quiet and Do Not Speak.”

I want to lift up those things again, give them a dusting and put them back with appreciation or put them in a new place of honour. I’d like to pay attention to these object companions.

wingbackchairPoet Billy Collins has found “a sense of place” in his poem of the same title from “this upholstered chair / with its dark brown covers, / angled into a room near a corner window.”

I am the native son of only this wingback seat
standing dutifully on four squat legs,
its two arms open in welcome.

bookofmarvelsLorna Crozier wrote of ordinary household things in The Book of Marvels (Greystone Books). I quoted French philosopher Gaston Bachelard in my review of the book: “The poet lives a daydream that is awake, but above all, his daydream remains in the world, facing worldly things. It gathers the universe around and in an object.”

Also in my review, I wrote, “Lorna Crozier has gathered the universe around Bed, Chair, Coffee Pot, Ironing Board, Mirror, Scissors, Umbrella and other everyday things. The objects all shimmer because they’re suffused with love, memory, beauty and sensuous playfulness.”

Of course I couldn’t help but think of Pablo Neruda and his many odes to common things as I read Lorna’s book. Neruda loved things because they bear “the trace / of someone’s fingers / on their handle or surface . . . “ (“Ode to Things”). He worked out his odes “on a four-legged table, laying before me bread and wine / and roast meat . . .” (“Ode to the Table”).

Neruda had “a crazy, crazy love of things” (Amo las cosas loca, locamente). He loved pliers, scissors, cups, rings, bowls and so many other things that are part of our everyday world. He wrote about “housework” too such as in “Ode to Ironing”: “The hands make the world every day.”

In The Poetics of Space (Beacon Press, 1964, 1994), Gaston Bachelard wondered how housework could be made into a creative activity. He realized that “consciousness rejuvenates everything, giving a quality of beginning to the most everyday actions. It even dominates memory. How wonderful it is to really become once more the inventor of a mechanical action! And so, when a poet rubs a piece of furniture – even vicariously – when he puts a little fragrant wax on his table with the woolen cloth that lends warmth to everything it touches, he creates a new object; he increases the object’s human dignity; he registers this object officially as a member of the human household.”

The objects awaken, become members of the human household, because attention has been paid to them – rather like the objects described in a poem. As Bachelard put it, “The housewife awakens furniture that was asleep.” So, you see, “housewives” and poets have much in common.

Both shed light on ordinary events and things and both polish furniture. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a letter to Benvenuta (Lettres a une musicienne) saying, in the absence of his cleaning woman, he had been polishing his furniture.

“I was, as I said, magnificently alone . . . when suddenly I was seized by my old passion. I should say that this was undoubtedly my greatest childhood passion, as we may first contact with music, since our little piano fell under my jurisdiction as duster. It was, in fact, one of the few objects that lent itself willingly to this operation and gave no sign of boredom. On the contrary, under my zealous dustcloth, it suddenly started to purr mechanically – – – and its fine, deep black surface became more and more beautiful.”

He continued in his letter to say: “And even today, I must confess that, while everything about me grew brighter and the immense black surface of my work table, which dominated its surroundings . . . became newly aware, somehow, of the size of the room, reflecting it more and more clearly: pale gray and almost square . . ., well, yes, I felt moved, as though something were happening, something , to tell the truth, which was not purely superficial but immense, and which touched my very soul: I was an emperor washing the feet of the poor, or Saint Bonaventure, washing dishes in his convent.”

Look what he could have missed if his cleaning woman had not taken some time off. And think of the people who live in seniors’ residences where everything is done for them. I look forward to waking up the objects around me by paying attention to them and in turn, I will find the delight others have found by praising the marvels of ordinary things.

kettleI’m alone today and remembering “Everything is Waiting for You” by David Whyte:

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.