Monday, February 3, 2014


Peanuts, peanuts in a bowl,
floral blue and white,

old Chinese porcelain blue
like the sky today, an upturned

bowl on pedestal trees. You
remember two days ago

when it all dumped out — rice,
wet and sticky while we watched

disbelieving from these windows,
thinking the world could never

go hungry with so much falling.
But today grackles — naked, poor,

immaculate — prove the nothing
that I know under the tree,

peanuts disappearing
from the bottom of my bowl.


  1. We have been receiving "rice" all day here as well. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it could indeed feed the world. And yes, grackles deserve our plenty, too.
    "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is" Yes. Thank you.

    1. DS, it is happily unavoidable: Wallace Stevens is always in my head when I write about snow and winter. Thank you for reading and the gift of you.

  2. I like this a lot. Very good, I think, how you go from the first literal bowl, to the next metaphorical one, to the final literal/metaphorical one. And I just love the surprise of 'immaculate'.

    'Prove the nothing / that I know…' Wow.

    You are a gifted poet, Ruth, as I've said before, and you should have a collection published.

    1. Robert, thank you so much. It was a great relief to live under blue sky all day yesterday, and I had to mark it with a poem.

  3. In response to TSW, just do it. In response to DS, we'd love some of your "rice."

    (Did you know we eat peanuts from the shell every Saturday night while watching a movie??? But not in a bowl/floral blue and white/old Chinese porcelain blue, though that would be quite lovely!)

    1. Thanks, Boots. And I really hope you will get some rice soon.

      I did not know about the peanuts in a shell. What a satisfying ritual.

  4. Ahhh! Yes, the day, the rice, bowl and sky, and peanuts...all concrete sensory reminders of what we have, what we had, what we can become.

  5. Lovely imagery in this poem, Ruth, and I especially like the use of what painters call "repetition of form" (bowl images in this case) to bring unity to the piece. I'm also intrigued by the grackles' proof of the nothing that you know. I confess that, after reading the poem several times, I'm not absolutely sure of how to read this line, but I find it thought-provoking on several levels, in which case, your fine poem might have served one of its purposes.

    1. Thanks for the painterly response, George. That is very cool. As for what the grackles know that I don't, I'm referring back to the line

      thinking the world could never / go hungry

      . . . and so the grackles being hungry under the tree show me that what I thought was wrong. I hope that makes sense, even poetic sense. And if it got you thinking about it in different ways, then I'm grateful for that.

  6. I had a vision of Chinese export porcelain and rice — a restaurant metaphor with the bowl, then upturned - and finding myself smiling to think of the bowls coming together in a sphere and making a whole, top to bottom, just like this poem.

    And me, somewhere inside or outside of it, realizing I know nothing, and that the bowl is simultaneously empty or full, depending on how you choose to view it.

    1. Amanda, it is a constantly astonishing life, to move from perspective to perspective, and know that we know nothing, somehow because everything is possible.


All responses are welcome.