The Poetry Life: Ten Stories [I rise before the sun does]

Baron Wormser - 1948-

I rise before the sun does. Each morning I sit on the edge of the bed with my feet planted on the unlovely linoleum floor and I say slowly but quite distinctly to the darkness, "Sweet joy befall thee." I feel like an actor speaking the first words of a play except my life is no play nor does my soul need an audience. What I do need is confidence. I've built my life up from very shaky ground and William Blake, the man who wrote that line, has been a godsend to me. The human voice that speaks a poem rises from a powerful well; we take it for granted but a voice is an advent of spirit. I know from attending numerous churches during my haphazard childhood that the joy that preachers trumpet comes in a box with grievous dimensions. Their salvation is a machine of wrath; they break your back on hell so you can get to heaven. The joy I invoke can go where it chooses because it resides in our being alive. The joy I invoke is Blake's Jerusalem, the city we can build each day through kindness: "The most sublime act is to set another before you." No one has ever called the place where I work "sublime," so I need that word, too.

More by Baron Wormser

Anecdotes

A moment from a life--a husband holding up
A tee-shirt for cursory inspection;
A child trudging home from a dull school day;
A tree in heavy wind--when placed within

The careful rails of verse acquires the dear,
Facile pout of meaning. It's a feeling
Rather than a faith since faith knows
Its way beforehand, while this telling us

A seeking. We read under the beneficence
Of a minor spell. Even the pain comforts:
Any life does; any avenue counts.
The man recalls a Sunday softball game;
The child stops at a puddle and peers into
Gorgeous nothingness; the tree falls or doesn't.