Sunday Best – November 12, 2017

Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.    – Theodore Roethke

I admit, this inspiration came from a curious source – it was the quote of the day on my Bloomberg terminal earlier this week. (Who says financiers can’t be poets?) The phrase struck me immediately, as lately I’ve been feeling the joy of coming back to my profession after a long fruitful time of rooting, sometimes in the darkness. This return brings a wonderful springy feeling of homecoming, of re-membering.

It would be easy to skim over Roethke’s quote in a light and breezy way, but this poet was neither light nor breezy. This is the man who also wrote, “Pain wanders through my bones like a lost fire,” and “The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.”

Roethke’s density is what makes the brightness true.  There is no light without darkness, no growth without decay, no sprouting without rooting. Consider his awful, beautiful “Florist’s Root Cellar”:

Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,

Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,

Shoots dangled and drooped,

Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,

Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.

And what a congress of stinks! —

Roots ripe as old bait,

Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,

Leaf-mould, manure, lime, piled against slippery plants.

Nothing would give up life:

Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.


Dear Honeybees, as we curl into our winters, both literal and symbolic, I hope we do not dread the darkness and weight that winter can bring. Keep breathing a small breath. Hold the light in your roots.



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