May 25th, 2007

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Poetry Friday -- The Book of Qualities

What if Joy and Resignation and Creativity and Competition were people? What would they be like? Would we recognize them as friends or foes? Would we see in them ourselves? Would we like them? Want to be them? Invite them to dinner?

Well, check it out:
The Book of Qualities, by J. Ruth Gendler. It's written in prose, but since it's all metaphor it qualifies as poetry, absolutely. 

My friend Lynn and her husband read from the book in their wedding ceremony, which just so happened to be the exact same day my husband and I were married -- though we two couples didn't know each other then -- and the day a
sacred white buffalo named Miracle was born, so I'm inclined to think that nearly everything that happened that day was auspicious.

But this little gem could've been handed to me on an ordinary Wednesday with no context at all and it would've stuck. It is such a tangible way to talk about these qualities of mood and temperment that I'm thinking it's a perfect book for tweeners. I would've loved to have had this to hang onto when I was too muddled up to articulate much of anything.

Below, my own little dabbling with some portions that speak to me. But get the book yourselves. You won't be sorry...

Me on a bad day:


Panic has thick curly hair and large frightened eyes. She has worked on too
many projects meeting other people's deadlines... She wakes up in the middle
of the night pulling her hair out... Panic drives recklessly... Panic is
sure no one can help her...


Depression is the child of Lethargy and Despair. She was born tired. She has
always had beautiful dreams. As she grew up, she stopped believing in


Ugliness is a thief screaming, "I have been denied, I have been denied, I
have been denied..."

Me on a good day:


Pleasure is wild and sweet. She likes purple flowers. She loves the sun and
the wind and the night sky...


Trust rarely buys round-trip tickets because she is never sure how long she
will be gone... Trust is at home in the desert and the city, with dolphins
and tigers, with outlaws, lovers and saints. She is the mother of Love...

Beauty is startling.
Excitement wears orange socks.
Devotion lights candles at dusk.

Contentment has learned how to find out what she needs to know.