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A Light Breather

Theodore Roethke wrote poems that attempted to connect the inner and outer worlds we inhabit simultaneously. While exploring the outer world, it is important we find quiet in the inner world. In those quiet moments, moving back and forth we find ourselves staying.

The metaphor comparing this movement to that of a snail challenges me to think deeply about what living and breathing mindfully is. What do I notice? And, who and what notices me? As I move, am I sensitive to the world that I move through? Or, do I walk heavily chasing those who which to join me away?

The spirit moves,
Yet stays:
Stirs as a blossom stirs,
Still wet from its bud-sheath,
Slowly unfolding,
Turning in the light with its tendrils;
Plays as a minnow plays,
Tethered to a limp weed, swinging,
Tail around, nosing in and out of the current,
Its shadows loose, a watery finger;
Moves, like the snail,
Still inward,
Taking and embracing its surroundings,
Never wishing itself away,
Unafraid of what it is,
A music in a hood,
A small thing,

About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

13 responses »

  1. People move too fast through life. They are always in a hurry so they really don’t have time to connect with the world around them on a personal level. They have business to attend to. Glad I’m a snail.

    • I am slowing down, as well. Age has a way of doing that. I am grateful, because I take in the world differently.

      • I have been slow for most of my life. The children always liked to go with me because I went slowly and let them stop to check out whatever they wanted. My grandson and I watched a caterpillar for a half hour one time. He always liked to go with me because he said, “You’re never in a hurry.”

      • That is a wonderful story. Young children benefit from us not being in a hurry.

  2. Thanks for sharing Ivon,,. it is a wonderful poem!

  3. This you Ivon a Light Breather. I have noticed.

  4. Reminds me of Roethke’s lines, “In my hand like a bowl, danced my own soul, small as an elf, all by itself. ” I may not have that exactly right, but it is close. I think that is one of the first entries I made in the journal we had to keep for a writing class in college. Our professor had studied under Roethke. I have an entry about him in my blog. Good work, Ivon.

  5. I really appreciate your posting this poem, one of my favorites, Ivon. May I ask that, in the future, you preserve the format as Roethke, or any other poet, had it? Since you have carefully followed his line breaks, punctuation, etc., following the left-justified format he chose would also honor his work. Printed the original way, the shape of the lines puts greater emphasis on the move/stay dichotomy. I know it’s a small thing, but I think it matters.


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