It was just a green plastic cup.
The kind you get,
whether you want it or not,
when you order a certain drink
from a certain fast food restaurant.
Cheap and tacky and clearly disposable,
I could not bring myself to dispose of it,
made, as it was, to outlast me.
I used the cup to feed the birds,
to carry the seed from its container
in the garage to the old stump in the yard
where the neighbor cats lurk in the bushes.
I left the cup sitting on the chopping block
next to the sliding glass door
as I sat and watched the birds
make their wary morning forays to the feeder.
The light changed, as it will,
while we preoccupy ourselves with other things.
That is when I noticed the green plastic cup
Empty and full of light.
In this deaf world
I beat the drum
you cannot hear it
a mockingbird eyes the Washington hawthorn we planted in the front yard swiftly dispatching all interlopers harmless goldfinch hungry cedar waxwing guarding the surfeit of berries he can never possibly eat alone from his perch on the cable that runs between the power pole in front of our own house and the house across the street where the man who is dying of lung cancer lives we share the same transformer as far as my eyes can follow the wires through the neighborhood I find we are all connected when the power goes out we are all in the dark I cross the street to return the poor man’s junk mail delivered to our address by mistake he greets me at the door and I give him what is his he thanks me more generously than the courtesy deserves what are neighbors for he would do the same he smiles and kindly offers me a cigarette
It seems to me that anything approached in the right spirit can facilitate contemplation. Doing the dishes. Walking the dog. Wiring a house. I have learned even to embrace poetry submission rejections as a valuable aid to spiritual growth. That being said, my formal practice includes yoga (my wife is my instructor) and Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is the practice of kenosis: self-emptying. I practice emptying myself as my master, Jesus, emptied himself to be filled and used of God—which is to say, Love.
After completing an advanced Poetry writing class in 1981, I ditched the end of term poetry reading. I kept writing poetry, though, after I dropped out of college and began working with my father in the family electrical business. I wrote through the death of my best friend, marriage to my wife now of 31 years, the raising of our children, the death of my sister, and the death of our daughter, Rachel, in 2008. Poetry helps me process life and keep embracing it. I gave my first public poetry reading in 2018 after self-publishing my first poetry collection, Well.
More on Steven Elliott's work can be found on our Links page.