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”:
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.