Reading discoveries

A bee in a bush by my driveway

I read the best sentence today: “Bees can remember human faces, but only if they are tricked into thinking that we are strange flowers.”

It’s from a scientific study that Harper’s reported on in their Findings section. Harper’s isn’t normally a magazine I read, but when a friend recently graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, the speaker at her ceremony advised the graduates to regularly read a literary review.

This sounded wise. Chris subscribes to Harpers, and although this isn’t a literary review, it’s better that “People,” so I spent my Saturday afternoon reading. In addition to the bees’ imaginations, I was fascinated by the poetry of Wislawa Symborska. He wrote a poem called “Here.” It begins:

“I can’t speak for elsewhere,
But here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
Scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins,
Teacups, dams and quips.”

Even if you don’t fully comprehend it, (I’m not sure I really do…) how can you not dive into and savor such poetry? In my afternoon imaginings, interesting images took shape. Here, in my house, I thought, I don’t manufacture much, but I do appreciate and tend to books of good stories, dust-bunnies, the aroma of a fine batch of spaghetti sauce, conversations, good intentions, and a lot of photographs. These I have in fair supply.

In Harper’s I also read a lovely “Sonnet for a Tango in the Twilight,” an article on our culture’s “War on Unhappiness,” and a short piece that asked us to explore a question that defines our times and, oddly, the fate of the post office: “Do we want to be angels or do we want to be human beings?” I also learned that “Hermit crabs queue in long lines, ordering themselves from biggest to smallest, while awaiting a synchronous vacancy chain, where in each crab moved to the next biggest shell.”

That last image makes me smile. The whole afternoon did. It was a smile that stemmed from a mind engaged, and of course from my efforts to strike a pose as a strange flower. One never knows when she’ll encounter her next bee.

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One response to “Reading discoveries

  1. As an English major, preacher, writer, and strange flower, I appreciated this post very much. There’s something about literature, poetry, indeed, the right set of words linked together that cuts through the background noise to the essence of the thing itself. It’s like seeing something for the first time, and there’s this gasp of recognition, at the same time. Lovely. Makes me want to go read some poetry. And have some spaghetti with great sauce, too.

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