“Composed in a shine of laughing”

This week I’ve been thinking about some of the opening lines to Mrs. Dalloway, one of my top-five favorite books of all time, because really, these lines are as close as prose ever comes to poetry. Specifically, I’m thinking of:

And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning—fresh, as if issued to children on a beach.

What a lark! What a plunge!

My son turned two this weekend, and because I was in the hospital for so long, I didn’t have the energy to throw him the little party we had planned. So instead, the three of us drove to our favorite beach, and just after it opened, we found ourselves with blue, blue skies, a crisp wind off the waves, and a warm tidal pool for H to play in. What a morning, indeed.

Fortuitously, today’s poem-of-the-day email from The Poetry Foundation brought just the right poem to my inbox: Marie Ponsot’s “Between,” a short, elegant poem about and for her adult daughter. It’s so lovely, a deft meditation on both parenthood and childhood that makes me wonder what it will be like to look at my own son in twenty, thirty years. For me, this is the eleven-line poetry analogue to Mrs. Dalloway, a way of seeing the past through the lens of the present, the everyday, the home.

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