Sounding Joy

DSC00494Sounding Joy

Some have no need
to chart its depth.
My grandmother only worried about what she’d feed
people, and whether the rolls, with their rounds like
child cheeks, had risen, and, if
the chew at the table near equaled
the talk, she’d beam
in the gustatory steam
foregoing the hand-over-hand lifting
of the lead.

While me, I can hardly witness
my own happiness, much less bask,
rather I ask the moment
echoing questions
about lasting, and too, the past,
trying to fathom
what is bound in part
by that effort,

and what is bound in other part
by the nature of the heart,
shaped, as it is, like a fist
that wants to grasp things, hold
them tight, rather than, say, a fish
who’ll swim in stream, pond, sea alike–
who’ll swish even
in the curl of puddle–you know,
if it’s a wise
fish.

********************

Not sure about the end of this poem, but it’s a draft draft draft for my own prompt on With Real Toads to write something using two words of a Christmas carol or other holiday song.  In my case, the words are “sounding joy” from Joy to the World.  

Process Note–I use sounding here in all kinds of ways (I hope) but  particularly sounding depths of water, which traditionally used a rope and a lead, and, more recently, sonar.

Pic is mine.  All rights reserved.

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15 Comments on “Sounding Joy”


  1. I particularly like the ending (even if you were unsure of it), and the aside, “if it’s a wise fish.” There’s something as endearing there as with Grandma’s rolls in the beginning:)


  2. To find those depths… I wonder if we really dare to probe that much.. Maybe we do not like the face of the angler-fish that awaits us.. I like how you used the rhymes here… like a strong backbone (maybe herringbone) of the poem… Very nice prompt.

  3. gillena Says:

    its nice to recount those days of worry, when guest were held in high esteem

    Happy holidays

    much love…

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I love your chosen title and the play on the word ‘sound’. I guess Christmas is a time of reflection, a time to ask oneself just how happy one’s life is. I don’t know why people expect to be any happier now than at any other time of the year.
    I especially love the final stanza, which the evolution from heart as fist to heart as fish. Very cleverly done and beautifully expressed.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    I love LOVE the ending–it is whimsical in just the right lingering way, so that we hvae a taste of what-if and why left on the tongue,and the visuals here are just astonishingly good–I can absolutely see the table and those around it, and the heart trying to make sense of all it is called upon to digest–surely that’s the stomach’s job, it must feel…yet it is designed as you say, to grasp and not swim…beautiful and full of a very human light, despite the seasonal burden of misgiving and unease with one’s lot. (I firmly believe all the emphasis on Joy and Family and all that this time of year is one of the most depressing things our society does.)

  6. Steve King Says:

    Hedgewitch is right–the ending completes your marvelous mental journey from the sensory image of the crowded dinner table to the less tangible manifestations of emotion and desire. It’s artfully done and explores a corner of your own depth. Have a great Yule season!
    Steve K.

  7. Mama Zen Says:

    The second stanza rings so true! I love this.

  8. Jim Says:

    I smile as I read this. First smile. 🙂 ” she’d feed people”, because Mrs. Jim gets after me for this grammatical use of the word, ‘feed’. She says you feed animals, people unless they can’t eat by their own efforts.
    It could a while for the play on ‘sounding’ as in depth finding. Finally we got to the fish, and there was a small debate there.
    Very catchy (for me at least), K. Thank you for the nice prompt idea.
    ..


  9. I wish for the simplicity of only concerning oneself with the feeding of a meal. Christmas was always dark for my family when I was a child.. There was the annual Christmas fight which still has me asking all the whys of a spoiled yule.

  10. Brendan Says:

    Always, in the human way, two poles stretch between ever awareness, between a height and its depth or a depth and its breadth, between the art and the heart of the matter. Fine calibration here of holiday magnitude, do you measure it in the cheekiness of the rolls or their volume of their chewing, in the holding of the heart to such memories or the letting go, making more room. Very apt title.

  11. Marian Says:

    Wow,
    “I can hardly witness
    my own happiness, much less bask”
    Yeah, I get that. Whew.


  12. Strong and energetic wordplay in your poem. I love the ending too!


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