The day hides the stars


The day hides the stars.  There is so much in this short phrase from The Hammock, a poem by Chinese-American poet, Li-Young Lee.  Today I am experiencing it as a statement of the mystery of existence.  Days are time-bound.  We are earth-bound. And yet we know we’re not and that time is both linear, cyclical and something else besides.  I picked sweet peas this morning, a flower I associate with summer, but in the garden, the rudbeckia looks autumnal – we seem to be strung between seasons like a hammock.


I’ve blogged on that poem before and it is, as I say repeatedly, in the nature of poetry therapy, that we return over and over to the same poems but experience them more deeply or differently each time.

And the same goes for the seasons. This September in Kent is like an extended summer with a heatwave predicted for next week. Every autumn, as it comes around is different from the last. And we don’t know what it will bring in future years, or indeed whether we’ll be there to experience it.

The blessedness of repetition. I’m told that phrase originated with Anna Akhmatova but I haven’t found the source.

To my surprise, I find that I have been living in Canterbury for five years now.  I have never lived anywhere longer than five years in my adult life.  Which means too, that I have been walking the same three mile circuit of the Blean for five years, hundreds of times, my default dog-walk, my constitutional.


A couple of weeks ago, I walked it with my partner, mum, sister and nieces.  We are three generations of two sisters, my aunt is now living away from Kent.  It was a bright day of laughter and chatter.  Like the speaker of Li-Young Lee’s poem, I have no idea what the future will bring for the older and younger generations – ‘Between two unknowns I live my life’.


Every time I do that walk, it is subtly different as the trees and birds change with the seasons. I wonder how many more times I will walk there.  No doors or windows in the woods but plenty of hidden stars and still a little singing of the birds.