I have read many of Linda Gregg’s poem, and this is one that I return to again and again, for its lyrical beauty and its celebratory spirit. It is not a difficult poem. It is relatively short, uses simple words throughout and the lines flow nicely. Linda Gregg uses familiar imagery (almond trees, chirping birds, bees humming, flowers blooming) for most part of the poem. In lesser hands, these images can result in a stilted poem. But Gregg is a subtle and accomplished poet, and she uses these bright imageries to convey the poem’s key message: that “there’s enough beauty in the world despite the darkness”. The darkness is represented by the sea which perhaps stands for the capriciousness of life, and our fragility in it. On balance, this is an optimistic poem, one that urges us to be thankful for the many joys life has to offer, even while we should be mindful of the inevitable darkness than come our way.
A Dark Thing Inside the Day
So many want to be lifted by song and dancing,
and this morning it is easy to understand.
I write in the sound of chirping birds hidden
in the almond trees, the almonds still green
and thriving in the foliage. Up the street,
a man is hammering to make a new house as doves
continue their cooing forever. Bees humming
and high above that, a brilliant clear sky.
The roses are blooming and I smell the sweetness.
Everything desirable is here already in abundance.
And the sea. The dark thing is hardly visible
in the leaves, under the sheen. We sleep easily.
So I bring no sad stories to warn the heart.
All the flowers are adult this year. The good
earth gives and the white doves praise all of it.
Linda Alouise Gregg (1942 – 2019) was an American poet. She published many several collections of poetry, including All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems (2008), a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2008 and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; In the Middle Distance (2006); Things and Flesh (1999), finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; Chosen by the Lion (1995); Sacraments of Desire (1992); Alma (1985); and Too Bright to See (1981). Gregg’s lyrical poetry is often admired for its ability to discuss grief, desire, and longing with electrifying craftsmanship and poise. Gregg was the winner of numerous Pushcart Prizes and other awards for writing. She was also the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellow.