I recently finished Donald Hall's latest memoir, Unpacking the Boxes; of a poetry class he took at Harvard with Archibald MacLeish, Hall writes, "Because I worked on poems for hours every day, I was offended when MacLeish called me lazy. He referred not to hours worked but to the ambition of my endeavor, to a conflict between apparent size and real scale". Something about my walks, for me, evokes MacLeish's distinction--the forty-five minutes are small relative to the other pursuits that fill my time, and yet they are a mountain in the mind, and, perhaps, the sustenance on which my life grows.
Hall, in any case, seems to have resolved the conflict. In "Routine" he writes a world into five lines, and, to me, with both the scope and focus of another year in New York and a wisteria flower in spring. Because I can't help but feel--can anyone else?--that I will live forever in the late evening sunlight, while the cheers and crack of bats echo through an April Central Park.
In the bliss of routine
--coffee, love, pond afternoons, poems--
we feel we will live
forever, until we know we feel it.