Revisiting Dawn: Rita Dove and August Write For Your Life

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One thing abundantly clear in poetry is how much life continually gives us second chances to appreciate all that’s happening around us. If we don’t realize the whole sky is ours for the first few decades, or even first 60 years of our life, eventually, the speed of life — with its wild turns that change everything on a dime — will pause us somewhere, somehow so we can see how the riches around us shine 24/7.

August especially is a second-chance month with another chance to really experience summer, to notice what heat and wind can do to a person, and to long for the return of temperatures in daylight below 90. It’s a time of both abundance (especially this jungle year of rain and sun) and exhaustion, vacations and returning back to daily life, too much heat and then the surprise of sudden storms. It’s an especially good time to wake early and see what the dawn has to say to us when revisted, such as what Rita Dove writes about in “Dawn Revisited.”

Rita Dove 2010 Rita Dove, poet laureate of the United States from 1993-95 is the author of many volumes of poetry, short stories, essays, and a novel and play, including Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), Fifth Sunday (1985), and The Poet’s World (1995). She’s Commonweath Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottsville, and has won many honors.

In “Dawn Revisited,” Dove invites us to revisit the ordinary moments in our lives that hold extraordinary possibilities, and to see what we usually see — a blue jay outside, the sunlight, even the people we cohabitate with regularly — as new and holding vast and fresh understandings for us all the time. Listen and imagine:

Dawn Revisited

Imagine you wake up

with a second chance: The blue jay

hawks his pretty wares

and the oak still stands, spreading

glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.

How good to rise in sunlight,

in the prodigal smell of biscuits—

eggs and sausage on the grill. The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open

to a blank page. Come on,

shake a leg! You’ll never know

who’s down there, frying those eggs,

if you don’t get up and see.

–Rita Dove

from On the Bus with Rosa Parks

In this month’s Write From Your Life, write about what you see, smell, hear, taste and can even touch right now as if you’re seeing it for the first time which, if you look closely enough, you’ll realize is completely true. Write about Dawn Revisited, Mid-Morning Revisited, Noon Revisited, Afternoon Revisited, even Night Revisited, and let the blank page or screen before you help you shake a leg and discover what this moment has to say to you.

2 thoughts on “Revisiting Dawn: Rita Dove and August Write For Your Life

  1. Don’t know if these are private or public words, but just wanted you to know how your words make my life better. With the shrieks of grandchildren in this old farmhouse we rent in the Berkshires each summer I found peace in the Everyday Magic. And tears. So glad you are in my life.

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