For some reason, I've always been a memorizer. It comes easily to me, which is why subjects such as spelling and history were always my best. I can memorize nearly anything, if given enough time. It's concepts that involve steps that I struggle with. (Math + Science. Oy, those years of chemistry and algebra were a joke. Good thing I married a future doctor so he can help our poor future children with those subjects.)
I work from home, and I spend most of my days alone. I was figuring out what I could do to fill my life with more beauty the day before a business trip to Seattle. I brought along Mary Oliver's "Thirst" collection and read over her poems on the flight. It was then that I decided to memorize a poem. But not just any poem, specifically her poem, "Walking Home From Oak Head."
I started that night in my hotel room just with one stanza. It was hard. "There is something about the snow-laden sky in winter in the late afternoon..." I repeated until I fell asleep. In the morning I added the next stanza. In about a week, I had the entire poem memorized, and still get the chills when I recite the last line, "my shoulders covered with stars."
I enjoyed memorizing it (and having memorized it so much) that I started again with another poem. I'm almost up to five now. I've found the best time to learn a new stanza is right before my morning shower. It may seem strange, but it's something I do every day (ahem try to do) and so it gives me a consistent time to do it. I also find it strangely soothing, repeating these beautiful words while the water pools around my feet.
Here are the poems I've memorized so far. (Currently I am working on Richard Wilbur's The Writer.
Walking Home from Oak Head - Mary Oliver
Courage - Anne Sexton
The Quiet World - Jeffrey McDaniel
Wild Geese - Mary Oliver
Am I the only one that does this? Which poems should I add to my list? I'm definitely thinking I need some Lisel Mueller and Robert Frost.