1110: Blue Hour by Chanda Feldman

20240503 Slowdown

1110: Blue Hour by Chanda Feldman


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

Didi and I walked around our house one Sunday with John and Melinda from Habitat Connection. They are among a group of people helping to restore biodiversity in middle Tennessee. The nonprofit encourages homeowners to plant native species, to recreate environments that are friendly to natural life forms. Last year, we intentionally dug up our decorative roses and put in the earth plants and bushes that would attract pollinators: bee balm, catnip, salvia, and coneflowers.

We excitedly pointed out our work to date and were thrilled to talk to Melinda and John as to next steps. They are the kind of people who geek out on different species of native shrubs and get excited about bird banding, migratory birds, and one of my favorites, the indigo bunting. We are considering adding more shrubs and trees of differing heights: serviceberry, snow cloud, Virginia Sweetspire.

In the midst of talking about raised beds and converting our backyard lawn into a layered sanctuary for birds, we noticed a lone grape hyacinth just cresting above several blades of grass. We all gasped, having seen it at the same time. We bent low and began cheering it on. Had you been there, you would have laughed at us. With our outsized enthusiasm, our excessive celebration could quite possibly have been a scene straight out of Portlandia.

During my years in Vermont, I looked forward to the annual blooming of flowers. The appearance of new growth during the seasons made me care more deeply about all life: yellow coltsfoot arriving in Spring; early summer’s painted trillium, star-shaped asters suddenly coloring the woodland floor purple and white in autumn. Although about the birth of a child, what I love about today’s poem is how it parallels my growing sense of care for natural environments. When my children were born, their bodies demanded a softness from my body, not to mention a constant attention.

Blue Hour
by Chanda Feldman

Our  studio’s  slanted   roof  windows   and  French  balcony  doors,   broad
panes to the sky. I hold you, as my mother who telephoned on those first 
days says,  it’s our  tradition  not  to put  the baby  in anyone  else’s hands 
for  six weeks.  In  that  time,  we  blink  and  stare  and blink.  And  through 
hours,  I  watch  the sky’s  blues  more  like  bone,  nacre,  the blue  lace  of 
my foremilk,  the  new-vein  blue  beneath  your skin,  a glossed  gray-blue 
fish,  my  aqua  topaz  birthstone,   the  twilight  lapis  of  the  mikveh,   the 
midnight  navy  of  my mother’s  handsewn  suit,  but the  iceberg  blue in 
the soles of your feet,  as you  colic-cry yourself deplete of oxygen,  pitch 
us over  the earth,  as if  we’ve angled  from our  fifth-floor windows  over 
Paris,  delivered,  untethered  above  the chimney  pots  and  apartments, 
severed  from the clocks  the city is wound around,  suspended until your 
breathing resumes and blushes out the blue.

"Blue Hour" by Chanda Feldman. Used by permission of the poet.