The Wonder That’s Keeping the Stars Apart


Edward Estlin “E. E.” Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962)

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
ee cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                             i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
This is the only poem I remember reading in high school lit class, and it’s because of the penultimate line:

                and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

My twelfth-grade teacher either believed or accepted the premise that the poem was a romantic love poem, but I wasn’t having it. By the worldly age of seventeen I’d written more than my fair share of love poems and  was infinitely certain (as I was about the majority of my opinions, natch) that this poem is a love letter honoring the natural universe. Honoring wonder.

self portrait

Cummings refers to the subject of his poem as you which makes it easy to assume he meant a person, but for a minute imagine he simply called wonder by the pronoun you

He is never without it,  fears no fate, wants no world (for it is his world), and come on, he even comes right out and says it in that beautifully rendered clue hidden in plain sight.
The deepest secret nobody knows is that this is the wonder…

Wonder belongs to the natural world. It is the magic that brings a cardinal tapping your window the morning you’re missing your aunt desperately. It’s the invisible pull of the night sky that brings your eyes up just as a shooting star blazes over the treeline.

Resurrection ferns on live oak, before the rain.

It’s the language between flowers and hummingbird moths, bumblebees and tomato blossoms, rain and resurrection ferns. It’s how the good microbes found in soil soak into our bare feet and hands, activating serotonin, as easily as kiss between lovers.

There are scientific explanations for the how of things in nature most of the time. But sometimes a hypothesis is just a guess, or two, or twenty. The science of love can tell you all about chemical reactions but it can’t explain what makes us write poetry for one another.

Wonder fits comfortably in the space between scientific explanation and imagination. It’s a quest for the former and door to the latter. Wonder is the engine that sparks creativity, in the form of poetry and all manner of art.

Cummings writes of a moon, sun, root, bud, sky, tree, and stars in this brief poem.  That’s a lot of wonder love, right there. I’ve spent loads of time in wonder of all of these myself.  Dancing under a full moon, hugging a  tree, wishing on a star. Collecting all the love and magic and carrying them in my heart.

Hummingbird moth nectaring at ACRES office.

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