Sunday, September 19, 2021

A New Poem: Patterns

 We are so fortunate to be in Hawaii long enough to get into a rhythm of daily life.  Such a gift to be here, and doing very little!

We settle in.

Morning rituals:

his walks, my writing,

daily divinations,

small offerings to

earth and sky.

Afternoon tea.

Sunsets.

Evening movies.

These are the patterns

we develop and

rest into, the rhythms

of the day.

There is comfort

in the consistency,

even knowing that

safety is nonsense.

Still, there is value

in the comfort of repetition,

as long as we do not

take any of it for granted,

as long as we know that

the security offered

by patterns is a treasure

of this moment only.



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

 We're in Hawaii, very close to Kealakekua Bay.  Much gratitude to our friends who sent us here.  This new poem is called A Beginning.

The dolphin pod swims into the bay

in the early morning.

A rainbow arcs across

the dawning sky.

The ocean is calm,

the air heavy.

This is a time of transition,

a liminal time in a liminal place.

It Is not meant for you

to be comfortable.

It is not for you only

to take and receive.

Offerings must be made.

Only an exchange is worthy

of the seeker.

Where the clouds touch the sea,

where the fire meets the water,

where the rocks climb to the heavens,

there you will find

what you are looking for.

There you will be made whole,

there, when you give yourself

away.




Friday, July 16, 2021

Godforsaken: A New Poem

 I just had a delightful time sharing poems with a friend, sitting on our deck.  After reading this one to her I decided maybe I could put it out a little further into the world.

Who would blame the gods 

for forsaking us now, 

given what we have done 

to what was bequeathed to us?

Yet I feel their presence, the old gods, 

the ones here at the beginning.

I sense them watching and waiting,

still filling the air with presence,

still charging the earth with fertility,

despite our efforts to poison them 

and the waters as well.

Only fire is uncorrupted, 

breaking out here and there

in the overwhelming heat 

of unnatural summers.

But its intent to cleanse 

rages out of control,

and the winds rise 

to fan the flames and

to whip storms into 

a frenzy over the seas.


Is there still time for us 

to reverse course,

to remember the gods 

of the earth and the sky,

the depths both below and above?

I want to cry out, “I won’t forsake you, 

gods of our ancestors, goddesses of my heart! 

I will honor the ancestral and the sacred.”

Maybe they will hear me, but I do not expect

them to intervene in our debacle.

It is up to us to adhere to the teachings 

that we scrabble and scratch to unearth 

below the glittering surface 

we have been taught to sanctify.

Like Rachel, I will keep my teraphim, 

my household gods, and worship 

what they stand for and embody.

What is holy is holy.

The least I can do 

is not abandon 

what I know to be true,




SoulCollage® card with my own teraphim


Friday, June 18, 2021

A New Poem: Elemental

Here is a companion piece to my last post - a poem that came out of the Writers' Intensive.

The wind is my lover.

Sometimes he sweeps my mind clean.

Sometimes he caresses my cheek.

Sometimes he is gone.

 

The water is my mother.

She rocks and holds me as if I were a child.

Unlike the wind, she is constant,

and I cannot live without her.

Every morning and evening I I look to the sky, to wind’s home

and admire its changing face.

But water is my solace.

 

Let the bed remain rumpled and unmade.

I have more important things to tend to –

the flickering candles, the morning birdsong, the blank page.

 

I once watched new land being born,

lava pouring down the pali and across the old land

to pour into the sea, creating new earth in a fanfare of pluming smoke.

Why do I think of this now?

Air and water grew lonely for fire and earth.

 

So, here they are, all assembled, my friends, my family.

Fire says, “Where would you be without me?”

Earth replies, “Show-off!”

Fire retorts, “Look who’s talking?  What do you call what you do

with springtime?”

Water flows in, “There, there everyone.”

Air breezes by, almost, but not quite, blowing out the candles.




Friday, June 11, 2021

I recently attended (on Zoom) a week-long writers' intensive with Deena Metzger.  It was wonderful and, well, intense!  Some of the writing I did was on the theme of place, which has shown up here quite a bit of late.  Here's a piece of what came out of the writing at the workshop.



Down at Glen Echo Creek, the dappled light filters down through the trees, illuminating patches of grass and brown earth layered with tangled exposed tree roots.  Cascades of bright orange nasturtiums with their round green leaves spill in profusion down the steep but short bank.  The water runs swiftly on its way down to Lake Merritt, which opens its mouth to the estuary and finally the bay.  The water burbles and sings as it hits a curve in the bank, flowing around the rocks and roots that form a tiny peninsula.  There is a green smell, part fresh and just a bit rank in  this damp and shady slice of an otherwise drying June landscape.

Sitting on rugged tree roots jutting up just above the creek, I can imagine that I am deep in the natural world.  I can avoid looking up at the green house on the other side of the fence at the top of the opposite bank.  Of course, I know that Piedmont Grocery and all the other shops on Piedmont Avenue are only a block away, but here there is a hum of insects, a few occasional bird chirps, the caw of a solitary crow.  A host of tiny insects dance on a patch of almost still water.  Down a ways on the other bank, a tumble of gray rocks rests just above the water, bearing patches of sunlight, holding and sharing their slow stories.

What do I not notice?  There are sounds of passing cars on the street only a dozen paces away and the steady drone of vehicles on the freeway a few blocks from here.  I prefer ignoring those.  There is a sudden wafting aroma of tacos.  A foghorn sounding from way down at the bay.  The knowledge that a few short blocks from here another homeless encampment has formed beyond the iron fencing the city installed to keep them from settling under the freeway overpass.  There is an ache in my left hip from sleeping uncomfortably last night.  I'd prefer ignoring that, too.  What I don't see is frequently what I turn away from.

Before I leave, I make a small offering and thank the green world and the water I am so privileged to live in and near.  I ask the water what it needs.

"Just continue to love," it says.




Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Walking Our Way Into Place: A New Poem

 

Huckleberry Preserve

Most days we've been walking a few miles, in our neighborhood, in other Oakland and Berkeley neighborhoods, and in the hills or along the bay.  Interestingly enough, it took the pandemic to deepen our connection to this place.

Not even ten years here,
in this strange sheltering time,
we are walking our way 
into rooting down in place.
To be on land not native
to family and tribe,
to fully live with the earth
not merely on it,
it is necessary
to know, to feel,
to honor, to love
this very land.

This is not easy
in urban places,
where the earth is burdened 
with concrete, invaded
by wires and pipes,
where lights besiege all
through the night,
and sounds of traffic
never fall into silence.

But this is the land
we live on,
this is the place
we chose.
We are required
to seek its acceptance,
to surrender our offerings,
to recognize and know
its waters, its hills,
its redwoods and pines,
its magnolias and lemons,
its goldfinches and hummingbirds,
its skunks and raccoons,
and yes,
even its rats.

This is where
our home is,
hereon the continent's
western edge.
May it truly be home.
May we know it
in our bones.
May we love it
enough.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Western Edge

 We spent three Sunday mornings on Zoom with David Whyte exploring the mythopoetic world of the western edge of Ireland.  It was wonderful, and it set me thinking about edge dwelling.  This is a topic I've thought a lot about and dreamed a lot about (my dream group calls them "borderland dreams").  

So, here's the poem that arose out of it:

And hasn't it always been
the pull of the western edge,
so that going west has meant
heading towards your own 
boundaries?

As for us, we were born 
to the eastern edge, 
but we left the old settler shore 
that looks towards the known
as soon as we were grown 
enough to follow the call.
We had to pass through
the middle of things,
but were neither drawn 
nor allowed to stay there
for very long.

Oh, you can settle here.
We are, of course, settlers here -
interlopers, owners, usurpers.
It will never be sufficient,
but we can apologize
for ourselves and our actions,
and we can bring something
to the land.  We can know
and treat the edge place
as holy.

So, if you are here,
an edge dweller,
you are charged 
to use the edge 
to sharpen your wits,
to call forth dreams of healing,
to watch the sky at night
and at the turnings of the days,
and to love where 
you felt guided
to do your work.

And what is out there
past the waves slapping
the western shore?
Do we yearn to go 
still farther out,
towards another edge,
to the Great Beyond,
to the sea, to the sky,
to Orion's belt?
You know - Out There,
to what cannot be known.
Further.