Musings, Poems

Applying Compassion

In 2005, my first pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage. I recognize that all miscarriages are traumatic; this one, however, did not take care of itself. After the initial days of a slow bleed, I experienced a day of what I learned later (during the labor for my first live birth) was essentially hard labor. At thirteen weeks, my body went into full contraction mode to expel this pregnancy. I began to recover. I grieved. I went back to work, only to experience massive bleeding which began while I was teaching a class. I rushed to the ER at Women’s and Babies Hospital, where I was given surgical help to complete the miscarriage.

This was one of the most difficult times of my life. In the hospital, I received immediate and compassionate care from everyone involved. There was no questioning, no second-guessing. Of course my records confirmed that I had had a sonogram the previous week that showed a nonviable fetus. Still, I experience horror when I think of the stories I have read of women in my same situation who were forced to wait and bleed for hours or days because a rigorously anti-abortion hospital would not give surgical assistance without establishing the lack of a heartbeat. In some cases, women have developed infections or lost grave amounts of blood or even died for lack of essential medical care during miscarriage.

Will these merciless anti-abortion laws increase the risks for miscarrying women? I have absolutely no doubt that they will. On top of that, women who are experiencing the tragedy of pregnancy loss, of the self-doubt and shame we carry about how our bodies have let us down, will be placed in the position of being interrogated about whether they did anything to cause their miscarriages, with the risk of being charged as felons if they are not believed.

If some of us are particularly twitchy and quick to rage and grieving these days, it might have something to do with this, with having to re-open the trauma of our pregnancy losses–for whatever their reason or cause–finding ourselves imagining what the world will be like for women of the future who may have to endure what we experienced, only without compassionate care or empathetic understanding.

It’s time to trust women to understand what is happening to our bodies.

Poems

Lost and Endangered Species

Yesterday was Endangered Species Day. Here is a poem I wrote for the occasion two or three years ago. Perhaps some of the endangered ones are not all with us anymore:

Ritual for the Greeting of the Lost and Endangered Ones
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Before you cross the threshold,
remember to greet the guardians of the place.
Step to the center of the circle.

Stand still and silent,
watchful and waiting.
Close your eyes and you will feel them all about you:
soft breath, whiskers and feathers,
cool sinuous scales and rough bristles,
hints of movement like the whispers in a dream.

Turn to the east, to the birds, to the wing-folk,
turn to the flying ones, feathered and beaked ones.
Feel the sky darken as Passenger Pigeons fly over.
Hear the maniacal bark of the Laughing Owl,
the whistles and chuckles of the Carolina Parakeet,
the caw and the clamor of the Hawaiian Crow,
the deep distant drumming of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.
All these, the People of the Wind, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the south, to the mammals, the fur-folk,
the ones who run with the fire of the sun in their blood.
Here is Celia, last of the sure-footed Pyrenean Ibex.
There, standing silently like shadow,
the West African Black Rhino.
And there, sliding down the riverbank,
the Japanese River Otter.
This one, the Eastern Cougar, stealthy as dream.
That one, the Formosan Clouded Leopard.
All these, the People of the Fire, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the west, to the fish, to the fin-folk,
turn to the gill people, swimmers and divers,
the people of moist places, the people of bogs.
That sleek gentle head over there in the water
is Baiji, the dolphin of the Yangtze River.
There is the fluke of the Atlantic Gray Whale.
Shimmering in the cool depths,
the Blackfin Cisco, the Galapagos Damsel,
the Blue Walleye, the Gravenche.
In the swamps and the wetlands,
Holdridge’s Toad, Golden Toad,
and the Cape Verde Giant Skink.
All these, the People of Water, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the north, to the reptiles and insects,
turn to the cool ones, the scaly, the earth people.
Larger than a boulder, there is Lonesome George,
the last of the Pinta Island Tortoises.
There, in coils, like a great rope,
the Round Island Burrowing Boa.
This lizard–the Jamaican Giant Galliwasp.
The Lake Pedder Earthworm,
the Polynesian Tree Snail,
the Rocky Mountain Locust.
All these, the People of the Earth, gone now. Gone.

And wandering in brilliant circles and meanders
in the sky about us, but not yet within the circle,
bright orange butterflies, the Monarchs,
and Honeybees, droplets of sunlight
zipping through trees. And others, too, not yet gone–
the Pangolin and Mountain Gorilla,
the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Island Fox,
the California Condor and the Amur Leopard.
All these, the next in line, the ones on the brink.

As you step out of the circle,
look to the air above you,
see the Bald Eagle wheeling on the wind,
the Peregrine Falcon diving toward earth.
See the Wolf, the Bison, the Bobcat.
These are the ones who stood on the brink,
who wandered back to the woods and the wildlands,
who walked away from that veil and returned.

Now we must shift. Now we must change.
Now we must make a new way.

Poems

Who Gets Custody?

Who Gets Custody of Jesus?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Yesterday, a complete stranger
accused me of the heresy
of the gospel of social justice,
and went on to intimate that
I was heading for flaming hell
if I didn’t say an unequivocal yes
to his question about whether I believed
in penal substitutionary atonement.

While I’m not really fussed about
the mythological eternal burning,
his questions clarify the blazing chasm
that expands between us as we approach
this great ecclesiastical divorce.

I am too accustomed, perhaps,
to seeing myself outside the group,
living instead in the wide open meadow,
not the confinement of the windowless box,
avoiding the bindings and locks of dogma,
and questions that require a yes or a no.

Do you base your faith on what he said,
or what was said about him?
Which will it be, justice or atonement?
Who gets custody of Jesus?
Those who don’t want to die
without being covered by his death?
Or those who seek to live
according to the story of his life?

Musings, Poems

Whatever the Day Means to You

First of all: If this day when everyone speaks of mothers is a day unbearable to you, I wish you the spiraling green of a damp spring day, cool breezes which bring your skin alive, and birdsong which calls your spirit to adventure. If you just cannot do this day, I hope that you can make it your own. Call it the Day of the Lost and Venturesome Soul. Go forth and ride the winds with the joy of your own being in this place.

And also, I must mark this day for myself: First, for the mother who mothered me, who has shown me so much of beauty and goodness in the world, who reminds me to put on the brakes when I start sliding downhill into emotional pits. She taught me to look outside, and to look inside, to marvel, to wonder, to look at the crunchy emotions with as much curiosity as the soaring ones. She reminds me to trust my voice.

I know that not all of us have such women who raised us. In that case, I wish you nurturers in other guises, way-show-ers, path-markers, wise wells and founts of deep inner knowledge, who will mother and mentor you, no matter their gender or parental status. In my life, I have had many mothers who have been guides on this pathway, Hecates to my Persephone. Great gratitude to all of you, beloveds.

And my own mothering space is complicated, as yours might be, too. I began to lose my first pregnancy on Mother’s Day, and birthed my second in this season. I treasure these young souls in my care, and I love being their mother. And, befitting one of the besetting troubles of my own psyche, I feel inadequate to the task. I beat myself up for the many unmotherly things I have done. Still, I am grateful for this chance to grow more fully into myself with them.

On this day, I commit myself to finding my own mothering/mentoring role in the world, to point out the beauty, to encourage the inward look, to nurture, to guide, to mentor, to engage, to See.

No matter your relationship to this day, I wish you a sense of yourself as belonging in this world. Much love.

Poems, Poetry Prompts

Don’t

Today is the last day of April! I love the adrenaline of poeming in April, always a little jittery, not sure I can pull anything out of the old noggin. But oy, am I ever glad when it’s done. I imagine it feels a little like finishing a marathon, though I wouldn’t know anything about that. Today’s Tuesday double prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Stop/Don’t Stop poem.

Don’t. Don’t do it.
Don’t wait for the right time,
for some sublime exacting moment,
for the torment of inaction
to fracture your momentum.

Jump right into the story. Don’t stop
planning, plotting, dreaming.
Your days of glory seem so distant,
but this is the instant you must engage.

Step onto the stage. Stop waiting,
stop negating your own power.
It’s your hour. The curtain’s rising.
Surprise us all.

Poems, Poetry Prompts

Not Totally Random


Today’s Prompt is to make a poem titled “__(Blank)__ Again.” This month, I haven’t worked particularly hard at pushing myself outside my poetic comfort zone. Today, I generated a collection of random words on the internet and told myself I had to use a certain number of them in a poem.

The Plot Oozes Again

Does it matter if these words come
from a random spouter of words
on the internet, or if they derive from
some capricious fountain in my head?

Or perhaps I’ll choose every fifth word
from our clumsy correspondence.
There, for instance, I had to strew
a sneaky adjective among my thoughts.
It modifies my meaning, subdues my ideas,
and severs my intentions. Perfect poetry,
the obfuscation (my word) of sense.

Which of these words are mine?
Which are yours? And which,
when we consider the luxuriant input
of the internet, are the fantastic tickets
of the random realm? The plot oozes,
the smoggy street is cloistered in cobweb,
and something has gone, chortling, off the rails.

Uncategorized

Pennsylvania Remix

Today’s prompt is one the Robert Brewer often does near the end of a month of poetry: Take a poem from earlier in the month and remix it, revise it, recreate it. I sort of pooped out on my Pennsylvania poem half way through the month, so I am going to re-work that one today.

Our bones are made of ice and fire:
quartzite and anthracite,
and deep within our limestone soul
are vast and silent caverns.

Our ridges are furred with forests
of oak and locust, sycamore,
beech and hornbeam.

Our blood is borne in the waters
of the mighty Monongahela,
Allegheny, Susquehanna, the Ohio,
the Delaware, the Juniata.

We make our myths in the kiln and the forge,
steel and mining and the quiet industry of farms.
We honor and forget the ones who came before,
writing history as if it began
when our European ancestors
arrived to turn wilderness to profit.

This is the land of the Iroquois,
the Susquehannock, the Seneca,
the Shawnee, and the Lenape.

This is the land of Penn’s Great Experiment,
religious freedom and a rule of law
based on the councils of those whose land we stole.

We have much to atone for,
much to celebrate, much to grieve,
and much to redeem.

Poems, Poetry Prompts

Directions: How Not to Have a Revolution

How Not to Have a Revolution

The elephant went rogue in the forest,
stepping on the ant hills,
destroying everything for the sheer pleasure of destruction.

The ants began to mobilize.
They organized a thousand little Armies of Resistance,
each with powerful leaders and Solid Plans.

Here is a Truth:
There were enough ants in the forest
to carry that old elephant away.
All their united strength and energy
could have saved the forest.

Instead, things went south
pretty much from the beginning.
The ants could not check their tribalism.
They were suspicious of all outsiders,
even (particularly) among their own kind.

On the ruined mounds of their separate anthills
they began to call, not for the removal of the elephant,
but for the annihilation of enemy tribes.
Only when enemy tribes were dealt with
would it be possible to remove the elephant, they said.

By the time the ants had dealt with their own internal battles,
the elephant had won the day,
and the forest was utterly destroyed.

(Today’s Prompt from Poetic Asides was to write a Directions Poem.)