Poems

The Cherry Tree

Rainbow Reflections on a bench at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historic Park.

I need to sit quietly and spend some time understanding all that I have learned and experienced in the last three days as we’ve explored the Harriet Tubman Byway near Cambridge, Maryland. Words like inspiring and life-changing don’t quite do it justice.

Meanwhile, here is a poem I wrote in 2015 after a church meal at the house of friends. I had plans then to revise it, and never did. Perhaps that might be the task of the week ahead.

The Cherry Tree

After we had eaten, the adults shared stories
in a circle underneath the trees.

The children rode the tractor wagon down the hill
to splash and wander up the creek almost out of hearing
or gather sweet black raspberries to pass around in paper cups,
each set of fingers smashing down the fruit below
until all was sludge scooped out and licked from purple hands:
a sacrament.

Back from the creek and the fields and the barn they came,
dripping water, straw in their hair, trailing jewelweed,
clothes and fingers and smiles stained purple from berries.

We gathered beneath the cherry tree with buckets and bags.
We all were children then, in the kingdom of the cherry tree,
laughing, leaping high to catch her boughs
to draw the clusters down within our reach.
We could not hope to get them all,
even when the children scampered 
up into her branches.

We laughed and were amazed at the wild abundance of the tree.
And this was church as ever church can be,
all of us filled, dazzled, alit.

May your mouth be filled with sweetness.
May your ears be filled with the laughter of children.
May your heart be as wide and open as the blue sky.
And may your stories blend with the stories of others,
reaching out and upward like the branches of a tree.

Poems

Holy Goose

The Advent of the Holy Goose
Pentecost 2019

I could have sworn there were teeth on that bird,
how She came roaring into the room,
wings wide, neck cast toward us like an arrow,
hissing, engulfing us with feathers and fire.

No gentle dove, She.
No quiet candle flame
setting the saintly halos aglow.

We were herded by holiness,
dented by Her divinity,
shaken, awakened–that beak
breaking us open.
We shattered, pieces
scattering the floor,
the fire pouring through us
as the wind spilled in the door.

Gratitudes, Poems

Things That Make Me Happy

Things That Made Me Happy Today
(Another way to say Gratitude):
1. The chenille bedspread. It’s so comforting to snuggle up under it.
2. My Best Bird, the Oriole, flitting in and out of the honeysuckle vines all morning.
3. The holler is filled with the scent of honeysuckle.
4. Reading Bud, Not Buddy with the kid before he headed off to school this morning.
5. Completing the grading for four of my six classes. Only two more to go!
6. Talking on the phone with Sarah this morning.
7. The way the sun dapples the pathway the deer have made in the bosque across the stream.
8. How Ellis hums to himself wherever he is, like his dad.

What brings you joy?

Poems

Disgruntled: Found Poem in the News

The shooter was disgruntled. An employee.
The shooter died after a gunfight with police.
The gunman was a worker.

The day was most devastating.
The most devastating in history.

The people involved were our neighbors.
The shooter was confronted shortly after opening fire.
There was an exchange of gunfire.
The police officer’s vest stopped a bullet.
The police officer was injured.

People heard someone falling.
People went to investigate.
There was a woman.
There was blood all over.
Get out of the building!
The guy’s got a gun!

Unsure how to react.
In a way you want to stay.
In a way you don’t want to stay.

The shooting occurred when people were conducting business.
People were hiding under their desks.

Police found a pistol and a rifle.
The suspect is thought to have purchased the firearms legally.
People can take guns into public buildings.
The mass shooting took place.
The FBI is responding.
The president has been briefed.

Six people were hospitalized.
Deadliest mass shooting.
Since November.
Twelve people were killed.
Senator devastated by the news.
My heart is with everyone.
Praying for a swift recovery.
Praying for all involved as we learn more.
Praying for our city.
We are resilient.
We will get through this.
Stronger than before.
We always do.

Musings, Poems

Voices Made of Fire

If you could trust your voice completely,
if you didn’t have to consider how how others would respond,
if you didn’t have to be safe, to be tame, to be docile and
humble, acceptable and charming and quiet,
if you had not been trained to make your words
into an easy chair, to turn your voice to honey:
What would you say?

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.