Listening to Hummingbird

Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya (and now around the world), told a story about a hummingbird.

When the great forest was on fire, and all the animals were fleeing for their lives, the tiny Hummingbird zipped to the river, gathered a beakful of water, and zipped back to release the water onto the raging flames. Again and again, she carried her tiny beakfuls of water to try to put out the flames. The other animals noticed, and told her how futile her efforts were, but Hummingbird kept on and on, believing that it was her duty–no matter what–to do her one little thing.

Perhaps some of the other animals were inspired to get down to work, to do their own little thing, to pass on the hope of a thousand small actions. Perhaps the fire raged on despite their efforts. Perhaps they held it back. Perhaps they even put it out in the end.

During these days which, in the deepest of the dark insomniac nights, feel a little like the Beginning of the End of Things, Hummingbird has been sipping sweetness from the petunia basket outside my window, resting sometimes on the wire, nabbing gnats out of the air, hovering right at the window and peering in at me.

When I brought my first baby home from the hospital more than 14 years ago (a world ended and a world began with his birth), I settled into the recliner, exhausted and full of great satisfaction and wonder, to nurse the tiny person who had entered our world. Looking up from the babe, I saw Hummingbird hovering at the window for what seemed like ten seconds or more (an eternity of seconds), and she seemed to be watching the New Person, and marveling with me. In the succeeding years, I have marveled back at the wonder of her own young, at their tenacity and resilience, surviving lashing storms in their bottle-cap-sized nest. At their first fledgings. At the blur of their wings as they sip sweetness. At the self-contained unself-consciousness of their existence.

And now, in a time when I am bending all my mental and emotional and physical will toward resilience and tenacity, when I am terrified for my children, my students, my parents, my self, I have Hummingbird in my days, quietly doing her thing, going about her business, checking on me through the window.

She leaves me with questions. Perhaps you want to ponder them, too:
* What, in these days of going back to school, will be your sips of sweetness to fuel you through the moments of high challenge and frustration and worry?
* What, as Wangari Maathai asked, is your “one little thing”? What is that thing you will do to stem the tides of destruction, even when it seems like only a beakful of water?
* What does resilience look like to you? (For me, I want to picture myself in my classroom BEING tenacious and resilient.)
* In the story, Hummingbird simply did her work and did not ask for help. I am not Hummingbird, and she leaves me with that question, too: How will you remember to ask for help when you need it?

So. Whatever our tasks in this time of great trouble, whatever our capacities to meet the challenges before us, let us fly with strength and power, knowing that we are doing our part. Around us are so many who are joining in the work. Let us be resilient and vulnerable, earnest and tenacious, willing to ask for help when we need it, offering to give others a spell when they reach exhaustion.

As the Talmud says: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”


Gratitude List:
1. Messages from Hummingbird
2. Help from a friend when I didn’t even think to ask for help
3. Colleagues. I love my colleagues.
4. The custodial staff at my school. They make me feel safe. They care for the building and the spaces we inhabit. And, they’re so good-humored.
5. Air conditioning in my classroom. If, on top of everything else, I had to go into a 90-degree classroom to teach in my mask, I think I would have given up. I don’t think I could have mustered that much resilience. Air conditioning! I have air conditioning in my classroom!

May we all do our Little Thing, doing justice loving mercy, and walking humbly.



“By expanding our self-interest to include other beings in the body of Earth, the ecological self also widens our window on time. It enlarges our temporal context, freeing us from identifying our goals and rewards solely in terms of our present lifetime. The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception. Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first spinning and splitting of the stars.

“Thus the greening of the self helps us to re-inhabit time and own our story as life on Earth. We were present in the primal flaring forth, and in the rains that streamed down on this still-molten planet, and in the primordial seas. In our mother’s womb we remembered that journey wearing vestigial gills and tail and fins for hands. Beneath the outer layers of our neocortex and what we learned at school, that story is in us—the story of a deep kinship with all life, bringing strengths that we never imagined. When we claim this story as our innermost sense of who we are, a gladness comes that will help us survive.” —Joanna Macy


“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” —St. Augustine (I’m not usually a great fan of St. A, but I find this really moving)


“Eating with the fullest pleasure—pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.” —Wendell Berry


“Literature irrigates the deserts that our lives have become.” —C.S. Lewis


“A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.” —Fred Ross


The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
—Wendell Berry

Emptying Myself

I am emptying myself, a little at a time,
settling in to the laze and the loaf,
stretching my spine like an elastic band
and letting it ease back into a loose curl.

Oh, I have Lots of Things to Do.
But here I am, and that goldfinch
out there is shining
like a liquid drop of pure sunlight,
and a cat needs a human hand
in just that spot between his ears
and I am happy to oblige.

I’ll practice breathing.
How does it go?
In. And out.
In. And out.
In.
And out.


Grateful:
For the summer stretch before school begins, in whatever form it will begin.
For that golden finch, and the fierce pink of the wild peas on the hillside behind him.
For making things. Right now my obsession is the sewing machine.
For my bike, which I have sorely neglected for years, but which I ride 2-3 times/week now.
For anticipation of time with beloveds, masked and distanced, of course.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Choose to be in touch with what is wonderful, refreshing, and healing within yourself and around you.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh


“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.” ―Meister Eckhart


“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh


“No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”
―Mary Harris Jones

We Bleed

For the past few years, I’ve been working in this book I found a few years ago. My found poems were pretty limp and predictable. I think novels offer better variety for found poems.

Here’s a poem from 2017:

We Bleed
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Indeed, Mr. President, we bleed.
There is blood coming out of our ears,
blood coming out of our noses,
blood coming out of our eyes,
blood coming out of our wherevers.
There is blood coming out of our faces,
our faces lifted long in anger,
our faces we have raised in rage.

We bleed, you see. We bleed.
We bleed, and yet we do not die.
Blood pours from our angry eyes.
Blood flows from our vaginas
(there’s the real word for it,
if you would care to know.
We’ll take it back, if you please–
and even if you don’t).

Women’s blood is our revolution.
We’re bleeding rivers of blood,
the blood of life and death–
menstrual blood, flowing
from our red tents, flowing
down the river valleys of this nation
to where you sulk and natter
in your great white house.

Your mother, too, gave her blood to these rivers,
when she gave you birth. And your wives
gave their blood to bring children to life.

Our blood flows down the wide and gentle Susquehanna,
down Columbia, Patuxent, down Delaware and Myakka,
down the Dan, the Mississippi, the Arkansas, and Conestoga,
down the Flat, the Tar, the Eno, down the gentle Shenandoah,
down the Snake, the Hoh, the Wabash, and the blue Atchafalaya.

Our menstrual blood is running in the deep, deep waters of the Deep,
down the Wissahickon, down the Schuylkill, Neuse, and Monoshone,
down the Cape Fear, down the Waccamaw, and down the Olentangy,
down Santa Ynez, French Broad, the Roanoke, Missouri,
down the Guadalupe, Anacostia, Blackwater, and the Pee Dee,
down Yadkin, Catawba, Nantahala, and Clatskanie.

Our blood courses down our grand unwalled Rio Grande,
down the Pullayup, Colorado, down Kanawha and Snohomish
down the fiery Cuyahoga, down the Brazos, and Skokomish,
down the Nooksack, the Nisqually, the Pecos, the Sammamish,
down Sciota, down Ohio, the Snoqualmie, and Duwamish.
We bleed down the chemical-drenched waters of the New,
and the Red, red as our blood, down the Elkhart and Potomac.

Even from Elsewhere, our rivers are everywhere:
the Moselle, the Mara, the Danube, the Afton, the Nile.
Our blood flows down rivers to the White House
where you tweet and twitter on your golden bed,
to the halls of power where dried up old white men,
withered husks with no blood of their own,
think that they decide our futures.

We write with our blood on the Earth.
We write, “Revolution!” We write, “Resist!”
We write, “Now you have struck the women,
you have struck a rock. Now you have entered a river.”

With our own blood, we write,
“We will not be trivialized.
nor delegitimized by insults
of an overgrown illbred bully-child.

Yes, we bleed, Mr. President, and our bleeding
will overwhelm your smug and violent ramblings.
We bleed from our faces, our vaginas, our wherevers,
and you will be washed in the rivers of our blood.
And justice will roll like the rivers we bleed.


Gratitude List:
1. The companionship of cats
2. Gentle morning birdsong
3. Finding poetry
4. Laughing with the family
5. This little air conditioner

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“The best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it is possible.” —Gloria Steinem


“It is time for women to stop being politely angry.” —Leymah Gbowee


“The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we’ll find our mettle to give and receive, to love and be loved, to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength, not fear, understanding this is all there is. The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power.” —Terry Tempest Williams


“The heart that breaks open can hold the whole universe. Your heart is that large. Trust it. Keep breathing.” —Joanna Macy


“Peace is not something you must hope for in the future.
It is a deepening of the present,
and unless you look for it in the present,
you will never find it.”
—Thomas Merton


“To stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.”
—Pema Chödrön


From Joy Harjo—
“Note to self today:
Do not feed the monsters.
Monsters are those thought threads that denigrate and disrespect self and others.
Some are wandering thought forms, looking for a place to land and live.
Some are sent to you deliberately or inadvertently. They can come from arrows or gossip, jealousy or envy. Or from just. . .thoughtlessness.
Instead, have a party.
Invite your helpers to the table. Give them something to do. They want to be helpful. And just celebrate.
Feed the birds.

Second note: A positive mind makes a light slippery surface and anything not of it, slides off.”


“Sometimes we must surrender our own will for the greater good to come through. We are called to make ourselves vulnerable for a time, without answers, sacrificing our priorities to perceive more mythic goals. The word sacrifice is not, as we’ve been taught, synonymous with suffering, but comes from the root ‘to make sacred.’ We take a step outside of time, renouncing our urgency, giving up our plans and allow ourselves to be danced, to be sung, to be told like a story in its most vulnerable arc.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” —John Lewis

Elemental

The other day when I got the mail, I pulled a nest-like spider web off one of the letters (that was a fast-working spider!), and without really thinking I spun it like wool. I know that spider web is strong, but I was pretty startled at how incredibly strong this little twist of web is. Think how powerful we become as a movement when we spin firm webs of our deep connections to each other as beloved humans.

Last week, a friend of mine asked me to write a poem for her and her friends who are having a bonfire circle, a healing time and a safe space to express their fears and anxieties and anger and hope in a time when their lives and identities are in danger–it’s a racially diverse group with many gay and trans folks. I love how she has taken on this healing work, and I am so proud to be her friend, and so honored to write a poem to bless them.

You Are Elemental
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Faith and her Friends
and in memory of Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton

Someone once told me we are made of starstuff.
Enough of the dust of the cosmos breathes through us
that we can believe we belong, made as we are
of the essence of that which forms all that is.
Whatever you believe about yourself, know this:
you belong in the web of it all. You are an elemental
miracle of a living, breathing being, and you are the
very expression of Desire Itself, manifested.

Whatever you experience of masculinity or femininity,
what you experience as androgyny, all of that
is emblematic of your Divinity, your connection
to the Source from which we all are born.
Don’t let them tell you, no matter how unsettled
you may feel in the body you were born in,
that you are not made in sacred grace,
each atom, each particle, each space within you,
formed as you are of earth and water,
wind and flame–every name you choose
that means your soul and spirit,
that means your own transforming body,
is sacred, holy, breath and birth.

You, whose journey is all about
transforming who you are into who
you feel yourself to be, are built into the likeness
of the One who made the world, created
in the shape of the Universe Itself,
whose very name is Change, which set
the rules in motion, to cause the caterpillar
to feel her unsettled urge to break away
from caterpillar life, to take his time
in his quiet cocoon, to emerge as their own
beautiful butterfly. You make yourself,
you match yourself to yourself,
you rhyme, you move to the subtle rhythms
driven by the itch for mutability
placed within you by the Holy One Themself.

May you breathe deeply in the skin you’re in.
May you feel your holy fires awaken.
May the blood that pulses in the rivers of your veins
remind you of the waters of the Earth
which bring you, again and again, to birth,
as you shape and form and create yourself
to be the you you know yourself to be.
May the very Earth you walk on hold you up
and remind you every day that you Belong.
Blessed Be.

Kind of a creepy-looking thumbnail, but it was the best of the three that YT offered me.

Gratitude List:
1. Webs
2. Spinning strands together
3. The tender human connections the Fab 5 model
4. FINALLY starting a project that has been hanging over my head, literally. Yesterday, I spent several hours scraping the ceiling of the balcony porch to get it ready to re-paint. It is going to take days, and I don’t have the stamina for more than two or three hours of it at a time. But it is started!
5. Yesterday, we caught glimpses of one of the young raccoons searching the hillside for grubs and bugs. Jon got a good photo of it from the treehouse where he was nailing up walls. Last week, we discovered the body of one of the others, and it’s been hurting my heart so that I can hardly even type the truth of it. It was good to see life continuing on with such focus and curiosity in its sibling.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly–in Beauty!


“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. . .

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.” —Tom Robbins


“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo


“Everybody’s In, Baby.” ―The Love Warriors


“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person next to her. Which is Harder. Better.” ―Glennon Doyle


“When we ask for help, we are building community. We are doing away with this notion that we should be practicing at detachment. We are rapturously attaching! We become responsible for tending to one another’s pieces. Not only is the giver allowed to express their bestowing heart, the receiver is taken into a greater tenderness of their own giving nature. As we grow our capacity for gratitude, which is another way of saying completeness or belonging, we are healing our tinygiant part of the world’s devastating wound of scarcity.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Forever is composed of nows.” ―Emily Dickinson


Rob Brezsny: ‘So it turns out that the “blemish” is actually essential to the beauty. The “deviation” is at the core of the strength. The “wrong turn” was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.’


“If not for reverence, if not for wonder, if not for love, why have we come here?” ―Raffi


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank

You Are the Dragon

How will you enter?

You are the Dragon, You are the Cave
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The thing you learn, of course,
before you strap your sword belt on,
is that the princess you pledged to save
is only yourself in another guise,
that the dragon you swore to smite
is simply your own roaring ego
belching flame in the mouth of the cave.

You are the villagers rioting in the streets,
and calling for the dragon’s blood.
You are the bells that pealed from the towers
when the dragon circled above the town.
You are the sword,
the shield, the very cave,
the small frightened mouse
trampled in the fray.
You are the village.
You are the mountain.
You are the day itself,
quiet witness to the story.


Gratitude:
Finding a tenuous balance.

I mostly feel that I will never actually find true “balance” in my life. See how I even put it in quotation marks? It’s like a Shangri-la that doesn’t really exist, more mythical even than the faeries who tend the life force in the world of the farm, balance is an unattainable ideal that I strive for, long for, push myself towards, and never quite reach.

But that’s kind of okay. In fact, it’s perfectly okay, really. There are moments when, like the Equinoxes, everything seems to align, to fit, and I can breathe for a moment, but let the tension drain from my muscles, let my gaze drift, and I fall off the tightrope, no matter how balanced I was for a moment.

This has been one of the frustrations of teaching for me, the need to constantly keep those muscles tense, that gaze intense, in order to “succeed” with “balance” at being an effective teacher/person. And when I am “succeeding” most fully at teaching, the other pieces of my life are tumbling off the tightrope around me: parenting, writing, creating, joyful living, kindness. And then teacher tumbles down, too, and I bounce in the net with all the other parts of me that I long to incorporate. I gather myself up, and begin the arduous climb up to the rope again.

Right now, after a hard day of climbing yesterday, I am once again on the tightrope, feeling the muscles tense, the gaze focus, holding all the pieces that I am trying to incorporate.

If my goal is simply to stay balanced, I won’t make it–that’s too much tension for my spirit too maintain over the long haul. But there’s joy in the learning, gratitude in the process, and I have a destination to reach. So here we go. Muscles tense (I know a little better how it should feel this time), eyes focused, one foot stepping out onto the rope. . .

May we walk in Beauty!


“There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect. The world can be harsh and negative, but if we remain generous and patient, kindness inevitably reveals itself. Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness; something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it we are able to trust and open ourselves.” —John O’Donohue


“In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” —Phil Ochs


“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ―Jane Goodall


“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ―Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Poem a Day: 30

The prompts today were Praise and Fruit. I included some new words I have learned in the last couple of days, defined at the end of the poem. Today is the last day of Poem-a-Day. Now for editing, now for reading.

I Have Two Daughters: A Beltane Song
(with gratitude to Eavan Boland for the first line)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I have two daughters:
Their names are Memory and Loss.
Their names are Fearless and Anna.
Their names are Wisdom and Fate.

I have two daughters:
Their eyes are deep brown wells.
Their faces are carved from jade and quartz.
Their hands flutter like swallows when they dance.

Their names are Ylem and Horaios,
seed under soil and the moment of bloom,
potential and fruition, hope and beauty.

(My first living child arrived by the knife
a year to the day after I began to bleed
a lost land into nothingness.
We named him for his grandfathers.
The lost one lives in a garden with a name
too complicated for written word.)

Their names are Nile and Susquehanna.
Their eyes are the roots of continents.
Their faces are made of water and song.
Their hands sound like the wings of moths
whispering against the screen door.

The fruit carries within it the singing potential
of seed, of blossom, repetition of genes,
like we all carry within us the child we have been,
the daughters we are to ourselves, past and future.
The seed is the death of the flower,
and also the source of the tree.
That which was will be again.

I have two daughters:
Their names are Elizabeth and Praise.
Their eyes are mystery and vortex.
Their faces are the moon and Pleiades
Their hands are wings of mist and cobweb.

(ylem: the primordial matter, the essence of beginning
horaios: the beauty of rightness, the satisfying click
when everything falls into place)

Poem a Day: 29

The Prompts today just didn’t seem to be mashable. Here’s the one for the Poetic Asides blog. We were supposed to write a poem titled “Total _____” I guess I took that blank too literally.

Total Blank
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I’ve drawn a total
loss of words a total
what’s the thing a total
you know I can’t a total
quite remember total
like in Scrabble
this brain fog
words just
dissipate
and I’m
left with
a total
blank

The other prompt, from my friend Linda, was Swallow:

Return
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

We’re no Capistrano,
but every year, just the same,
some day in early May,
we wait to see them
winging low over the fields,
swooping so close
they could be trying
peer into our faces.
Every spring,
we watch,
hands shielding
our eyes,
for their return.

Room For You at the Table

Last year, I got really excited about trying to use some Pixton graphics to enhance my Smart Board presentations. It took enough extra work that I sort of gave it up. Now I think perhaps I ought to try to make a couple for some of my classes to add a little interest to the online learning.

Gratitude List:
1. How poems from past Aprils come back to show me how I have grown, and what I have forgotten.
2. Wednesday is now a little Thursday, penultimate day of teaching. There is space for breathing.
3. Music
4. Story
5. Poetry

May we walk in Beauty!


“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” —Barry H. Gillespie


“There is room for you at our table, if you choose to join us.” —Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing


“For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.” —from the musical “Ordinary Days”


“You will be found.” —from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”


“How do you become the person you’ve forgotten you ever were?” —from the musical “Anastasia”


“The universe is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of tiny stories.” ―Joseph Gordon-Levitt


To all the children
by Thomas Berry

To the children who swim beneath
The waves of the sea, to those who live in
The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers
In the meadows and the trees of the forest,
To all those children who roam over the land
And the winged ones who fly with the winds,
To the human children too, that all the children
May go together into the future in the full
Diversity of their regional communities.


Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”


“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.” ―Rumi


“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.” ―Isabel Allende


“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ―Bréne Brown, Wholehearted

Poem a Day: 28

Today’s Prompts were Angel and Looking Forward/Looking Backward. All I could think of was Look Homeward Angel, which I haven’t read. I looked up some quotes and made a glosa.

Pillar of Salt
a glosa
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces. . . . Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language,
the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When? . . .
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”
―Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel

How can we help it, but to turn our faces homeward,
like the nameless wife who shifted her shoulders sidewards,
silent salty tears on her cheeks, for one last longing
homeward glance, one final chance to see—but salt
was all she saw, punished for wanting a parting glimpse
of all she was losing, all the remembered places
of childhood and family home. None of it her choosing, she
was swept along in the vortex of fearsome husband
and fiercer god, to completely lose her past, all traces:
a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. And of all the forgotten faces,

every stone upon the future path, each leaf, each door—
reminders of the life she’d lost. Perhaps better to be salt
than live a life of regret, pooling always in her eyes.
But we, who live onward into the stream of time,
how shall we turn our gazes forward while we carry
lost childhood on our backs like sacks, growing heavier with age?
If the angel is intended to look homeward, which direction shall we tell her?
Behind this salted pillar of me are childhood homes, and the home
of this moment, and ahead of me, home rests upon an unturned page.
Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language,

of loss, of memory, of the spiraling nature of time, where all
turns inward. Look inward, Angel. Look into the pools
where no-time swirls and tense no longer makes sense,
where past inhabits future, and now is all we can know,
Our gazes seeking lost whens turn our spines to spirals,
and salt explodes into flocks of singing birds, then
mirrors back onto itself, and the child running in the meadow
is suddenly an ancient tree silently observing time’s curl—
grief the cord that binds all times together, the weight of memory again,
the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

There, upon the windowsill, a small white stone,
a branch of dogwood, pink with bloom, your eye
caught by the yellow green of a single leaf. Beyond,
a green stone, an oak leaf burnished brown, then
a wide flat stone upon the crest of a hillside enwrapped
by vines, and triplet red leaves of ivy, one plane
of many layers, grief and rage and joy entwined.
One gaze encompassing all, the map home: a stone
of salt, leaves of cinder, ash scattered in the doorway, then:
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.