Grandmother’s Roots

the peonies have
finally awakened in
the doorway of June
transient blooms and roots that
come from grandmother’s garden

Examen and Gratitude:
1. (Who inspires you?) Harriet Tubman.  Today, I finish my mini-course with my students at the River.  We will talk of dreams and water, of the Underground Railroad that traveled up this River, the walk to freedom.  And I will tell them of the Dreamer, Harriet Tubman–legend says that sometimes she would suddenly fall asleep at really dangerous moments on the journey northward, but when she awoke, she would know the next way to go.
2. (What makes you glad?) Sun on the wing of the red-winged blackbird.
3. (What fills you with deep joy?) The inclusive laughter of teenagers, the way they perform for each other to make each other laugh, the way the laughter catches from one to another and on down the line like a wildfire.
4. (What is your hunger?) For solitude, for silence, for deep quiet.  Even in the midst of loving these last days with my young people, part of me is turning toward the quiet of summer and the deliberate pacing of the long days.
5. (What wakes you up and calls you forward?) Trying on new ways to use words, reading poets who break up language and use it like mosaic and collage artists use broken bits of glass and pieces of paper.

May we walk in Beauty!

May the Fourth Be With You!

I want to figure out how to get some good, crisp, detailed photos of my collages.

I’m sorry, I just had to use that title.  There are certain days that simply must be given their due.  March Fourth is one of them, and today.

My Gratitude List today is a reprise of the one I wrote on this day three years ago:
1. Noticing. Today I have been thinking about the spiritual practice of noticing, and of all the ways
2. My parents have taught me to notice. How noticing keeps me conscious of
3. The present moment. How the present moment is
4. The Exquisite Doorway between past and future. How that transition from past to future is always taking place, as naturally as
5. Breathing out and breathing in.

May we walk in Beauty. Namaste.

True Names

2013 April 004

I gave my students in Creative Writing an assignment to create a collage and then write a short story or poem or essay that was sparked by the images that came together.  The idea was to begin the semester by unhitching the horse of the brain from the writing process for a moment–letting the creative urge impel them–and also to get them working with images right away.

I haven’t taken a photo of my collage yet, but here is the poem I wrote in response to them (I always seem to make two collages at a time).  A friend of mine recently turned me on to Francisco X. Alarcon’s poetry (he died a couple days ago), and I am finding the simplicity of his work to be incredibly powerful.  I cannot quite get myself to simplify enough to really be Alarconesque, but it was a powerful poetic experience to work in his style.  Also, we have been working with models of professional writers as a way to spark creativity, and we were working with an Ursula Le Guin short story about True Names, and that also found its way into my poem:

fire and flight

after the fire
has kindled
within you
patient gestation
of coals beneath
your heart
your ribs

fire within you
fire in the earth
fire in the fruit
the egg
the seed

flames will burst forth
and you will rise

you will know
your wings
you will
open your feathers
catch the breezes

the old world
of magic and monsters
will fall away
below you

you will dance
on pillows of cloud
you will swim
in rivers of air

you will hear your
true name
in the voice
of the wind

Gratitude List:
1. The promise of snow.  (I know, it causes anxiety, too, not knowing what will happen, but I look forward to being cocooned in the house for a time.)
2. Making collage.  Perhaps it was an entirely personal agenda to give that assignment, but I had fun making my own collages.
3. Lights at ends of tunnels.
4. Taking root.  Taking flight.
5. True Names.  One of your True Names is Beloved.

May we walk in Beauty!

Created to Create

Gratitude List:
1. Talent show.  Belly laughs and tears in one evening.  “It is Well.”
2. Those boys laughing into the face of the Wolf.  I don’t mean any wolf–that laughter would be rude.  This is the Wolf, and that laughter is about survival, and friendship.  I don’t know how else to say this, but I was grateful to witness it.
3. How all these children are becoming who they are, growing into themselves.
4. Conversations about writing and inner landscapes.
5. Collage–all afternoon: images and scissors and cutting and pasting, children and adults, humming and singing, laughing and talking, making.

May we walk in Beauty!