Poem a Day: 13

Today’s Prompts are Sacrifice and Purpose. In this one, I followed where the sounds and rhythms led me rather than working for a particularly tight meaning.

Let Loose
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

At what price, this sacrifice?
What personal cost, what cross,
what losses must she bear,
to wear the mantle she’s been handed?

And how much of it is her choice
to give voice to all the stories
offered her in dreams? What seems
to be the answer to the question
she’s been dancing since she woke?

What purpose does it serve,
this nervous laughter, crafting tales
that avoid disaster, trails of crumbs
to follow home when all’s played out.

Could she have stayed within the boundaries?
Prayed more devoutly? Sounded pious
when her soul was out of kilter?
Filtered out the deeper truths
that led her out beyond the fields?

No, she was meant to wander further
than the walls the maps required.
She was tired of living tamely
in domesticated trance. She had to
dance into the open, throw her fancy
to the winds, take her chances where she could
and race the storm across the wildlands
to find the answer to her ache.

On the Dream Scene

In the dream, I am back in a little town where I have often found myself in dreams. It’s a fully realized little town, with neighborhoods and trees and people and traffic. It’s miles away from any other town or city, out in a scrubby desert. On the outskirts of town are several truckyards–I suppose this is the source of the town’s thriving economy. But this is something I know from previous dreams about the place.
**
In this particular dream, we are living in a house (that I think belongs to us or a friend). People come and go through the property, and the path leads over a steep, muddy embankment in the corner of the yard. When I skid down over the hill, I realize at the bottom that the mud and grass cover an enormous quartz crystal “colony.” Some beautiful points are visible beneath the mud. Bits have broken off, and points and broken pillars of crystal scatter the lower yard. They’re so clear and shiny, even amidst the mud that they look almost more like Herkimer Diamonds than Quartz. I collect LOTS of random pieces, and someone has left baskets of stones and little carvings and treasures on the sidewalk near our house. I know that they are for us, if we want them, so I decide to come back and get them later, along with several of the more beautiful quartz bits.
**
A little later, we’re going to eat lunch at the cafe in the community center (which might also be our house, or next to our house). We’ve gone to taste the Bhaktar (not a waking-life word or recipe), which is a cracker-like bread crumbled into a bowl with a creamy soup poured over top. On the way in, we pass a student of mine who is taking people’s orders. She looks at me and says, “Have you ever seen James Kinder’s wife? She reminds me so much of you!” I google them, and it turns out that she is the creative director of the plays and events at the community center.

After lunch, we watch some of the dancers preparing a performance at the community center. I don’t think James Kinder’s wife looks or acts anything like me. She reminds me a bit of Amanda Palmer, someone with a lot of creative energy and vision, which I really admire, but super vampy/campy in her own aspect, which makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I wonder if people perceive me as vampy and insincere. Not that she is insincere, really. I just can’t get past the vampy-style mask to make a human connection. I wonder if people think of me as wearing too much of a mask to really get to know me.

The dance performance they’re preparing is amazing. Back stage (or maybe on stage), I make friends with the Kinders’ sweet black cat.
**
A little later, my whole family is gathered at our house. Everyone seems to have something they really want to do right there at the house, but I want to explore the town. Finally, I get up the nerve to tell everyone that I would like to go window shopping. They sort of chuckle, but they don’t make fun of me for wanting to shop. I say it’s because I want to get the steps on my step-counter.
**
Just as I am waking up, I find myself fascinated with how my legs and arms move as I am walking up the hill, and I realize that I am actually in someone else’s body. I’m not sure if anyone else notices. I enjoy the odd experience of being in a different body. Her limbs are long and thin and very dark brown. I’ve tripped and scratched her knee, but I don’t feel the hurt.
**
A small ginger cat in the waking world is licking my cheek, and someone is meowing in the hall to say that no one filled the cat food bowl before we went to bed, so the dream ended and the day began.


Gratitude List:
1. Sincerity and honesty. People who can interact without too much of the mask.
2. While I am tired of the recent days of constant waking in the night, the waking brings the memories of dreams, and dreams are fascinating, and they offer me clues to my deeper self.
3. New strategies for handling the workload. There’s always hope that another way to organize will help me keep up with things better this time.
4. Reading books to a small person. I’m going to string this out as long as he can take it. He still demands that we read every night.
5. The interplay between language and ideas. In AP Comp, we watched a TED talk by Lera Boroditsky on how language shapes thought, and I am finding that the video itself is giving me new language for thinking about how vocabulary actually directs the shape of abstract ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Stories

Gratitude List:
1. Paint on canvas
2. The power of words
3. Where dreams take us
4. Rain
5. Summer schedules

May we walk in Beauty!


“You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.”
—Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
***
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” —Lilla Watson
***
“A poem is not a puzzle, even if it’s puzzling at first. Instead, it’s a highly selected parcel or capsule of language meant to burst into your psyche and change you in some way. Poetry is the life blood of our language, and it’s meant for everyone, not just academics or young people in school. Poetry is in a word: consciousness.” —Cathryn Hankla
***
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 10, 2016)
***
“Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.” —Leonard Cohen
***
“I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.” —Jimmy Carter
***
Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:
I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together and yelled…

As long as I’m an outlaw anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.


This is second-draft version of something I wrote at the Writers’ Retreat this past weekend:

It was dark, dark midnight, see. No moon, and clouds between us and the stars, and we’d given everything up for dead.

What else could we do? How could we not? With all that came before, and all we knew was certain to come after.

And the sky was just filled up with midnight, and our hearts were filled up with sky, because we could no longer bear to house that awful stench of despair within us.

And so we danced.

What else could we do? How could we not? Someone started humming there in the cold starless dark, not to fill up the space with sound, you see, because the space was filled, already filled with the indigo darkness of midnight, and with the sense of each other.

And so someone started humming, tunelessly almost, and someone else took it up, almost like a harmony. Another one began to tap a rhythm just like a baby’s heartbeat or the beating of a butterfly’s wings, and then, all around, there were rustling in the darkness, people swaying, shifting, standing up.

Feet took the rhythm, and hands and fingers clapped and snapped, and the humming broke into song. No one now can remember the words we sang, be we all knew they were a prayer. To the Great Mystery that surrounded us, or to some smaller goddess or god, or to the Truest, Best Thing within ourselves perhaps.  All One Thing, that, I suppose.

We felt each other in the the midnight as we sang, as we danced, and the feeling was like seeing, and the seeing was a dance itself. And we whirled on that lost and desolate plain in that place of utter midnight.

And when we had sung and danced and whirled and thundered there, we lay upon the ground, in jumbles and heaps, upon the green, green grass (we knew in our Seeing hearts that it was green) and we breathed the holy darkness around us. What else could we do? How could we not?

And we ourselves were the stars and the moon and the sun. And it was good.

And it was the end.
And it was the beginning.
Holyholyholyhallelujah.

The Dance to Get Here, and a Daily Feather

  

We’re helping my mother-in-law move from her cottage to a personal care room. It’s hard and exhausting work for her, and for all of us, too. There’s a great deal of emotional labor going on amid the packing. And every step forward we make toward getting things packed an ready seems to bring whole new detours and dance steps. Still, she’s ready, and her room is almost ready.

Going Golden

A couple years ago, I wrote a gratitude note about “Honest anger and its connection to compassion.” This is a continual dance.
*
“If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotion — deep joy and deep pain — then I think we are less than who we can be.”
―Terry Tempest Williams
*
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
―Henri Nouwen
*
“Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” ―Rumi
*
“Equality keeps us honest. Inequality creates liars and delusion. “―Rebecca Solnit
*
“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai
*
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
―C. G. Jung
*
“You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ―Harriet Tubman
*
“The forests are the flags of nature. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten.”
―Enos A. Mills
*
“Come, come hither! Leave you and yourself;
Leave us and ourselves! Come swiftly
Come as quickly as possible. Put you and us aside;
Come!
Come until you and we would become extinct!
Come so that Neither you nor we
would exist!” ―Rumi
*
“Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
*
“Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.
– – – –
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
– – –
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.” ―Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. Libraries. Public libraries.
2. Markets. Town markets.
3. Parks. Community parks.
4. Planning our Halloween costumes.
5. Salted caramel.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dance


Message in the Zen Garden: “Dance like everyone is watching, and they are all your fans.” I love my students.

Gratitude List:
1. Mountain Laurel blooming on Ducktown Road.
2. A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in chapel this morning, the footage to be sent to our Little Guy on his birthday in the hospital.
3. Music in chapel this morning: Peniel singing in Amharic, Shadrack singing in French, and Maya and Conner singing a Blessing (was it partly in Italian?) What a gift to have that half hour in the school day that is so often filled with incredible music.
4. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It feels as though there’s a deep chasm between me and the light, but I’ll get there one way or another.
5. Breeze.

May we walk in Beauty!