Dream Elegy

. . .holding this bagful of winter.

In the dream, as I was waking:
I am translating a four stanza Spanish poem into English. I race to get the translation down. Something of my dreamself knows that I am waking, and I must hear the whole thing.

In real life, my Spanish is shaky at best, not sufficient to translate anything like this. I lay in bed for a while before I got up, reciting the last lines (all I could remember) over and over again, so I wouldn’t forget them the minute I got out of bed:

“. . .and so you left us, holding this bagful of winter.

And you,
freshest flower of the morning,
will bloom forever
in my heart.”

Mary Oliver’s “box full of darkness” may have been in my subconscious, though that hasn’t been one of the poems I have been meditating on in these past few days. It feels too personal to be my own elegy for her, not having known her. But hers is the death I have been living with for these last few days. Were I to write such a poem consciously, I would cringe a little at the rather overblown feel of “freshest flower of the morning,” but I somehow feel as though I am messing with words and ideas that aren’t quite mine, even though they escaped the dreamhole in my brain.

Gratitude List:
1. All the poetry she left us.
2. The way she taught me to look, and then to SEE,
3. to examine the inner as well as the outer landscapes,
4. how she encouraged me to feel at home roaming both inner and outer worlds.
5. How her words always find me when I need them.

May we walk in Beauty!

I keep pondering the arrogant smirk of that boy in the pictures of the protests yesterday, mocking an elder, defiant, twisted, domineering, entitled. I am so sad for him and his friends, so troubled for the shallow and scrappy world they are setting themselves up to live in. I’m angry, too, of course, and I hope they face consequences, but I pray (yes, that’s the word) that they will have to face themselves, somehow, that the mirror of Nathan Phillips’ face will help them to look at themselves, that they will take warning, that they will take up their humanity.

In my own life are quite a number of young men, and some of them tend toward arrogance. Some of them, caught in such a moment, would perhaps join in the energy of such a mob. I hope to heaven that they wouldn’t, but I see some of that self-satisfied arrogance in some of my own circle.

I must look again into the faces of the young men in that crowd and know that they, too, are loved and loveable. They are redeemable. But not if we keep giving them the wall of our rage to butt up against. They are begging for a wall. Let’s follow the example of the wise elder Nathan Phillips and give them mirrors instead.

Young MAGA men, I hope you look back on yesterday and feel shame, great shame, for your actions and words. I hope those of you who stood by and laughed will understand that you, too, were participants in an act of great arrogance and entitlement and shame. I hope you know that by not stepping in and standing up to your friends, you, too, wear that shame. And Smirking Boy, I pray that you will be able to see yourself through the thick haze of patriarchal dominance and posturing that seems to have caught you in its grip.

But I hope you do not stop at shame. May the shame itself be only the outer shell of a seed that will burst forth within you, a seed of desire to do right, to respect your elders, to offer recompense for your terrible disrespect of a man, of a people, of a history, of humanity. May you be humbled, may you choose a new way, may you seek beauty and goodness and respect and gentleness.

And may the rest of us be mirrors instead of walls. I would walk in the footsteps of the drummer.

Daughter, the songs of women
are the first words of children
—Abby E. Murray, in Rattle Magazine

“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, ‘They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
—David Sobel

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.


Today, an elegy.  Sigh.  I don’t really want to go that direction.

I feel like I have really overblown the good memories of earlier Poem-a-Day experiences.  Looking back on that first November, I feel like every poem was a hit, or nearly so.  And I feel like I am pulling out my own teeth to get the words to flow this month.  Of course, not all my poems back in that first experience were winners, and I think that this month I at least have some good fodder to work with at the end of the month.

Mockingbird says, “Sometimes it’s like that.  Sometimes you don’t feel inspired or inspiring.  Write anyway.  Get out the dreck so you can let the pure clear waters flow.”  Ack.  Mockingbird.  Maybe I liked your growling better.


I have not named it yet, this distance,
this door that stands between us.
Or I have, actually, I suppose,
but when a dragon sheds its skin
it takes on a new name befitting its changes,
and perhaps our story is like that,
needing a new naming
for each of the skins we have scratched off.

First, I called it Waiting.
Me waiting for you to call out
from your side of the door,
to say you needed me now,
to say you would be taking visitors again.

I made forays, you cannot say I didn’t,
and you met me, and that part
was called Wrestling and Wrangling.
I thought we were making progress
at opening that heavy door.

But it stays closed.
And I have sat here on this side of it,
worrying and brooding, and frustrated and sad,
for years, perhaps, and the cobwebs are heavy
upon me.  So heavy.  They weigh like shame.

I sat here so long simply waiting,
wondering whether I ought to just leave,
that I didn’t hear you tiptoe
off into the distance on your side of the door.

I think this is an elegy.
What comes next
will not be part of this story anymore.

Perhaps we’ll meet again,
newborn and fresh,
somewhere in Rumi’s field,
and that will be a new thing,
and I will bless it heartily.

(Now I will brush the cobwebs aside.
Now I will stand and step away from the door.)

2014 April 068
The view from High Point to the bridges.

Gratitude List:
1. Pink-nosed calf frolicking in the field and its careful mama keeping watch
2. Pink trees blooming everywhere
3. Snowball guineas on Ducktown Road
4. Putting it to rest
5. More and more poems on the Poetree

May we walk in Beauty!