Poem a Day: 16

The Lady of the Lake is a golden fish.

The prompts today are “bar” and “The Last _______.” Yesterday, I was mulling what the lore of these days might be, and the word Apocalypticon floated through my brain. It turns out there’s already a book by that name, but I thought it might be a good name for a poem.

The Apocalypticon: The Last Revelation
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

That spring, Grace found her first morel
on the west-facing slope of the ridge.
Everyone was finding them, actually,
that spring. Everyone was eating morels,
and Emily planted a gangster garden.
Bootleggers and mob bosses graced
her green. All we had seen before
was somehow new now, more verdant.

One of us began receiving messages
from a golden koi who circled slowly
beneath the lilies of a lake. She would not
tell us what the Lady told her, only:
“Take what you need. Too much is at stake.”

I did battle with poison ivy that spring,
apologizing a hundred times a day
for cutting her thousand arms, but
ivy laughed in crimson leaves and
grew like the Revolution was at hand.

Some of us sat with our demons,
telling old tales of battles long gone,
bellying up to the bar of lost memories,
or singing them to sleep with old songs,
while Clare chanted exorcisms
in the sleet on windy mountains
pushing back the forces that threaten
to submerge the story. I know
of two who nearly lost the trail,
wandering far into the shadows.

We stopped using the word normal,
re-wove older linguistic threads, spun
ancient stories into the chapters
we were writing. We re-worded our
vocabularies, re-ordered our syntax,
re-discovered voices we thought
had forgotten how to speak.

We caught our own flocks of wild yeast,
planted potatoes in neat rows,
learned new words for magic and
for prayer, exploring layer after layer
of mysteries, parting the curtains,
and watching the ways of the moon.

An Abundance of Caution

There’s no shame in using an abundance of caution in times of pandemic. This is new to all of us. If you’ve been instructed to stay home, and if it is at all possible: Stay home. If you must go out, wash your hands, and wash your hands, and wash your hands again. Check on your neighbors and beloveds by phone or email or text. How can we help each other during these times?

Settle in. Get some exercise. Read. Paint. Play games and do puzzles. Write that book.

Read this poem by Lynn Ungar:

Gratitude List:
1. We saw both Golda and Gator in the pond today. She’s a golden koifish, the Queen of the Pondrealm. He is a Vietnamese Algae Eater, enormous and hard to spot. They often swim together. I didn’t see Gator last season. I figured he had died. But there he was today, looming in the depths.
2. Long walks. I am pushing my step-count up for the weeks that I am home, trying to use the time to get in shape.
3. Tree-shadows striping the fields and hills.
4. Good rest. I am sleeping better these days.
5. Poetry.

May we walk in Beauty!

Catch and Release

Brewer’s Poetic Asides Prompt today is Catch and Release.

Catch and Release

These idea-fish that swirl and swish
through the watery-airy stratum
above my frantic brain, how they
beg my attention, how they flip
their fringed and flowing tails,
how they sparkle in the sunlight.

I would catch them all and keep them,
dance with them in schooled formation,
watch them flow from my pen, from my
fingers, onto the pages, into the flow
of words, of sentences, of stories.

But the rushing streams of my living
have space and time for only a few,
a blue one here, three golden koi,
and a catfish with a mouth as wide
as the world. And then I must swim
with the currents for all I am worth,
hoping my chosen companions
will keep pace with me, while I find
us a quiet pool where we can settle
into the rhythm of the tales they bring.

So many I have had to release
back to the pools of time, hoping
that someone, somewhere else,
will find them, will see their beauty,
will set them flowing onto a page.

Dragons and Fish

I found this in my little zen garden in the classroom today. I love to watch what happens within its boundaries throughout the day. Some students have to work it every day, ordering it to their perfect idea of what it should look like. Others seem to have a need to make it messy, to jumble the stones, or bury them, spilling the sand over the edges. This used to bother me, until I realized that the need to disorder is also a type of ordering, a shifting of energies, and a necessary one in a day which is regimented by 45-minute blocks, and assignments that must be done, and attention that must be paid. Disordering the zen garden is its own way of taking control. I still can’t quite reconcile myself to the seeming-wanton spilling of sand over the edges, and the ones who scrape the rake harshly against the bottom of the tray. Still, even those who do that have their purposes, and I am committed to be an observer at this point, and not a director of the zen garden.  Lately, they have taken to leaving messages. I am partial to “Dragons and fish.”

The strange dreams continue. Last night there was a lion in my tent. I tried growling at it to scare it away. It just became more aggressive. Fortunately, Jon was there to wake me up. Only half an hour later, I had the chance to return the favor and wake him up from a fearful dream, too.

My next dream was less intense, but equally appalling–lost at sea in a little island archipelago. One of our party found a little boat and rowed off to see if he could find a mainland somewhere. When he came back, I paddled off in the opposite direction and found Finland–there was a sign right on the beach: FINLAND. So I knew we were saved.

Gratitude List:
1. Snow Day coming up
2. The boys might be fighting more these days, but at least they’re talking about it, trying to figure out what sets them off, so maybe there’s some learning taking place.
3. How ideas birth ideas
4. Resolve, determination, grit
5. Someone to wake me from the nightmares

May we walk in Beauty!

The Thing About it Is

Bulletin Board
I still have to figure out what words I will put in the space left over after I put up all the fun stuff. I might begin with a simple Welcome message for the first week or so, and then change it weekly for the first month. I’ll eventually put up something more crisp and “academic,” but I think we’ll begin this year with “creative.”

The thing about it is, is that,
when all is said and done,
beneath the surface
of this pond where our words
float and mingle,
collide and jangle,
lies another realm of thought,
of language and meaning,
where sunlight pierces
through that tangled soup
on the surface
to spotlight a vibrant
world of brilliant fish,
orange and scarlet and green,
where we may learn more of each other
than we ever could on the sunny,
wordy surface.

(Note to myself: When I come back to revise this, I should pay close attention to line breaks.)

Gratitude List:
1. The birthday wishes. My, my, my. I was overwhelmed, in the best of ways. So many thanks to so many friends. So blessed I am in friends. So blessed.
2. Putting the classroom together. Creating space. I realize that I take a lot more time at it than might be necessary, but the slow and quiet work of shifting things in the classroom mirrors the quiet openings within me to the new year coming, the spaces I am creating for all these new people in my heart rooms.
3. The gift my parents gave me of caring for the boyos for a couple days, and the delight of having them home again, back in my morning.
4. Dinner at The River House Restaurant in Craley last night. Shrimp Pad Thai for me. And, of course, Chinese doughnuts for dessert.
5. Sight. Vision.

May we walk in Beauty!

Forget What I Said Before

<Prompt 18: Write a Forget What I Said Before poem>  Quick little poem tonight.

Forget what I said before, about the round orange moon,
but remember the one about your heart being the fire of the sun.
Forget what I said before, about the wind in the tree,
but remember the one about your voice being the healing breeze.
Forget what I said before, about the dream of finding scattered gold,
but remember the one about your sparkling eyes at noon.
Forget what I said before, about the soft feathers of a contented hen,
but remember the one about how the light shimmers in your hair.

Gratitude List:
1.  All my wonderful photographer friends on FB.  I love the beautiful images that you post.  My day is always so much richer for them.
2.  Hope for healing for friends in critical condition.  The gift of spending a day in prayer and hope, of sending energy when there is nothing else to do.
3.  Clean laundry.
4.  This image: This morning before school, Jon and I glanced into the living room, where the boys were sitting side-by-side next to the fish tank, both paging through books, both humming and muttering to themselves. 
5.  Moving inward.

May we walk in Beauty!

More Advice from Aunt Eliza

<Prompt 14:  Write a poem of Exploration>  This is yesterday’s poem–I was too tired last night to wait for my turn at the computer.  I can’t get out of the fairy tales.

It doesn’t always have to be so,
but it seems to be the way things go:

When the sunny trail ends at that dead ash tree,
when the sweet-scented grasses turn to brambles,
when the radiant butterfly flits into shadows
and out from behind the tree pads the wolf–

That is when the story really gets started.

Epiphany can be those shiny angels,
those glittering kings bearing gold,
but it also comes in shadows and cobwebs.

One day you are sleep-walking
through your dreamy life,
not paying attention to where the path leads,
and epiphany comes in the form of a crow,
calling your name from the topmost branch
of a lightning-struck oak.

Or you find the sweet cottage
but wake up surrounded by bears
or tossed head-first into the furnace.

Or an old woman in tatters and rags
swoops into the clearing, chattering,
demanding to know who you think you are,
demanding your service, your heart.

And that’s the key, isn’t it?
Who do you think you are, meddling in this story?
Can you give your whole heart to the process?
What are you doing here, in the heart of this forest,
this landscape of your life?
What is your real name?
Are you ready to fight for it?
To go on a quest, answer the riddle,
do the three impossible tasks,
risk your own dissolution, your death,
just to claim it as your own?

You thought you were so brave,
following the path to explore the woods,
though you’d been warned,
though your skin prickled,
though you knew the stories
of those who never returned.

Now is the time for bravery.
Now is the time for fierce
uncompromising joy.
Now the real exploration begins.

Gratitude List:
1.  That gentle cooing sound my hen Sunny made when I brought her down into a cage in the basement and gave her medicine water.  She  has been stoically enduring whatever is making her sick, but she perked up a little when she found herself in the hospital cage.
2.  New ventures.  Taking steps.
3.  This book: Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, by Renee Peterson Trudeau
4.  The dream I had last night that brought back to mind another book someone recommended to me weeks ago, but which I had forgotten to look up.
5.  My boys’ excitement at the wheat grass and lettuce shoots coming up in the pots on the fish tank.

May we walk courageously in our forests.

Clouds, Gardens and Everything Comes Together

These are the days when I become a quiet rock,
a quivering leaf, an ear of lichen
listening to the stones grow.
The words have wandered away,
eloquence eludes me,
and all my sentences begin
with the word So.

Wind will sing in my feathers
but my own story waits
like a seed in the heart of earth,
like a dream that must rise through mud,
a bubble, the nymph of a damselfly
crawling through centuries
up the stalk of a smooth green reed
to be born to the blue light.

There is a roaring in my ears
like the sound of grief or rage.
But it is only the lazy hum of summer,
of fireflies clicking their rhythms
into the velvet indigo of solstice,
communing with the moon.

Another day I’ll dawn,
but for now I will sink
slowly into the pond
with Grandmother Moon
and leave my message with the fish.

2013 June 141
The makings of a batch of medicine bags: spinning the wool, crocheting, and adding beads and cord.  Portable and easy to fit in the spaces of a busy season.

Gratitude List:
1.  Clouds.  Not cloudiness, which is its own sort of blessing at times.  But clouds, those Michelangelo works of art that have been so magnificent in the recent spate of changeable weather.
2.  Vegetable Gardens.  Have you seen it, too?  Everywhere, woven through people’s flower patches, a few tomato cages, a wide-spreading squash.  Or off to the side of the house–out front, even–tidy or  wanton, fenced or flowing vegetable gardens.  If this crazy economy has been good for anything, I think it has empowered people to remember that they can grow their own food.
3.  The way things come together sometimes, even when you’re not quite trying.  This is especially nice when I remember the times when things haven’t come together, even when I’ve tried desperately.
4.  Day lilies and chicory.  Bright orange stars on all the back-road banks, and chicory’s beautiful blue eyes, almost as sparkly as my Jonny’s.  Let’s throw in some lace, shall we?  Queen Anne has plenty to spare.  And something golden to balance the lace–buttercups!  And just here, a cascade of lush lavender vetch.  Oh summer!  You fill my spirit.
5.  Making.  There are moments in these busy days when I have to sit down and rest, but my hands still want something to do.  I have found my way back to making again, and am satisfied.

May we walk in Beauty.