Into the Dark, December 15

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

This week in Creative Writing class, students have been presenting poetic forms of their choice, and we’ve been exploring writing in each one. I particularly love working with poetic forms and ideas that fracture meaning by re-arranging words, like in Billy Collins’s joke form, the Paradelle, which uses two repeated lines, and then re-mixes the words in those lines. Abstract poetry, too, often makes use of fractured and oddly mixed words to create a sense of meaning that transcends the direct line of thought. As intentionally goofy as Collins’s form is, it does something sort of exciting to the brain to shift words around and break up their linear meaning.

Habits and rhythms can become ruts. When I have my winter blinders on, trudging through the muck of dark and cold just to get through it, I find that the linear tracks I am making sometimes become deep and worn ruts, making it hard to find meanings in the days and moments other than the ones that make the direct and prosy sentences of my days. I need to rearrange things on the pages of my days, step out of the worn tracks, break the sense of the sentences, shift the meanings. Add a new thing today, even if it’s a new stretch in my yoga routine. Drop another habit, perhaps the quick check of email or FB when I get home from being away.

Here is an attempt at a Paradelle. I’m not sure if it works to put serious thought into a joke form, but it feels satisfying to use the fracturing of the the form to break up the mental trudge:

Walking through the haze of winter days.
Walking through the haze of winter days.
My feet step in the same weary tracks.
My feet step in the same weary tracks.
Through the step of haze, the weary feet,
my winter tracks in same walking days.

I’ve worn a rut both long and deep.
I’ve worn a rut both long and deep.
Confined myself to pooling shadows.
Confined myself to pooling shadows.
To a rut I’ve both shadows confined,
pooling deep both worn and long myself.

And made myself a hidden prison.
And made myself a hidden prison.
Of raw endurance and force of habit. 
Of raw endurance and force of habit.
Force. Prison. Endurance: myself of raw,
and made of hidden and a habit.

Winter and a force of  endurance,
walking in a haze, same feet, shadows:
the raw and hidden habit, long and confined,
both to step through the weary prison rut
worn tracks of my pooling deep, 
I’ve made days of myself. Myself.


Gratitude List:
1. Long, deep mornings to write
2. Tree-shadows against the sky
3. Hunger that wakes me up
4. The way my students react with a natural aversion to injustice in literature.
5. Twinkling lights

May we walk in Beauty!


“How does a woman know? She listens. She listens in. Like light on waves.” —Margaret Atwood


“Every moment is a gift of life.” —Thich Nhat Hanh


“Only a fool knows everything.” —African proverb


“Note to self: If you want to have loving feelings, do loving things.” —Anne Lamott

Walking Into the Dark

This week, weaning myself from the keyboard, I jumped back into my handwritten journal-book, with pens and colored pencils, and the slower, reflective pacing of handwriting.

I have been dreaming and writing dreams, feeling the shadows of dreams flitting around my head even when the images and plotlines escape me. Vultures and daughters, bees and small children–the dream-symbols have been feeding me as I walk into the darkness of winter.

During the years when we were both farming full-time, when winter was truly a resting time, I think I had my most satisfying winters. I was able then to hibernate, to draw myself inward, to slow way down. Now in these years, when the days are so busy, and the evenings hold lists of necessary tasks, I lose myself a bit in winter. I struggle to focus in the outer world, but I don’t have the inner space to really slow down. Not really.

And so I am taking a bit of an Advent Break, shifting up my morning and evening routines, letting myself drift out of the social media spheres. It has been a good thing to take this break, to shift my habits. In the coming weeks between now and Epiphany, I will continue to make occasional forays onto this page, occasional steps into the world of Facebook, but I am going to breathe and rest and meditate and dream as I need to in these days, and hold myself to as few schedules as possible..

Blessings on your own Advent, your Dark Time, your Inward Journey. May your dreams be fruitful, and your visions be keen.

Much love.


Gratitude List:
1. Shadows and darkness
2. Dreams and visions
3. Rest and Quiet
4. Joy and Peace
5. Waiting and Anticipation

May we walk in Beauty!

I Come, I Go

floerstones
A quick trick rock stack.

For the month of November, I have decided to move my writing time to the time before bed. I will use my more wakeful mornings for the tasks of grading, use my more reflective evenings for writing and gratitude lists, and use the whole day to consider the poetry prompts at Robert Lee Brewer’s blog for the Writer’s Digest.

Today’s prompt is to write either a come or a go poem, or both.  Here’s my attempt, trying to get at some of the tension I feel when overwhelmed by lots of work, and unable to give the rest of my life the attention it requires. Composed in the shower.

I go, I come.
I’m gone, then home.

I’m home, My Dear!
Not there, not here.

My restless soul
is everywhere.

I try to rhyme.
The words won’t come.
There isn’t time.
My brain is numb.

I want to stay.
I want to roam.

I come, I’m gone.
I go, I’m home.

Gratitude List:
1. All the colors of the maples. The fires of autumn.
2. Shifting habits and rhythms and rituals. Changing it up to shake it up.
3. That sandalwood soap, so richly-scented and lathery and heartening.
4. Blessings. The real kind that people pass to each other.
5. Clear water from the spring, with lemon and lime.

May we walk in Beauty!