A Sestina for All Saints (2 of 2)

I plan to write a poem a day again this November, following the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog. Today’s prompt is to write a new day poem. I decided to try another sestina, using new and day as two of the six words, and creating a little end rhyme. It may make it a little too bouncy, and a sestina is a little ambitious for my falling-asleep brain, but it’s all in the name of experimentation.

All Saints Day
a sestina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

As the veil closes on this day,
day between days when I–and you–
go seeking guides and saints, seeking the way
our dear beloveds have wandered through
the parted curtain: Listen, can you hear them say
the names of all the souls they knew

when their own days were green and new?
Now we ourselves slip from behind the curtain of this day
to follow their singing, to hear them say
our own names. Can you feel how they long for you?
How they seek your attention through
this veil that obscures the way?

How silently they guide you when you lose your way?
Our memories are vast pools they bathe in. They renew
their lives within the waters of the dreams we threw
away. Their memories are thin as cobweb, flashing like a day,
then gone. All they have to hold them here is you–
and me–so we must be careful what we say

about the dead, about the ones who’ve gone before. We say
they’re just a vapor, just a mist, a feather that will weigh
less than a living soul. But we know, me and you,
how light is heavy, how old is new,
how they continue to exist beyond their days,
and how the weight of our own memories brings them through.

And so we speak the names of saints and our beloveds, through
the long nights of the Hallowed Days, we say
their names, we keep them real, we mark the days
and help them through the veil to find their way
back to our joyful tables, set with bread and wine and new
candles. Look how they glow and hover around you.

I will keep this night along with you
and listen as the music whispers through
the mists that rise across the veil, new
pathways drawn between us. We can say
that finally we have found our way
between the curtains and into a new day.

Tomorrow you will step into another day,
find the way between, the way through, find your way
into a new dawn, full of light. You’ll have new names to say.

I needed a brain diversion today, and so I pulled up two Rilke autumn poems and translated them into English. I had forgotten how satisfying translation is.

An Autumn day (Herbsttag)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

Lord: it is time. The summer was so long.
Lay your shadow upon the sundials,
and set the winds loose upon the fields.

Command the final fruits to ripen;
give them yet two southerly days,
urge them to fullness and coax
the last sweetness into the earnest wine.

Whoever has no home, has now no time to build.
Whoever is alone, will stay alone a while,
will awaken, read, write long epistles
and in the alleys here and there
will wander, while the leaves drift by.

Fall (Herbst)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far away,
as if they’ve withered in the distant gardens of the heavens;
they are falling in the gesture of denial.

And through this night the heavy Earth is falling
away from all the stars in lonely space.

We all are falling. This hand falls.
And look at the other one: falling is in everything.

And yet there is One who holds all this falling
in infinitely tender hands.

The Number Four


Instead of my typical 4:44, I woke up this morning at 5:34, fell asleep again, and woke up at 7:04. My friend Anna tells me that 4 is associated both with the Metal element and with Autumn in Chinese Medicine. Fall is a time of letting go. I think that I am being asked right now to let go of some of my expectations of myself, to realize that I can’t systematize and organize the stress away.

I have to step into the river and start moving the rocks around. Get my feet wet, get my hands muddy.

The number four seems to be my wake-up number. What shall I wake up to in these days when the winds are pulling me to make and create something new, in these days when the weight of work is heavy on me?

Four is also about stability. The square is more static than the triangle. I can rest in the comfort of the four corners of the square, but eventually, I am going to let my balance shift and move into the more dynamic space of the five, which pulses like a star, disrupts the patterns and flow that have been set in the cozy household of the four, and brings a new awareness.

Every step is about waking up, eh?

Gratitude List:
Have you ever noticed
1. How sometimes three or four different leaves will be floating downward through the air, far from the trees, as though they have materialized from some other dimension?
2. How the autumn wind calls, begs for attention, wants you to wander, to go adventuring?
3. How understanding dawns somewhere behind the eyes, how it shifts the eyebrows and the temples upward, how it straightens the spine?
4. How heavier blankets often bring deeper sleep?
5. How new thoughts and ideas flow like streams, little tributaries meandering toward the Big Thought, the new concept, the river of knowing?

May we walk in Beauty!

Not Quite Right in the Head


(Since it has been something of an Edna St. Vincent Millay week. . .)

We’ve been playing with syllable-count poems.  This batch of Creative Writing students is so deliciously earnest.  None of us remember to look at the clock during class, and we write and we write and then we’re scrambling to get out the door in time to get to chapel.  Here is a syllable count poem based on my birthday (8-10-1-9-6-7):

The way your eyes shine fills my heart
I see the way it is growing in you
The capacity to love yourself
The way courage is dawning
As you step toward your star

Okay–it was a quick one and needs polish.

Gratitude List:
1. The voices of students in chapel this week: Victor and Nati talking about stereotyping on Tuesday, and yesterday Mackenzie’s song and Maddie’s beautifully open-hearted conversation about her brother.  I know I say this often, but it is because it is true: If these are the people who are to take us into the future, it is going to come out okay.  They’re brilliant, compassionate, thoughtful, and wise.  They speak their minds clearly and well, inviting others into the conversation rather than telling their audience what to believe.  I am proud, so proud of them.
2. A new thing.  Anticipation.  Revitalizing.
3. I have a Poet-Tree again!  It’s on the bulletin board in my classroom, and it might look a trifle wonky, but my students have graciously complimented me on my efforts as it took shape, and today we’ll begin adding the leaves (their little poems).  They respond with such fervor to anything visual.
4. I just asked Josiah what I am grateful for, and he said, “Me!”  Which is the absolute truth.  And for Ellis.  And for Jon.  And for all my family, and for You, too, of course.
5. Stories from the past.  This morning Facebook reminded me that three years ago, Ellis told me that he was tired, but that he could fix that by stepping into his robot costume and turning on the revver-upper.  I am still looking for my revver-upper, but meanwhile I will take deep breaths, sip my coffee, and imagine what it might be.  Perhaps I need to make me a robot costume.

May we walk in Beauty!