Searching for the Beloved

Today’s prompt is to write a metaphor poem. I have been contemplating the Sufi concept of the Divine Beloved, so a metaphorical search for the nature of the Beloved seemed apt.

The Beloved

She is a whisper
in the breeze,
‎calling you
‎into the wilderness,
‎reminding you
‎of your true name.

She is a crocus
in the wild wood,
‎escaping the borders
‎of the gardens,
‎catching the gaze
‎of your downcast eye.

She is three crows
casting themselves
‎into the tempest,
‎claiming the sky,
‎inviting you
‎to take wing.

Gratitude List:
1. Perhaps it’s the increased exercise, but I am getting better sleep again after about a week of ache-filled nights.
2. How people look out for each other. The three grandsons looking out for their grandma as she’s moving out of her cottage and into personal care.
3. The singing in church this morning. It’s always good, but it’s just so lovely to lead singing and stand in front and hear everyone making music together. Sacred and holy.
4. Pink trees. Pink. Pink. Pink. Pink.
5. Yesterday’s weather. (There’s a hidden grumble in that one, I think, but there’s definitely a promise of warmth to come, even if it takes another week.)

May we walk in Beauty!


My little old man cat has got me thinking about hugs. He doesn’t like to just sit quietly on my lap. He has to have his paws on my shoulder, like a cat hug. I think he finds comfort and ease in the heart-to-heart contact. And it strikes me that that’s part of the healing power of a hug: For just a moment, your heart and my heart are together, right next to each other. Offering a hug is offering your heart. We help each other to regulate our breathing and our heart-rhythms when we hug each other.

Gratitude List:
1. Watching that moon rise. Last night, we went down to Hellam to watch the moon rise. A bubble of flame breaking free. No matter how many times I watch, I am always sort of stunned by how quickly it rises, how we can see it moving. It sets my heart a flutter. We also saw the space station.
2. Planting herbs. I am expanding my mint bed to include other herbs. The wild St. John’s Wort that I planted last year is flourishing. Today I planted thyme and oregano and rosemary. I need some white sage yet.
3. Cycles of work and rest
4. The lure of words. I am restless, picking up my journals and printed poems, shuffling and browsing. I am ready to edit and reconfigure, ready to settle into a writing rhythm for the summer.
5. This boy bought himself a pair of water shoes today with pink insets. “That’s okay with you, the pink?” I asked, casually, just to be sure that I wasn’t investing my money in something he wouldn’t actually wear. He shrugged: “They’re water shoes.” Righto.

May we walk in Beauty!

Death and Temperance, and the Wall


I have hit the poetry wall tonight. I’ve been feeling it coming for a couple days now, the slowing, the resistance in my brain as I approach it. And here, tonight, with Death as the prompt, I don’t know where to go. I want to make it light and fluffy, toss it off without thinking. I don’t have the brain cells for much work tonight, and my will to work is shallow and listless. Then I remind myself that some of the shiniest poems happen at the moment of the wall. Of course, that’s when some of the worst ones happen, too. Sigh.



No, I think she’s a woman in a red cloak
with gentle brown eyes and midnight skin.
Unlike the ferryman, she asks no token,
no proof of passage or confession of sin.

She carries a sickle instead of a scythe,
appearing in fevered delusions and dreams,
and though you may dread to see her arrive,
you will cherish her presence on the journey.

There now. I’ve written something. I honestly can’t tell whether I like it or not. That’s part of the wall, too, the loss of a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Best to just get it down there, and come back to it with a clear head when April is over.

So much of it is about Balance, isn’t it? Justice, a few days ago. Even Death–there’s always a balance between death and life, between the fear of it and the hope for it. The Lovers–they’re all about balance between the opposite parts of our inner nature. Tomorrow, again, is another sort of balance: Temperance. We’re not talking about periods of US history here, but about the concept. Passion and zeal are important drivers, and they can be great when you need to get the chariot moving, but fokeeping it going straight and steady, you’ve got to find the temperate balance. Can the Fool, in her naive and wandering heart, find the deep meaning of Temperance?

Gratitude List:
1. Pink trees
2. Cool breeze
3. Bees
4. (Ack! Now I need to keep going with this.) Poetries (Don’t judge me.)
5. Cheese (Hey now, I do love it, and we had some mighty fine Pepper Jack for supper.)

May we walk in Beauty!

On Intersectionality


Today, I have been thinking about feminism and intersectionality. There’s lots of good–and some perhaps-not-so-good–commentary on the webs these days about the Women’s March coming up in a few weeks. While I don’t want to leap blindly onto any new bandwagon that comes along, I also want to lend my voice to a gathering movement for equal rights for all people, one that recognizes–hopefully–that the leadership roles and the power to shape the movement must be held by women of color. By all means include white women in the work of advancing feminism, but for too long we have allowed the veils of privilege to keep us ignorant of the full range of women’s experiences, and I think it is time and more than time for white women to take the listening role.  Here are some ways that white women can position ourselves within the movement.
1. Be listeners. Listen to the stories of women of color.
2. Believe. When we talk about abuse, we say that one of the things we need to do is to believe women when they speak their stories. This applies here, too: When women of color speak about the pain and anger and frustration, believe them, even (particularly) when it is about racism.
3. Avoid the day’s common default response of outrage and huffiness. When women of color have something to say about their experiences or about how they have been treated by white women, don’t get miffed. This prevents listening. Let’s just skip the defensive posture, open our ears, and reach out our hands. How else will we hear truth?
4. Put the power and energy of our inherent privilege to the use of the movement, and to our sisters of color. Offer our sisters whatever power and leverage we are able to create from our own privileged positions.
5. When I was a teenager, and my mother was trying to train me to be a more engaged participant in the life of our household, she pushed me to keep asking, “What can I do next?” That’s a good question for us, too. “What can I do?” Instead of, “I think you should. . .”
6. Be ready to keep learning.

I like Shishi Rose‘s take on the subject.

Gratitude List:
1. Layers. Layers of clothing on a cold day. Layers of ideas. Layers of caring and concern.
2. The bowl is big enough to hold us all.
3. The color pink. I am finding a new appreciation for pink. I am starting to wear more grandmotherly pinks and roses and beige. That’s okay. I need the gentleness of rose right now, and the ferocity of fuschia.
4. Arundathi Roy and Vandana Shiva. Look up quotations by them on GoodReads.
5. Baked oatmeal with blueberries for supper.

May we walk in Beauty!


The Musselman bush is blooming beautifully.

Listen to the sound
behind the cacophony,
underneath the boom
and clatter of the markets:
hear the cry of Cassandra.

Gratitude List:
1. An extra day to catch up
2. Sunshine through baby green
3. Yesterday’s lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong nap
4. Seven-layer tortilla pie
5. Pink trees and bushes

May we walk in Beauty!

Trying for a Thomas Poem

My father took this photo of me on Rusinga Island when I was five. A couple years ago, I wanted to take a picture of it for a project I was working on, but I couldn’t get past the crazy reflections that kept occurring. Then I realized I could use the reflections and put myself, 41 years later, into the photo.  (This is the same trip where my brother found an interesting stone on the beach and took it for his collection.  Forty-some years later, as he was reading about the tools of early hominids, a photo of a particular stone caught his eye and he remembered his Rusinga stone, which he had, still stashed away.  He knew how to make the right contacts, and his stone now resides in the Smithsonian Museum, a verified example of one of the earliest hominid tools to be found.)

Today is Easter 2, the day when we look at Thomas, who has come to us down the centuries as Doubter.  Something in me admires his pragmatism, his weighing of the truth and facts, his declaration that he needs to see the evidence.  He had a scientific mind.

Make space in this house
for all of the people you are.
Make room for the schemer,
the doubter, the cynic,
but open some space
for the credulous child
and the mystic, the dreamer,
the wild one, the quiet one.

Open a space within
for the glass-half-full to dance
with the glass-half-empty,
for the monk to sing songs
of revolution with the fury.

There in those rooms,
the One may enter
and speak your many names,
saying, Peace be yours.

Gratitude List:
1. Wild wind.  May I be wind-shriven, too.  There’s that song by the Medical Mission Sisters: “Blow, blow, blow till I be but breath of the Spirit blowing in me.”
2. Pink trees
3. Communities and circles of caring.  Knowing that other people get it, this work of holding our places in the web.  Knowing that you’re out there, doing your work while I am trying my best to do mine here.
4. The hope and promise of the seed.
5. How the answers we seek can sometimes enter through the locked doors and closed rooms of our fearful hearts.

May we walk in Beauty and Blossoms!

My Cat, the Alchemist

Ah.  This is awkward.  Today’s prompt is to name your poem “My (fill in), the (fill in).”  For some reason cat and alchemist were in my brain, and I didn’t manage to exorcise them before they started to become a poem.  Silly, perhaps, or campy, but something in me sort of likes it.

My Cat, the Alchemist

He takes me in my sleeping state
and transmutes me to my waking self,
reaching through the gates
between those two worlds
with a cry like a human babe

and claws that shred
the stuff of dreams
to ribbons of image,
figments of half-memory,

and I am running faster
down that railroad bridge,
running from a lion
who keeps calling my name,

I am pulled from my quiet wanderings
through the empty rooms of a house
I both know and don’t know.

Some nights I can pull myself
gently back between the bars,
mend the tattered cloth of dream
and sail back into my night voyages.

Often, though, I find myself
wriggling and twisting, caught
in the bars between worlds,
neither quite here, nor quite there,
but an industrial purr beside me
and a small warm body against my leg.

Gratitude List:
1. Yes, I am utterly and unquenchably redundant, but have you seen the pink trees?  Pink Trees.  Number one on my gratitude list.  Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink.  “That’s nice,” says Joss, “because pink is my new favorite color.”  <Yes!>
2. Dinner with the dormies.  That was fun and yummy. We took a walk afterward, and a student’s father yelled out his car window that he loves to see families out walking together.
3. Random blessings from strangers.  See #2.
4. The Lego Museum.  Halfway through the DC day yesterday, Joss said, “I want to go home now.  I want to make a Lego Museum.”  Art imitates life.  He could only take in so much before he had to go start creating in response to it.
5. Kindness.

May we walk in Beauty!