Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a poem on the subject of jealousy. I don’t know that I experience that particular emotion much. Perhaps I am not being honest with myself?
Though I would love to defy gravity with the grace of an acrobat or ballerina, how can I be jealous? For jealousy fogs the windows of appreciation, and pulls my soul’s feet downward just as surely as my physical body rests solidly on earth, and I want to let my spirit fly with those who can.
And how can I be jealous of the artist whose line is so eloquent that a single curve or bend can draw me to tears? I long to place my truths within the webs of line and color as great artists do, but jealousy would push me off the ladder I am climbing toward them in their lofty realms.
Sometimes I read a line of perfect thought in poetry or prose and think, “I wish I’d written that!” But even that distracts me from the beauty of the word, and pulls me out of that co-creative space wherein the writer tosses out a thread of meaning and the reader reels it in, and both are necessary for the literary process to be complete.
Oh, I get jealous of other people’s tidy spaces, their immaculate houses that never break down, their ability to get everything done in timely ways. But would I trade my life for theirs? Would I then be satisfied? Or would I ride out of that upgrade into the next, never learning to be content?
May I always remain unsettled enough that I continue seeking better ways, but may my days be filled not with wishing for another train, but with loving what is mine, and treasuring the marvelous gifts that others have and know and do.
Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a stolen poem. Here’s my attempt:
Poetry Prompt: Write a Stolen Poem
I stole this poem years ago, actually, from a shelf in a corner of that old book shop on a quiet street down by the river. Dust motes twinkled in shafts of sun which slanted through the windows.
I eased the leather-clad book from a high shelf. I thought I heard it whispering. My fingers tingled with its electric pull.
I knew it would contain treasures: words like glisten and linger, like numinous, mellow, meringue. I thought it might glow on the page, hum my name, offer me words to ponder: tendril, exquisite, winsome, wander. And words strong and feral, like flame, wild, and bramble, courageous, incarnate, sycamore.
I thought it might tell me how not to be afraid, how to not put so much stake in other people’s opinions, how not to trust the lure of the the easiest road.
It did not disappoint. I’ve kept it, concealed, waiting for the moment, the right invitation, to reveal it.
Brewer’s prompt for the second day of National Poetry Month is a two-fer: Write a best case/worst case scenario poem. I can’t get Dickens out of my head on this one. I want to do a best of times/worst of times sort of thing. It’s only the second day, and I have left my poem until it’s almost too late to think.
There could be snow. There could be sun. We could all live to a ripe old age, or be mowed down by disease or accident in our youth, or our prime, or our golden years.
There could be an extra cup of coffee tomorrow, or no time for the necessary drug of the second cup. We could change our ways and turn it all around, or keep racing pell mell toward certain destruction.
We could save each other from our worst impulses or we could drive each other into bad decisions. We could choose at least the process of our fate instead of letting it rule us and wreck us.
During the season of Lent, the worship materials for the Mennonite Church suggest a more ritualized confession time, not particularly about confessing sin, but expanding it to confess what we believe. As part of the ritual, a few people each week are asked to come forward and bring their confessions in the form of a poem or a piece of art or a story or a reflection of some sort. Today, I have been asked to be part of the ritual, answering the question: “Who will trust in God today?” Here’s my poem:
Whom shall we trust?
When hurricanes and charlatans
destroy the weak?
When the meek are set
to inherit a world laid waste by greed?
When human need bats last,
long after lust for money, sex, and power?
Whom shall we trust
in this hour when so much has been lost?
When the cost seems too high
for such a simple thing
as resting in belief
that the Holy One has time
for grief about our trials and tribulations.
The pillars of the past no longer hold.
They’ve had feet of clay all along,
and wrong upon wrong upon wrong
has brought the ancient houses down.
There’s no more room here for illusion.
How, then, shall we trust?
Shall we just ignore the lancing fear
that tears our sense of safety from its moorings?
That bears us outward into territories
we’ve not known before?
Perhaps it’s not a matter
of ignoring what we face,
but rather an attempt
to place our anxious thoughts
within the context of the Greater Power.
I will put my trust in Mystery, in that ineffable presence we call God, in the Knowable Unknowing, and in the One who put on shoes like us and trod the roads we walk, and spoke as one who knew the course of human suffering. I’ll trust us to the Holy Wind of Spirit, who hears our songs and knows our fears, who causes us to rise, though we resist; in our resistance fills our sails, the wind that pulls against the kite and makes us rise to higher height.
Perhaps nothing can be truly known, no comfortable future gardens sown with seeds of certainty. But we can trust the certainty of seed, the trusty breeze of Spirit and the rains of the Creator on these fields we bear within us.
Gratitude List: 1. The Little Sisters buzzing for pollen among the crocus and anemones 2. A fun afternoon of pond play yesterday with my kid 3. This man who makes the most amazing birthday cakes 4. The opportunities for my soon-to-be-teenager to learn to do the tech things he loves 5. Summer break is on its way
Do you feel how the world comes alive?
How even underneath its coat of snow,
inside the bright crystals of the ice,
something in the Earth is stirring?
Within your own eyes I see it rising–
in this breath,
and now this one–
the Dreamer is awakening.
The dawn has come,
spreading its golden road before you,
asking, “Will you step upon the pathway?”
As you move out onto the road, Brigid’s sun upon your face will trace your outline full behind you, defining you in the Shadow which will be your soul’s companion into spring.
Brigid’s Day has dawned bright and sparkling. The groundhog and her rodent kin have seen their shadows. The crone can merrily wander through the woods edge and hedgerows to gather firewood for the next six weeks of winter.
And here’s one of the sacred truths of the moment: If I’m willing to look deeply into the reality of my own shadows, if I’m willing to know them, to understand how they reflect me and show my inner realities, then I have nothing to fear from the shadows. I have nothing to fear from the coming weeks of winter.
Yesterday after I got home, I went out to shovel the drive so it would be easier for Jon to get up the slope. My neighbor came out to help me. She loves to shovel snow, she said. She loves winter, especially when it’s cold and snowy. And for those moments with her, shoveling and talking together, I too loved the cold and the snow. For the beauty, for the exercise, but mostly for the neighborliness.
Questions to Contemplate in the Season of Brigid This is the season of sunlight and shadow: What is the shape of my shadow? How does it hamper me? How does it hold me? How does it tell me the shape of my soul?
Brigid is the Smith, she who works the forges: What within me is being tempered this season? What is being shaped and shifted? What sacred patterns are being traced along my edges? What useful tool am I being forged to become?
Brigid is the Healer. The waters of her well bring wholeness. What spaces within me need the touch of her waters? What dis-ease drains my vitality? How can I offer the waters of healing to others?
Brigid is Patroness of Poets. How do words shape my reality, like iron is shaped in the forge? How do my words bring healing, like water from the well? How can I speak poetry into the cold and the shadows of the season which is upon us? Can I offer my daily words with the care and the artfulness of the poet?
You are my favorite color:
that golden shine of sun on the trees in the morning,
that deep cotton grey of dusk,
that rich mocha brown of turned earth,
that silvery sheen on blue waters.
You are my favorite sound:
the sigh of a breeze through the sycamore,
the quiet hum of a child at play,
the full-throated song of a joyful choir,
the chorus of birdfolk at dawn.
You are my favorite feeling:
this tingle of warm sun in spring chill,
this shiver of the spine at a memory,
this sigh of soft satin on the inside of the wrist,
this ease of rest at the end of an aching day.
Today is the first day of National Poetry Month 2018! As I often do, I will follow Robert Lee Brewer’s poetry prompts on his blog Poetic Asides (associated with Writer’s Digest) for writing a poem a day during the month. Today’s prompt is to write a “secret” poem.
Lately I’ve been finding great satisfaction in publishing my tiny poems on Instagram, in a short and terse format. It requires a different set of poetic muscles to write in extremely short forms. There’s something that feels more intimate in this process, and I find my short poems taking on a Sufi-esque tenderness. I find myself wanting to emulate Rumi and Hafiz. So today, I just tried to make it happen. I would like to shift it so there isn’t a direct gendered pronoun in the last line, but I didn’t want to lose the intimacy.
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s celebration of a beautiful, vibrant, compassionate, wise, intellectual, and grateful woman. Grieving together as a gathered community. Stories of the Mama Bear, the Turtle Dove, the Wise Owl.
2. Those goldfinches at my father’s feeders are wearing their spring motley, and the gold is shining through.
3. Getting out and walking with the family. Every winter, I start to feel like it will never get better, like the rest of my life will be spent indoors. Then there comes a day when things open up, I can crawl out from under the rock of the season, and I can suddenly breathe again.
4. Redbuds are blooming! Have you seen them? Oh, my heart suddenly felt free again when I saw them.
5. Transformation. I know we spend our time in the tomb before we can be resurrected, but I just always lose sight of the coming transformation.