Stay Home, Stay Safe

A Poem, Some Gratitudes, a Dream, and a Quotation Collection:

Listen, Friend:
I will not tell you that
god has a purpose for your anguish.
Your tragedy was not divine will
sending a lightning bolt to wake you up
or to teach you a lesson about trust,
whatever the street preachers tell you.

Bad things happen, and they keep on happening.
Why, just yesterday, I saw a story
about some mother’s child gunned down
in the streets in the daylight
and people stood by and took videos
with their new camera phones.
There’s no god in that, right?
No good in that, no god.

And I don’t know what Moses and his king were thinking,
but I can tell you that this plague is not some
divine retribution by a heavenly pharoah
trying to teach us all a lesson,
though there are lessons aplenty to learn,
if only we can open our eyes and see,
then see again, and deeper.

I still hold that there’s a Creative Force
that set the Universe in motion, a Love
that watches us and even extends Itself toward us
when we’re in the throes of agony,
even sends occasional lightning bolts
of insight when we’re at the edge of holding on.

I don’t know why the good ones die young
or why tornadoes always seem to hit the trailer parks
instead of the mansions on the hills,
why the rich fat cats recover from the virus
after all their disregard of caution,
and those who are already suffering
lose the ones they love.

But here, in all the chaos of unknowing,
is this web: A line from me to you, another
cast to the next one that you love,
and one of mine, and on and on,
a tender, joyful, fierce and loving web
of hearts that hold and notice
even in the midst of all that is being destroyed.



Gratitudes:
1. Health care workers. They’re stretched thin right now. Spare them some love.
2. This man, who plans meals for special occasions just like his mother always did.
3. Making things. I sewed all day yesterday. It made me happy.
4. Finally! After seventeen years here, we are getting the septic system replaced. The pipes are in, and all that remains is to finish hooking up all the extra pieces and to put the dirt back where it belongs.
5. Reflections

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


In the dream, I am in a large crowded theater where people are preparing a play. Everyone is excited. They’re throwing themselves into their roles. I am kind of on the sidelines, supporting, encouraging, wishing I could be part of the fun.

I can’t participate, because no one is wearing masks or social distancing. Also, I am supposed to be in quarantine, so why am I in a crowded theater?

I go sit in a little room with a few others who aren’t in the main cast, and suddenly realize that even I am not wearing a mask. Fortunately, I have one in my purse.

I know where this one came from. Yesterday, I scrolled past something that a friend of mine posted about the Covid Phone alert yesterday, and she and her friends were mocking it, scorning the governor, encouraging each other to get together with their families and friends today. But I know that people are going to get sick as a result of their irresponsible actions today, and some of them are going to die because they ignore the warnings. I know that my beloveds who work in hospitals are preparing themselves for the terrible decisions they are going to be needing to make in the coming weeks about who gets treatment, and who doesn’t.
I have SO MUCH to be grateful for, and I AM grateful, and joyful. But I am also worried and sad, and angry at my friend and her friends for being so cavalier about something that will claim people’s lives. Please make safe and responsible choices today, friends.

[Later Edit: I promise I won’t resent you if you are gathering with the responsible people of your bubble, tending to each other’s mental health as you responsibly gather. I know there are grey areas here. My sulks are reserved for those who simply ignore it all and pretend nothing is happening, and who scorn those who are taking precautions. Still, I wish safety for all.]


Thursday’s Thankful and Thoughtful Words:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” —Meister Eckhart


“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” —Alice Walker (h/t Tony Brown)


“Perhaps you were brought to this place for just such a time as this.” —paraphrase from book of Esther


“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.”
—Nayyira Waheed


“Only those who attempt the absurd
will achieve the impossible.”
—M. C. Escher


“A seed sown in the soil makes us one with the Earth. It makes us realize that we are the Earth. That this body of ours is the panchabhuta-the five elements that make the universe and make our bodies. The simple act of sowing a seed, saving a seed, planting a seed, harvesting a crop for a seed is bringing back this memory-this timeless memory of our oneness with the Earth and the creative universe. There’s nothing that gives me deeper joy than the work of protecting the diversity and the freedom of the seed.” —Vandana Shiva


Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower
by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

Listen
Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Line From a Song

For the first line of this one, I stole a line I loved from Jindu’s poem from yesterday. I love how my own poetic voice is stronger and more on fire when I write with someone else.

A Line From a Song
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

There’s a line from a song I don’t remember,
something about the way November closes in,
how thin the space between breaths, how roses
still bloom in this bitter wind, but death stalks
the room I’m in, walks in winter’s shadow.

I know that somewhere in the middle of the song
was a line about longing for what I cannot have,
about the wrong door leading to the right room,
or the other way around. I’ve found I remember it
better when I hum it right before I go to sleep.

But sleep is the best drug I know, when
I can achieve it, when I can believe that I’m not
just escaping the rattle and whir of my days.
Sleep whirls the vortex that tosses the flotsam
of poetry into the day, and I’m remade.


Gratitudes:
1. One of my students asked my advice about her outfit yesterday because she said she thought I was “fashionable.” That’s not a word I think anyone has ever used or me before, and it was startlingly sweet.
2. Also yesterday, a student knocked on my door during a class and asked if he could borrow my skull. I have a plastic skull in my classroom–named Yorick, of course (alas! poor Yorick!)–and I sort of live for moments when I can participate in surreal shenanigans like that.
3. Giant burgundy leaves on a little oak tree.
4. Writing poetry with others.
5. Horchata.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“When Tolkien needed someone to place in the face of the great rising evil in his story, he chose the small ones. You and I are the small ones, friends. Let’s join hands and stand together. Let’s work together, speak together, sing and whisper and shout together.” —EWK


“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” —Terence McKenna


“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde


“Don’t operate out of fear, operate out of hope. Because with hope, everything is possible.” —Winona LaDuke


Our deepest fears are like dragons
guarding our deepest treasure.
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Praise Song
by Barbara Crooker
Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.


“Look at everything
as though you were seeing it
either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
—Betty Smith

Forest of Hours

Yes, I am obsessed with my mushroom friends.

Today, my friend Jindu wrote a poem of time and story and God, and I let that wave roll over me as I sat down to write my own poem. I think I let the poem tell me enough about myself to make me a little uncomfortable, maybe light a fire under me.

Forest of Hours
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The clock has berated me all day,
complaining about my betrayal of time,
scorning the way I keep getting lost
in the forest of hours,
claiming I should be familiar
with the pathway home by now.

I am not time’s fool, you know,
nor God’s familiar. I’m no black cat,
no ignorant—or innocent—
child in the fairy tale. I know what I’m doing.
I’m wasting not time, but self.

I’m listening for the sound God makes
as she sings through the branches
of these hours that surround me.
I know in my bones that the story
has a hole in it somewhere, know without asking
that the wolf is standing there
right behind my left shoulder, and also
that there is a well in a stone tower
within a grove of oak
that holds the secret,
if only I can find the key
to fit the door.

But who is telling this story?
I could have sworn it was God,
but maybe I’m just fooling myself, brother.
Maybe the wolf has been lying to me
all along. Maybe God rides a broomstick
through the waving branches.
Maybe the story is telling itself.

Perhaps the clock has a point.
I am, after all, a middle-aged poet
with nothing much to show for my life’s work
but these rags, this tarnished key,
and the sense that I’ll find the secret
of the story in the next bright clearing.


“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” —Samwise Gamgee


“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.” —Miles Davis


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” —Frida Kahlo


A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”


“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.” —Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life


“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
—Mary Oliver, What Do We Know


Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
—Desmond Tutu


“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” —Jeannette Rankin


When we see the Beloved in each person,
it’s like walking through a garden,
watching flowers bloom all around us. —Ram Dass


“You came into this world as a radiant bundle of exuberant riddles. You slipped into this dimension as a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs. You blasted into this realm as a lush explosion of ecstatic gratitude. And it is your birthright to fulfill those promises.
I’m not pandering to your egotism by telling you these things. When I say, “Be yourself,” I don’t mean you should be the self that wants to win every game and use up every resource and stand alone at the end of time on top of a Mt. Everest-sized pile of pretty garbage.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the self that says “Thank you!” to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the rebel creator who’s longing to make the whole universe your home and sanctuary. I mean the dissident bodhisattva who’s joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of divine love that are packed inside every moment.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the spiritual freedom fighter who’s scrambling and finagling and conspiring to relieve your fellow messiahs from their suffering and shower them with rowdy blessings.” —Rob Brezsny


“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ―Brother David Steindl-Rast

The Vampire Poem

I’ve been a little obsessed with the vampire dream I had the other night, with the idea that I knew in the dream that I was watching the images appearing as I read a poem. I needed to have the poem. Because it has an old folk tale feeling, I kept getting caught up in archaic-sounding language. The rhythm and rhyme kind of happened naturally as I began, and even though it felt a little like a light-hearted cadence, I just plugged on. I’m sort of happy with it.

The moon was high on a cool fall night,
and my child walked home in its silver light.
Her clothes were ragged and her feet were bare
and the moon laid a crown on her raven hair.

Approaching the field called “Soldier’s Rest,”
she saw an old man in soldier’s dress.
He too was tattered, from head to toe,
and he sat on a stump, with his head bowed low.

With a deferential nod as she passed by,
my youngster caught the old man’s eye.
“Stop for a while,” he called from his seat.
“I’ve a tale for you I’ve ached to repeat.”

Long she listened in polite fascination
while the elder unspooled his bitter narration
of stabs in the back and egregious wronging,
of betrayals and rages, unrequited longing.

After his recital, she begged his kind pardon,
and turned toward home, our small cabin and garden.
As soon as I heard her open the gate,
I gathered her into my arms. It was late,

and I bolted and barred the front door for the night
as she told of her encounter with the angry old wight
and showed me through cracks in the shutters the spot
up the road in the moonlight where the elder still sat.

We’d hardly turned and were crossing the floor
than the old one materialized through the door.
I guessed in an instant his vampire constitution,
but how could he enter without invitation?

He’d twisted her natural child’s civility
into the requisite welcome for entry.
Icy fingers of fear grabbed my throat and my spine
and my child sank to the floor with an anguished cry.

Through the snail-stepping hours of that longest of nights
I tended my child as he drew out her life.
I tried every hex, incantation, and prayer
to make him release her from his vampiric stare

but all I could do was to keep her alive
with my own spirit-breath. I cannot describe
the exhaustion and horror of each minute that passed
as I waited for dawn when my power at last

could unmake him. But then at the moment I thought I was lost
the first rays of morning broke in, and crossed
the vampire’s shadow. I saw him whiten like death,
and my beloved daughter drew one long deep breath.

I built up the fire and opened the door,
and our tormentor groaned and rose from the floor,
floated upward and out, and faded like song
as we heard the first notes of the first bird of dawn.

Take care, my friends, of the boundaries you keep.
The old tales ask for kindness, but vampires will creep
through your civil demeanor with evil inventions,
so be canny and wise and make clear intentions.


Thursday’s Words:
“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.”
—Thomas Berry


“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri


‪”So much of bird flight is really expert falling, slipping into that delicate space within the argument between gravity and air resistance. That natural alchemy transforms a plummet into a glide. Someday, I hope to learn to fail like birds fall.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


Gratitudes:
1. My order of Africafe came today. I opened it up and the smell took me home.
2. All these mushrooms! So many, and so many varieties!
3. So much gold, and red. So much shine when the sun slants in.
4. People who carry on and do what they know is right even when they get blocked at every turn.
5. The life of Lucille Bridges, who gave her first-grade daughter Ruby the support she needed to face hostile crowds every day on her way to school. Ms. Bridges died today at age 86.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!

Unsettled

The pholiota limonella at the center of the Wheel of the Year have gotten expansive. I have given them names, but they’re the names of some elven folx who appeared to me in a dream, and in the fairy tales it’s kind of rude to use the truenames of the fae, unless you’re trying to keep them at bay, so we’ll call them Meadow and Chief for now.

In last night’s dream:
I am reading a poem, by Whitman or Sandburg or someone like that. I see the lines on the page as the images of the dream unfold.

A small girl is walking a path home to her cabin in the full moon light. (Why are small children always out at night in these stories?!?)

As she is passing a field which was a battlefield in the Civil War, she comes upon an old man, dressed in the tattered remnants of a soldier’s uniform, sitting on a stump in the moonlight. She listens politely while he tells her his story of woe and bitterness.

After his telling, she makes her way home, where her mother bolts the cabin door behind her. She tells her mother (the narrator of the poem) about the old man, and they look out the window to see him sitting there, way in the distance, in the moonlight. As she finishes telling her mother the story, suddenly the old man is in the cabin with them.

The poem (dream) ends with the mother reflecting on how sitting in the bitterness of old battles can turn a person into a vampire.

I think it’s a dream about the danger we’re in right now, with a bitter old soldier who lost his battles, stewing in his rage. He’s always been an energy vampire, and now he’s been mostly ignored for days. He’ll be hungry. Telling his story to each other only feeds him.
In the dream, the girl did not invite him in, but he came in anyway, perhaps taking her polite listening as a tacit invitation. Let’s draw our boundaries tightly now, and refuse to let ourselves be drawn in to the old battles again, refuse to listen to his story. We’re in a new place now, a safer place than we were, but we need to be vigilant and aware in order to truly make it safe.

I think that part of what startles me about this dream is that in the fairy tales, you’re supposed to be polite, supposed to listen to the elders, supposed to offer assistance to the poor. This was so clearly not that. Her politeness was all the invitation he needed to enter her space. The time for passive politeness is past. White people, especially, have allowed such evil to blossom through passive politeness, through our lack of confidence in confronting lies and abuse.

My friend Anna reminds me to stand within my truth, leaning neither forward nor backward, to feel myself surrounded by a golden light. One of the many helpers who has appeared to me in a dream is an angelic being made of golden light, with great glowing golden wings, so I feel myself surrounded by my dream-friend’s light, like the golden glow of an autumn morning, when the mists are just rising off the fields and everything is awash with light. This standing in one’s truth, Anna reminds me, is like the essential core of nonresistant philosophy, to know what you believe, and to hold to that, not getting caught up in all the rages and distractions of those who oppose a vision of justice.

I am unsettled today. I feel like it’s time to stop celebrating and start looking around, keeping our noses to the wind, not losing our commitment to standing in the center of our own golden light of truth, but all senses alert to the dangers around us. It began with my dream, the sense that some attention paid to the tattered soldier has given him the “right” of entry. On one hand, I want to let the old ghost fade quietly away into the moonlight without giving it any more attention. On the other hand, I have a sense of impending doom settling on my shoulders this afternoon, a feeling of havoc about to be wreaked, chaos to be unleashed.

I know that is his pattern, to promise destruction and wreckage, and then watch in delight as all the worried citizenry gathers to put out the fires. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. I think it’s time to let it go, to believe that someone is watching and ready to give warning out in the dark night, that everyone is positioned to do their very own job.

In the meantime, in the waiting, in the transition,
we give our attention to our work:
we continue to call for justice,
we keep rooting out white supremacy wherever we see it, especially in ourselves,
we dismantle the patriarchy,
we protect the vulnerable,
we care for the children,
we teach critical thinking and analysis,
we starve the vampire.


Gratitudes:
1. The golden light of autumn
2. The golden leaves of autumn
3. The golden pillar of energy that helps us to stand within our truth
4. The golden shine of the mushrooms in the Wheel of the Year mandala
5. The golden heart of you

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Beauty!

Speaking Justice, Enacting Peace

Talking to myself. You may listen in:

Meet it All with Love
Have a care with your words.
Speak justice.
Speak truth.
Words ignite.
Words incite.
Words inspire.
Have a care.

Don’t be afraid.
To act is to risk.
To not act is to risk.
Weigh and measure.

Meet it all with love.
Find joy in every place you can.
Be a prophet.
Be a fool.
Step into the gap
and become a bridge.

Avoid vengeance.
Provoke for change.
Provoke to love.
Provoke for epiphany.
Be a gadfly
and a peace-maker.
Be a prophet and a lamb.
Wise as a serpent,
harmless as a dove.

Enact peace.
Overturn the tables.
Rage and heal.
Meet it all with love.


American Parable:
Once a shepherd brought his sheep back to the fold after a long day of grazing in the high fields. As they entered the fold, he carefully counted each one, until he reached 99.

Oh no! One short! He must have lost one somewhere on the mountain! What would the other shepherds think of him if he lost a sheep? How would he ever live it down?

He stood a while in thought, then said, “Meh. What’s one sheep when I have 99 others? It was probably old or sick or weak anyway. A loser sheep. It is what it is.”

He locked his gates and doors, ate a hamburger from a golden plate, and went to bed.

Finding Poetry, Part II

This past week, I posted the first of two Found poems that I wrote using the help of friends on a Facebook post. You can find that first poem here: Finding Poetry, Part 1.

Here is the second one I did.

That Which is Indestructible
(A Facebook Crowd-Sourced Found Poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider and Friends

There is a time and place for a child to grow up,
playing between scrabbly hibiscus bushes,
but the best way to tell about a town,
any town,
is to listen deep into the night,
long after midnight,
after every screen door has been slammed shut
for the last time.

When he stood in his room in the tower,
looking out over the invisible city spread below,
he found that he could justify his inquisitiveness.

He came in about supper-time
with his sketchbook and his mud-bespattered boots.
In reflex, she stepped back against the safety of the wall,
began climbing, using both hands,
all white eyes,
a flickering lamp,
a bubble in a stream,
a flash of lightning in a summer cloud.

Yet she grew to like him,
for he was always kind and gentle to her.
A little flame of hope had been lit.
He saw that it was not
in the object of desire
that lasting satisfaction resided
but in the absence of that desire.

I think I know why porcupines
surround themselves with prickly spines:
White throat, dark chest-patches or nearly—
If you tear down the web, I said,
it will simply know.

There is no question in my mind
that these men have had a terrifying experience.
I was responsible for all of them
and would mourn every life lost in my name.
We cannot fear it, play games with it,
or manipulate it—the Path just is,
and the nights are full of nightingales,
even though they would like to die.
The prayer wheel ceaselessly cadences
the pilgrim’s path.
The sound of the new color console—Zenith—
rose and fell, sounding like the babble of running water.

Welcome To The World, Baby Girl.
Did you hear that?
(We are in a book!)
Oh, my. I read that years ago.
Sorry, I forgot:
Thanks for the memory.
PS—I love all of this!

Okay, later, with the book on my bedside table,
which has quite a history:
This is a third re-read.
These sacred rituals involve prescribed traditions.
So here are three short phrases:
I.
Lay all the items on your altar for about an hour,
just to let them “cure,”
soaking up and charging with sacred energy.

II.
To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure
is the most perfect refreshment.

III.
We must become friendlier with our dark emotions
in order to use their energies for healing and transformation.

The cares and preoccupations of life draw us away from ourselves.
Look, money’s an engine
and it’s out there running day and night,
whether you like it or not.
Destroying things is much easier than making them.
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves
over and over
to annihilation
can that which is indestructible be found in us.

Poem a Day: 3

Today’s two prompts were Blossoms and Follow ______.

I’m not really happy with this one. I got caught on the hook of the rhythm and I couldn’t tear myself loose, so I followed the trail. I followed the blossoms, I guess.

Follow the Blossoms
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Step, Golden Child, onto the pathway:
follow the blossoms strewn on the pebbles.
Pink-flowering trees and golden-bloomed bushes
line the trail that calls you to wander.

Follow the blossoms wherever they lead you.
Heed only the call of aroma and color
as your feet take the rocky trail into the wild-lands,
away from the village, away from the hearth-fires.

The stories will tell of your innocent spirit,
naive, how you trusted the universe,
never believing that anything
out in the wildwood could harm you.

But you, like the Fool, have kept your eyes open.
You know of the risks, you know of the shadows,
but something else calls you to step beyond boundaries
out to the wildwood, where dangers await you.

Ahead of you, waiting around every bend in the pathway,
are challengers, riddles and questions to answer,
witches to work for and riders to follow.
Now you will have come to the edge of your trial.

Step, Golden Child, into the clearing.
Now you are nearing the challenge you came for.
This is the moment you’ve trained your whole life for,
to follow the blossoms to where they may lead you.

Gained In Translation, Again

Three years ago, I ran a couple of my short poems through Google Translate to see what would happen. From English to Pashto and back again. From English to Pashto to Hindi to Javanese and back again. How does meaning become fractured through the algorithmic translation process? Last week, I tried it again. I started with:

Long have I longed for
and dreaded
this moment
of darkness,
belonging to silence,
sure of my shadows.

Then I ran it through
Sinhala —> Tajik —> Swahili —> Malayalam —> Pashto —> back to English

Here is what happened. Look how it pulled a rhyme in there for me (afraid/shade), and the meaning has definitely shifted, but I’m really happy with it. I added punctuation at the end for clarification. I actually like it better than my original.
I’ve been waiting a long time.
Don’t be afraid.
At this point:
Dark,
In silence,
I believe in shade.


Then I tried Mr. McConnell’s famous Truth: Nevertheless she persisted.
Ran it through Punjabi —> Bangla —> Hmong —> Kyrgyz —> Tamil —> English
Ended up with: The reality is, however, there is more.
This changes the meaning a little more than I really want to, but it is an interesting end.


I tried a third, another of my tiny poems. This time, that fifth line changed anger to sex. Hmmm.
Take a deep breath.
Find the place inside you
that remembers how truth feels;
remember that there
are kinds of anger
that are more effective
than blind outrage.

Tamil —> Javanese —> Cebuano —> Hindi —> Kazakh —> English

Take a deep breath.
Find a place in your stomach
The cruelty of truth is considered;
Remember
Sex is scary
It was very effective
Especially the blind.


Ah, well. I like putting the essence of meaning outside of my control for a moment and seeing what happens.

In Creative Writing classes, many of the exercises I have students do are to encourage us to move behind that space in our brain that controls the meanings. Part of the reason for this is that is helps us to discover hidden wells and springs of words and ideas within ourselves that we didn’t know were there, like finding the secret room in your house in the dream. At a basic level, it helps us learn that there are a thousand ways to say a thing, a thousand hues of meaning. Giving up control in the immediate moment, as with an exercise like this, helps us learn to take control, to refine and define our meanings.


Gratitude List:
1. Singing in the pit for our school’s musical. It’s a rather big commitment, but I love it.
2. Yesterday after I dropped a Big Boy off for tech prep for the play, I had a couple hours just to be by myself. I went shopping, of all things. Hit the Goodwill pay-by-the-pound bins, and A.C. Moore’s going out of business sale. I bought Small Boy a stack of canvases for painting–half price.
3. The Small Boy hasn’t painted for months, but at the moment he is creating a marvelous abstract cloud-like scene with watercolors. Hmm. Now he is adding some acrylics on top of that. Experiment, Kid!
4. Silver hair. When I see photos of myself now, my first awareness is of a middle-aged, grey-haired, gnome-like woman. I’m okay with that. No, I’m actually happy with that. I like being middle-aged, and I like having unicorn hair.
5. The way the sun casts shadows in the bosque across the road when it slides up and over the opposite ridge in the mornings. All those tree-shadows!

May we walk in Beauty!