Poem a Day: 13

Today’s Prompts are Sacrifice and Purpose. In this one, I followed where the sounds and rhythms led me rather than working for a particularly tight meaning.

Let Loose
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

At what price, this sacrifice?
What personal cost, what cross,
what losses must she bear,
to wear the mantle she’s been handed?

And how much of it is her choice
to give voice to all the stories
offered her in dreams? What seems
to be the answer to the question
she’s been dancing since she woke?

What purpose does it serve,
this nervous laughter, crafting tales
that avoid disaster, trails of crumbs
to follow home when all’s played out.

Could she have stayed within the boundaries?
Prayed more devoutly? Sounded pious
when her soul was out of kilter?
Filtered out the deeper truths
that led her out beyond the fields?

No, she was meant to wander further
than the walls the maps required.
She was tired of living tamely
in domesticated trance. She had to
dance into the open, throw her fancy
to the winds, take her chances where she could
and race the storm across the wildlands
to find the answer to her ache.

In the Dreamtime, Day 8

At one of the moments of waking in the night, I had netted a dreamlike catching a fish, and thought I would hold it until morning, but it has slipped away into the shallows of my dream-brain. I think last night’s dreams were mostly the to-ing and fro-ing, the hither-and-yonning, of a mind gearing up to get the necessary work done. No images stand out from the chatter.

From yesterday’s meditations, I have pulled up the image of the Messenger or Page, the archetypal communicator, tasked with carrying messages throughout the royal household and beyond. While my outer life is all about communication and getting the messages across, I think that what has broken down for me in the past few months is the communicative process between my Deep self and my Surface self. The surface me did not quite know or believe that the deeper regions of my psyche were sad and overwhelmed and world-weary. I wasn’t keeping those pages working, moving between regions of my inner household to keep all the important pieces of me informed. I, who can sometimes live a little too intensely in the emotional realm, was getting cut off from my emotional self, not listening to the messages that the Deep self, which usually feeds me, was hungry and cut off. To be completely truthful, I think my Surface self was actually aware that things were getting out of order in the rooms deeper in, but didn’t quite know how to go about the process of daily living while tending to the work that needed to be done. Thankfully, Christmas Break has come along.

That’s a lot of navel-gazing, but the point is: To keep a healthy inner life, it’s really important to maintain regular times for meditation and contemplation and noticing the deepest inner places. It’s important for me to find and practice regular spiritual techniques in order to maintain inner balance. As a teacher, I sometimes get so compartmentalized that I push off my serious contemplative work to my breaks, thinking I’ll recharge and reconnect then, but without regular noticing, that inner space can get pretty messy and uninhabitable. The quick daily gratitude list hasn’t been enough for me to sustain the lines of communication. I am going to need to build in another regular practice in the coming months to keep myself healthy.

If I look back at what I have been writing in the past week, I think that part of what has been rampaging through my inner rooms is the untold stories. One solution for me will be to find focused time to work on this novel in the coming weeks. I need to either take it up or put it down, but I have to stop trying to keep it locked in the attic. It’s too destructive up there.

And sometimes inner turmoil can be symptomatic of other issues, ones we might not be able to see on our own. It might be time to schedule a check-up with a mental health counselor as well. Why don’t our health care plans include regular mental health check-ups as well as physical health check-ups? It would be a good idea to build it into our health care plans.


Gratitude List:
1. Purring Cat. When I woke up at four with the weight of the world on my chest, certain I would never get back to sleep, a little cat sensed my state of mind, settled on my chest, and purred me back to sleep. Never mind that an hour later, he woke me again with an angsty rendition of some teen-cat emo song. It was short, and I got back to sleep again then, too.
2. The Messengers, outer and inner
3. Rest. Such a little word for something so important
4. Grapefruit
5. Listening

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for the Fifth Day of Kwanzaa:
Today’s word is Nia: Purpose. This refers to the purpose of building African culture through community endeavor. As a white person, this is another reminder to me to take a learning and listening posture, and to use the privilege culturally stamped on my skin to give space and voice to others.


“Being curious is the most important part of being a journalist. It might be the most important part of being anything.” —Lemony Snicket


“And when I had asked the name of the river from the brakeman, and heard that it was called the Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be part and parcel of the beauty of the land. That was the name, as no other could be, for that shining river and desirable valley.” —Robert Louis Stevenson, 1879


The New Song
by W. S. Merwin

For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then
there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song


SABBATHS 2000: V
by Wendell Berry

I know for a while again
the health of self-forgetfulness,
looking out at the sky through
a notch in the valleyside,
the black woods wintry on
the hills, small clouds at sunset
passing across. And I know
that this is one of the thresholds
between Earth and Heaven,
from which even I may step
forth and be free.


“We need wilderness and extravagance. Whatever shuts a human being away from the waterfall and the tiger will kill [her].” —Robert Bly


“Know that the same spark of life that is within you, is within all of our animal friends, the desire to live is the same within all of us…” ―Rai Aren