before the comfort of book and bed,
I stood in the yard and worshiped
the highest moon.
Soft-edged shadows spread
across the frosted grass.
The darkest month gives
the brightest night—
not an insignificant grace.
before the comfort of book and bed,
I stood in the yard and worshiped
the highest moon.
Soft-edged shadows spread
across the frosted grass.
The darkest month gives
the brightest night—
not an insignificant grace.
Before I begin my celebration of Poetry Month, which this year will involve going on strike for better working conditions, here’s a poem.
WHAT WE’VE LOST
I was shopping this morning, double-masked
because my second shot is days away.
Young women working the check-out counters
were waiting for customers and laughing,
laughing loud at some private check-out joke.
And I found my anger surge up at them:
young women, masked, trapped behind plastic shields.
Being human, sharing humor. And anger
at myself for fearing the sound of delight.
What have we lost? What have I lost?
I hope someday no one will understand
double masks, plastic shields, second shots.
With a frisk of rambunctiousness,
a Pomeranian energy,
the March wind like a red-rubber ball
is bouncing away the long cold dark.
The book cover shines gold
in the lamplight.
Small birds irrupted from the north
cluster around the feeders.
I’m an old woman now
and none the wiser, but
at least I can define
emotion with precision.
The landscape of exploration
Forty years but surely not wasted.
Are we between wars
or is there simply one war.
Was there ever only one?
OPEN STUDIO POEM #18
Under snow, under solid ground,
earth knits a fabric of mycelium,
bulb, the roots of chrysanthemum
and rose. The February landscape
shapes a shifting collage
of branch and cloud,
a splash of of jay-blue.
We stay secluded, painting
our lives with aplomb.
Open Studio Poem #17
Fairies shelter behind the disco ball
hung in the portal to the kingdom of odd.
After sunset, they emerge lickety-split,
and all night they dance through the city,
their magenta wings flashing splendid
in the lights of streets, and traffic, and stars.
The other occupants of the Open Studio are out to get me, as you can see. But I know where that disco ball hangs, and I know the fairies, too.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #16
I’m going back to makeup.
Not the kerfuffle of my youth,
with eyeliner cattywumpus
to each brow,
not a sad attempt to erase
my decades on the road.
Just a streak of red on the lip,
a little taupe along the lid.
Since July, I’ve been attending an online Open Studio with four artists, who are now my friends. Most weeks, they give me words to use as prompts so I can practice my art while they do theirs. This week, I think they were out to get me.
REPORT: February 2, 2021
No shadows this year, no light sharpening shapes.
Instead, tracks of a fox bounding
through belly-deep snow across the unplowed drive
into the pinewoods edged with bramble
where the rabbits hide. West wind drifts the snow.
Sun and moon rise and set behind the clouds.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #15
When the days lengthen,
the cold strengthens
but the light too grows strong—
apricity on a frozen day.
Last fall the young oak kept
its leaves. It stood, susurrating
in the shadow of its mother,
collected light feeding the roots.
We live these days
in a haven of possibility.
Every day I walk with the yellow dog who understands human language but can not yet speak. Every day, or nearly every day, we saw the hawk in the dead elm trees between the hay fields or on the power line. In early spring, two hawks circled the fields. In late summer, one young hawk called hunger from the elms while one adult watched from the wire. The dog was disturbed by the hawk’s wheeling or calling, and she raised the orange ridge on her back and growled and barked. And in November, when the hay in the fields was cut short and the living oaks and the dead elms stood as outlines against the sky, on a November morning when the yellow dog and I walked down the road with the mountains on the east and the hills on the west, I found the hawk on the ground, beneath the wire, not far from the elms. The hawk’s red tail was spread, the dark and speckled wings were folded, claws curled, the sharp eyes flat, the neck broken. What shall we do? I cried, and the yellow dog answered. —Carry the hawk to the row of elms and lay it down there. And weep awhile, and I will weep with you. But only for awhile, for you shall see.— So I lifted the hawk and carried it close to my heart and I walked with the dog to where the grasses and goldenrod stalks grew tall under the trees. And there I placed the hawk. And the dog said —Good—. And for awhile we wept. And that night, the hawk came to me while I slept. Her red tail was spread acorss the Earth and her wings opened east and west as far as I could see. Her great head touched the sun. And she spoke. —You see, she said, who I am. Now you see. Your eyes open to my flight, your ears open to my cry, your heart open to my life.— And with a shout the hawk rose up, then up, beyond the sun. And when I woke, the yellow dog was curled beside me and looked at me through her brown eyes, and said —Yes. That’s how it is.—
MATTER: A Pantoum
What gods do is make and let the pieces fall.
Billions of clocks on billions of beaches
turning as our hands move however they
move or our four legs or six or eight.
Billions of eyes in billions of deserts
move through their times or none and
we move our two legs or four or six or eight and
our hearts and chloroplasts, mycelium,
our many eyes or none.
Our structures crystalize, the plates
and hearts and chloroplasts and mycelium
subduct and bump as we rise and fall.
The structure of our crystals, how the plates
and all we do is an echo of clapping hands as we
subduct and bump and rise and fall.
With voices, silences, wavings of branches
we echo with our hands
and twigs and whatever anemones use
for voices: silences? wavings of branches?
We’re all made of one matter.
Twigs and anemones
turn while our hands move however they
move because we’re all the matter
and making matter and falling is what we do.
Life goes on. Really.
We keep vigil together .
It is possible to be friends
on a screen. David
mutes to tune. Kathy C’s
computer is down
but she’s here, there,
and we know she is,
making art. Kathy H
in a parking lot
and reports that,
as we suspected,
she is three-dimensional.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #13
POEM FOR THE LAST DAY OF 2020
With smiles and nods, thumbs up
and applauses, with bright baubles
of technologies—our new necessities—
we’ve bobbled through this hardest time.
We have more courage than we knew,
our loves are stronger than we thought.
Now, let us begin a celebration, now,
as we tiptoe toward the clarity of light
at the far side of this dark passageway.
We are beginning to know
how tender we are; beginning
to know how gentle we can be.
With thanks to Wanda, Kathy H, David and Kathy C for their words.
MAGI, GOING HOME Go home another way, it told us in a dream. Another way? What would an angel know about ways? We had to sell the camels and the slaves. Another way meant bad roads, no roads. We were not accustomed to walk, but walk we did till we bought a donkey. It was old and lame. We rode in turns. We were not accustomed to taking turns, nor to buying food ourselves. Now and then we begged, and more than once we slept in stables, in the straw— the only lodgings we could find after we were robbed of everything. But that’s another tale.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #12
patience silent ricochet hibernate Have patience, my friends. There is no need to run, to roar, to ricochet from hard place to rock. Practice being silent instead. Sit still, hibernate your mind. Go stand in the snow. Listen to the stars.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #11 zoom sure pattern How hard to see the pattern: new friends who zoom past for an hour. How tall are they? Do they wear shoes? And who were they before— before I knew them in this peculiar way, both tentative and sure.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #10 riff-raff heart glue synchronicity SYNCHRONICITY I dream of unmasked riff-raff. Anxiety is collaging my heart: scraps torn from memory, the flattened faces of my friends, a quarter of my granddaughter’s life. Will I ever have glue enough to paste it together? Emergency. Emergence. Emerge. Resurge.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #9 coats coax helm ochre A captain stands at the helm in his ochre coat, coaxing the wind into the sails. The artist in her rusty coat coaxes the ochre from the leaves. Her easel is the helm of a ship sailing into the winter sky. His coat of arms: a purple coat on an ochre field, crowned with a silver helm. too many suit coats, too much ochre light, too many vying for the helm, too many trying to coax a resolution from the deep
OPEN STUDIO POEM #8 ribbons ukelele spew The sky spews rain from silver ribbons of cloud. It patters on the roof, unabating: Beethoven’s fifth symphony played by a ukelele orchestra in the park on a moonless November night.
This is inspired by Hannah Dennison's Quarry Project. The dancers float above the water, above the stone, not dancing, floating, below the dancing clouds, the unknowing clouds, above the stillness of the stone.
CAMP FIRE WOMEN
My friend Julie is a Fire Keeper.
Sometimes all night she watches,
holds the flame at the center
of the world. It is her sacred way.
And mine? To search the forest,
to gather the wood: This for kindling,
this for tinder, this for cleansing,
this for a long and steady burn.
OPEN STUDIO POEM #7
words: legs along fire
We go along and along,
our legs aching, shoulders
sore from the burdens
we bear. So many, so
heavy. But the year will
end, this terrible year
will end. It will. We will
build fires on the beaches,
fires on the hilltops,
fires in the deserts,
fires in our own backyards.
We will throw our burdens
in the fires, throw them down,
throw them down in the fires,
open our arms,
embrace our friends
We will remember
how it feels to laugh.
We will remember.
We will. We will.
My ancestors did this, so I can.
I’ve practiced for this all my life—
to be suspended between cliff edges
above a chasm filled with rapids and rocks.
Without a net.
I’ve done the high wire a zillion times.
It makes no difference
whether there’s a chasm or a sawdust floor.
The far edge is in sight.
My thin-slippered feet
move along the cable.
Cloud shadows, a bird shadow.
One foot in front of the other.
Eyes ahead, toward the edge—
where someone is bending
picking at the cable with a little knife
and no one is there to stop him.
Will it hold? Will it hold?
I can not take time to be afraid.
My ancestors did this, so I can.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
One step, one step, one step
REPORT: OCTOBER 20, 2020
Dark clouds over Buck Mountain.
It will rain.
More sugar-maple leaves on the ground than on the trees.
The oaks and popples are turning.
Soybean fields amber, hay fields cut and green.
Luke’s old milking shed is falling apart.
It’s just a storage shed now,
with the old SURGE and AG JOURNAL signs rusting on the wall
and the little lightning rods standing bravely on the roof.
Last year, a young man took the bend in the road too fast
and the laws of physics being what they are,
he glanced off a telephone pole and ran into the shed.
And died. One of the dead
elms has fallen. Now it’s raining,
and taking pity on the dog, I turn.
Sumac is mostly red along the east side of the road.
If it were colder, I’d swear it was snowing in the mountains.
Jim’s VETERANS AGAINST TRUMP flag is up on his porch.
At the far end of her pasture, his old horse Molly crops the grass.
ON MY WAY It was all so familiar—the icy road, the falling snow. The tricycle was bigger than it used to be, less embarrassing for an adult to ride. It took awhile to get across the city street, awhile to see a safe crossing under the glaze of snow. The other side was fine, and I was on my way. Home at last, but boxes all over the table. I opened them one by one, each filled with plastic things: flutophones, cheap bath toys, disposable cups and spoons. Or tin automatons: monkeys playing drums, jumping mice, walking quacking ducks. Box after box until the house was full. When I awakened, I laughed at it all. Not a nightmare, a description. How full I am, these days, of things I do not want or need. And how far must I ride my little trike, in this storm.
Listen to Sancho, Mistress.
These are only windmills.
This is an inn, that is a basin,
what you have is a computer
glitch, a mis-behaving phone,
a broken coffee grinder,
Look at the world as it is,
not as it never was.
Knights were brutal and mean.
Subsistance farming was hungry and hard.
The Enlightenment was a flash in the pan.
Father never knew best.
No country has ever been great.
If you want a romantic occupation
dangerous enough even for you,
stay home and write poems.
Maybe someone will read them
and write more.
As our creator says, turning poet
is a catching and an uncurable disease.
Words: Open Studio Poem #6 fragile pineappple audible edible Name something audible that sounds like a pineapple Name something edible that smells like a floor. Name something fragile that tastes like an apple tree. Name something fragrant that feels like a door.
Open Studio Poem #3: USE THE WHOLE PAGE
The point is growth toward beginning.
Start again—nothing flat or square—
this time learn to move in three
dimensions—cubic, spherical. Can you
write like a dancer? Paint
like an actor? Draw like—
a potter? Remember knitting—
how to turn a heel, shape
a sleeve from a strand.
DO THAT WITH WORDS.
USE THE WHOLE PAGE.
FILL IT WITH SHAPE AND
COLOR AND SOUND AND FLAVOR—
BITTER GREENS AND HOT PEPPERS
AND LEMON ZEST. WRITE
BIG AND ROUND.
USE THE WHOLE PAGE
OPEN STUDIO POEM #4
final granite light synchronize
Rilke said, “No feeling is final.”
Not even granite is permanent—
it crumbles and weathers into parts.
And isn’t it a fine thing
that nothing stays the same?
Time is after all unsynchronized space,
shifting into shapes that cannot last.
Therefore, do not fret.
Keep your touch light,
or maybe don’t touch at all.
I finally figured out that I can do a screen shot of my formatted poem and publish it as an “image.” Good grief. This poem has been in my “to blog” file for ages because the format matters so much. It’s about a wonderful film about Pina Bausch.
WORDS: THREE BOLD ATTEMPTS cricket illustrate tone pearl snap quilt THE GAME Last summer, I studied cricket. Not the insects in August, their crispy vibrations adding tone to the fading garden, but the sport. I like the langauge. Let me illustrate: Overs (six balls per), Stumps and Maidens and Leg Before Wicket. Innings, not as in baseball, is both singular and plural. That’s tea. That’s drinks. Declaring before All Out. Sixes and fours and centuries. Ducks and Golden Ducks. Silly mid-on. Test (the best) and ODI. Howzzat? I followed the World Cup in the Guardian online. They did OBO coverage. England won, to their surprise. I want to see a game someday, a whole five-day test. I want to hear the snap of leather on willow. I’ll bring a quilted vest and a thermos. I’ll wear a ridiculous hat, and pearls. I’ll wait for an umpire to Offer the Light, Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen The summer palace in Oslo. The Queen in residence, a conversation on the terrace. No birds, no crickets singing. The dining room in the palace: candles in the windows, late sun through the windows, green leaves outside the windows. Paintings on the walls—illustrations of green. No furniture but the black piano. The pianist wore striped socks. The soprano wore a green gown, no diamonds, no pearls. A silent audience on screens. No applause. The studio in New York. Monitors and clocks. Christine Goerke’s sad and gracious tone: A difficult time for singers and thank you. The program a carefully stitched quilt: Wagner and Norway’s Grieg, and Strauss, the snap of Kalman’s “Heia, Heia!” The peace of Ronald’s “O Lovely night.” Zuihitsu for the end of a terrible summer 1. Crickets drone away in the dark. I used to love them. This year, I find their rasping cricks most annoying. 2. Last night I watched a moon like a yellow pearl poke through a torn quilt of cloud and leaf. 3. My voice has taken on a querulous tone. I can’t help it. I am possessed by a tired and hot and hungry and frustrated three-year-old child. 4. The purple snap beans I grew do not snap. They are blotchy and stringy and not particularly flavorful. The purple blossoms, however, are lovely, and hummingbirds feed from them, so growing them was not a total waste of water and space. 5. The tone of this zuihitsu illustrates the way I have felt about this summer. A few times only, I have glimpsed something lovely, far away, and still.
pit sew break fan milky frail NOT A MAST YEAR--theme and variations This is not a mast year. I toss peach pits to the one frail squirrel who comes to our yard. Am I the only one who is not making masks? I’ve never liked to sew— a break with family tradition. Degenerate daughter of a great house. At least the Milky Way is a constant, fanning out from the great starry swan. pantoum This is not a mast year. I toss peach pits to the one frail squirrel who comes to our yard. Am I the only one tossing peach pits, the only one who is not making masks? Am I the only one who doesn’t like to sew, who is not making masks? A break with the family tradition— I’ve never liked to sew. Degenerate daughter— (a break in the family tradition) of a great house. I am the inconstant daughter. At least the Milky Way, great path through the heavens, is a constant, fanning out like spilled milk from the great starry swan. We need a constant: that hungry squirrel who comes to our yard under the sign of Cygnus. This is not a mast year. sestina The one squirrel in the yard is frail. She’ll eat anything—peach and plum pits. It’s not a mast year, it’s a broken one. I’ll feed the squirrel, but I will not sew. At night, Cygnus brightens in the Milky Way, his stars spread out in a simple fan. I once had a sandalwood fan— sweet scented frame, frail silk the color of milky tea. It didn’t last—a child pitted against something so fine, sewn together with invisible thread, easy to break. The squirrel keeps breaking the suet feeder, opening it like a fan. I don’t begrudge her. She is so hungry for acorns, frail- winged maple seeds, cherry pits, even the tiny seeds of the milk- weed. She breaks the stems, milky sap sticking bitter to her paws. I break stale bread for her, save pits from fruit, scatter them in a fan across the lawn. The grass too is frail, each blade a fine strand of thread sewn over the cracked soil. A summer so dry the heavens complain. The Milky Way trembles with heat. A frail moon shines through the broken trees. Not a breath of wind fans the simmering ground, pitted with dust. This is the pits. It sucks, like having to sew aprons in junior high. Fans of rebellion, unite! Milk your courage untl it breaks! I’m so tired of feeling frail.
or the alternate last verse, which I kinda like! with dust. This is the pits. It sucks, like having to sew aprons in junior high. Fans of rebellion, unite! Milk the bastards till they break! Let’s stop being so fucking frail.
tough sleeve bag wave half fire
WHAT WE CARRY
Each of us carries a bag, a tough bag,
filled with the weight of our times and years.
Each of us is half-dead these days. We wave
to one another across the firewall.
We wave, and blink our eyes. For each is still
alive, one sleeve rolled up, scrubbing along
however we can, lugging our bags,
bearing our bit of the impossible load.
rigid draw meadow peer lemon cap
(another one with those words)
SIX TREASURED THINGS: A ZUIHITSU
1. A rigid plastic lawn chair, one of four that my parents kept on the deck of their condominium. I keep it on the front step from spring till snow. I sit there at sunrise and sunset, watching the yellow light flicker like sparks between the leaves.
2. The white linen cap I bought in Traverse City in a shop that sold hats and, unexpectedly, wine-making supplies. A young friend told me that when I wear it, I remind him of Yoko Ono. I wear it often.
3. Our backyard. It was forest, then meadow, then lawn, and it is now growing up again into forest. We’ve reserved a patch of grass around the house, and bits for vegetables and flowers, but what was barren lawn is filling up with grasses and goldenrod, bramble and sumac, gray dogwood and pine and oak. Five years ago, I planted one solemn young chestnut tree as an act of defiance.
4.The drawing of a cat we had for a few months. Her name was Nanette, and she was tri-colored, and very small. The old woman who gave her to us could not keep her. “There’s something wrong with her,” she told us, and there was. In the drawing, Nanette is curled, sleeping, in a chair that once was in the living room and is now in the kitchen. The drawing was made by an artist friend who stayed with us for a summer—along with her husband and three children—in the room that once was our guest room, and is now the study where I write.
5. The lemons I always have by me. Here is a new maxim I try to live by: When in doubt, add lemon. To vegetables, to pastas, to soda water, to soup. The scent of lemon revives me and a lick of lemon opens my senses to all the good in the world that remains.
6. Ursula Le Guin wrote “There was nothing she could do, but there was always the next thing to be done.” I treasure a company of peers—poets, artists, women who keep doing the next thing, and the next thing, and the next.
cap rigid lemon peer draw meadow
SESTINA FOR THE SUMMER OF 2020
Like a drawing by Van Gogh,
I stand rigid in the meadow. I wear my white cap.
I peel a lemon, and peer at the trees.
I wear my white cap
though the brim is too rigid
for me to bend against the lemon-
brightness of the sun. I stand alone, peer
into the middle distance like a drawing
by Van Gogh of a woman in a meadow.
It is August, and the earth is dry. The meadow
crackles with brown grasses capped
with seeds. The summer draws
to a close. Have we yet let go our rigid
sense of what is real? My peers
cannot guess. News sours me, like lemon.
When I was young, I wore lemon
cologne. I lay in this meadow
beside a man—my peerless
lover—who wore a Greek fishing cap.
But our bones have gone rigid
with the years. We have drawn
living water so long. Now we draw
water grown bitter, like lemon
rind, and brackish, from a rigid
bottle. A butterfly wavers over the meadow
searching for one plant to cap
with one pale egg. I peer
at her with shaded eyes, my only peer
now in this tight-drawn
season, this heated season, capped
with grasses the color of dried lemon
peel. Under my feet, the meadow
soil is hard, cracked, rigid
with the hard rigidity
of this rainless summer, a peerless
summer of an anxiety that a meadow
cannot know. The trees live on, drawing
their life from deeper water. The lemon
sun beats and beats on my white cap.
joy exhaust chorus toll appear trunk
SIX WORDS, SIX STANZAS
The steamer trunk might have been my grandfather’s,
but I don’t remember seeing it in
his dark little room that smelled like old clocks.
If I sit for a long time in this chair
the right words will appear. Like magic.
Despite the evidence, I still believe
that. Believing in anything now takes
a toll. There doesn’t seem to be a god,
for instance, who gives a shit about us.
It’s August. The dawn chorus is over
for the year. Sometimes, one dusty robin
lands on the lawn and hops around. The worms
have burrowed down under. Everyone is
exhausted by the heat, the drought, the plague,
waiting and waiting for some kind of relief.
My grandfather had a small life, and yet
he made himself a bit of joy. Magic tricks.
Walks. Old friends. Keeping all those clocks ticking.
with thanks to Kathy, David, Kathy, and Wanda
OPEN STUDIO POEM 2
Too lazy today to pay attention
to the face in the looking glass—
mirror, mirror on the wall—
Does it matter what we look like?
I’m learning lately to be
my own friend. The kind
of friend I need. A friend
with pluck. Spunk. The kind
of nerve it takes to ignore
the face and see
what’s on the other side.
Is it too late to invent America?
While the sky outside turned mauve,
Kushner’s Belize said, “I hate America. . . .
You come to room 1013 over at the hospital. .
I’ll show you America.
Terminal, crazy and mean.”
In a city rife with AIDS,
every day he did his tasks.
Compassion isn’t what you think.
Nobody knows what Jesus wrote
in the sand, but the men dropped their stones
and crept away, one by one.
No one is without sin
and it’s a commonplace to hate in others
our own grimmest angels.
I hate people who aren’t compassionate.
America has never been great
and we’ve never had a decent metaphor.
From the beginning, the pot didn’t hold us all—
why should we stew and amalgamate?
How about a braid—not of hair, but of water—
slow river moving over a delta,
living streams carrying their histories,
interlacing, winding toward one sea.
For the past few weeks, I have been the only poet in an online open studio. Instead of knitting last time, I decided to ask each of the other artists for a word, and I wrote this poem while they did their arts.
The unpruned fuchsia in its faded pot
is a mess of sticks, spotty leaves, a few stunted buds.
It is not a malleable plant;
it’s fussy about water and light.
Not like the daffodils. Every spring—
flood or freeze or April snow—
they push up through thickets of grasses
and edge the lawn with yellow and white.
I expect there is some liberty
in taking what is given, staying deep,
blooming from the settled bulb.
THE TRICKSTER IS STILL AROUND
Not Loki or Enki,
not Coyote who stole fire
or Wakjunkaga who made
himself some women’s parts
and gave birth to three sons.
This one carries his tiny penis
in a jumbo jet. His wives
and daughters are plastic dolls,
his sons the undead.
He eats honor, shits coal.
His houses are built of bones.
Make no mistake:
somewhere under our nice
we want to be like him—
possess without limit,
rule without shame.
He shows us, uncovers us.
Unless we change our lives,
he will never go away.
OBSERVATIONS ON A HOT SUMMER MORNING
I recognize my friends by the worry behind their masks.
In town, the biggest crane we’ve ever seen
looms like something in a surreal movie set.
Early this morning, I walked past a meadow
overgrown with weeds, the hopeless sticks of elm.
Raven flew close, brushed me with the shadow of her wing.
What does it mean to live these complicated days?
Have all days been this way, and ourselves
too caught up in flimsy occupation to notice?
VARIATIONS: FOUR WORDS, THREE STANZAS
The raven has been flying to and fro
over the earth. She has returned.
I think it will rain again.
Do you know the meaning of grace?
The word you say before you eat;
the way a dancer walks in her pointed shoes.
The bear has been seen again.
We say “the bear” as if there were only one
running through the woods between our houses.
It’s enough to make me believe
in Satan’s test of Job.
How much more can they bear?
The talking raven will not be silent.
Over and over she says
“What’s the point? What’s the point?’
Like Hecate preceding and following Persephone,
grace precedes and follows us.
The question remains, “When?”
Once I found a raven grazed by a car.
I set her in the grass, covered her with leaves.
The next day, in the same place,
a raven circled me three times.
The acknowledgement was almost more
than I could bear. And I’ve wondered
since if the point was not gratitude but
taunt. “You cached me in the grass,
foul human, but see! I live.”
A raven pair tumbles over the yard
and the dog will not stop barking.
A bear climbs the fence and the dog is silent.
Raven is a trickster.
Bear is a god.
Is there a difference.
Walk the shore to the farthest point,
the place where sand turns to stone.
There is no limit to grace.
WITHOUT EVENT—A ZUIHITSU AGAIN
~with thanks to Ray for showing me the form
Our son sent a photo of our grandson at his pre-school graduation ceremony. He’s sitting in the backseat of the car wearing a cardboard hat with “2020” painted on in glitter. He looks so happy and proud. I’ve heard there are juniors at the High School here who want to do a drive-in graduation next year, because it is so much more “personal.”
I have seen—has the world seen?—the photo of a black grandfather carrying a wounded white racist to safety. ‘I’m protecting our kids,” he said. Take up your cross and follow me.
I don’t have Big Girl Underpants—mine are all the same—so this morning I put on my Big Girl Lipstick and brushed my hair behind my ears and took the dog for a walk again.
In the late 1880s, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a poem in honor of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez. This is how it ends:
. . . . . .while there went/ Those years and years by of world without event/ That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.
The prayer beads I carry in the pocket of my jeans are mostly wooden relics of my old Camp Fire Girl days. Four onyx beads. Two pewter suns salvaged from broken earrings. A tiny diary key. And an onyx cross, maybe half an inch long.
Ever since that first Gulf War I’ve had doubts about intercessory prayer. What about all those people who don’t get prayed for except in a generic way (Dear God, bless all the people in the world.)? I pray in a generic way these days. May all beings be free from suffering. At least that reminds me that I’m not alone, which may be the whole point.
As I walked this morning, I noticed a tiger swallow-tail fluttering along the roadside, parallel to my path. She seemed to be looking for flowers, which are fairly scarce along that shady stretch. She ignored a patch of spindly buttercups, landed finally on a plant I didn’t recognize, and began feeding on what I would hardly call flowers, just nubs of pale greenish white, hanging in clusters at the ends of the leaves.
ANOTHER ZUIHITSU because I have to write something
It’s as if someone is deliberately making things so bad that nobody can stand it. Almost enough to make me believe in the Beast, the AntiChrist, or something like that.
We hoard dark roasted coffee beans in little brown bags in the freezer. I think I have enough now.
I’ve been trying not to look at the news every hour, but I can’t help it. It’s the only way I can participate, living here, in this little green bowl.
Chipmunks live under the front steps. They scurry out to get food, scurry back in for fear of hawks and weasels and our dog. But they’re never safe from weasels.
A very satisfying conputer game: drag random clusters of jewels into rows and columns on a board laid out in squares. When I place a cluster, I hear a lovely “click.” When I complete a row or column, I hear a very satisfying “ping.” I can’t stop playing this game even though it makes my neck sore.
I had to get coffee beans out of the freezer last night. They were so hard that I couldn’t grind them till this morning. I know that some people don’t like to freeze beans, and some people say one should grind the beans right before brewing, but I don’t care.
I have painted a piece of cardboard with a color called “Tea Room”—one of those small samples of paint available for a dollar at the paint store. When the paint was dry, I drew square tiles with a black marker and installed it in the cardboard box castle we made to illustrate fairy tales for the grandchildren.
The Great Crested Flycatcher sits on a high perch to hunt for insects. If she misses an insect on her first pass, she pursues it in the air. Unless her nestlings object, she offers the whole insect, wings and all. If they do object, she pummels the insect until the offending wings break off.
Many twigs, new-leafed, blew off the trees last night in the wind. When I walked the dog down the driveway early this morniung, I picked them up—at least, most of them—and tossed them back among the trees so they wouldn’t have to dry and turn to dust on the driveway stones.
The people were tired
of being held down,
tired of the collusion
between the occupying power
and the religious power
too prudent—or too timid—
to stand with them and declare
enough is enough.
They’d heard him bless
the poor, the hungry,
the mourners, the persecuted.
They’d heard him curse
the rich, the sated,
the scoffers, the praised.
So when he rode into town
on a borrowed donkey,
the common people–
the ordinary people–called out
Blessing and Peace and Glory! and
Save us, please. Save us!
The powers were alarmed
and tried to silence the people.
And what did he reply?
Turn then, if you would,
to Luke 19: 40-41
and read what he said.
And read what happened next.
To His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
I’m re-re-re-re-reading Little Women, of all things, and find it a great deal more moralizing than I did when I was young. And women’s laughter–the Heretics group I’m in (all of us over fifty) laugh a great deal when we’re together–not necessarily even about anything. We were getting to be a bunch of boring old people sitting around telling the same stories all the time.
To St. Francis:
Well, as you said, I’m about to ramble. I planted Swiss chard this morning, and gladiolas, and cherry tomatoes in pots. And the Apocalypse didn’t come yesterday–were you surprised? I hope that you are all better after your “very, very, VERY rare” experience. The chorus I sing in is preparing the “Laudamus Te” and the “Magnificat” from the Solemn Vespers for our spring concert, and I got to thinking that maybe the whole suffering bleeding mess of the world has been worth it for that music. It’s political, but we came at it obliquely, through Vikings and El Salvador and the Crusades and the Trojan War, for example.
To Christopher Robin and Pooh
I think it was Martin Smith who said/wrote that women’s soul work is different from men’s. “Holy detachment.” I want to come visit you soon. Maybe I shall. I miss you. What would it be like to be in that café and see people Raptured away? And speaking of books, I now have The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary. I have been wanting one for awhile.