Hugs


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!

Blue and a Moon

Quote for the day:
“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
― Arundhati Roy

This was the pain of Cassandra. Seeing the destruction that approached her beloved city, she took the accountability upon herself–to shout it in the streets that the city would fall in blood and flame. But no one believed her. No one listened.

This time last year, I remember a Cassandran murmur beginning to spread: “But he couldn’t really be elected, could he?” And the firm and reasoned answer was always, “Certainly not. Never. Don’t worry about it.”

Today, I thought that perhaps the people of the city might begin to listen. Perhaps there is yet time for Cassandra’s message to be heard, before this “city” falls.


Gratitude List:
1. Color of the day: BLUUUUUE. A Blue Grosbeak alit for a moment on the bird feeder pole.
2. Breathtaking moment of the day: Down over the ridge from Yorkana on the way to the library as the afternoon sun was lowering and the whole valley sparkled with the sun.
3. Sign of the day: Someone in Yorkana has a Welcome Neighbors sign.
4. Flavor of the day: Mulberries with milk on Cottage Pudding.
5. Another breathtaking moment: The moon. On the way home from the library–the sun had set out of the hollow but not yet out of the rest of the world, and the full moon stood pale and watery on the ridge.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Lunatic Moon


This is from 2013. There are no physically manifest poems on the PoeTree this year.

The Lunatic Moon
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Mara

The thing is, I am a Twisted Hair.
The thing is, I believe that bridges build their own burn.
I am weaving that into the braid at this exact moment.
Some days I walk on burn
to return to the path that calls me.
Perhaps this is where the poem begins.

The thing is, when I read that line
about what I believe, I felt seen and known.

Burn your bridges, burn your easement, burn your draft card, burn your bra.

The thing is, I am simply a character.
I am devouring. I am pretending.
The thing is, I am a simple character,
made of burn, of bridge, of web.

Weave yourself a bridge of sunlight and flame. Weave an easement to the moon.

The thing is, the more I twist these strands into the story,
the less I am a solitary spider, and the more I am the moon.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
We’ve learned the twinkling light of the star that refreshes, the wild light of the moon that pulls, and tomorrow, the Fool steps into the light of the sun, feeling her full power. She finds herself able to experience joy in a new way, not in denial of the hardship and pain of the journey, but because of it. Now she knows her strength. Now she knows her wildness. Now she knows her fierce and tender heart. She absorbs the power of the Sun.

Gratitude List:
1. Poetic conversation
2. Odysseys, journeys, adventures
3. This writing life, fragmented and small as it is
4. Chocolate bunnies
5. Every day a new sensation, a new color, a new birdsong

May we walk in Beauty!

Beloveds and Starlight

When I wrote the Star prompt, I had just walked through a Facebook thread with three friends, creating an online sort of ritual/story together. This was a powerful Starlight experience.

And hours later, I could not know how deeply I would again be experiencing the Starlight in the presence of my Beloveds. Thirty years of deepening friendship.

Sit with your sisters in a circle,
and feel the truth of how your hearts
are woven together
every bit as real as that basket
under the hall table
where a fine cat is purring.

You will hear the echoes
of the towers that have fallen,
see the memory of rubble in the eyes.
Say out loud, “I see you.”
Say, “I witness.”
Weave the new strands together.
See how your stories
are one singular tale.

Feel the starlight
making a net around you,
a silver basket reflecting your own.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
After she experiences the Star, the Fool finds the Moon. Oh, the Moon! Luna, lunacy. Tidal pull and woman’s guide. Well of creative expression. The Fool may find a tension between her feral and domesticated selves. Moonlight is a reflected light. It holds mystery and dreaming, fear and enchantment.

Gratitude List:
1. Seeing and being seen. Witnessing. Speaking and Listening.
2. Rituals of friendship and belonging
3. Lifelong friends. Keeping an empty chair for the one who could not be there with us.
4. Weaving stories together.
5. Time out of time.

May we walk in Beauty. In Friendship.

Goodbye, Baby


“Six days until my birthday!”
“It’s three days until my birthday!”
And today: “Do you know what tomorrow is?” he asks me, dancing about the room.

And each time, especially as the day nears, I can almost feel myself once again that strange sea creature of late pregnancy, stranded on land, awkward, ungainly, tethered to gravity. Eight years ago right now, I was in the early stages of labor, determined that this one was going to work in the natural way. By morning, we decided that it was time for another caesarean section, and Josiah Pearse came into the world.

I did love pregnancy and the baby years, but I also felt like I never quite lost that gravity, that awkwardness, as long as I was toting tiny people around, anxious and sleep-deprived. Today, I feel like (except for the fighting and territoriality between the two) we’re entering a sort of sweet spot in the family years. Still, reaching eight feels like a particular farewell to babyhood, and I can almost feel the transformation in this exact moment of the year-change. He seems taller, more big-kid, more angular than ever. His teeth seem to be too big for his face and his elbows and knees stick out all over the place. This happens every spring, but this year it seems particularly acute and poignant.

Goodbye, Baby.

Gratitude List:
1. My obsessions run deep. Last night I dreamed that oriole had returned.
2. Robin singing his rain song, announcing that he belongs to the family of thrush.
3. Purple carpets of dead nettles in the field. And carpets of foamy blue speedwell.
4. The dawn, and a just-budding tree against the dawn, and a watchful hawk on a branch of the tree.
5. That thumbnail of a new moon.

May we walk in Beauty!

Moon-Ducking Sage

Dropping Keys
by Hafiz

The small woman
builds cages for everyone
she
knows,
while the sage,
who has to duck her head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the
beautiful
rowdy
prisoners.

I like to read this poem and think of myself as the sage, dropping those magical keys for the beautiful rowdy ones. If I am truthful, I should also look at myself as the small woman, and consider the cages I build for others, for certainly I do. As a parent, as a teacher, I am an Enforcer of Rules, and as such, a cage builder. And also, I am one of those rowdy beautiful folk awaiting the freeing rain of keys. I suppose the important thing is to stay awake and aware to the ways in which I am each of these, and to ever seek the way of that moon-ducking sage.

Gratitude List:
1. The glowing yellow skin of that awakening willow tree
2. Six blackbirds in a row along a branch
3. Finding my way back to the country of sleep
4. Using our voices
5. Dropping the keys for the beautiful rowdy prisoners

May we walk in Beauty!

The Elegance of Blackbirds

Gratitude List:

1. An extra day at home. Time to get more grading completed. Time with the kids. Time out of time.
2. The elegance of blackbirds. Those grackles with their white eyes, silhouetted on snow.
3. Yesterday morning’s moon. I forgot to talk about it yesterday, so I will remember it today, how it was caught in the branches of the walnut tree, how–above the round bales of straw on Picking Rd.–it was itself a round bale in the sky, how later it was alone, a single eye above us.
4. Snow. This was a lovely storm, and we didn’t even lose power.
5. The chicken-dance of fox sparrows.

May we walk in Beauty!

You Are Welcome Here

screenshot-2017-01-29-at-9-56-22-am
Available as a pin on https://www.zazzle.com/skunk_holler

Gratitude List:
1. Lancaster, PA. Hundreds of people stood on the four corners of Penn Square to support refugees from Muslim countries, to resist the Muslim Ban. I stood with Iraqi friends, with Syrian friends. There were teachers and students there from my school, people from church, people from the peace groups, babies and teenagers, elders and middle-agers. The trees were still wrapped in their holiday lights, and people were carrying candles and signs. There were pink hats and hijabs and shaved heads. Laughter and shouting and tears.
2. That bowl of a moon that smiled down on us, filled with a twinkling of Earthshine, there, next to bright Venus.
3. The scarf-bombers. On our way out, we passed through a gathered group of scarf-bombers, pixies out on the town, leaving warm treasures for those who need warmth on a cold night. I knew at least one student from my school in that group, too.
4. The World-Changers. I am filled with pride to think that at two different events in Lancaster tonight, one to show support for displaced people, and one to show support for homeless people–at both of those events were students from my school. I am awash in pride and wonderment at their determination to good in the world.
5. Respite. Retreat. Rejuvenation.

May we walk in Beauty!  So much love.

Breathing into the Spine

lichen2

Breathe with me. Take a moment and sit quietly, noticing how your breath moves in and out of your lungs and your body. As you let out your breath, feel your shoulders slip back slightly (not clenched), and your spine straighten. Sigh. Yawn. Breathe right into your spine.

I’ve noticed lately that breathing into my spine gives me a new thread of energy, a sustained and quiet extra push. I also feel more confident, less apologetic, readier to engage, somehow. I wonder if I could find a space between each class for a 15-second spinal breath. Even that is a challenge these days. I love my students, but I don’t get much of a break between classes. Still–fifteen seconds might be manageable. I think it will make me readier to engage each class as it comes in.

Gratitude List:
1. I never did write on Sunday about that marvelous moon and the star it held above its horns. That was Beautiful. Satisfying.
2. The poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa (“Rock Me, Mercy”)
3. The Fool, dancing on the edge of the cliffs
4. Shifting perspectives, looking in different ways, Seeing
5. New energy

May we walk in Beauty!

That Moon!

Gratitude List:
1. That Moon!
2. Starting to get the energy back
3. Those Thai ads about kindness. Ellis has to find a video about random kindness for class, so we were looking at the Thai ads. I had to make myself stop, I was getting too weepy.
4. Music. Today’s soundtrack is Mindy Nolt and Siobhan Miller.
5. This marvelous recliner.

May we walk in Beauty!

scrolls

They knew instinctively that the scrolls must be kept secret and safe. Gormlek cleared away the rubble of the fallen wall, patched and repaired it, leaving a little doorway that even his granddaughter had to stoop to get through, and covered the door with a wooden cabinet that could be rolled aside for entry, but looked solid and immovable enough to a scanning eye.

In the evenings, when the day’s baking and sales were finished and Gormlek had returned from his day’s work in the Houses of the Dead, the little family would take a scroll from the hidden annex, and read the ancient hi’Stories of the Queens of Zammarqand.

“These sound like the fairy tales that Granny tells me when I visit her in the village!” Leeta told her mother. “There’s the one about the Prince of Karadzu, who came to Zammarqand to seek for the hand of Princess Jinna in marriage, but Jinna did not want to marry him, so she challenged him to a game of chess. If he won, she would marry him, but if she did, he would give her his proud stallion and walk home. That stallion made Princess Jinna the winner of every horse race in the city for years afterward.”

Bilhah’s eyes were bright. “I’ve been thinking that, too, how Granny seems to know these hi’Stories, how her tales are little mirrors of the stories in these parchments. Do you think they’re true, Abba? Or are they just someone’s written-down version of the fairy tales?”

Gormlek carefully studied the parchment at hand, the candle-light flickering over his face. Finally, he said, “Our hi’Story does not begin with the Wolf Kings–I am certain of it–although that is what we boys were taught in school, that the city began when Chinngis Djin settled the river valley. But those hi’Stories always say he conquered the people of the city, so there must have been a city before the Wolf King’s reign. All my life, I have heard the stories of Granny and the others, of a different life, a different city, a different hi’Story. Even the grannies say that their stories are nonsense, little ditties to be told to the children and ignored by everyone else. But now I think that they have been keeping the oldest hi’Stories alive in their tellings.

<More on this part of the story tomorrow>