Jiggety Jig

ship
Ship carved into the wall of the Timothy Hill House, the oldest house on Chincoteague Island.

What songs shall we sing
when the dawn has come creeping
silently over
the ridges and the mountains
through a summer veil of haze?

Gratitude List:
1. Home again, home again. Safely. Settling back in.
2. Seeing Fred again.  We all missed him.
3. Those enormous walnut limbs that fell while we were away didn’t fall on little Pippi the Prius.
4. Vacation.  This one feels like those space trips that use the gravitational force of the moon to go further into space.  This trip to Chincoteague has given me renewed energy to get my work done.
5. Waking up to the sounds of home.

May we walk in Beauty!

Conversation in Tanka

Gratitude List:
1. Learning to swim.  How and when did that boy learn to swim?  Last September, he was nervous and just barely able to keep himself afloat.  Throughout the winter, after several sessions with his grandparents in the pool at Landis Homes, he has become a fish.  Today he was jumping off the diving board and swimming most of the way across the pool.
2. They keep eating vegetables without complaining.  No one has complained or fussed about supper for two nights now, and they both keep asking for seconds.  No one even mentioned the zucchini I grated into the roux I made for the macaroni.  They just ate it.
3. Poets.  Poetic conversation.
4. Reading with the boys.  We have gotten back into the rhythm of reading together again.  We finished The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tonight and started a book of Patricia Wrede’s short stories.
5. A clean house.

May we walk in Beauty!

Featured image

My friend Mara Eve Robbins, a poet with gift for exploring the landscape of the heart (and I keep wanting to insert more and more notes about her here, such as the fact that she is the one who got me started on the spiritual practice of gratitude and that she is the person who helped me finally name myself Poet), hosts a Tanka Tuesday thread on her Facebook page every Tuesday.  She posts a tanka (5/7/5/7/7 syllable count) and invites friends to respond.  In the true conversational spirit of tanka, these little poems sometimes develop into rich and heart-opening conversations.

This week, I joined in one of these poetic conversations with Mara and my friend Daryl Snider (another heartful poet who weaves his words into powerful music).  They both gave me permission to re-post the conversation here.  I wanted to share it, to offer a way in which healing and hopeful conversations can occur outside the realm of intellectual discussion.  Sometimes we would write one stanza at a time, and sometimes several.  Each bold name is the author of the stanza or stanzas which follow.  I love the way this one carried our ideas like little leaf boats in a stream, how it felt finished when it was finished.  Still, I ached for it not to be ended–even putting it here, I felt like I wanted to keep it going, on and on and on. . .

It began with this tanka by Mara:
This can hold many
missing elements, or can
still miss the many
elements that are held. When
will a new path be forged now?

Daryl:
Hold on elements,
for you are elemental:
simple, being, true.
To be is the way; the path
is the traces of footsteps.

Beth:
As the poet said,
“We make the road by walking.”
Sometimes I follow
the roads others made before,
those footsteps in shifting sands.

Daryl:
Steps of one walker
leave tracks that only steadfast
trackers might follow.
Roads trampled by hungry herds
Leave nothing living behind.

Mara:
Elemental, my
dear Daryl. Flesh on earth, bare
to consequences.
What fire in the center holds
true when accuracy rains?

Beth, I follow your
steps into the shifting sands,
strengthened by fragile
threads. We make a road again
and again that’s more traveled.

Daryl:
Heating elements
give off the fury of fire.
Lighting filaments,
yes, the finer the better,
give the luminance of light.

Yet the energy
at the source of heat and light
is always the same.
That which burns me at the core,
transforms and Illuminates.

Dear Mara and Beth,
Your lights shine bright on my path,
pushing me to play
with words that say more and less
than I ever intended.

A poem’s value
is not in accomplishment
but in the doing:
Time spent doing nothing else
but being … still.

Yet now I must go
and succeed in something else,
something that will make
unpoetic evidence
of bodily existence.

Mara:
Leaving the small cloud
under the larger cloud, rain
waits for the sunrise,
packs suitcases of water
to carry into drier places.

Beth:
I have returned here
to this place of words, pathways:
a-quiver now with
the way these words leave a trail,
clear, for my heart to follow.

Mara:
The flow of trust finds
replenishment or dries up,
waiting for rain. Strong
sun today must find a way
to infuse with light what waits.

Two catbirds; holly
tree. One scolds and one defends.
Flash of underwing.
Open window. Everything
to be done waiting for this.

Summer Morning Tanka

the first is the crow
then mourning dove on a wire
sparrow tremolo
a dog barks up the hollow
and the day is beginning

Gratitude List:
1. Morning yoga practice.  It’s very short, but a few balance poses in the morning make me feel balanced all day.
2. Putting a plan into action
3. Making new friends
4. Feedback
5. Research

May we walk in Beauty!

Keep Breathing

I can’t see through green,
through this pollen-misted air
to the other side.
These are the step by step days.
Meanwhile, I just keep breathing.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Communities of women.  Light and gentle chat turns a corner into a story, a birth story, tears, smiles, oh-yesses, I-remembers.
2. The world feels washed clean this morning after that lovely rain.  I’m still a little anxious about venturing outside while the poplar is in bloom, but breathing is a little easier this morning.
3. Poppies!  Did I say poppies?  I have a clear memory of being six years old, looking at a book of flowers of the world with a group of kids at boarding school, and everyone was saying their favorite flowers.  I really liked the rose mallow.  Then someone turned the page and there was a rich crimson bloom with a velvety black center.  That one.  And it has been my favorite ever since.
4. Ruby Bridges.  I was talking about her story with a friend yesterday.  There was a moment in our story when the world depended on the courage of a child to confront evil, to be the tide-turner.
5. Last night’s dreams. Reunions, balance, mysterious pathways, reconciliation.

May we walk in Beauty!

Messages

2014 April 119

Insect hieroglyph.
Message for the guardians
of this green River.
Like thunderbirds on the rocks
where ancient ones tended her.

Gratitude List:
1. Blowing bubbles on the lawn.  Tonight was one of those occasions I hope the kids never forget.
2. You know how sometimes things fall apart?  And sometimes it feels like they’re sort of meant to fall apart so they can fall into place in a different way? The old paradigm needs to shatter sometimes in order for the new one to form.  And even if the new one doesn’t conform to my personal Plan A, it’s still a good thing that the old one is out of the way.
3. My parents.
4. Mockingbird, Oriole, Blue Jay.  And a story of a Red-Winged Blackbird.  Shiny wing-folk.
5. Jumping off the cliff.  There’s a rainbow out there somewhere to catch me.

May we walk in Beauty.

Night Tanka

Today’s Poem-A-Day Prompt was to write a poem about night.

I know this is true
because the moon laid her head
in that indigo,
on that blue velvet cushion
of sky. How she sighed for joy.

 

Gratitude List
1.  Michael the archangel is a bluebird.  I know this, but it might be a secret.
2. People who understand group process.
3. Semi-permeable boundaries
4. Re-constituting the resume–what a challenging process of self-definition, that one
5. Saints.  And sinners.

May we walk in Beauty!

Illumination

Tanka

The fields are open
to the moon and falling snow,
an old, well-worn book
the moon reads through shadows
before she drifts off to sleep.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Sharing lists of favorite books
2.  Mary Oliver’s Red Bird
3.  That garlicky guacamole my mom made–if that doesn’t send this cold running, I don’t know what will
4.  Moments of illumination
5.  Fairy Tales

May we walk in Beauty

Haiku and Tanka

2013 October 044

I am snuggling a boy and a cat in my lap at the moment: benefits of a cool morning.   Makes typing a challenge, though.

Here are a couple poems that walked into my head yesterday.  The first is a tanka, inspired by my friend Mara.  I thought the second was going to be a tanka, too, but while I was waiting for the last two lines to emerge, I realized it was already a haiku.

 

TANKA
See there! In your palm
are the rivers of story,
of constellations,
dragonfly wings, the pathways
of the heart: love, grief, desire.

HAIKU
The now-naked arms
of the walnut tree cradle
the newly-born moon.

Gratitude List:
1.  Autumn birdsong in the hollow
2.  Listening
3.  Constructing my own life
4.  Breakfast
5.  Tiny Poems

May we walk in Beauty.