Tuesday’s Poem: Making a Visible Life (a tale for my mother)

Night lingers to greet day.

Swirls of an organza mist

wrap the vista as I stand invisible

at the prow of a tall ship with taut sails;

it carries curiosities, sustenance, shards of hope.

There is no shore; I am on a balcony outside

the warmth of my house, that place where

time is greeted and resisted, cupped in my hands

and released. Out here the view holds surprises,

tosses them like ribbons of silver and green

across my mind, enticements for a restless soul.

An icy spray settles on face and hands

but the grand matron of earth nourishes

its beloveds even (I pray for this daily) me.

Amber leaf, veiny stone, pine cone

and red holly, a blue-black feather-

these are raiment I’d wear if permitted,

a cloak of bits and pieces, a laugh in the midst of things.

If I was brave enough to be visible, with my essence showing–

a woman who gathered pulsing rays and glowed in the dark.

Simple as that. But this is human life

and thus not an angel’s scheme, is that how it is?

Let me seek and discover.

Fog secrets away the mountains so I retreat

indoors, labor awhile. I rest, absorb my books,

their exploratory maps.

They prop me up, lift me over the cliffs of misgiving

and toward gates of wonder.

Such peace!

The words emit scents of cedar and river,

of moss, apple, lavender. Plum, rose, fern, bird bones.

Later I climb the hills, new stories at my heels

like sprites and elves in the brume.

Squirrels fatten up but glance my way as if

sensing my hunger for chicken and dumplings,

my mother stirring the pot,

white waves damp at her forehead,

face pinked with heat and pleasure,

common wisdom added to the stew.

The abundance of it shapes me still.

My throat closes then opens to music

that visits me in solitude,

this one for my mother–

but it is only a desire or a memory,

lyrics and notes drifting like smoke lost to rain.

A finch offers a refrain in consolation;

and it tenders me as I tack and sail

into the heart of woodland, beyond sorrow,

past the shame of all that’s unconquered,

still left undone.

A wintered wind ignores such musings

but my mother’s spirit implores

like a medicine woman:

write write write sing out.

These days it seems a luxury but today

feeling and thought–sharp, sweet, savory–

fill me up as I trudge through murk.

Music, language, how they hoist and shoulder

the weight of my life, fix it, free it.

Sunlight steals through this landscape of haze,

or is it seascape and soon to be moonlight?

The glimmering limns the curve

where I am heading right into

the thicket, the glory of it,

as you, too, may have imagined.

.

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