Friday’s Poem: Coming To/Coming Back

It’s not the time of suffering that lingers.

Like all animals who fall, wounded,

I acquiesced to the howling lameness

that demanded laying down

my bones and sinew.

And, then, again.

Again. Again. Every step a boobytrap.

But it is incremental, the resurgence of life

juice trembling in my anemic blood.

I watch the black-red iron drip from

pouch to vein and pray for power returned.

It is rarely the shock of the earliest days

that chases me in daylight

or permeates my dreaming.

It is this rolling aftermath of

complications, the coming to, coming back

as mind and soul are prodded to more work.

I peer into the long blue line

of the distance, looking for myself.

The leg that was strong has been hobbled.

Can I recall its nimble sleekness as I danced?

The strength that carried me deep into mountains?

The boldness when making a trail where there was none?

Before the carving out of my own-ness

and replacing that with titanium–as if

I wanted my knee to outlive me.

But if it must be a balancing act,

foot to ground, hand to heart,

it is what I will learn to do. Blast those days before;

this is what I have, what is given.

It’s the present that inhabits me, directs the way;

the deficits, progress, minute degrees of change.

I will seek my body singing.

I will own and praise it.

Take to smooth or rutted trails,

walk off the ache and embrace the views.

I command my knee to bend,

my leg to swing out, up, down.

Imagine myself a whole woman,

a woman welcoming herself,

better than yesterday,

as good as before:

I am still a traveller on a pilgrimmage.

I know how to root out truth and brook no lies.

The bare facts of living here and now set me free.

Yet it is like this: flailing forward

as if through brambles then having to pull back,

then striking out again even as

each blackberry scar softens, fades.

The ones left by the surgeon’s robot

chill me even now: the things that

happen beyond our control.

How was I remade into someone unsure?

Not born afraid but curious.

And so I am going, watch me try to go

unnoticed, not missing a beat.

Just a part of the moment,

a brush of wings into leaves and light.

So there she is/I am, the river’s breath

ribboning my hair, voluptuous flowers

bobbing as I pass, and the leg that is

not my best leg (but begs to be mine entirely)

rising up, stomping through swirling pollen,

that sky as potent and open as God’s Eye,

my body listing, leaning into the bravery

that comes with summer.

This body shimmies, strides, stumbles.

My awkward crooked salvaged leg

is alive at every juncture of the path,

will become more itself right down to the marrow,

and in these gaps between desire, hope and healing.

Friday’s Poem: They Hear a Live Symphony

This is one way you can wend your

way into a miracle of music as it circles people,

streams around balconies, reveals new vistas of spirit,

your heads bobbing, your beings light as balloons.

Your ears are sacred passageways

into a world that brings everything

to the fore as if it is new.

The upwelling of sounds, playful, resonant,

are both diviner and divined. The melodies breathe with you.

With unexpected force in reach of synapses,

notes flee instruments in search of you and you,

your deep eyes blazing, small hands answering beats.

You become bigger, bolder in this moment

as you bloom inside new love;

you dive into the currents, come up joyous.

You know how to do this, how to be happy.

I was a child like you, yes, and born to the music.

Fearless, I jumped right into the middle of it,

embraced good humor of tubas, glitterings of harp,

bared soul of viola and cello, a crescendo of timpanii,

lithe dance of flute and acrobatics of oboe,

the dignified ways of French horn

that made me long for more.

It was a momentous time as I came to know the world,

a treasure, a beacon. It carries me now, graces my life

as I follow the flight and fancy of each note and measure.

So today you are presented the same in this

chapel made for mysteries of sound:

we hear the firmament profess a desire

to lift, fill, free and gift us more,

and to gather you into rhythms and harmonies,

a kaliedoscope of delights.

You lean in, amazed. Right at home.

The fact is, your blood knows this way, it answers

becasue it has travelled from great grandparents,

grandparents, far ripplings of family.

From your mother, a baby who sang with doves.

You are one of us, music makers, soundscape dreamers,

your own voices now an echo, a key to new songs.

I see you claiming the birthright,

clapping, bouncing and grinning

and a wash of tears slips down my cheeks.

May the music love you as it has loved me.

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.

.

Friday’s Poem: Making Things

Beads of glass, yellow, purple, gold, teal, red, silver:

enough or too much to gather into love?

I palm the metal geometrics, crystals,

varigated stones, ceramic spheres, hemp cord

and luminous silky floss.

Later at a fabric store two sharp-eyed saleswomen

prod me: what am I making, and I likely need this, that.

The experts press against the counter, piecing

their ideas deftly from my heap and jumble.

My lovely fat quarters of cloth; I pull them close.

I pick them up, considering the visions

I took from the warp and weft of happy dreams.

Nothing can mar the mental surface tension

beneath which deeper things stir like fishes;

ideas gather momentum, about to break through.

Patience is my way for this creating; I see, gather, wait.

I have no schematics for success.

My craftsy friend who brought me here

smiles indulgently. But I am not making

just any holiday project.

These mounds of colors-textures-shapes

are meant to reflect five hearts, ones that help power my own.

The tiny trinkets and beads rustling in the bag

will be stitched and knotted in praise

of the vivid lives of my children.

Just as when they first arrived as blood and bone–

each tenuous (as it was hard for me to make children)

but charged, triumphant, embraced–

I will consider these bits of beauty, discover more patterns.

I still am learning the ways of each soul. I am guessing as I go.

There will be forms and colors, whatever feels needed

and what might be desired.

My hands will work as the light scents

of cotton and stone, silk and copper calm me.

What my fingers can make–

these aging fingers full of lines, splits, callous–

will be true to what I know, and bright with hope.

If I do not fail to bring inspiration to fruition

there will be five wall hangings, at best unschooled,

even clumsy, madcap–yet strung together as

small collections of care and delight.

And perhaps they will bring them close

then hang them up,

gaze a moment and think,

there it is: love.

.

Friday’sPoem: Learning a Friend

The grass and trees glow beneath generous sky

as we lean at the table and talk.

Someone sits alone, lips of plumminess

that do not smile back at us. We shrug

though I wonder about the what and why of her.

Sunlight flashes on our narrow hands,

a dose of heat that dispells the chill.

Not everyone knows what we know–

your dangerous dawn races, our history of men

who ruin and rescue, the interpretations

of X-rays, snow and Saint Saens,

the terror of repeated infant alarms,

and how to live as if without pain.

But this is good–tender pastry, dark wash of coffee.

Words that crease and smooth the air.

Is it a hint of winter that urges us to

speak of what is not simple?

Of what can be lost, what may be accepted,

what is fought for and against without

ceasing as if we have superior skills?

Perhaps we know something small: even the brave

will rest, reassess, grab onto a hand.

We get up, jackets close as wind thins last heat.

You charge ahead, an adventurer;

my bad knee embarrasses with slowness.

The wind gives up songs kept to myself

with most everything else.

I will practice leaving solitude;

I will keep up when the surgery is done.

And how is it that people find each other?

We head back home.