Friday’s Poem: Into Kingdom of Flowers

(Thoughts as Skyler Journeys to the Beyond)

What grief have flowers? They live in ecstasy.

Every curve and angle, design and hue

is cast upward from dirt and granted freedom.

I with scant wisdom am humbled.

What can they offer in harrowing times as

wounds of our hearts threaten to

undo even sutures of hope?

You have known that tearing. But I say

the flowers shine forth. They create a music in color.

They grace the gloom with a waltz of unfolding.

They wrap our spirits in a field of goodness and plenty.

Bees find their way there; you see they know the honor.

I have walked among these, their rainbowed

blooms caressing my skin as if they know

such moments have kept me alive.

The slanting light limning wild grasses.

A wind that rattle-dazzles leaves.

Scents of secret life rising at daybreak

and lingering beyond the blue hour.

The flowers, though all exposed beauty, are not afraid.

How much innocence can a person lose

and yet be tugged back by a single petal

that offers itself to eye and nose?

This velvety part, that stem and leaf–

such medicine that I am brought to my senses,

conduits to pulsing numinosity of God.

One day for us all, you know, it

comes down to deep simplicity:

rain or moonlight, root or stone,

feather or beetle or cloud,

a palm cupping sun’s heat–

then circuitous breath, our very breath

seeps out to join the river’s.

And when it is over and discussed

the vivacity of life keeps company

with more under arches of trees.

When I leave, I want what is left

covered with wild flowers and gossamer light.

Transformation leaves what counts,

disperses what does not.

It comes down to usefulness.

And reverence.

Wonderment has carried me to this

and someday, farther.

Here it has all been said and done for you;

you found shock of love, of strife, inertia.

Made of it more, and less.

But this moment between times as we wait,

the gathered blossoms grant entry

to their kingdom’s favor,

to brazen and elegant and rare delights

where tears like dewdrops are silent,

sweet or not, but welcome.

I will look for you there.

Friday’s Poem: Time Undone

Time with its ancient cycles quits for no one.

I rest in homage by the river, sense the current turning.

I feel like a bouquet in wild grasses; living’s left me sweet-sour.

If only it was so easy–a woman in love with water and woods.

But I am pressed between have done and must do,

that wall clock grinning like a gatekeeper,

a metronome imposing rigid order in my life.

Nature’s messengers whisper about

the limits of a ready-made world where

I am running all day from plans to tasks

to desire to regret to one more distant goal.

How did time excavate my life, chew it up,

redesign and cast it to four winds?

I can’t quite catch it as it flies, despite my attention.

I must resume a position within the surround

of time–slipping back in, shouldering my way,

into the line dance of human life.

Wanting still to leap up, beyond constraint.

Every morning my skin blushes with tendrils of light;

night brings a spell of dreams or a wrestling,

and still I am primed for dawn.

There is not enough of time though it

tosses and pins me down these days.

I want to fight back; I am not weak.

But good progress slows, stumbles,

falls in the heat of the fight.

And yet–there is always a yet,

a supernatural response to puzzling things–

despite the lost or misused seconds, this:

walking the labyrinth of lessons,

finding a slipstream or traversing

the wild terrain of aging as it challenges.

Changes. Empowers and releases me.

Time steps aside and opens my eyes.

How much of everything is lived beyond me,

how do others transmute ache into love?

I lay my ego down, lift face and heart

to wind whistling in the trees,

quieted by a willing surrender again.

Friday’s Poem: For the Living and Dead

(Photos by this writer. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C.)

For the living there are offerings of flowers rising,

embroidered throughout valleys and mountains,

and green things that shimmy in rainfall and wind

and zigzag calls of feathered, furred,

the sleek and shelled creatures as if

nothing was awry, and the earth is at peace.

For the dead, perhaps silence, and sudden dreams of beauty

that cover the past, rescue the present or design a future

we know nothing about; their gardens beckon in ways

only mystics can conjur when everything is torn inside out.

The living, the dead; what truth can be said of them?

What falsehood separates them and us?

My heart speaks to those here; eyes weep for those gone.

And the blood of earth recapitulates with clusters of

snowdrops, marsh marigolds, wild roses, tiger lilies.

Wars indict humans by the roots of resolute trees.

Thousands of years we have mastered, failed, fallen.

Bitter seeds attempt to take hold

but cannot flourish forever nor

invade realms of Power beyond our ken.

There is wisdom we do not seek enough,

nor decipher well when we most need it.

And yet bees still labor happily;

redwing blackbirds trill their stories;

foxes hide and seek, nurture new life in the den.

I cover my head. I toil in time until unable.

I await an invitation to paradise as I tire.

But today, prayers for sweetness

and mercy for the living;

For the dying and dead,

a crying out,

a plea for safe passage,

a benediction uttered into deepest night

into deepest everything

Friday’s Poem: Reach and Grab

Reach, reach and grab, I am beseeched,

threading through splotches of green, spangles of gold,

river wind riffling through hair.

The command speaks to the wintered wait for

elixer of light and spell of flowers,

the proud trees a sprawl of architecture,

each call of a bird definitive, its brilliance

an arc that can overtake my mind.

But other powers capture the world,

and sow misery with seeds so harsh and bitter

they flame in the hand, the throat, the soul:

the dangerous grab reaches this ritual of spring.

Now between steps are prayers frail with words,

tiny balloons that rise, vanish.

In noon heat amid a cooperative of bees

comes this swell of grief.

What safety is a cloak of beauty?

How do I love the world and despise it?

How to open arms to watercolor sky as

storms crouch at the horizon?

Reach, grab life:

may a few burdens settle. I look outward.

An eagle couple observes from a high perch;

fisherman and child cast their lines once more;

a long boat is rowed by eight in deep rhythm;

a melody that arrived at dawn finds my lips,

escapes into bouquet of air, a shining thing.

Treetops wave as I pass.

The yellow of sun offers a mercy.

Reach. Hold on.

Friday’s Poem: I Prefer Happiness

You once said that although you were drawn

to its music, you didn’t understand poetry,

all metaphor and simile, and why

didn’t people say what they meant.

You are a storyteller–we, born of the same mother–

but prefer spoken word, facts propped up by feeling.

I wonder what the difference is, in the end,

our voices as specific as bell tones parting silence.

Still, you want me to write all that you’ve labored over

but cannot quite say: the black heart of things.

We know how ominous was that era of darkness,

suffering a hair’s breadth from one another

though unknowing, each whittled down

by futility and terror, toughened by a scarcity of hope.

We were young then, now are well seasoned.

No, my dear one,

I would rather speak of ebullience.

Your effervescent laughter–

like Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome”–

even as your memory dims and the years truncate.

This: your expertise in salvage and reclamation;

your gift for leading and charging past dead ends.

Your strength as you bore on your back mattresses,

blankets, food to the midnight alley’s lost and woebegon.

Your trusting welcome of all creatures, whole or ruined.

So let’s set fire to the past and watch it burn,

smoke eaten by the heavens, flowers rising from ashes.

I would rather speak of happiness, our flags

forged from tatters and twigs, raised to the wind.

Our paths, severed then rejoined and our lives

linked forever not by the crucible of loss

but by every instance of warrior sister love

given and gathered and nurtured with light–

our song made up between us as we have sought our paradise.