Friday’s Poem on Sunday: Return to the Falls

For wind which carries rain and sun on its breath,

and secret messages from sea and valley

I give thanks.

For trees and ferns in green garments

which dance, shelter and bend,

which break, fall and sustain

I give thanks.

For fragrant trails hewn of rock and dirt

so feet can trod up the mountain

I give thanks.

For waters that race and slink,

that house fishes, stones and newts

I give thanks.

For shadow creatures passing by,

and bright flip of wings and tails

I give thanks.

For song of beak and river,

rhythm of hoof and paw,

ancient tales of the mountains

I give thanks.

For this seeking life that was half-lost

in forest magic of the Gorge

and rescued there again

I give thanks.

For my soul passing through

holy ways of the Creator,

this woman- a shard of the design,

one day joining sand, air-

I offer most humble thanks.

The picture of me on the crook of the tree is a tradition. Every autumn for 19 years I have hiked the trail to Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia Gorge, where a heart attack felled me at age 51. Gratitude does not enough express what I feel every single day –and never more than when partaking of nature’s wonders. Anyone recovering from heart disease–please do not give up hope.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: These Feet of Rain

This is how life can turn,

on ghosts of smoke, spin of air

and flare of yellow as

clouds grab and release

the weighted, bilious sky.

My toes seek the rarified wetness;

my breath does not halt and drag.

This thundering morning

is not (for me) like the other eleven

as firestorms snagged and exploded

not so far from this locked, taped door.

Long hours have been disappeared into jaws of flame,

bound by smoke, thief and master.

Who believed that time could be erased

by a manic advance of fire that roared,

massacred like hordes unleashed?

There are too many who dread the final report.

But here, now, I unlatch, open my door a crack,

lift my nose to sniff a slick of breeze,

push outward inch by inch into open air,

step into the diffident moment and

an exhausted, mourning earth,

a world that still spins within loss.

I cannot believe any promise of full healing.

Every step now feels like a lingering cry,

a call to wilderness whose great heart blackens.

Still, now, these feet of flesh and rain

hold fast to the primal dirt,

my face lifting to a startle of sunlight.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: What Is a Dream or Not

Image: NASA

They sleep as the noise of life mutes

and who knows how they lie down

or company they keep, or

what borderless countries nest inside the jumbled brain.

They each gather secrets like

food for the famished, markers for mapping.

They stir a netherworld with gasps,

fingers clutching sheets, mouths innocent.

I have gotten close to them

out there where we meet. Dream passersby.

Masses that crowd nebulous snowy back roads.

By a lapis sea circling crystalline mountains.

In the markets, tiny stalls billowing

with beauty and oddities, our hands happy.

Streets like puzzles. The night a hologram.

But fights happen there, too:

the free and cunning grab power

while unfree bloodied give it up as

human agency runs out of steam.

Even the brave sometimes cannot find

a door to an ancient portal to newer worlds

and fall, rise, fall. No one is always heroic.

Still, we sleep on and float and wrestle,

half-wake with stories unraveling.

And yet there remain beyond the blue deep

a trillion unknown pulsars,

magnetized, radiating, spinning.

And so why not angels keeping guard,

a glowing personage for everyone? or more?

Inside the opalescence I search is a beacon

like a pulsar-guardian

and fear drops away with gravity

so life which is love is not forsaken

or blasted or misread or forgotten.

It lives. It acts. It liberates as

I travel without thinking, with less pain,

and minus remembrance of every loss.

So it may be for all other sleepers,

though some do forget upon rising,

knowledge like a flaming flower gone to ash.

Still, the open passage of dawn to day

takes us back into soft and jagged silences,

into whorls of talk, a measure of longing.

We walk. We talk.

Our eyes frame one another,

we nod and wonder:

who was that, what did I recognize?

An eternal memory of the

aging and young, well and lame,

lost and found, those who cannot bear

or bother to look up– yet sense kinship like

the telling energy of the animate.

And this: we each are one more link to God,

our lives a chalice for sacredness.

You doubt? I believe doubly.

Is it, you say, a dream that carries me off…

or is it a necessary truth recalled?

The universe is made of such potent things.

We may reclaim them here, now.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: This Skin

This skin–yes, that’s right–

thin membrane that keeps us tucked in,

largest of organs, which well guards or fails us,

a fine architecture of covering

to corral feelings or unleash them;

elastic, hearty, our constant companion

both heals or hounds us, navigates all spaces,

invites us to welcome when it seems impossible,

finds pathways to knowledge or loving

when words cannot–

this skin.

How it wraps up and wrestles with us.

Not a choose-your-own vehicle;

nor less than a lifetime of lessons;

nor clothing we can shed like a shirt;

and not only a map that can guide us,

also a worthy boat that knows to carry us–

this skin.

We breathe and sweat in it, kick and leap.

It follows our bidding and we, it.

But a skin that creates you can break you.

What you find in a mirror may relieve or remind,

shock or delight you, reversals of fortune.

It will make you lonely, grant inspiration,

bring you to mysteries of a moment,

and even (flesh can do this, too) your soul–

this skin.

And the day you were born was a day

your skin informed that its gifts could

test and rescue you, monitor and grow you

til death would end it, send you off, all shed.

This is your own skin which can record

trivia and secrets, herald joy, signal messages,

lift you past defeat even if broken by tragedy.

Toe to eye, lip to knee, finger to chest,

milkweed soft or volcanic tough,

old and young and years between–

this, our skin.

It stings, it bargains, it dreams.

It makes us wake up. Gives us stories.

This is your brain and body republic

now calling on courage to see one another

inside colors and shapes–each worn in victory,

in mourning, in praying, in laboring–

our ripe, frail lives that (unlike peaches, roses)

can make another tale to equalize this inner

and that outer, these powerful, those powerless.

Give hand to hand greater mercies.

Give voice to voice the blessing of respect.

These skins which brought us to earth,

may they lean into the arena of our future,

liberation unto liberation unto liberation.

(Thank you to my blended, multi-racial/multi-ethnic family)

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Possibilities for Rescue

What cannot be surmounted

can be welcomed;

what cannot be released

can be tamed.

What cannot find its way

can be protected;

what cannot be believed

can be reviewed.

What cannot be healed

can be pardoned;

what cannot be changed

can be unchained.

What cannot be spoken

can be sung;

what cannot be moved

can be reawakened.

What cannot be joyous

can be recreated;

what cannot stop weeping

can be forgiven.

What cannot be revealed

can be redesigned;

what cannot be embraced

can be blessed.

What cannot come out of dark tunnels

can be retrieved with little flames of truth,

and it is expected that the luminosity

will well save you both.