Friday’s Poem on Saturday: Life Undone

It’s life within a life of life cycles,

an identity of layers like nesting dolls

not always expertly fitted,

a change from this day to night to next.

It’s being on the job always, feet swollen,

pressing their ache against the floor,

eyes lit with congeniality, banish any pain with

that long-trained endurance,

and easy tolerance meant to welcome.

At home, time to mother-father,

kids whipped up with more need of love,

cat and dog taking turns begging,

all the dishes empty, then fuller, then empty.

When the home is still and the worker

leans into weariness, a bottle comes out.

Or maybe a lone soul is in search of more,

or less, so a corner stop, and the way

back home is easier.

The bottle of brilliance, glass brimming amber gold,

a luxury and necessity, dreamy, devastating.

That drug that frees, a harsh magic.

Cat and dog watch, eyes pretending sleep,

wary, bored, puzzled. The way drink lights up

a human, pills a dessert, powder sifted in…how this

softens then creases a face and a self into parts

like a map, pleasure to oblivion to dangerous lands

all in the span of unfolding.

They sleep, fitful.

They all slip under a deep sky that harbors

music strange and known,

and elegant branches capture stars

then part to release them to velvet belly of night,

and the beginnings of dawn just a shiver,

a pointed call in the distance,

as if calling to a beloved softly, urgently.

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(So strangely, as I was writing the last lines last night, we got a terrible call.

I could not have known in the usual way. .So I am not revising again.

A granddaughter has died too young and hard. So I leave the poem as I wrote it.

I may not be writing next week. Though writing often saves me.

Grief cannot be spoken in this language today. Hold close those you love.)

Friday’s Poem: Spring Visitation

The magnolia stirs you with fantastical flowers

and just like that some loose part of you

scurries off and becomes a child, wanders under

rustling green canopies, blossoms fluttering

atop your shoulders like scented butterflies.

Then there is a building, a stand-in for a homely castle.

It beckons you, so you pause.

The oval of stones is formidable; the steps

are welcoming, and when a man

who was sitting and in his own reverie leaves,

you approach, eyes half-blind in sun’s shine.

It is not the castle of a childhood domain

made of birches, nor a garden of serpentine paths

and a scarlet bridge across a lotus pond. Nor even

the backyard with pines and the Kwanzan cherry tree

dazzling with fat, fluffy blossoms that decreed winter over, done.

It is not like stone churches where you

were given to shivers of visions as music soared.

But this sturdy oval means more than its simple parts,

a resting place for, say, an explorer-empress

with attendant froggy friend, a chorus. The gathered

trees are nodding with beauty, and living breezes

skimming grass, leaves, water, skin.

She–the child you were or wanted to be–

reaches the threshold, turns to smile,

slippers on feet glistening lilac and gold

as she steps up. And vanishes.

It is a tear in the veil of time.

A chimera you cannot see long.

A reminder that recalls all the innocence

that sings in the small vessel of a child.

The moment is a kind hand hovering

over your head like a benediction from afar,

and you hold it close and move on.

Friday’s Poem: Lux in Tenebris (Light in Darkness)

Sliver and orb, flash and streak,

rising and flowing across the earth

the quality of light is migratory,

transitional, dynamic as it pervades

our lives like breath, like heartbeats.

Omnipresent as every human need

and rife with potency, nobler than imagined

it spills over rotund or knife-sharp horizons,

an unstoppable beam inside thickets of dark.

It arrives as torn lace aflutter among branches,

shifts and skips between arms and legs

and rides manes of wild horses,

flicks ears of wolves and sleek-backed snakes

as sunlight ’til moonlight ’til starlight joins life to the finish.

The body cannot keep it from coming, nor forget

even in grief, even in blindness.

Light lays itself down, follows us faithfully

then embroiders worn edges of shadow.

Such volume of light in cup, in heart, in hand

has no form to define as it sizzles and dances

but here comes warmth and illumination

that arise from the deep of all mother-father eyes–

but, too, rests itself on mossy log and feathery bloom.

It roams alleys and walls of the city when few are watching.

Suffuses even the cave and recess no one wants to find.

It wends its way to tenderness of lovers’ fingertips,

and skin how it glows, it gleams in pulse of stars,

shimmer of moon and sun let in by window or fissure.

The earth, air, water know such wiles, how magic accumulates,

what means a spot of luminescence at play on brook, leaf, stone.

It changes what is seen, becomes a compass for a map of movements,

a truth telling, a magnification of vagaries of life.

This force is a constancy of inarguable beauty,

a mystery and surprise in the midst of aching and

creating, and in our welcomes, our refusals.

Seeking or not, there is always lux in tenebris

born in homes of the cosmos, released to earth

and still working, undeterred by tremulous times.

May we be bearers of such light,

and brave bearers of life.

(Apologies for accidentally posting two Spotify.)

Friday’s Poem: A Call to Spring

All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

The vast drape of land calls us,

its undulation of tilting trails and spread of green

over density of earth teeming

with unseen things. There is genius

of growth beneath while horizon’s blue

offers a new comfort of light, empty of rain.

Today it is a genial drama, spring’s arrival,

and to be a witness is to feel the spirit stir, rise

with a deepening breath that carries

silken perfume of cherry blossoms

that startle the air with innocence

and shy resplendence.

Friday’s Poem: March Anticipations

It’s what we long for, lushness sparking the

dailiness with dollops and spangles of vibrance,

a rustle and sway of green-crowned trees

that will lift our heads and plants that give forth

a carnival of blooms so we lean forward, bend our knees.

The desire is for wintering to be done, the shadows obscuring

city and country to be subdued or made ghostly luminous.

But inside our flesh, we can be anything.

Inside the in-between-ness of now,

there is winter, there is autumn

and summer and spring, the blood and spirit

our testaments to time’s wisdom, hearts thumping

to rhythms this planet and beyond offer up.

Or so it seems as I awaken at dawn and sense

possibilities of celebration– even as prayers slip from

my lips to guide and protect, hold all close to the center,

manifest in everyone’s life the brazen powerhouse of love.

A gauze of light filters across the nesting room,

touches my fingertips, arms, face as it beckons me.

I rise up limb by limb. Beyond my window is brash azure

of March, stark branches potent with buds,

birds rattling the morning with musical events.

I can wait for flowers to strew more joy

but run downstairs to you sipping espresso,

and to my berries, bagel and vanilla chai,

a Friday unlike yesterday, its bouquets of abundance

made of hidden wonders, of laughter like spice.

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To hear me read this poem aloud click on the podcast below. Thanks!