Friday’s Poem: Gathering Life

It is useful to surrender enough to what lifts or perplexes us,

yes even what hurts, just give in to the depth

and breadth of it, let one’s bones resonate

with a screech of hawk who dives for the kill,

and accept to the lips a soft tartness of cider or sour salt of tears,

and lean a hard heartbeat into that of another.

It is instructive, can tip a balance. Wake us.

Everywhere we look, the dark bleeds light,

then light bleeds the darkness, and we love it or

forget who we are, what is counted as treasure.

I, for one, note every signal and track as a rambler must.

Yet being struck still or pressed forward

brings me to the same end: in the middle of nowhere

I will sense where I am, and soon recognize

the music of creature breaths and the tapestries of skies.

They mingle with breaths and visions that came before.

There is a trail left by every humble or magesterial thing.

It is easy to stumble, jagged rock beneath knees

and sun then rain blinding, skewing the whole.

We think: perhaps it is a failure to lose bearings;

we forgot to be attentive or do what is best

in a world where much is garrish with grievous ego.

I sometimes walk the river with friends, then lag behind

to be transported by autumn water as it carves the banks

with its wilding life and carries its loads.

This silky-sinuous passageway in time

asks me to again succumb to wonder.

To allow the nerves of living to spark and flare.

Even standing in green black shadows

a potent light flees the water and then is gathered,

it parts the leaves and limbs–

turns my face into something stunned and bright,

and tells me

nay, never alone on this winding way,

follow heart lines, follow spirit drum.

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: 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: Visit from the Firebird (for Valentine’s Day)

Wind is directing a waltz of swaying firs;

I hear the forest chorus, how they breathe

and moan, shush and shout. I know

they are dancing while singing, it is their natural state.

I am indoors, mixing love with color and form,

dab, swipe, smile: like that, paint comes alive.

But I am drawn to winter wind acting like its spring.

If I stood outside, my hair would be a flag

of white on auburn; pines would share their breath.

Is it the scarlet filling my brush, or remembrance

of that once-glinting hair: Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”

brings in an orchestra and gifts euphoria to my brain.

With my cello I played it often under my father’s

elegant baton (and others’) and adored every note.

Still, it was my dance offered up to folk tale

magic that demands my attention now.

Entering stage right, at age nine

ready to be beguiled, and so sure-footed.

Swirling red chiffon plumes of my skirt

rose and shone as I circled,

leapt, reached and dove: Stravinsky

led me to my own small firebird.

Miraculous to the child I still somehow was,

I felt freed by bravery and joy; we were

twinned spirits as music with movement drew

me whole into a vortex of transformation.

Metamorphosis of a girl, an introduction.

Afterwards, that applause. It was a deeper

knowing of mystery that kept me aloft for months.

What pulls a child to the Firebird’s dance?

But children, especially, need saving graces.

In this moment sunlight sweetens

the clean pebbly paper. Bouquets of blue-greens

multiply beneath my careful hand.

The wind will romp through trees

while Stravinsky embraces, inspires me–

to make love strong and everlasting: more courage

and all is well, even for the true

and beautiful, fearsome firebird.

May she rise up for all who admire her,

and let one more crimson feather drift to me,

landing gently on a limb of a waltzing tree.

Friday’s Poem: Wind that Shakes Me

There are times when the strum of wind

shakes me, turns me nearly inside out.

The hidden skin on my neck awakens

as if your hand riffled my hair

or a drifting leaf grazed my hand

as we daydream on the rocks,

while below shines the silvered green mirror

of the lazy, wending river.

It’s not a startle of romance, nor its memory.

It’s a shy jumping up and spinning

of my spirit, jostled from sleepwalking.

My heart, bare ember, catches a gust

and it grows, it glows beneath

imperturbable clouds, this haunted world.

When alone I go, I wait for visitations of air

arriving from mountains, from sea,

my hair billowing, a net of sail filled,

and everything that makes up this small body

hears the call and I levitate far

beyond our words, beyond regret