Weeping Cherry

Words burn. Wounded words
Smolder from the day before.
Scorched, we mourn in the stench of scorn.

I sit at my computer screen.
You stare out the door
At your weeping cherry trees.
Bereft, we gather what is left.

An unknown bird, brilliant yellow,
Lands in a weeping cherry tree.
Offering his bell-like song,
He cocks his smart red head.

I freeze. You tiptoe toward your camera.
A joint mission takes the place
Of bitter and bewildered thoughts
And leads us where we both belong,
Dizzy in the healing heights
Of chasing God’s own creature’s song.

Lens Poet

He traces with light,
Sets the scene right.

Aperture set,
Assignment met.

With one shutter click,
He cuts to the quick.

Frozen in time,
A moment so fine,

A girl and her pup
Didn’t have to look up.

No need to pose,
That’s how it goes

Lens poet so fine,
Memories of mine

Draw a tear.
Hold us near.

Image courtesy of John Gregory Evans

Kitchen Counters

Kitchen counters dusted in white flour
Witness countless afternoons like this.
Fingers dipped in oil pass the hour
Forming dough as daughters reminisce.

I’ve witnessed countless afternoons like this,
Kitchen windows hot with with noonday sun.
Dry skillet, water droplets hiss,
Hinting that our work has just begun.

Kitchen windows, hot with noonday sun
Reflect rows of spices rarely used.
Hinting that our work is never done,
Herbs flavor best after they’ve been bruised.

Amid the rows of spices rarely used,
Unwritten verses loose their ageless power.
Herbs flavor best after they’ve been bruised
On kitchen counters dusted in white flour.

Come to Terms Quickly

“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Matthew 5:25-26

I don’t think in a straight line.
My thoughts lead to places unexpected,
That make no sense to the casual observer.
Tell me to put two and two together
And you may regret it, or at least walk away
Shaking your head, bewildered and frustrated.

In fact, my thoughts will do that for you —
Walk away shaking their heads, that is.
A brilliant idea will feel ill at ease, unwelcome and unwanted.

The Savior says, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser.”
This morning, original thoughts, feeling broken and betrayed,
Stare at me from the mirror, attempting reconciliation.

“Your accuser will hand you over to the judge,” the Savior continues,
I glance at that lonely original thought, whose accusing eyes brim over,
And my stony heart melts.

“Come to terms quickly with your accuser,” Jesus continues,
“Or you will be thrown into prison.”
By now, I’ve opened a notebook
And write the beginnings of a story
That may or may not make sense to every reader.

“You will never get out until you have paid the last penny,”
My Lord says.

By now, the words are tumbling onto the page,
Singing and skipping and keeping up perfectly well
With my zigzagging logic.
The fine is erased from the books
And the prison door is flung open,
Unable to hold back the colors, sounds and smells
Of free thinking.

Liebster Award

Many thanks to John Evans for nominating me for this blogger award. I highly recommend John’s poetry and creative writing blog. You’ll find plenty of good reading on a variety of topics, from social justice to spirituality. John will inspire and encourage you as he demonstrates the healing power of creativity. Do pay a visit to his blog!

Here are the rules for award nominees:

RULES

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Share 11 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions of your choice. I did not as they already have the same 11 questions as I did.
  • Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post.

My Answers for John are as follows:

Have you or do you ever want to write a book?
I have written a poetry book titled I Left Her There and a novel, A Certain Woman. The novel is a Christian fantasy story that places Biblical figures in modern times. Both books are available at Amazon.com.

How long have you been blogging and what is your favorite subject to write about?
I’ve been blogging for 11 years. My favorite subject? That’s difficult to narrow down, but I seem to always go back to poetry and nature. I especially love writing about plants!

If you could move to a different town, state or country… where would you be?
I love my current home and community, but if pressed to choose, I’d say Italy or London. My father was Italian and my mom’s family is part English and Welsh, so those places intrigue me!

What is your favorite quality about yourself?
Probably my curiosity. I love to learn!

Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert or even both?
Both. I’m pretty much a homebody, but I like to be involved in causes and organizations that are important to me.

What is THE JOB of your dreams?
Either writing or ministry, or a combination of both. I’m interested in many things, and I can always write about them. Also, I am active in my church and I’m a member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans.

Other than blogging/writing what is the one favorite thing you LOVE to do?
Probably reading, especially about spirituality or nature.

Where is one of the first places you plan on going after quarantine is over?
There’s a coffee shop down the street that’s a perfect place to sit and write. I’ve only been there twice, but plan to go back when I can!

Speaking of Covid-19 is there anything that you learned about yourself or will be changing about yourself when ‘life moves on?
I hope I remember how important it is to stay in touch with friends. My pastor reminds us to check in with each other, send encouraging notes and so forth. During the quarantine, I’ve kept in touch with friends and people in my faith community more than I usually do. Best not to wait until the next pandemic to let friends know I care!

Is there anything as far as food that you will absolutely NOT eat?
Veal.

Do you own a website for your writing?
Yes, mainly my poetry blog As I Write and Breathe. Also I write in my devotional blog Coffee and Good News.

11 Facts About Myself

  1. I studied classical violin for 10 years, starting at age 9.
  1. I was a professional folksinger in the 1980s and sang on New Hampshire Public Radio.
  1. I am an herbalist and studied herbal medicine with herbalist and author Susun Weed.
  1. I’m a graduate of Vermont Law School.
  1. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I found out that I’d have to be good at math, so that was the end of that!
  1. My favorite poet is Jane Kenyon. I love the way she wrote about everyday occurrences, and her deceptively simple language.
  1. I enjoy knitting and crochet, although I haven’t worked on anything in a while!
  1. I enjoy learning languages, and have studied French and German. Next language I hope to learn is Italian!
  1. I’ve practiced yoga since I was 4 years old, when I would watch a yoga TV show with my mom.
  1. I love to read about the Lewis and Clark expedition. I’m happy to live in a part of the country that is rich with their history.
  1. I have been to 29 states in the USA!

My nominees:

SnowHearT

WoollyMuses

Cristian Mihai

Syl65

Damyanti Biswas

I admire and appreciate each of these talented bloggers. You’ll want to visit each of these blogs, too!

Planting in Pandemic Times

Planting a vegetable garden seems urgent this year.
I suppose it always has been.
But after weeks of walking lockstep with death, social distancing,
And pandemic statistics,
We think it wise to plant more than we did last year.

My favorite store’s garden display
Sits in the parking lot, where the early afternoon sun
Highlights the multitude of greens, pinks and blues
That pop up in rows of peat pots.

Lockstep indeed.
I forget how it feels to just be myself.
Until I see myself as one of many gardeners,
Roaming through the rows of potted herbs and vegetables.
Still maintaining a safe distance,
Face masks come off in the safety of outdoors.

I settle on basil and dill plants
And an assortment of vegetable seeds, for now.
In our backyard, amid half barrels and raised beds,
The trowel plunges into the soil.
It could be any spring, any year.
Our shih tzu watches with contagious joy,

Lockstep indeed.
My husband had read the news this morning:
The pandemic could last at least two years.

My thoughts return to the peat pots of basil.
Our dog has wandered to a sunnier spot.
I momentarily believe the smile in his eyes,
And put my faith in roots, shoots, soil microbes,
The giant walnut tree in the neighbors’ yard,
And the age-old hope of planting a vegetable garden.

Sanctuary Doors

We stopped attending worship in March.
Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter happened at home and online.
We watched live-streamed labyrinth walks and posted #stayhome selfies, grateful to gather in this way.
The sanctuary doors remain closed,
Save for a dedicated crew who virtually serve the body of Christ.

“A little while, and you will no longer see me…”

We had heard reports of the virus for weeks.
It didn’t seem real.
Then we learned about social distancing and non-essential businesses.
Then it forced our doors closed.
When would we see each other again, take communion, sip coffee in the fellowship hall?

“…and again a little while, and you will see me.”

Like a thief in the night, holiness transformed our loneliness.
Encouraging chalk messages appeared on sidewalks:
“Stay safe!” “Love is stronger than fear!” “He is risen!”
Pink, green, yellow and blue letters bearing good news greeted us in the morning.
Daylight hours lengthened.

Parents and their kids drove through a neighborhood,
Pausing and honking their horns in front of a house where a four-year-old celebrated his birthday
Behind closed doors.
Neighbors anonymously left groceries on doorsteps.
Strangers in masks cried for each other over job losses,
Trying to make sense of it all.

In a little while, we saw Him —
In each other, in creation, in ourselves.
We still mourn our losses,
But the sanctuary doors are flung wide open today,
In the broken heart of the body.

Evening’s Poem

Evening’s hush permeates the house.
April’s premature thunderstorm has settled down.
I’m the last one awake; even the dog has worn himself out.
Scribbled notes, stacked on my husband’s desk, look forward to becoming free verse, villanelles or sonnets.

A solitary robin sings as if thinking out loud, reviewing the day, exhaling as her little ones sleep.

I sit in my recliner, iPad in lap, ready to write.
A Google search turns up poetry prompts.
I type random words until a poem clears its throat and taps me on the shoulder.
“This way,” it whispers.
I follow meandering paths of meter, line breaks and alliteration.
We delight in clever phrases and poignant memories, that poem and I.

Where did it come from?
If only I knew!

The solitary robin falls silent, asleep until dawn.
Our refrigerator crackles and pops its way through automatic defrost.
The last glimmer of sunlight slips between the living room shutters.

I put the poem to bed, wondering why anyone would want to read a poem
About a poet writing a poem.

Resting and Ready

November’s cold-hearted shadow falls over the backyard.
“Too bad,” our guests shook their heads,
Glancing up at the bare, gray branches of the towering black walnut.
“Too bad we missed the tree in the summer.”
“It must have been beautiful.”
“Now it’s just drab.”
A faint chill, hinting at approaching winter,
Sent the remaining dry, clinging leaves into a sigh.

Later that evening, after the guests went home,
I visited my tree (only the tree and I know that we belong to each other).
In July, her deep green shade had protected me
From high desert afternoons,
As I watched our Shih Tzu play.
“Look up,” said my tree in July, as she offered her sturdy branches, heavy with green walnuts,
To squirrels and sunlight.

Now, in November, I brace myself for shorter daylight hours
And wonder what my tree will do for the next several months.
“Look down,” she whispers, not bothered at all
When people say “too bad.”
“Go down deep,” she says, “go where the roots do their secret work after it snows.”

My tree shares her grandmother spirit
With those who know she is more than enough,
Even when the work is unseen.
Even in the quiescence of winter, as her roots
Lie between resting and ready.
Even as her sapwood slowly dies,
To become the heartwood core she’ll need for the journey ahead.

You Send, I See

You send the September breeze
When my heart aches at seeing summer end.
The breeze ripples through the maple boughs,
Still bendable in the early fall heat,
So that I hear the trees whisper
Of beginnings in the endings.
Of going underground to work the magic of growth.
You send what You know I will see.

Years ago, that Arizona noon hour,
You sent a white dove for me to see
As I wandered, crushed, defeated,
On the crowded sidewalk in that mountain town.
Your dove strolled ahead of me,
With her feathered head bobbing,
Past the best burger joint in town,
Flipping through discarded potato chips
And dodging hurried footsteps
Of people on their lunch breaks.

I was grateful that You sent
That impossibly white dove
On that impossibly discouraging day,
To remind me of Your provision.
Of course it was You,
Holy Spirit,
Helper,

Or maybe the dove was a daily visitor on that street,
And You simply shifted my gaze
Toward her bobbing head,
As she nibbled on crumbs, blissfully unaware
That we see You in her.