This poem materialized in response to W. B. Yeats describing an aging man – startled me coming forth – had fun creating the collage (grinning from the label of my preferred wine). Perhaps the combination of aging perspectives will trigger your own self-portrait?
April 19, 2021. Has it really been over two years since I visited my college campus for the first time in several decades – came home and wrote this poem intending to post it along with a thank you to Robert Okaji for inviting me to his poetry reading on that campus. Day before yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with three current students from Texas State University (Southwest Texas State Technical College when I attended in the 60’s). Fun comparing student population growth now vs then; alarming to compare tuition growth now vs then.
In 2019 after wonderful poetry in what once was the Education Building, I walked up to Old Main, then down to Beretta Dorm, then back up “the hill”- not as difficult as I’d remembered it through intervening years. The many steps between walkway up through Quad to Old Main are still a challenge, and steps from Old Main down to the gym still formidable. I did not know in the ’60s that I have a bit of a heart irregularity – I attributed my difficulty climbing those SWT steps to having grown up in very flat West Texas. Returning with an older, weaker body but a better understanding shifted perspectives.
April 6, 2021. This poem keeps teasing me to “do something” – perhaps posting it will stimulate clarity. It’s a product of a rich writing session with Ali Grimshaw (flashlight batteries – Ali Grimshaw) back in March – triggered by the Kim Stafford poem Ali shared and by group energies – then reinforced a couple of days later reading this quote from Pablo Casals: “It takes courage to listen to your own goodness and act on it. Do we dare to be ourselves?”
I’ll dare to share my angst with growing tensions in my state, in my country. I see no clear path toward meeting in the middle, given so many choose “loyalty to cause” over any tiny concession. But I can smile at those standing in line for vaccinations, neighbors in their front yards, people in the grocery store – not knowing which side they are on but recognizing we are all in the same mess. A wild card is an unknown or unpredictable factor influencing outcome. I can hope some good ones come into play. I can hope I recognize chances to be a wild card in personal encounters. And I can embrace inner wild card appearances that nurture my own understanding.
Image is my 2021 focus mandala (addendum to 2020 Uncertainty mandala).
Sunday, February 28, 2021. Coming up on one year since we all went into panic and pandemic shutdown. I happened onto this poem I wrote early into the shutdown – set aside to post after all the craziness subsided. Well, it didn’t. Maybe won’t ever. I’m still looking for things … we have concluded RVing makes sense (we isolate just as well in the Airstream as the house) … we now have the first of our 2 vaccines … yet for the foreseeable future we’ll keep masking and distancing.
One big change triggered by 2020 social demands was my husband’s retirement at end of the schoolyear. He did NOT enjoy teaching from home and anticipated (correctly as it turns out) that fall 2020 would not look much different. So he bailed a year earlier than planned. Being continually together, we’ve been discovering all sorts of things about one another we wouldn’t have thought to seek, let alone known what to ask, where to look … resulting in many amusing moments akin to this gloves episode.
January 24, 2021. Took a walk this afternoon with my aging and declining Labrador Buttercup. Walking with her is a great opportunity to reflect on recent triggers, and today I paused half-way to jot down the gist of this poem. I was triggered by today’s post from Ken Gierke whose poem Now was triggered by today’s post of Memorial by Ron. Lavalette. My thanks to both.
Recently returned from what’s become an annual November outing to Rancho Lomitas – a native plant nursery near Rio Grande City, in deep south Texas. The ranch includes RV accommodations amid an amazing abundance of plants and birds. This visit found me out walking as the sun set several evenings in a row, good therapy for sorting thoughts and settling restlessness. This poem wrote itself on the third walk. I was entranced while looking down due to the intensity of the sun in front of me. The video way exceeds recommended size limits – apologies if it will not load for you; if it will, please enjoy stepping along. (On my end, works with either Windows Media Player or iTunes.)
August 30, 2020. My caregiver role now over, I shift back into prior norms. With an added daily walk. Suggested for a long time by my husband as a good idea, I am now following the example of my departed son. This collage reflects images along the route that likely caught his eye.
March 13, 2020. Today the governor declared Texas a disaster area. (No doubt others before have deemed Texas a disaster in some vein … this official designation stems from COVID-19 … health and economic issues.) We are headed into Spring Break, so my teacher husband will be off work next week; likely the week after that; unknown how long the panic and the virus causing the panic will prevail. I fit into an age bracket considered more vulnerable to this invasive virus, though I do not feel old (apart from several joints that ache). Difficult to believe this virus could feel any worse than my severe reaction to Shingrix back in November! Anticipating my 2nd Shingrix coming in April, I choose to remain optimistic that I will make it through that and this disaster. I expect to be reflecting a year from now on lessons learned while moving blindly, unsure what I’ll bump into next (shelves empty of essentials … canceled events counted on … local businesses shutting down) yet comforted by others sharing this not-knowing.
Last August, I sat for several days with an old lady named Bella. Bella is blind. Bella is quite old for a cat. Bella keeps purring. Bella taught me a thing or two. This poem, written with Bella, was subsequently accepted for the 18th annual Story Circle Network anthology: Real Women Write: Growing / Older, Susan Schoch, Editor — https://www.amazon.com/dp/0979532957 — paperback & e-book
February 14, 2020: Insomnia. Some nights prove unsleepable. As though I’m being kept awake by invisible energies, wearing down my cognitive defenses that I might receive some message, some vibration from the Universe. I often happily honor such wee hours … but when the coming day demands I be alert reasonably early … well, then I summon the Sleep Angels.
No mistaking the effectiveness of repetitive motion, in a dark room, with a cat purring. I’ve collaged my trusty glider with an angel photographed 3 years back (knew I would want that image down the line!)
January 17, 2020. As I open mentally and emotionally to the uncertainty of 2020 … this poem honors an experience way, way back in 1983 working for IBM in Boca Raton, FL … I became the lucky alternate when the guy chosen to attend a Santa Monica 4-week class could not go. The class was Modern Engineering, and its primary purpose was to encourage life-long learning. We were blessed with UCLA professors delivering all sorts of engineering specifics I had no immediate use for. But the experience was indeed mind-opening. Gone was my notion that “engineers” were a super breed. They were mathematicians, like me, theirs a specialized focus.
The Mobius band given on completion has been my reminder since that life IS continuous learning, that whatever is occurring right now is both temporary and influential on what follows … everything changing all the time. I look to the Mobius band as a “walking stick” to steady me through unorientable uncertainty along the path of 2020.
(A Möbius strip, band, or loop, also spelled Mobius or Moebius, is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being unorientable.)