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?
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.)
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
March 28, 2019. Spring has announced herself with an abundance of green coming up through dried leftovers of prior green frozen to the ground. Lots to clean up in the yard! I tackled the crinum bed alongside driveway a bit at a time to avoid arthritic reaction to the necessary bending, stooping at unusual angles. This poem emerged from the meditative nature of putting face repeatedly near earth … plus it was Mother’s birthday. The following day, my email brought me the poem Earth Song – including:
Those who are dead are never gone;
The dead are not down in the earth:
They are in the trembling of the trees
Indeed, Mother was right there with me in the crinums’ upward thrust.
Crinums produce large lily-like blooms – mine are a vivid pink, prolific come June.
I’m unable to find a direct link to Earth Song, Traditional from Senegal. I received it via Panhala – to subscribe, send a blank email to:
September 27, 2018. This poem emerged from a diverse spirituality group that meets every other month. We each share something responding to the session’s focus – then we sit in silence. Silence can be relative. Certainly sounds normally unnoticed take on new significance when human clatter subsides.
Last week I took in red yucca seeds and a quote from Florida Scott-Maxwell in response to the challenge: What can you see when you are able to look past all your comfortable assumptions, judgments, prejudices, and fears? There were several seed-related responses, and the various seeds/interpretations were swirling in my head as we began what would’ve been silence … but for the old fan directly above me.
June 1, 2017. The last half of May was a bombardment of encounters – a piling on of understanding my own impermanence, connectedness, and choices. This poem has been finished multiple times, only to reopen given the next day’s encounter. Not all-inclusive, some pieces were trimmed to make space for others. I’m calling this complete now. (Though there could be a sequel!)
This began with breaking open during Jimmy LaFave’s final performance three days before his death – witnessing his choice to live his last year on his own terms, embracing life rather than fighting death. The wrap-up arrived as a scientific article on lichens.
May 21, 2017. In the Texas hill country, massive live oaks spread their huge limbs at unusual angles. Over time the weight of continued growth lowers them toward the ground. Like gigantic vines, they swoop in strong winds. Hundreds of years old, survivors of many a storm. But not invincible. At Red Corral, a deck constructed less than 20 years ago rises alongside one of these live oaks. Initially, there was no contact between tree and fence along deck’s edge. But the tree kept growing, lowering. Now fence cuts into bark, a gash that gives pause. While wind blustered, I stood for a while listening to the tree moan, the fence creak – each stuck in their odd relationship. (Ahhh… some “fences” in my space are beginning to feel like supports.)
December 28, 2016. The year 2016 is just about spent – a year to be remembered for many losses. On the numerology front, 2016 is a “9” – the completing year in recurring 9-year cycles; 2017 starts us off on a new “1”. Perhaps losses are obscure completions we must reluctantly release.
The image is a mesquite seed pod, aglow at sunset in the Rio Grande Valley. Hanging on with tenacity, intrigue, beauty. But not for long.
October 14, 2016. I’ve been immersed in another poetry class with Lorraine Mejia @ http://www.lorrainemejia.com/ – this one working with Latin American Poets. Wonderful exposures to poems I otherwise might not encounter, plus stimulus to write poems I otherwise might not. The poem below is indirectly in response to reading Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Song Of The Barren Orange Tree” – and in gratitude for the live oak tree in my front yard. I offer this in explanation:
September 12, 2016. What are the odds a native redbud tree would follow its most prolific blooming spree three months later with sudden death? The blooms had been replaced with lush green leaves when we left on summer travels. Six weeks later, return was saddened by the lifeless brown of those leaves and the crisp snap of limbs tested. Research suggested possibilities, but the suddenness really confuses!
Saturday we got out the chainsaw and did what had to be done. Depressing. One bit of beauty remained – rings in the sliced trunk. Out came the camera and my gears began turning on a collage to commemorate the tree. Shots of the rings, of the stump, of St. Francis standing alone (no more posing beneath the redbud).