A Dare to Pause for Poetry

This Hope came through as a Facebook message on the 2×5 inch window of my smartphone yesterday. I’d been bushwhacking through paperwork, surrounded by computer screens and spreadsheets. I was feeling in the weeds, but far from loamy earth.

The beauty of these graceful words just grounded me. Made me wish I was a poet. Reminded me that art will save the world.

I know that we’re all busy, and when screens deliver messages we often only quickly scroll. And this, well, this is poetry, and we all know the trouble with poetry. The notion is romantic and lofty, but reading it takes time. It doesn’t give it all away on the first pass.

So here’s my morning dare:

Read this Hope twice. (At least). It’ll still take less than five minutes. Let it settle through your cells.

Comment on this post that you took time for poetry today. Forward to a friend. Ask them to do the same.

Listen to the serum of these words.

Hope

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

~ Lisel Mueller ~
(Alive Together: New and Selected Poems)

Thank you Steven, for taking time to share

The Year of My Favorite Light

it was the year of my favorite light
when I inherited
my grandmother’s dishes
stacked my barren shelves
with her exotic antiques
filled my fridge
with garden veggies from my friends
no money
for much more

it was the season of lilikoi
and he would gladly offer
the peach-fuzzed
nectar-filled
passion fruit
spilling from the pockets
of his pack

it was the time we pieced it together
finding coconuts
but not having a machete
trying
the delicate art of breaking
cracking with a hammer
reaping all rewards

in that one bedroom
upstairs
we may have been surrounded
by ratting, dandered cats
pussyfooting
past our windows
I just basked in light

streams of sun
filtering
exquisite
in the kitchen
cracked concrete counters
family heirlooms
and fresh harvest

 

mango plate

The Seeking

Recently I wrote about an upcoming writing workshop I am to attend, focused on the theme “The Story You Have to Tell.” I confessed that I’m still searching for the tale worthy of telling.

Readers kindly gave encouragement, suggesting clues were close at hand. I wasn’t getting much inspiration, just thoughts of the roses at Paramahansa Yogananda’s Lake Shrine in California.

Searching, seeking, questing, looking…I finally surrendered and took a morning walk. And it was there, between my footsteps, that a patchwork of stories revealed themselves in random order. The common thread being the very essence of my circumstance: my seeking.

It became clear that my pivotal life experiences have all been rooted in a quest to connect with the Divine. There have been moments when I have been brushed by Grace. Others, when I have fallen into a deep abyss of nothingness. Sometimes I am quite conscious of my search. At other times, I am absorbed in all things earthly, barely remembering that there is anything more than clock-time.

The very premise of this blog stems from my desire to find the profound within the mundane. I sense that the key is in the simplest of moments, always contained right now, if only I can pause to perceive it. Yet, so often there is some veil hindering my full awareness.

With an intent to sketch some highlights of my searching, I’ll be adding pieces to the Archives as part of an ongoing series, I’ll call “The Seeking.”

My first memory of feeling connection to something beyond myself, was at the age of six. I was tucked deep within the rows of an orange grove, on the front porch of my house. Just me and a cattle dog.

Realizing that I may have written about this experience already, I checked the Archives and found a poem posted in May 2011. I’m re-posting it here, as the first in the Seeking series.

Recently, the media has highlighted scientific findings that suggest a release of the bonding chemical, oxytocin, when humans and dogs gaze into each other’s eyes. I’m not well-versed on all of the research, but I remember my own love-bliss, human-dog experience. The dog and I were both fresh to the planet, and sweetly unaware of concepts, definitions, or chemicals.

 

“Dog Spelled Backwards”

Maybe you were six
that first time that you remember
sitting on the red cement steps by the ivy
just you and a cattle dog
gifted a rare moment off the chain
all of you

looking into those liquid brown
border collie eyes
you sang softly
caressing velvet ears
rubbing whiskered cheeks
his black damp nose poised
transfixed
in the words that swirled from your sweet throat
“I love you, I love you, I love you”

a simple tune
turning
from your small mouth
surrounding his rapt head
an essence
soaking through fur

you sang those words
gazing into dog eyes
your own little lashes
brimming with tears
that were not sad
just feeling
moving through your fresh heart
extending through dainty fingers
singing through your baby teeth

the purity of puppy and child
needs no name
though adults may try
and reference
Grace

awareness
presence
shared
it was so easy
readily received
circulating as breath
between two heart beats

mammals
in a moment
down a gravel drive
in the oranges and the ivy
1979

 

courtesy of smerikal
courtesy of smerikal