Ersilia

skulls of saints–
the bones of the dead
dismantled–
spiritual songs

the bones of the dead
seeking a form–
spiritual songs,
grey life

seeking a form–
labyrinth,
grey life–
they are nothing

labyrinth,
consumed moon–
they are nothing–
times chant

consumed moon,
intricate relationships–
times chant
blood

intricate relationships
dismantled–
blood,
skulls of saints

A pantoum mash up of phrases from Samuel Greenberg’s “The Pale Impromptu” for Laura at dVerse, and The Kick-About prompt #13 “Ersilia” from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

The Kick-About prompt immediately made me want to take actual thread and do something three-dimensional to represent the abandoned city of Ersilia. Cardboard boxes were my starting point. Weaving my embroidery floss with a needle between the supports I cut and folded up, it became obvious how the city inhabitants became tangled in a state of impasse, forcing them to move on.

I decided to do a landscape background–the text spoke of viewing the deserted city from the mountains–and I spent a lot of time laying out possible landscapes on my floor from the collage references I had. I then dismantled and retaped a box to make a sort of diorama and glued the landscape pieces down.

Then I had fun rearranging the threaded bones of the city and photographing it from different viewpoints against the background.

Laura’s prompt, to incorporate phrases from Greenberg’s poem into our own verse, made me think of combining those words with phrases taken from the Calvino excerpt. There seemed to be an affinity between the two.

I read “Invisible Cities” in 2016 and posted a review on Goodreads. At the end I wrote: “Certainly it inspires visions that could be transferred to paper…and perhaps some of them will come to form for me at a future time.” And so they have.

spirits of place

infused with
what?  forms shimmering,
unfocused,
almost not
there—breaking into bits of
color, sprinkled light–

watching the
air, you can’t quite be
lieve, place, what
you thought you
saw, significant portions
of which have faded

into blurred
memories that have
discarded
their presence–
the lost and found of the mind,
a vast space without

an index–
tangled up with myth,
stray remnants
dismissed as
merely imagination–
how do we discern

what is true?
maybe what is real
is really
made up—all
wrapped together in spirits
that are beyond sense

Brendan at earthweal discussed land-spirits and asked us to write about a local spirit. My locale has been NYC for 50 years, but within the city it has been constantly on the move. I thought first of birds and trees, which made me think of my own trees that move with me from place to place. My lemon trees are nearly 30 years old, grown from seeds planted by my older daughter as a young child. I also have a corn plant tree, rescued from the basement discard room in an apartment building I lived in briefly about 15 years ago.

tree sprit face tree 3s

I carry their spirits with me, but I have also given them form from time to time. Like the plants, they provide companionship and continuity, a living connection to reciprocal relationships that exist without needing any specific place or time.

tree sprit face tree s

passing

In the mirror I
am only a face–
a fleeting facade,
disembodied,
always incomplete.

I recognize it, but I
do not feel attached–
I dislike the lines,
the dark circles,
the sagging jowls.

Our interactions are
conditional, brief.
My face is
interesting in the way
of all faces,

but not memorable or
distinct—brown hair
brown eyes behind glasses–
averagely past its prime–
I could be anyone.

I see the years in
my hands and I
celebrate them.
Why is my aging
face a source of shame?

Our bodies are merely
ephemera—transitory,
waiting to be
discarded—waiting to release
our spirits to the wind.

This is some more old work I never posted because I was moving. It was inspired by two prompts: The Kick-About prompt of Joseph Cornell’s “Romantic Museum”, which was part of an exhibition dedicated to portraits of women, and the dVerse prompt from Sarah asking for self-portraits. As I said to Phil when I submitted my response to the Kick-About: what woman do I know better than myself?

The hand holding a needle in Cornell’s work, above immediately attracted my attention. I wanted to do something on newspaper, but I couldn’t collage (my first choice) as my glue was packed.  My needles and floss were not, however, and this also seemed appropriate to Cornell’s work.

I was pleased to find a newspaper page with a photo of hands.  I drew my own, and also my face, and stitched and wrote my reflections based on the drawings.  It’s not quite finished, but maybe that’s the correct response too.

linking to dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Grace

mercy 4 (after M.L. Smoker)

one morning you wake up and
the reasons for everything
are gone

the sky has already fallen
and the wind changes direction
continuously—the trees
wave wildly as they try
to keep their roots
grounded, hold tight to their
branches and seeds and leaves

the birds have long ago
disappeared into
the expanse of nowhere
that used to be a horizon
not even a line anymore
but bottomed out
down and far beyond away

you appeal to all spirits
any spirit listening
asking for some small
sign that things will return
to a state of understanding

slow down at least and give
you time to adjust—to what?
what is left of any
configuration? will it be
improved by changing
the velocity?

nothing is sensible or even
nonsensical

you yourself appear
only dimly in the mirror–
perhaps even your bones
have taken leave and only
your thoughts remain

invisible
mad
beside themselves
alone

In July and August I wrote a series of poems inspired by M.L. Smoker’s poem “Mercy”. As I’ve been having trouble writing anything new, I decided to revisit them, and I’ve been worrying this one, #4, all week. I’m not exactly sure it fits the Earthweal challenge this week of a haunted wilderness, but it’s in the spirit.

“Everybody’s crying mercy when they don’t know the meaning of the word.”
–Mose Allison

“Mercy” is not available online, but you can read about M.L. Smoker, and read some of her other works, here.

cicada

cicada wings a

Cicadas are one of many species that make multiple visible transformations during their lifespans.  The longest living insects, they are symbols of both rebirth and immortality.

cicada close up 1s

drinking deep
of earthy tree sap–
high summer

songs weaving
spells of magical
protection

mysteries
of transparency
and winglight

cicada close up 2s

The word for the Kick About #8 challenge is cicada.  What beautiful wings they have.

I first painted the cicada, then glued wax paper down for the wings and embroidered on top.

cicada painting a

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

sue labyrinth s

After “The Owl” by Arthur Sze

I believed I was lost.
Night was on its way–
the path was purple in the dust
and seemed to have ended.
I had arrived here
without a destination.
I longed for sanctuary,
a resting place.

I saw an owl, perched,
watching me.
I spread my arms,
willing wings to appear
so I too could shelter
on a branch.

But I remained earthbound,
weary and alone.
And when the owl stirred,
a fine dust formed patterns
in the disappearing light.
It was as if a portal had opened.

Constellations
fell from its wings.  I was
surrounded by the cosmos,
spiraled into a glowing darkness
and deposited in a held breath.
All was silent then.  And I felt
safe, like the arms of the universe
held me in a vast sacred space.

Nothing stirred forever–then I sensed
the owl quaver.  And at dawn, waking,
I saw with clarity the world
becoming new, transforming
into a landscape that never existed
before now.  The path was green
and meandered back into itself.

I could not see where
I was going but it felt
familiar, like I had circled
with the seasons, following
the path of the planets dancing
with the sun and moon.

We emerged
reborn
into the
May light.

I’m bringing together a lot of different trains of thought here, so bear with me.

in the middle of now june 2016 grid s

The Kick-About challenge #6 is Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.  Though I have not read that particular Solnit book,  I have read at least one essay she has written about labyrinths (“Journey to the Center” from The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness), and that’s the first thing that came to mind.

A labyrinth is not a maze–there is only one path in and one path out.  Labyrinths have been found in cultures all over the world, and are often used as forms of ritual or pilgrimage–a way to return to the source, to lose yourself in something larger and as a result find yourself again.

Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above, gave me that feeling too–could not those paths be circuits on a labyrinth, doubling back to the beginning of the journey?

mapping the wind s

Labyrinths have been linked to circles, spirals, and mandalas–all patterns of sacred geometry.  They have been compared to a map of the brain.

Solnit:  “Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.”

map labyrinth s

 

When you walk a labyrinth you are walking the same path to and from the center, yet the journey in and out are not at all the same.  The seven circuit labyrinth is often layered with rainbows, mirroring the 7 chakras, the 7 notes of the musical scale, the 7 sacred planets, the 7 days of the week. The journey creates a bridge from earth to the cosmos and back again. In a symbolic death, you return to the womb, shedding the things you have acquired but no longer need.  Rebirthing back to the entrance/exit you open yourself to finding new patterns, new ways of being in the world.

chakra painted labyrinth s

Lost can mean adrift, forgotten, missing, but also captivated or consumed.  Lost can be hopeless or bewildered but it can also be rapt, immersed.

Solnit: “…to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.”

owl moon s

This poem is another instance where I spread out the lines of someone else’s poem and filled in the empty spaces with my own thoughts.  You can read Arthur Sze’s original poem here.

 

Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who hears your story?
Rebecca Solnit, “The Faraway Nearby”

go make people s

 

sustenance

drawing-constellations-s

sustenance magnetic s

For Colleen’s #tanka tuesday, using a quote supplied by Merril Smith, below, as inspiration.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

crazy quilt

I’ve been in a creative funk the past few days, so I consulted the Oracle for some help with my shadorma sequence. And once again, I’m recycling some old art.

what lingers
within the workings
of a life
time    dancing
home by remembering the
rhythms of the stars

roots seeding
trees that grow between
deep earthlight
beholding
to the cycles stitched full through
what shines from the heart