the chorus of everywhere

tree 2

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.”
Hermann Hesse

stop making
maps—destinations
are without
meaning—this
journey does not follow roads
to faraway lands

look around
at the familiar
landscape—light,
water, stone,
the patterns of trees joining
wings to earth and sky

listen to
the stillness of no
time—listen–
suspend all
expectations—what you need
is already here

tree 2 close up s

For Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday, a shadorma chain inspired by a quote from Hermann Hesse, selected by Sue Vincent.

tree 1s

on a turtle’s back

turtle back round s

we cling to ourselves
(a)mending all our invitations
with threads that must be pulled
in just the right way

we disguise our own
houses as fortresses–
foundations sunk deep
into the growth of the economy

we arrange nature
to reflect order, not chaos,
not seeds strewn on the wind–
we kill the intruders,
the unwanted, unexpected,
the exceptional,
with chemicals and pruning

we have forgotten
awe, the strangeness
of wonder, of what
we did not know
to look for

we’ve forgotten to be
curious, to open
the door, to enter
into dialogue with
forces we cannot control

we no longer know how
to return what is given
with care and kindness–
to celebrate the earth,
to leave room for her
to sing her own song

turtle back half a

Merril’s photo of the turtle she moved off the road on one of her walks provided the inspiration for both my art and my poem.  Turtles are symbols for Mother Earth in many cultures, and are said to carry the world on their backs.

They could use some help right now with the load we have given them.  For the earthweal challenge culture and nature.

turtle back close up s

Nina and I both love turtles and have posted about them on memadtwo many times.  You can see some of the posts here.

turtle shell s

In Praise of Ecology

trees s

calling all the names–
circles of words and being
woven into life

branches comp s

I greet the oak, the way
its branches frame the sky–
morning and evening
preserving the winter light
holding as shadows
the imprints of birds.

Listen:  they begin
the day—robins and blue jays
emerging from the cacophony
of sparrows and starlings–
and here again—my constant
companion, Crow.

We name our streets
after the trees that once stood
there:  elm, walnut, pine, maple,
chestnut, cedar, oak.  I wonder at
the words, now only images,
memories of  a lost inheritance.

Once landmark and shelter,
the empty vertices wait–
listening for the bearers
of seeds to refill
the gaps that echo barren
now, seeking new songs.

trees close up s

For earthweal where Sherry asks us to write love songs to mother earth.

Ancestor (Dance of the Happy Shades)

ancestor comp

He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along
walls

ancestor close up 1s

His dance contains
unpredictable
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark

ancestor close up 2s

Phil Gomm’s Prompt #3 at The Kick About is Dance of the Happy Shades.  My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.

(‘fore) casted

forecast s

attention
wanders, feet moving
by rote, the
mind busy
with itself—unaware of
color sound or sky—

dark spots on
the sidewalk—rain wakes
me from an
already
forgotten reverie–like
Crow calling my name

forecast close up s

A shadorma pair for Colleen’s #tanka Tuesday, poet’s choice of words, inspired by the dVerse word provided by Sarah, rain.

 

The Language of Birds

am robin drawing s

There are robins.  Everywhere.  When I wake, early with the sun, I hear them over the street sounds of Broadway.  When I walk along the path of Riverside Park they stop in front of me, deliberately, waiting to look me in the eye before I’m allowed to continue on my way.  Even as I pass dozens all over the grasses on either side of the path, I hear others singing in the surrounding trees.

My daughter suspects a nest in a nearby window to her apartment—she sends a text with a recording—“day and night,” she says.

painted starling s

As she sits by her window working from home, she tells me she sees starlings on the window ledge across the street—“they leap off and let themselves fall a few feet before opening their wings”—we both wonder if this is normal.

I hear a whistle and turn to look—two starlings take off right in front of me and fly towards the river.  I see a fledgling by the park wall.  The only thing it moves as I approach cautiously is its head—with the bright yellow beak against the grey feathers, it too must be a starling—can it fly?—where are its parents?  I snap a photo and walk on.  When I pass the same spot, returning home, it is gone.

fledgling s

In the mornings the gulls swoop in groups, weaving patterns around the piece of moon that still sits ghostly in the blueing sky.  They cry like cats suspended in mid-air, echoing off the buildings into my window.

mockingbird open wings s

A mockingbird moves just ahead of me as I cross the bridge to the park.  It never stops singing, going through its repertoire while waiting for me to almost catch up as it hurries ahead again.  Another day, I am walking uptown instead of down, and a mockingbird lands on the iron fence just ahead of me.  It too is deliberate in meeting my gaze, making sure I stop, nod my head in greeting.  Further on a catbird does exactly the same thing.  A cardinal swoops down into the grass by a nearby tree, a flash of red that pauses with me before it returns to the top of the tree.  I hear more cardinals, blue jays and flickers. Sparrows chatter and cover the grass and path, the bushes and trees; pigeons share the stone walkway, and once, also, a morning dove.  Sometimes the pigeons visit my window ledge.

house sparrow drawing 1s

And crow.  Crow has been following me around for years.  Now he teases me, calling, in front, behind, from nowhere and everywhere.  Every once in awhile I am the winner in this game of hide and seek, but I know it’s only because he wants me to see him, to acknowledge his appearance as well as his voice.  A murder of crows appears ahead of me on one of my earliest walks, when I was still fearful of going out at all.

crow 2s

I’ve always walked, never having owned a car.  But it was with a purpose, to get from one placed to another.  Now I just walk.  And I have always been aware of birds while walking. But since the lockdown they seem to be multiplying by the day, boldly communicating—something, what?

neocolor cardinal s

Many of the world’s cultures see birds as mediators, messengers between the human and the divine.  I know what crow is telling me.  He knows I need reminding of it, too:  pay attention.  Get out of that inner conversation you keep having with yourself and look around, listen, be where you are.  Robins are symbols everywhere of new beginnings, transformation, tenacity, hope.  Birds show us the power of community, the power of voices, the symbiotic relationship between the earth and all living creatures.

These are the days of Covid-19 in the city of New York.  Humans are hiding; birds are out in force.

seagull 3s

In fairy tales, those who understand the language of birds have magical powers.

days
collapse expand
places of between

between
material spiritual
no time exists

wings
open to
carry us home

corvus s

I’ve been doing Draw-a-Bird Day on the 8th of the month for a few years now at MethodTwoMadness, accumulating most of these illustrations in the process.

For the earthweal challenge Vast Particulars.

the circle game part 2

circle game 2bs

Times Square is empty, like the weather—grey now, the colors drained like the empty subway cars, residing hidden in tenements, written in the isolation of morning coffee.  The Sunday newspaper remains undelivered (again) as even that thread of connection frays into feral cats in dark corners and the shadows of crows haunting the hometown I never knew.

All of this is imaginary, of course—flora and fauna are absent from this enclosed space, except as chimera, impoverished by the boredom of my own company, the same jeans and shirt waiting to be worn like the trackless days.  No Significant Other to keep me in, and an invisible barrier blocking me from leaving.  Outside my window a graffiti of exclamation points greets me each day behind the passing cars and on clear evenings I say “Goodnight Moon”, remembering bedtimes with small bodies close and sleepy and warm.

But the lines have been drawn, and as Joni reminds me, the seasons still go round and round.  We’re always captive on the carousel of time.

tomorrow
blue skies
growing new wings

circle game 2 close up s

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was “to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.”  You can see the questionnaire here.

 

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when hands pause, listening

lemon tree close up s

following
the branchings, my brush
tells stories
of reaching
for sun, gathering roots to
awaken new growth

lemon tree black s

NaPoWriMo day 18 asks for “an ode to life’s small pleasures”.  For me, drawing, whether with pencil or brush, always provides comfort.

I drew here from one of my lemon trees, grown from seeds planted by my daughter long ago, after the cherry pits (inspired by the Vera Williams book) didn’t sprout.  A monoprint, I first drew with paint on wax paper, then pressed grey paper lightly over the image and pulled it off.  It’s always a slightly different reflection of the original lines, a little surprise.

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