and what if you grew roots, awakened spirit, became treebound– your blood flowing glorious amidst sapwood– your body suddenly magnificent, unhewn— your arms branching toward the sun, Familiar to birds, ancient, floating on the breath of wings– your heartwood trembling, weightless, awash in light?
A quadrille for dVerse, where De has given us the word wing, and for earthweal, where Sherry has asked us to speak for the trees. I’ve also used Jane’s Oracle 2 words as inspiration.
Goddess was the first word that the Oracle gave me this morning. The collage above is a very old one I named “sha/wo/man”–it’s a stitched collage. I did a few of them about 10 years ago. I don’t know where the original is, but I recently found a photo of it in my files.
I found Ishtar in my files also–a message from the Collage Box Oracle in 2019 with a very similar theme.
I am listening for the language of the goddess– dishonored and swept away by linear time
nightwings remember when our motherworld was a sacred song, a home for voices belonging to the spirits of stars
my mind ebbs, then flows out like an ocean sailing the wind– empty channels drift away from the center to the edge– multitudes of changing colour, condensed motion, thoughts full
I was going to write a sestina with Jane’s Oracle 2 words and I picked out six that called to me: ocean, colour, wind, edge, motion, full. But after writing the first stanza, it seemed too daunting, so I revised it into a sijo instead.
When looking in the archives for art, I immediately picked out the first painted mandala, but when I saw the collage I knew I had to include it too. It’s based on a painting by Nina’s father that she posted; you can read about it here. Nina has written several times about her father’s service in WWII and this is in honor of all our fathers and mothers and friends and relatives who fought and fight in the world’s continuous wars on this Veteran’s Day 2022. May we wake up and bring the need for them to an end.
1 It’s crisp but not yet glove weather. Elongated shadows fall from the autumn sun. Above the sky is so blue it looks unreal.
2 People are seated along the path, faces turned up toward the sun. Construction workers eat their lunches together in Spanish. Empty benches line the shaded side of the street.
3 Girls in short plaid school uniforms drift in bunches. A couple walks slowly, holding hands. A nanny sings softly to the child in her carriage.
4 Dogs wait patiently as their owners chat. Squirrels chase each other, rustling leaves and bouncing branches. Birds call in many languages; I only see sparrows and starlings.
5 The remains of the Marathon are piled up along Fifth Avenue. Vestiges of Halloween decorations still linger on buildings. Pine cones and needles mingle with oak leaves on the ground.
Brendan at earthweal discussed this week the intimacy of our landscapes. He suggested “a walk on the wild side”. This is not exactly a wild walk, but it’s my landscape, where I often go both to get from Point A to Point B here in the city, and to get outside of myself.
2 come dance with life flying on foolish beginnings
3 the vast healing rhythm of green opens slowly into always
4 stars surround the idea of time sailing the voices of trees
5 if we listen to nothing we can hear the universe sing
My message(s) today from the Oracle.
When I was looking for art, I stumbled on the dot collages I did for NaPoWriMo 2017. I did not do the entire month, but I did create new art for each post–the only year I’ve done that. Lately I’ve been creating a lot of the month’s art ahead of time, inspired by one or more artists’ work–Joan Mitchell, Matisse, Diebenkorn, Redon. But this might be worth trying again. I can never recreate things I’ve done in the past, so it would be interesting to see how I would approach the project now.
listing waves of change– immense confused unwell– a bitter solitude– fretful shapeless still
wilderness estranged– damaged undazzled quelled reversed and left unmoored– a landscape murdered killed
misunderstood deranged hypnotic words cast spells– a whispered mania– the mind unravels, spills
connection broken frayed– once Paradise, now Hell
Bjorn at dVerse gave us the challenge of writing a bref double poem. I had a lot of trouble with the rhythm of this form, a dissatisfaction that I could only resolve by making the b and c rhymes similar.
I He wanted mountains as his final resting place: climb and let me fly.
II We climbed, ten, The landscape open, no trees, just empty and wide.
III The black ashes fell up to the ground. The sun remained in the sky.
IV A camera captured pieces. All around earth rocks family air.
V Our conflicts dissolving into suspended time, breathing memories, the connections blinding, the future past.
VI The shadow of inheritance. The pull of familiarity. Love crossed with contradiction, no answers, lost words, absences uncertain and unknown.
VII O voice of silences what would you say to us now? Do you not seek the many questions embedded in the reparations we expect to find?
VIII I know only murmurs and the rhythm of searching. But I know too that death is involved in what I know.
IX When we came down from the mountain our bodies flew, scattered to many destinations.
X At the sound of each day and each day returning we noted the discordant measure of hours and years.
XI He did not ask for more time. He did not seek miracles or complain of cruelty. He knew that all stories have an end.
XII Her mind departed long before her heart failed.
XIII We went back up the mountain. It was different and the same and the earth the sky accepted anew our darkest gift.
Joy has asked us this week at earthweal to talk about the first poems that helped you to find your own inner eye and voice, and write about it. I’m sure there were poems and poets that influenced me before Wallace Stevens, but none has been as central to me as his “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. I’ve posted at least 4 variations of it, including one for earthweal.
But the poem above is the one that still cuts closest. The photos are cropped versions of panoramas composed by my older daughter from photos she took in the mountains of Arizona where my father requested that we spread his ashes. My mother did not make any request except to be cremated, but we managed to find the very same place to spread her ashes years later after her death. As I wrote in my original post: I’ve been thinking about my parents. My generation is becoming the elders now. I do not think we are prepared for it.
I think perhaps I will choose to be someone else I must accommodate myself, defer to my mask
while the other me struggles to understand what we both have in common
am I who they think I am?
or am I a secret that will never be explained?
These drawings of ventriloquist dummies in the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky were inspired by a book of photos of the dummies taken by Matthew Rolston. The Kick-About prompt of a circus immediately brought them to mind.
Haunting and aware, I had always wanted to try to capture some of the sentience of the photos in a drawing. And so I did, randomly opening the book to 4 different faces.
One of the essays in the book says they are meant “to suggest life”—but any supposedly “inanimate” object so entwined with a human life is alive. Any child can tell you that. They may have been separated from their humans, but these faces remember them.
You can read more about the Vent Haven Museum here, and read more about Rolston’s book here.