path of souls

I just learned last night of the death in November of Sharon Mann, a wonderful artist and bright spirit, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019.

You can find her magical art and words here.

black dreams beat away sleep
with raw beauty beyond recall

what language uses shadows

to whisper why to ask
the moonlight to show who

sings the lost wind soaring
through the still blue time
of aftering

Oasis

It’s a robin, I think, as the melody enters my consciousness through the window.  But then it morphs into a litany of birds from cardinal to crow.  There may even have been a frog thrown in for good measure.

I can’t locate the bird to see who is gifting me with its repertoire of local wildlife sounds.  It could be a starling—I once lived in an apartment where the local starlings would sit on the roof railing next door every morning and tell me all they knew.  But there are also plenty of both mockingbirds and catbirds hanging around.

city fades
a sanctuary
feathered skies

A meditation on sanctuary for earthweal. Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by MsJadeLi.

Roig (Red)

Red is an imaginary carpet
dancing with desire,
lettering the days
with roses and birdwings.
Red is the sky
that turns the morning
into an omen, the night
into a full moon–
catching dreams
like a wayfaring balloon
painting the town with stars.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. Roig means red in Catalan.

neocolor cardinal s

snow goose

parallel rhythms
fan into a V—to lead
and then to follow

opening I ride currents
weaving feathers with the wind

For Frank Tassone’s #haikai challenge goose. I chose to paint snow geese. It’s not draw a bird day, but any day is appropriate for birds.

It’s been a challenge for me to get any work done that I like, both with writing and art. I decided to do some ink and brush painting for the goose. This is an unforgiving medium, but one I enjoy, and the focus required was good for me. I spent an enjoyable hour painting, ending up as always with a pile of discards, but with a few worth posting.

I am continually reminded of my drawing teacher who told us that of every 100 drawings we did, only one would be worth saving–so draw, draw, draw.

thought for the day

postcard 15s

wish for bird gardens
your mind will grow feathers
float through air surprised

Another one of my postcard collaborations with the collage box Oracle.  This one was done on a postcard  of Monet’s “Peace Under the Lilac Bush”

I’ve been reading a book about Monet’s water lilies.  He didn’t start those monumental paintings until he was in his 70s, and worked on them throughout the years of World War I, refusing to evacuate from his beloved home and gardens at Giverny.  I haven’t quite reached that age yet, so I guess there’s still time for a creative endeavor or two for me as well.

linked to dVerse OLN, hosted by Bjorn

 

not crows,

not crows s

she said, but
count them, count them and
remember
what has not
yet been dreamed—what follows each
silhouette–

a breath that
removes what is not
required, keeps
what fills need
and refills it whenever
it becomes empty—

spellcast in
air, each wing gathers
force, compressed
like secrets–
talismans numbered and tossed
waiting for the wind

For Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above, and also posted to earthweal open link weekend.

not crows close up 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.

precipice

precipice s

pretend to be a bird winging
into the breeze, an echo from
everywhere, the world just begun–
pretend to be the dawn singing

disappearing the mist—bringing
clarity, light—pretend to be
swimming the rhythm of the sea–
be moon tides chanting on the air
the stillness of the stone, aware
that life remains—a mystery

I promised Jane Dougherty I would try the decima form, and here’s my first attempt, for Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above.

precipice close up 1s

When I read Merril Smith’s Monday Morning Musings, yesterday, I was struck by the parallels between her words and mine.  When life is too heavy, we look to the sky.

precipice close up 2s

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.