shivering the mirror

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.

Central Park Walk November 2022

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.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Sanaa.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Living  

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.

encircled by orbiting

in this recurring dream
the forest disappears–
unbound by earthly time,
collapsed into spiraling

the forest disappears
behind layers of eternity,
collapsed into spiraling–
who can disentangle the dark?

behind layers of eternity,
casting threads into moonrings–
who can disentangle the dark?–
the shadows seem insufficient–

casting threads into moonrings
to catch the reflection of owl–
the shadows seem insufficient
for gathering the ancestors–

to catch the reflection of owl,
take your fears and hide them–
gather the ancestors
in the bottomless wildness of light–

take your fears and hide them–
unbounded by earthly time–
in the bottomless wildness that lights
this recurring dream

For earthweal, where Brendan asks us to visit the forest of light and shadow. I am certain one will always find an owl there.

lineage

as if always
echoes out of nowhere–
like raven shimmered,
gathered into silence,

echoed out of nowhere
on the water’s edge–
gathered into silence
like the beginning of time—

on the water’s edge,
iridescent, unfathomable–
like the beginning of time,
balanced on the horizon,

iridescent, unfathomable–
like wings thundering–
balanced on the horizon,
a whisper

like wings thundering
inside dreams–
a whisper
that begins as brume

inside dreams–
the way the sky
begins as brume,
opens and frees itself—

the way the sky
within and without
opens and frees itself,
shining

within and without–
tiny stars of stillness
shining
through light,

tiny stars of stillness–
like raven shimmered
through light–
as if always

Lindi at earthweal this week says: Write yourself into your landscape, what shapes you there and what is shaped by you? Name the gods of your rivers and skies, tell us how you live by and through them and how they live through you — let the world know they are holy! Birds always write me into wherever I am, and Crow seems to always find me. Are they gods? many ancient cultures believe so. They are certainly holy.

This pantoum was written for The Ekphrastic Review challenge which was the totem pole carved by Canadian artist Ellen Neel, below. Raven is the bottommost figure on the pole. My thanks, once again, to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for featuring my work. You can read all the responses here.

damaged

impossibly strewn,
all authority breaks down–
the fierce mother speaks

impossibly strewn,
feral rain roars, abstracted–
wind swims through the streets

authority breaks down,
chokes on forgotten questions–
threads turn into knots

the fierce mother speaks–
wild voices rise, converging–
elemental fire

The phrase that jumped out at me when I looked at Jane’s Oracle 2 words this week was “the fierce mother speaks”. I’ve been ruminating on it all week and finally came up with a poem yesterday. I spent a long time fooling around on the computer with the above image, which took a scan of an asemic drawing I made and added some Photoshopped images. The collage is from the archives.

Also linking to Sherry’s earthweal challenge, wild souls. Whose soul is wilder than that of Mother Nature?

incorporeal

to be an observer
is more than a mere o
pening of the eyes–
you must vanish from the sight
of what you see, become
an immersion, a current
consumed by the between,
inside its invisible
core of light

Brendan at earthweal gave us some photos to work with for our poems this week. I chose the photo above, although the other ones are still on my mind.

embryonic

she constructed herself out of symbols–
wings of air, pearls of fire and water,
darkness flowing through light on
foliage ships sailing empyrean tides—

wings of air, pearls of fire and water,
cast like a talisman amid waves of
foliage ships sailing empyrean tides–
stars swimming through sea and sky

cast like a talisman amid waves of
vast infinite whispers—blooming, listening to
stars swimming through sea and sky–
shapeshifting in cosmic reflection

of vast infinite whispers—blooming, listening to
the chimeric form of quintessence
shapeshifting in cosmic reflection–
the wheel turns through moons, dancing,

a chimeric form of quintessence,
crossing the rainbow bridge of between–
the wheel turns through moons, dancing–
female, fertile, fiercely bathed in blood—

crossing the rainbow bridge of between,
like darkness flowing through light–
female, fertile, fiercely bathed in blood–
she constructed herself out of symbols

Another pantoum, for earthweal where Brendan asks us to consider how we can fit well into the land–how do history and mystery intersect?

The Melting of Time

Snowfall.  Night.
The shore is distant.
I dream of
flying—but
I remain enclosed within
ice blue, glittering.

North seems far–
where I am has no
direction.
The landscape
retreats until almost all
is trapped within dreams.

Barren seas
echo with silence.
The world cracks.
Wind weeps in
side chasms of solitude–
the melting of time.

Sherry’s heartbreaking photo, above, that accompanied her prompt at earthweal to talk about the connections between life and the melting ice of the arctic, inspired the dreamscape of my shadorma chain, written also for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, where Jules selected shadorma as this month’s form.

Crow on the Cradle

They had collapsed into an empty cave of nowness, replacing a past of empyrean wonder with the unceasing presence of burning flesh, condemning the contagious and aliferous joy of birds to smoke-filled air hanging heavy over stone landscapes that had lost all green.  What they called life, the promise of continuity, was at an impasse.

They had forgotten to build an ark.

They had forgotten to build an ark, and so they were left standing between a raging wall of flame and an infestation of endlessly rising waters.  A fierce susurrus rose from the spirits of the ancestors–an oddly wordless murmur riding on the howling wind, carrying the silent but distinct rattle of bones.

what happens when where
we were going is gone?–crows
seize the winter sky

For earthweal, where Brendan asked us to fill your poem’s sails with a blast of something akin to the hurl of atmospheric plumes, and dVerse, where Mish has given us a list of uncommon words to incorporate in our poem. I’ve also taken inspiration from Jane’s Oracle 2 wordlist.