Marinating

I am aged, but still raw, uncooked, unfinished.  I steep myself in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, preparing for winter.  But still I fail to render more than a rough uncertain embodiment of what will satiate my continued thirst.  For what?  With what mural of flavor do I wish to paint the days, the seasons, the years?

I never expected to find the perfect recipe—only to be somewhat clarified.  Not cured, but blended into the essences of a Tuscan sunset, infused with the richness of the bouquet of approaching night.

waiting for the moon–
new, it opens the cosmos–
full, it whispers “time”

A haibun for Merril’s dVerse prompt of spices. The grids are from a 100-day project I did in 2015 combining colors and grids. In my final post for the project, I included some quotes from poet Sara C. Harwell. This one seems eerily prescient of what I wrote today.

It looks like a painting by someone I can’t remember.  How have I reached the point, is it age?
When the sky resembles a painting more than the sky?

–Sarah C. Harwell, “Cloud Cover”

Bearings

What exactly do we mean when we say the heart is heavy?  Is it our jumbled emotions that are enlarged into enormity, too complicated to lift, to bear?  How do we understand the shape, the density, of sorrow?

And what about the light heart?  How do we measure the change?–a heart that is nearly full enough to overflow—what space does it occupy, what is its texture?

It’s the heavy heart that is hollow.  Brimming with emptiness.  Weighed down by absence.  The light heart grows gardens, wings.

the heart cleaves, wanders,
signifies inverse desires–
spring arrives, snowbound

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of Kick-About artwork that I haven’t given a proper post to. This heart drawing was my response to the drumming of Sandy Nelson. I also wanted to use Jane’s Oracle 2 words for the week, and the combination resulted in the accompanying haibun.

The drumming of Sandy Nelson reminded me of heartbeats which can careen wildly under different circumstances.  When I looked online for images of hearts, I was attracted to the somewhat psychedelic MRI images.  I wanted to work large, but even with 18 x 24 paper, I was unable to do justice to all the different elements of the heart.  I made no layout, but just started drawing in the upper center with my colored pencils, a small section each day.  So both the line quality and the proportions changed as I went on.  Whole sections were expanded, compressed, and left out.  Just like the trajectory of the drumming in my mind.

And just like our perceptions as filtered through our hearts.

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.

The River Knows Your Name (reprise)

The river has songs to fill every season.  I turn with the circles, swimming the wind that chases the water, bending around the curves, following the changes in tempo and depth, bound to the ripples that radiate from every slight disturbance of the surface.  Looking for the most efficient path.

I construct imaginary boats and then dismantle them, leaving the remains dashed and forgotten on the farthest shores.  The river continues, reflecting the sky’s transformations, a window opening into the changing light.

Stilled, I try to capture the current as it passes by, to fill my pockets with the riddles it holds inside its voice, all the wisdom gathered from its ancient repeated journeys.  I want to be cleansed of all the outside forces that try to bind me, to find again the center hidden somewhere inside that keeps escaping my grasp.  But I am too far, too long, too hindered by my own noise.  I have lost the lines and the point of the contents of my brain.

Let it go the river sings.

Not anything.  But.
And this too.  What seems.
To be.  There.  You are.

Brendan’s challenge prompt of rivers at earthweal brought to mind another recent post, consecration, that featured John Haitt’s title song as it’s coda. It, too, included the weekly words from Jane’s Oracle 2 generator.

And of course I can never have too much of John Haitt’s song.

Darkness Darkness

The Fashion Institute of Technology had only one dorm, reserved for out-of-town students, so I felt lucky to have been granted a room, even if I knew it was only for the first year of my two-year program.  My roommate had sisters in the city, but had grown up upstate, in a Catholic group home, really an orphanage with all its attendant horrors.  Nothing has changed about that since the time of Dickens.

Her mother died when she was very young.  A family friend wanted to adopt her, but the Catholic Church refused to separated her from her two older sisters—the friend could not manage three more children.  Her sisters married as soon as they aged out of the system, and now lived again in the city where they had been born.  My roommate was a talented artist, and her high school art teacher encouraged her to prepare a portfolio and apply to FIT.  She wanted to be a textile designer.

Her father had abandoned the family when her mother became pregnant with a fourth child.  Unable to imagine being able to support three children, let alone four, on her own, the mother sought an abortion.  It killed her.

Her daughters had no choice but to accept the fact that both parents were permanently lost to them.  But there was a simmering anger in my roommate, a wound of loss and grief, that remained. 

I lost touch with her—we both moved around a lot after getting our associate degrees, and the internet was not even a blip on our consciousness in 1973—but I thought of her again when the decision overturning Roe v Wade was leaked to the press.

Now, as then in the 1950s, our government blames the poor for their poverty, penalizing most of all the living mothers and their living children, abandoned by fathers, or forced to flee abusive husbands and partners, condemning them to hunger and homelessness as a punishment for not being born lucky, for not having friends and family who have enough wealth and stability to pick up the pieces when they need a helping hand.

another grey sky–
spring comes late this year—crow calls
inside the graveyard

For dVerse, where Lisa asks us to consider the topic of grief.

How can we learn to sing when we have no voice?

The shifting mirrors contain contradictory and ethereal messages, as if hidden in the center of a missing source of light.  Where are the currents located?  The rays seems to come from an absolute stillness embedded in the fraying edges of circles that no longer move.

Once we were seekers, following the contours of the channels that held rivers and oceans, sailing the shorelines, harvesting in abundance the rewards of departure followed by return.

Now we have only illusions sinking into the periphery of fading dreams, scattered like the ancient remnants of empyrean spirals, the movements of mythical stars, the mysteries of a consciousness that once made its home inside a biological form.

bare silence–
human remains lost,
fossilized

Off prompt for NaPoWriMo Day 29. I wanted to do something for this Redon collage.

The world remains heavy.

Yea, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
–Mary Gauthier

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Grace.

Haibun for a Reluctant Spring

The day is grey and I am swept along its ways.  Dense, impenetrable, uncertain.

And yet here is the sparrow tree.  It sings out in tangled branches of song, in a chaotic chorus with no melody but infinite cheer.

The path continues with a chill bleakness.  Robins and starlings bathe in puddles of mud.  A sudden startle of dog and wings open, rise.

The wind is relentless.  I regret dressing as if it were spring, as if winter had actually said its final farewell and relinquished its place on the wheel.  My hands dig deeper into my pockets.

Despite the lack of sun, grackles sparkle in the grass.  They watch me—curious?  wary?  amused?—as I stop to take them in.

I have a destination so I turn and travel east.  Blue jays echo my movements in a stop-and-start carousel of cries.  The moist air clings to my face.

emptying my thoughts
to make leeway for feathers–
invisible, light

Frank at dVerse asked for a haibun including the birdsongs of spring. A perfect time to bring out the birdlings.

Also linking to earthweal, where Brendan asks us to consider what serves as a commons for where we live. I would argue that every street in NYC is a commons, but the parks, especially, serve as a place where human and non-human intersect. My haibun is based on several recent walks through Central Park. Birds are everywhere (even in winter). But of course more of them and louder in spring.

Gone Straight

The day feels as limber as a body carved in stone, and yet time remains elastic.  A Möbius strip to which I cling, never certain if I’m inside or outside or whether, in fact, I’m located anywhere upon the twist of fate at all. 

Dylan sang it simple, but simplicity in his mind means traveling on a roller coaster through an arcade of hallucinatory smoke and funhouse mirrors blindfolded and bound by myriad inexpressible desires.  “A little confused”? That statement is not only under, but buried so deep beneath layers of denial that the concept of clarity no longer exists.

We are all born too late, really, searching over and over for the lost eternal beginning, the still center, not the unmappable edge we cleave to, against all reason, with the desperation of an addict looking for a permanent fix.

So which way does this finite world turn?  Does the Universe have its own compass, or is it, too, like humanity, lost in space?

plus, minus—neither
more nor less than tomorrow,
yesterday, today

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a poem in which you describe something with a hard-boiled simile. I’ve also used Muri’s Scavenger Hunt words, limber and elastic.

Come In (she said)

What do we remember of the womb, the world of mother-child, when we were one?  Do we remember gentle waves,  rocking on a seabed of safety, embraced by its self-contained shores?  Do our cells forever feel the pull of oceans?—longing to find once more the lost liminal—floating free, water and earth overlapping in an intertidal dance?

Is shelter the same as home?

If we carry our belonging on our back like snails.  If we build temporary abodes like caterpillars, waiting for transformation, a future entirely reconfigured, a momentary ephemeral flight.

Is there an either/or, or is it always both/and?  The leaving, the long road back, the journey the same but different, a vast and endless circle, each step verged, again and again.

I stand impermanently on a threshold of sand, looking for solidity, a resting place.  Where is the first mother, starborne, moonshadowed?  What existed before the beginning, the original dreaming?

mystery
of return—how to
meet yourself

Sometimes I feel like I keep recomposing the same poem over and over. This meditation on shelter, for earthweal, is just the most current version of my repetitive state of mind.

The Distance Traveled

If I had been asked how many minutes I had been there, I could not have said.  Time did not belong to this space;  I could not measure it.

As a child I saw no contradiction in some afternoons expanding joyfully, while others stifled, impossible to escape.  Growing up meant constructing arbitrary boxes to make things fit into the space we were allowed to have.

Ask the butterfly
how it transforms the air.  Ask
the bird how its wings

capture light.  Ask the bees
about the ancient magic

of their dance.  Ask the
trees how it is that roots and
branches contain all

the maps needed to complete
the circle, sustain, abide.

Some days pass by and disappear as if they had never been.  Some days live forever.  Those are the days I seek.

For earthweal, where Sherry has asked about our wild heart.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by MsJadeLi.