It is the official release day! I’m honored and grateful that my friend, Candice Louisa Daquin, “gently” nudged me to do this. Additionally, I am indebted to Candice for believing in me and for her diligent work in editing. Thank you, Candice. You are one of the most giving people I know. I want to thank Tara Caribou of Raw Earth Ink who has been patient with this novice at every step in the publishing process.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to Susi Bocks,
Ivor Steven, and M. Brazfield who were willing to provide advance reviews on short notice. Thank you so much.
This is an older poem that I’ve dusted off and changed around a little. The end is entirely new but in keeping with the hike in Colorado that inspired it. I was so struck by seeing the one tree leaning upon the other I did not think to whip out my phone to take a picture of the sight. In that moment of observation of the trees, it seemed a violation to do so.
In the woods two trees stand, equally rooted, firmly in the ground. Yet, as if deciding it a curse of solitude to try and touch a Sky who never reached back, one turned to touch the other, leaning its trunk against its forest mate’s. And so, I found them, standing as lovers, one resting upon the other, limbs entwined in embrace. I lowered my head out of respect mingled with a bit of embarrassment at glimpsing their beautiful intimacy. I turned, walked down the trail, crunching dried leaves beneath the fall of my heavy boots as I continued on among the trees in silence and solitude.
As a child, I survived the explosion of dreams that left hot greasy remnants dripping down the four-inch squares of avocado green ceramic tiles, marring their mirror like shine. As a grown woman, I survived the eruption of dreams that poured down an encasement of hot ash over all of life’s plans in the moment of diagnosis, leaving monumental statues of grief. Thus, I chose to live where silence drones, a rumble in the ears. Nothing left-- a hole, a void made by echoes of desires held long ago. So, I have taken a corn broom to dance with me in time to music only I can hear to sweep away the dust, the cobwebs, the fuss of other’s opinions and ideas of me, my doings, my words. Yes, from my words, I shake loose all the years of dust, the years of ash, the years of grease. All words, oh, so many words I never loosed upon the air to float free upon the winds, tumbling away, up, around, then returning once more to spring up as wildflowers when things turn to green. I begin to loose them now, freed to scatter where they will, root, spring up where they find a place to rest.
It is the time of grey skies and dead brown grass along the roadsides. The time when the trees are seen shivering, their limbs quivering in their nakedness. When even many of the evergreens drip down brown, bloodied from the lethal knife wounds of a sharpened frenzied freeze as they sag into their deaths. Yes, it is that time of year when I yearn for the green of spring, for limbs to wrap myself within, for a renewal of promises I once longed to make. The time of year when I empty forty years of myself.
clay slapped on the wheel shaped from spinning motion with the control of hands form, substance given before the heat of the kiln then give years of care secured from breaking ends in sharp edged shards broken: mosaic in form
In the early morning hours of January 3rd, 2015 my wife, Karen passed away from ovarian cancer. On this day, the eighth anniversary of her passing, I decided to repost this poem. While no relationship may be perfect, I’ve come to realize perfection is found in the things people share. Karen and I shared our love of dogs, so of course, in a dream, I met her as I walked the dogs, and one day I’ll meet her again, but when that happens, she’ll be the one walking all the dogs.
I thought to find you on the path between the heather patches. You were not there. I thought to find you along the roads from here to other places I traveled, but there were no traces. I thought to find you along the routes where I walked the dogs. Of course, there you were, ready to laugh and say they loved you best-- as you always did. Taking treats from your pocket, you fed and petted them. Looking up at me, you said I had more grey than last you saw, but it didn’t look bad. Your idea of a compliment, I know. I killed the weeds of anger over things like that. Now I must learn to trim back the hedges of grief. Get electric hedge trimmers, you laughingly said. Then whispered I should learn from the dogs and you’d meet me along the path between the heather one day. And that was all. You were gone.
As if you erupted from an eternal spring, an immortal thing, I gave you away when last I prayed here at Chimayo. When kneeling I scooped the healing dirt as I spoke silent prayers of thanks for my heart bravely facing shocks of resuscitation after years spent barely beating in stuttering grief. Upon return today, I kneel to scoop the healing dirt, asking in silent prayer a blessing of forgiveness for giving you away too easily— thus, killing you, bleeding you of all hope, beyond resurrection, beyond resuscitation. In the dirt of Chimayo, this healing earth, from this place of faith, sifted through my hands, I bury you, a mortal thing, I gave away too easily to an undeserving faith, in this dirt of Chimayo.
Image courtesy of Patch.com
The body of this day scribed
in the giving of joy,
sacramental life found
in a bowl full of jelly
shaken by the deep belly laugh
of a white bearded fat man,
remember the truth meant
to be kept in the day,
so, turn in mind
to those who cannot share
in the giving abundance–
thus, are paid in the blessings
of holy lip service, the emptied garbage
to fill the landscape with
glittering wrappings of the day’s
leavings to leave a day
of a soulful mask searching for a soul
it lost long ago
in eternal hungering for fulfillment
never filled with ever more consumed.
Your lies hang,
in the summer air
from the tree
of your despair.
You pick the ripest apricots
to make jam
you ladle into small jars,
gifting them to friends
who smile softly,
touched you think of them
by gifting your small jars of jam
made from the apricots
you pick from the tree
of all your despair
There is no understanding
how winter comes
for it comes in too many ways
at too many times
often when it shouldn’t
starting at the edges
creeping to the core
snatching away all the covers
driving out the flames
like a gentle, timid lover
will winter drift into days
as autumn delicately falls
little dip by little dip into winter’s icy arms
then a frozen world is made.
At times winter rides
with sword drawn
after life has begun
to wreck havoc on all things
green and growing,
make still all hearts feeling the flow of life begin,
at those times, winter rides
until sweated out
in the course of time.
Yet winter may freeze us solid
in the midsts of summer’s heatwaves
as we stand over gaping mouths of graves.
While some breathing in the hope of spring
as others live in winter’s black ice
suffering the bite of hunger and need
winter’s winter grows larger still
beyond Arctic, beyond talk of tundra,
or talk of some kind of permafrost—
but something too many know.
we will not end in fire
nor will we end in ice
in the end,
it will be the lukewarm breeze
the one to do us in.