Life 101

Life 101

i.

see her there
that wide open tree out my window
the one with gray arm branches, no leaves, and peeling bark?
holding divine moss in perfectly twisted hands?
the one that all the flickers love?

I am breaking, she says,
just breaking.

ii.

Here in this valley between home and field
among healthy trees and young green shrubs
small ponds at our feet
ivy and blackberries
winding up and up and up and still
some of the worried
younger trees and humans
are turning blue with fright again

breathe

breathe!

You are breaking, my friend,
just breaking.

iii.

How long have I been here?
you wonder, looking
so dead to some
so teaming with life and generosity to others?

Maybe 300 years.

Lately I’ve been creating warm rotted wood
teaming with ants, bugs
bird nests, diamonds, dripping
mosses, catching dewy golden drops
spying into windows
dancing on roof tops

For 50 years while you flew around here in terror
I’ve been standing right here
fearless
patient
offering everything you need
just
waiting for you to look up

iv.

Let me be her!
let my sap harden into a million rent-free ant condos
let birds and hives find my joints the perfect place for nests
let chickadees hide seeds in my bark to re-find
when winter’s ice claims all our ground
let billions find life in the soil, where my branches fall
let me rejoice in being fully here, fully home as home to all and dead to some

We are breathing, break
breathe
and just break.

v.

May that be me!
content and confident
teaming with life
talking to busy humans more than 50 years after my death!

May I also always be breaking,
never broken,
witnessing
tears and laughter
birds and trees
seeing to that very that.

Ridiculously proud of the pussy-pink hat
—a sort of low-tech asshole detection device—
a kind woman knit for me and placed, very gently
onto my bare head.

What a gift she is.
What a gift you are.

Let’s re-gift the pink hat to the crows in the yard
Ooo! Or maybe to the women in town running the thrift store!
They’ll know who most needs it next.

Thank you,
tree, birds, women, hat
for 46 years of remarkably patient and perfect lessons

vi.

Life 101:
How to Breathe and How to Break
How to Shelter, Even In Death
How to Live Strong and Laughing and Untamed
Together In Unshaken Wonder

The Invitation

The Invitation

I love it when
the wind strolls in
and my meadow friends
dance and bow.

Love it when
waves rush to crash across
my ocean
where
the wide beach smiles up
where the eagles rest silent on the wind above
etch greetings sky to horizon down to me
all the way home: carried and strong.

I love it when
ears find old playground laughter between
the creaks
of empty swing sways
find playground teasing within
little sister crow’s nagging cries
following big sister eagle
back and forth
back and forth
boat house to nest
nest to boat house
boat house to nest.
Ah, little sisters.

Love it when
eyes cherish the faded flap-flapping flag
forgotten by neighbors rushing back to the city.
Cherish wind: an absent spacious presence
Cherish sand: a shattered toe-hugging
perfect imperfection.
Cherish the polished-cream beauty of driftwood.

Here books, stones, deer, and gentle evening light
invite themselves to play:
sated, triumphant, wildly creative
complete within themselves and completely inappropriate.
All silent and awkward at just the right moments.

Humans arriving here
are few
and far between.
We arrive like children
gleefully joining the chorus
certain our tiny voice is heard
among books, stones, deer, dancing warm light
heard within silence.

Or, we arrive here like grownups: certain of nothing at all.

Either way, those invited here
come to play
pulled by the sea
or some other place
where they grow quiet enough to hear the invitation.

I love that we hear the call
so everywhere, so often now

More than anything else in this world
I love dropping every last big plan I had

just to respond, in kind
to the invitation

When Will I Trust Myself?

When Will I Trust Myself?

Every time.
Every single time
I doubt my intuition
compromise what I need
shove aside my body’s warnings
bow before convention
elevate kindness too far above truth
allow another’s needs, or society’s, to entirely drown my own

the world goes sideways, fast
I become angry
exhausted
resentful
hurt
sick.
I become the destroyer.

Behold the power of the goddess.

When will I fully trust myself?
Trust others enough to handle me as me?
Listen to my body?
Listen to her wisdom?
To myself? Here at this window.

Surely now at middle age
I should have learned by now
by now at least
that I am trustworthy and strong
by now
that my intuition speaks only truth
by now
that it’s my fear that sometimes lies
and lands me here again. Again.

Surely I should know
by now
that
you, too, can handle my truth
my messy self, my needs, especially those that appear crazy at first
those that appear to contradict yours. How silly we seem now
the people who let fear lead us.

Crazy contradictions are precursors to all life-bringing creation.
Mud to a lotus.
I rest today, at peace, here within storm’s gentle eye
covered in the mud I made myself, grinning ear to ear.
No tom boy.
No victim.
Creator.

I apparently needed just one more example.
Laying sick again, in bed, on this beautiful and perfect August weekend day
while others brunch, slightly worried about she who takes cover at home.
Don’t worry about me. I can brunch another day.
I am content here, now, learning the lessons I insist on teaching myself until I get it.

I am stubborn. Thank god.

We become idiots when we don’t trust ourselves. Destroyers of selves and of worlds.
I was an idiot. Again.
Hello again
humility and gratitude
my oldest, dearest friends.
 

And well played, self.
Well played.
Too much humility is annoying as shit.

 

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Poetry isn’t what I was taught in middle school:
rules and stilted contained lines written by long-dead rich old white dudes?
Bleh.

(I am not my friend Knox who makes old white guys so sexy.)

Poetry is living your artist statement.

Whether that means
saying yes to the camera
paint brush and chalk
wood and stone and paper
canvas, soil, and fiber
mentoring, teaching, parenting
the movement of your body
the call of the stage

or those Goddamn lovely words
back again
stealing berries off your fruit-laden trees
like birds and naughty fairies.

My sister
paints in children
between softly tender moments
the bright fire of unrelenting toddler chaos
slowing down for illness
and her calling education.

Another emerging master here grows poems in the garden
free verse in rising bread
you feel iambic pentameter
touching the hand-laid brick walkways in her yard: the scales of her skin
strong witness to the painful emergence
of open, wounded, pure bad ass presence. Leaves me speechless.
Nobody told them they are dragons.
Who on earth possibly even could?
Language isn’t wild and wide and beautiful enough yet.

Mom dances in laughing kindness deep at the heart of loss.
Dad co-creates in matching laughter and detailed, precise care.
Eva dabbles in the frisbee. Joe in body puddles.
Each of Daniel’s photographs gives birth to new photographers.

So, yeah, Poetry–poetry–for me is just what life is:
food, fun, and beauty
air and water
presence, fire, and deep fucking sorrow
without purpose

and

remembering my precious self before and after Shoulds
to find my right+full place at last, here among the words

Turning the Wheel

Turning the Wheel

for Lynne

 

1.

There
is a voice that says
“You don’t belong here.”

that says
“Your voice is not welcome here.”

that says
“This is my home. Not yours. Get out.”

2.

Here
is another voice
that calls
“Bullshit” on the first voice

that urges “Fight”
urges “Protest”

demanding to be heard
and always
“Speak truth to power.”

and often
“Love wins.”

3.

Why
is yet another voice
saying
“Fuck all this human crap.”

and
“I really just want a hug and
to lay down in the soft grass.”

also,
“I need a nap.”

4.

Why not?
Why not
allow sweet release
lay down in the grass
take that nap
whenever she offers herself to you?

5.

Now
is presence
within which all the voices breathe
and move and heal
and move and heal and breathe
even more deeply

6.

That I am,
at moments,
all the voices
is uncertain.

That I am
presence, on the other hand—
Wow,
one infinite now,
within which everything
breathes and moves and heals—
is, when I notice it,
both strange and certain.

7.

When I am uncertain,
usually curiosity
is the best response.
That, or answering
my own “Why nots?”
with fun or awkwardness
or blessed weirdness.

When I am certain,
all response, period,
is a kindness.

1.

Unless
I’m fighting for this one, small, immediate and precious life.
Then, by all means
shut the door
kick the asshole out.

2.

regroup
heal
move
breathe more deeply
maybe listen again to Audre Lorde
hear her say again,
“Poetry is not a luxury.”

so maybe next time
you’ll feel strong enough
to invite him in
be so present
that he, too, can breathe, heal.
He is my neighbor, after all.

3.

The devil is just a myth.
I am not

4.

but I forget that.
So here I am again
following my footsteps
raising my hands up, and
turning the wheel.

In Saying Goodbye

In Saying Goodbye

I found a perfect dead bird
on the deck, outside the window
victim of violence
a deceptive white light through too-big windows

his perfectly groomed feathers
grew darker as they moved
from his pale yellow-gray head to his almost black tail

I spent yesterday willing him, rise
please open your beak again, open your eyes
shake precious soft belly, hop to perfect black feet
dance again, go!

but he was gone

This morning I carried him deep into beauty
laid him to rest
in the tall grass of a clearing
beside the cabin
in woods and in sunshine

his family around me
we told him he’d be missed
that he was, is, loved, by everything around him

In saying goodbye
I fell to my knees
wept like a baby
for beautiful Orlando
I vowed to slow down and notice
to listen more closely
to love louder and better and more.

Then we all did.