Given

Awake self.

What do you behold?

A mirror?

Even the photo holds a momentary event in hand.

This is a truth, however small.

I walk, i think, i dream, i wake, i walk, i work, i think, i wonder, i…..

welcome self, here is the gate

where are the people?

love, darlings, friends, those who seek to harm me

heart rent open

ah i cry hands aloft.

ah.

ah.

i explode in a brilliant flash.

oh.

see.

the way opens.

this,

life 

a curse

a blessing

a gift.

I am the smallest tendril

of innocence

i am

the hardest rock.

i falter not.

lost?

or perfectly in place.

like a word you say over and over,

until it’s meaning drops.

and you jerk awake.

and you are still asleep.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhImage

Given

Awake self.

What do you behold?

A mirror?

Even the photo holds a momentary event in hand.

This is a truth, however small.

I walk, i think, i dream, i wake, i walk, i work, i think, i wonder, i…..

welcome self, here is the gate

where are the people?

love, darlings, friends, those who seek to harm me

heart rent open

ah i cry hands aloft.

ah.

ah.

i explode in a brilliant flash.

oh.

see.

the way opens.

this,

life 

a curse

a blessing

a gift.

I am the smallest tendril

of innocence

i am

the hardest rock.

i falter not.

lost?

or perfectly in place.

like a word you say over and over,

until it’s meaning drops.

and you jerk awake.

and you are still asleep.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhImage

The earliest spring

Trout Lily or Adder Tongue

Unknown white wildflower

Sitting on the front steps, I want more than anything to go to the park.  I hesitate to go, but I cannot let another persons mental problems stop me, I talk myself into it, I have to go, the dog wants to go, I am itching to go, I must go.  I pull into a full lot and take a route that I don’t really like, it is strenuous and the dog trips more than once on the rocks.  Early in I feel the sore buttocks muscle (from my first ever attempt at Frisbee Golf – which was way fun) pull and spend the whole walk struggling with any uphill climb.  It hurts, but nothing that cannot be babied into shape again.  I have had so much on my mind, existential questions, deep curiosity about the path God has me on, worry about the future, but I begin to relax into the hike, even as I pass the deep crevices and step rock drop offs.  It is as though each step is a path through my own existence, the deep scars in the earth, like the scars inside of me.  I think sometimes I will break apart, I want to withdraw and become a hermit, I want to disappear pound by pound until I am a wraith.  I feel small and insignificant, I want to be even small, I want to walk these paths unnoticed.

A recent visit to a health care provider I haven’t seen in several months, a woman whom I admire deeply, told me today, as I was leaving, that I am looking so good and whatever I am doing keep at it, because it is working for me.  I reflect on this compliment, given out of the blue, for no purpose of her own that I can discern.  I know that even though my weight has fluctuated several pounds this year I know that my clothes are looser, even though the weight loss is not terribly dramatic.  I feel really healthy.  Except for these questions that are plaguing my thoughts, I am confused, I am lost, I am uncertain.  I need meditation, but the only meditative thing I am doing is Tai Chi Chih.  But what does it mean, really?  Here I am with so much darkness clouding my vision, criticism weighs heavy on me, and these kind words, are unfamiliar.  I almost can feel the world spinning around me, I am like the first abstract painting ever submitted to the academy, I am a subject of my own ridicule, I am a hideous creature that hides under mushrooms, a brownie, a troll.  I am like a heart that has been broken open by a Barbie Doll, plastic body swinging and bashing all the life out of me.  I look at my big hands, I look at the tummy that never seems to go away, I look at the thick and muscled sturdiness of my legs.  Tears fall as the Barbie constantly crashes into my bloodless heart.

The path is so dry and I am concerned for our changing climate.  This winter has seen only 48 inches of snow.  The least snow I have seen in this region for 44 years.  Today it was 80 degrees, students wearing shorts and flip flops; experience has me putting a wool sweater and wool socks and sneakers in a bag in the trunk of my car, I cannot trust this March weather, it goes against anything I have ever known.  On my way home last night I was shocked to see magnolia blooming.  And today at the park, the tell tale green and brown spotted leaves of trout lily or as my grandfather called it, adder tongue.  I watched a program on public television last night that was helicopter views of Hawaii’s islands.  I was astonished by the incredible beauty, and I am determined more than ever to save money to go there one day.  They spoke of a close connection to the land, a recognition of the connection we all have to the living earth.  I know this feeling as I walk these deciduous woods, as I see the familiar spring plants pushing through the decaying leaves of autumn, as I smell the scent of spring, but I am awkward in this too hot spring, I worry that I will not be prepared should normalcy return.  I worry that the earth is preparing to exact some kind of wicked karma on unsuspecting innocents, like the Children’s Blizzard of 1888.

She is not here today and I rejoice, I have enough in this world of feeling lost, I do not need her input into my brooding melancholy.  Although, it never seems to fully leave me, and is a part of me as long as the schizophrenic days of March, but even that has changed.

I am confused by it and by so many other things in my life right now.

I feel lost.

 

Love

I stand in the driveway, casting my pole again and again out into the road, and in the direction of a bucket.  To the left of the bucket, to the right of the bucket, over shooting the bucket, thunk, oh yeah, I hit the bucket.  He all cranky and annoyed when my line gets tangled, as I relearn the task from childhood.  As I learn new how to use this kind of reel.  I go and sit on the concrete wall, he winding new line on his reel, we both sipping at our beers, he continues packing his truck for his overnight camping trip.  He asks me if I am writing about him and I smile and say not exactly, just writing.  He thinks I am saying bad things about him, I laugh and read to him something I wrote months ago, something that speaks of how clear my love for him is, and yet how tremendously complicated.  How special he is to me and how the course of my life has brought me here, in a place I never would have expected 10 years ago, or 20, how thankful I am for everything that has happened because it brought me straight to him.  After I read it I look up and as I do I see his eyes looking at me clear, he laughs a little and looks away, but I saw something in that look, something wide open and something deep.  Thunk, I hit the bucket.

I call her a vile name as I pass her, she cannot seem to leave me alone; why, I ask my girlfriends does she do this, what is wrong with her?  She is insecure, they say. I am just angry still, more that she won’t go away than anything else.  She responds with some nasal sing song that I don’t understand, it sounds like la di dada.  I mull it over, was that Spanish, later I realize she said, I have ata.  As I realize it, I burst out a bark of a laugh aloud.  My daughter says later, “you mean she has a grouchy judgmental jobless miserable cheating asshole.  Good for her.”  I tell him about the encounter, he says I thought you didn’t like him anymore.  I don’t I say, I am just really sick of seeing her in public, 4 or 5 times a year is just beyond an accident and spreads into the annoying, into stalking, and I don’t know what to do about it.  I am tired of seeing her.  One of the girlfriends says you see her more than him.  I say, I see him zero but her 5 times a year, but now it is no longer just cruel, now she just seems pathetic.

I wrap my arms around him and I kiss him he pushes me away and pulls me back again, pretending he hates it, but I tell him, I know you love it.  The annoying platitude is that when God closes a door he opens a window.  When he closed the dank and mildewy stinking cellar window, he threw open the double doors and I emerged from the dungeon of servitude and oppressive judgment, free.  At first I stumbled, fell, sobbed and could not carry myself.  Then I took my first tentative steps, then more and more, walking miles, and then, I emerged nearly healed and all the way happy, I discovered there was someone so like me that it makes me laugh.  He grumbles, grunts and curses as he assembles his gear, and I am doing the same noises the same curses as I miss my mark again and again with the pole.  Do you know how like me you are, I ask.   No he says, and he doesn’t, I hid it for so long it only comes out mostly when I am alone.  But here it is, how clear and yet so complicated it is.

Niña.  It is time you left me.  Go your own way now, and leave me alone.  I don’t want your boyfriend, not even if he knocked on my door and on his knees begged me to let him back in, which is bloody damned unlikely.

He wraps his arms around me, his eyes on me, smiling, his lips on my shoulder.  I am going to be bored without you, he says.  Have fun, I say.  You too, he says.

The day is brilliant sunshine and bright blue skies.

I am happy.  I am very much in love.

 

 

I am posting this for a fellow blogger friend who has been gracious enough to give me two blog awards for my other blog.  I am filled with gratitude!  Yesterday she posted a picture of a rare plant which she called istanbulensis which I discovered is a variety of crocus, I knew it was because the minute I saw it I said, why that is a crocus, and wikipedia confirmed it. So these pictures are for her, and to remind myself next spring when the crocus bloomed.  Today it is so warm out that after I took these photos I immediately ran in and opened all the windows on the front and south facing side of the house.  The whole entire week is promising temperatures in the high sixties the lowest being 53 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday which will be a full ten degrees above normal for this time of year.  Weird weather year.

Crocus in bloom

Yellow Crocus

Please visit Nia’s blog at http://photographyofnia.com/

 

Song of My Soul

Chickadee and Cattail

“Adversity is life’s way of testing and perfecting a person.  Without that, we would never develop character.  Rice suffers when it is milled.  Jade must suffer when it is polished.  But what emerges is something special. ”  ~From 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao

The crocus are all in full bloom as I dash from the house, forgetting my camera.  The sky a crystal clear blue,  I stop, I wait here just out of the shadows of the forest. I lift my face to the sun shining and warm between the long straight poles of two spruce trees.  I am quiet, basking.  I turn and look at him and watch as he fiddles with his sound equipment, we both listen to the children and dogs on the other side of the pond.  There are no parking spaces left here along this old dirt and gravel road, slushy with melting snow.  My skin is like a sponge soaking in every ray of light, warm here, but cool only a step in one direction or another.  We make our way through the brush to a path that is less than clear, skirting a fallen tree, slipping and sliding on the packed path when we get to where people have crushed the snow.  I walk ahead, the dog running back and forth between us.  He has taken to not listening to me, but when the dog is bothering people that are on the trail, I tell him to call the dog who runs to him right away.  I think now as I write at my dining room table that my dominance has lessened in his big brown dog eyes.  We come to a spot and I stop and wait for him to catch up, I gesture forward, this is the path I say pointing to the slash of blue paint on the trees, but this here is a clear road though disused.  He agrees with me and we decide with no back and forth of discussion, that the road is the way, though it has drainage issues, and is thick and spongey with moss and fern and spruce needles.  My feet get wet quickly, I am determined that I have to find my favorite hiking boots in a waterproof style.  I can walk for miles in them, and never feel it in my feet, I hate to have to replace such a good and sturdy pair.  We hear a woodpecker and he turns his parabolic microphone to it, I bang on a tree with a rock, hoping to draw the woodpecker near.  I think about doing t’ai chi chih, but instead stop and listen as the breeze sings in the boughs of the evergreens above me.  I turn my face to it, and bask in the lovely sound of it.  It is like a voice I say, like a song, it harkens back to my childhood, I think it harkens back to a time of deep mysticism.  I feel so grateful.  We walk side by side, saying nothing, he walks ahead making trail, I walk too close and get a good smack in the face by a snapping branch, he apologizes and I say, I know better I shouldn’t be walking that close.  Sometimes he takes the lower wetter trail, I seek higher ground.  Damn boots.  But there is something about it that I like.  That I am just as comfortable making my way as he is his own, and yet we are traveling together.  It is as though our paths are parallel and twisting back and forth upon themselves again and again.  We come together and I kiss his warm mouth.  We do not hold hands.  We look at cattail fluff, he tells me it is tinder, I tell him, dig down to the root and eat in the spring, but later I review the plant in my Edible Wild Plants book, and cattail is pretty much a versatile and completely edible plant all year long from its roots to its stems to its head to its pollen and back down again in winter to its roots again.  I think about Annie Dillard when she wrote A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Anne LaBastille and how the two after the end of their marriages, found a peace, a place of words and silence in the woods.  I cannot say I am a writer like either of them but I find solace and serenity in both the woods and with writing.  Pico Iyer writes in his essay “A Chapel Is Where You Can Hear Something Beating Below Your Heart”  that “So much of our time is spent running from ourselves, or hiding from the world; a chapel brings us back to the source, in ourselves and in the larger sense of self—as if there were a difference.” I write in the margins, “writing is a running back to myself” and myself is this day, this wooded chapel, where I walk in communion with my best friend, with my dog, with God.

We stop close to the car and we listen to the robins and chickadees as they sing in the tree tops.  I call to them, trying to sound like one.  They change their song again and again, until I, in my human voice, am stuck wondering what they might be saying now.  ‘Oh humans’, the chickadee scientists must say to one another, ‘a few of the smarter ones can mimic’ (and not very well).  One curious male flies to the top of the bare branches of tree, and flies about ten feet over me getting a good clear view of the two strange humans, and the dog.  I call to him again before I go to the car and I start to wipe all the mud off the dog’s feet, tail and belly.  I told him this the morning as he lay on his side of the bed and I like a mummy upside down, arms crossed in front of my chest, face turned away, that I would have never dated him in my 20’s.  Why not, he asks.  Because you don’t recite poetry or write your own, because you don’t tell me you love me all the time, because you hunt and you fish.  I know now, I just had it wrong back then, and as I turn to look into those golden eyes, and he wrinkles his face at me, I feel like I am in the woods, walking alone.   Yet there he is, making his own way, on a path alongside my own.  I am at home in my soul when I am beside him.  I am at home in a way I never was when I was married, it still strikes me at times like a slap, full of red faced shame, at other times like a bellyache, a churning in my stomach, and like a bad dream where I wake up and say, thank God that dream wasn’t real, only it was and I still wake from confronting him wanting to slap the shame into him, will this heartache never leave me full? And it makes me  worry sometimes that in 10 years or maybe in 20 he will annoy me to the point where I no longer like him or worse that he will no longer like me – just as I have already played it out, badly.  And should he leave me, broken, or I him, wanting,  I worry I will be too old and stodgey to make my way to the woods, I say aloud, I hope I am never too old to do this, that I will always want to find myself in a place like this on a beautiful day.  But when I think no matter what, I will never lose this chapel I have in my heart, I will always be strong.  I sing the song of the wind in the high tops of the spruce, like the song of the water melting in long rivulets along a long abandoned road.  I sing the song of my soul.  And then I realize, I am not singing alone and that gives me comfort.

Mitt Romney Shut the Hell Up

Dude, I have to tell you, you are clueless, you have no idea what it is like to be living and working in this economy.  You said you have worried about your job a couple times?  Really, because when you lose your job, you can live off the interest of your investments and still make more in a month than I do in a whole damn year.  You worried about your job once or twice in your life, dude, I am an art teacher in an elementary school, and I don’t just teach art.  I teach science, math, literacy and social studies, I buy clothes for students in need, I hug the ones that cry on my shoulder.  I send children to the non mandated social worker when I see that things at home are falling apart, sometimes I catch kids that are color blind, or have head lice, or bruises they shouldn’t.  I am not just an art teacher I am a surrogate mother, a confidant, a mentor, a disciplinarian, and the only adult in that child’s life who truly gives a damn.  Mitt Romney I worry about keeping my job every year.  I have worried about whether or not I will have a job next year every single year for the last 14 years, now I get to worry about whether or not that kid who is out at 2 in the morning gets a 2 instead of a 3 on his state exams, just add that to my list of worries.   Mitt I am a single parent, I raised my child more or less by my self, if I lose my job we both lose our healthcare.  You want to stump on and on about Barack Obama’s health care plan, just so you can win and he can lose?  Well sir, if I lose my job and my health care, would you like to tell me what exactly it is I am supposed to do for my child, who is in college and working almost full time to help pay her own bills, basically because the cost of everything from food, to gas, to health care has gone up and my salary has remained stagnant.

You have no idea what it is like to be poor, to be working class, to even so much as be middle class.  So why don’t you shut the hell up.  Please.  Talk about being rich, talk about having more money than will make in my whole lifetime, talk about what losers teachers are because we cannot teach children in this miserable failing society.  Call me a slut, call me one of those single parents who is destroying our society.  I pay my bills, I pay my taxes, I work to help the most disadvantaged in our country, and every day of my life I worry about finances, and whether or not I will have a job.  You don’t even get it, so stop pretending like you do.   You are not fooling anyone with half a brain in their heads and the rest are not smart enough to notice you aren’t bullshitting them anymore.

Thank you.

 

 

Adventures on a Windy Day

After running errands in the morning the Pirate and I decided it was too warm to spend the day indoors watching TV and vegging out, so we grabbed the dog and went on a road trip.  The wind was really cold, but the air was relatively warm.  We drove to one of the lakes in the Fingerlakes Region and did a little walking in the woods there, the lake was really choppy but it was pretty even in the grey and wind of the day.  After I snacked on Venison jerky I did some Tai Chi by the water.  My hands were freezing, so cold that they hurt.

We stopped at this store just because we liked this truck of Mater from the movie Cars.

I saw this wonderful quote at a shop we stopped in at on the way home….

“Working with clay is not just making pots, but also a kind of music in my mind.  Real audible music is often a distraction from the inner melody.”

~ Jim Kozlowski

This quote is exactly why I never use an ipod while walking or hiking or being out in nature.  I love to listen to the sounds of the world.

Lake in the Fingerlakes Region

 

Poem that came to me in my state of wakefulness on Friday.

For once it seems to be fiction.

Your icy fingers
grip my throbbing heart
it freezes instantly
cracking like the mud
when the desert sun steals its wet.
I exhale in a cloud
the wind whips
the breath out of my mouth
and carries it across the chopping lake
it moves like waves
on amber grains.
I do not breathe again.

I cannot breathe again.

My heart is cold
like a stone
and no chisel
can crack it open.

I was listening very briefly to NPR this morning.  I do not even know who was speaking but he something I loved.

I must paraphrase:
When we write even with so much negativity, even about the ugly and hateful things, the horrible things and the bitterness and aching inside of us, we can only see that as a positive, it is beautiful and creative way to open ourselves up and make something real out of what is happening to us.  It is a way of healing, it is a way of making something good out of the bad things that have happened.  In that moment, I felt that any negative karma I may have accrued for pouring my guts out for the last three and a half years, may have in fact not have been so very negative.  I did truly try write and write and write in order to heal.  And now that the healing is so close to being done, I am ready to move on and write about other things, because now it is a habit I never want to break.

I love writing, it is another way to paint the richness of my soul.