Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Finally, Sleep







Sleep, that blessed escape from the cares of the day, is not always easy to come by ... but I recently slept well for two nights in a row ... and woke up thinking about a certain poem ...  about those mortal enemies - writing and sleep.


At least I've found them often directly opposed to each other. 

When I'm in the throes of writing, sleep is the last thing I want ... and then, sometimes, when I sleep before I've finished a project, I wake up feeling writing-deprived.

"This attic room" used to be the place where all of my serious writing took place. Excluding, of course, those frantically written notes while waiting at the bus stop, or in the doctor's office ... any place I had a few free moments and an idea that just wouldn't wait.

You know the story about that.

That place just beneath the roof was peaceful and quiet ... and when it rained, I enjoyed rain's gentle cadence that accompanied the tick-tick-tap-tick of the keyboard, the rustling of papers, the stifled yawns, and ... finally, a bit of sleep.


But I've grown more sensible. It's only occasionally that I climb that extra set of stairs in search of that quiet place. Nowadays, I find other, more accessible places to do my serious writing.

Still, I miss those evenings up there.

Especially on rainy nights ... I find myself pausing to think about those crinkling ribbons of light, the words which came streaming across the screen as I continued my quest for a poem, in this case:


FINALLY, SLEEP

Ribbons of light
crinkle across
the glass atop
this attic room,
moving slowly
to the cadence
of gentle rain,
then vanish
in the quiet
of these small
hours that call
me to sleep.
© 2001

(originally published in St. Anthony Messenger)

Today's word: ribbons

Monday, July 30, 2012

Early Writer







I write any time I can, but I've found mornings best, before other details of the day ... yesterday's unfinished chores, today's agenda ... begin pressing in.

Still, I'm not naturally a morning person.

I don't spring out of bed singing and laughing and dancing.

I'm not a total grump either. It's just that I'm not fully wound at that time of the day, as evidenced by this little poem ... which is, itself, further evidence of why I don't write much rhyme, and perhaps shouldn't.

But here's the poem:

EARLY WRITER

Up at the crack of dawn
After a restless night,
Sleeves rolled up, thinking cap on.
The time has come to write.
Outline great, title gold,
The rest should be a snap,
But I feel vaguely old,
Like I should take a nap.
Still, I grope for the keys,
Get set to take the leap.
One moment, if you please:
My brain is still asleep.

© 1999
(originally published in PKA's Advocate)


Today's word: asleep

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dawning





Those who know me well ... family and friends ... will be surprised to find I've written somewhat favorably about the beginning of the day.

Mornings have generally not been easy for me.

But this poem is not just about morning. It's about the experience of returning to an awareness of surroundings, discovering "words already dancing/ across the softly-lighted/ ballroom of my mind," of being on the verge ... after all that struggle ... of beginning to put words on paper.

Yes, it speaks to me about what I like best, writing, that activity which takes over after that "ballroom" activity, the real "dawning" that occurs with the writing itself.

The poem:

THE DAWNING

When the earth is still
hovering between sleep
and consciousness, when
birdsong is finding voice
and a distant bell
sways in the gentle wash
of sound, I come floating
out of a recurring dream,
yawning, stretching, eyes
struggling in darkness,
feet reaching cautiously
for the reality of floor,
words already dancing
across the softly-lighted
ballroom of my mind.
© 1999

(originally published in Sisters Today)

Today's word: yawning

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clear Blue Morning



(I know, the photo doesn't represent a "clear blue morning," but I liked the way the light was hitting the clouds, the way the wind was dancing with the trees, the young leaves overhead, watching it all.)

Most of my life, I have not been a morning person.

Oh, there were times when I grudgingly enjoyed a sunrise, savored the cool morning air during the summer, enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

But most of the time ... my growing up years and my working years ... I found it a real struggle to get my feet on the floor again, to get my eyes open and in focus, simply to get moving. 

I had reasons ... or excuses ... but basically I simply was not a morning person.

Then I retired.

Admittedly, there was a period of transition ... weeks afterward in which I had a deep-seated feeling that I should be dragging my body off to a job someplace. 

But gradually I came around to accepting this new "freedom," this absence of a fixed schedule, except to the extent that I imposed a pattern on myself.

I soon learned the true meaning of "rattling around" ... with nothing in particular on the agenda for the day.

Then I started writing. What a discovery that was! I soon found myself looking forward to mornings so I could resume the activity of the evening before. 

There's just something about the quiet of the morning ... the brain so far uncluttered with details ... the imagination fully wound and ready to go.

Oh, what I had been missing!

And now, the poem:


CLEAR BLUE MORNING

How I savor
fresh dew
between my toes,
melodies
of light beginning
to seize me,
words gathering,
pencil moving
to claim a place
on paper, this.
© 1999
(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)
Today's word: gathering

Friday, July 27, 2012

Body of Work







Sometimes when I'm scribbling on a scrap of paper, I turn thoughtful ... and when that happens I try not to spoil the mood by talking too much.


Today's poem:


BODY OF WORK

No massive volumes
nor learned footnotes
preserve my tracks,
no ripples mark
my gentle passage,
yet my being here,
scribbling away,
may have made
a difference
to someone else.
If that's the case,
I am pleased,
verging on proud,
of my body of work.
© 1996

(originally published in Anterior Poetry Monthly)

Today's word: verging

Thursday, July 26, 2012

After Summer Rain




(Another view of Charleston Falls ... one of my favorite spots ... hope you don't mind)

Today's poem, based on an early memory, could easily have been the title poem in my first published collection, Chance of Rain (Finishing Line Press, 2003). Instead, it quietly took its place among the others.


"After Summer Rain," with its starring character, a tiny bug swimming in a laundry tub which had filled with rain water, did become the inspiration for the cover illustration, designed by my son, Alan.


In the poem itself, I like what's happening ... the relationship between this tiny bug, which has suddenly appeared, and this "young man" who is drawn to it, pondering "what it might become, where it might go," questions he had barely asked himself.


Selection of a title poem, in the instance of this first collection, seemed obvious to me, albeit with overtones of designating a favorite child. That honor had to go to "Chance of Rain," my "lucky poem" ... those eight 
lines which were discovered in the middle of a longer poem by  an alert editor at Capper's who spotted them, liked them, suggested that we keep them and my title.


I quickly agreed, and "Chance of Rain" became my first poem accepted for publication. Thus began this great adventure.


But today I'd like to share that other poem:


AFTER SUMMER RAIN

When the storm passed
and the sediment settled
in the tub so recently
sitting empty beneath
the downspout, a tiny bug,
exploring its new world,
memorizing the boundaries,
looking for others,
or savoring the solitude
of this galvanized galaxy,
swam to and fro,
oblivious of the young man
pausing to watch,
puzzled over its sudden
coming to be there,
pondering what it might
become, where it might go,
doubly perplexing because
he had barely posed such
questions about himself.
© 1998
(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)
Today's word: exploring

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Winter Glow






Today's poem is another example of the kind of subject I write about most frequently ... an ordinary, everyday event or topic ... but perhaps seen in a slightly different way ... as though with "new eyes."


I try to impart that difference ... and I'm greatly rewarded when a reader sees that difference ... or perhaps points out something about the topic that I hadn't quite seen myself.


It's all about the learning process ... and I love it!


The photo? That's me ... somewhere in my teen years ... standing between the grandparents who reared me.


The original was rescued by one of my relatives ... passed along to me ... and is now one of my most prized possessions.


The poem:


WINTER GLOW


Cracked, yellowed snapshots
surrender from inside
a musty box


circled with twine, speaking
of times gone, like thin
ribbons of vapor


slowly curling and uncurling
from a neighbor's
chimney


while I sit in this cold
attic space looking
at relatives


and places I never knew,
their images saved,
but stories lost,


beginning to sense a feeling
of warmth, a winter
glow, spreading


over me as I touch the faces
of these strangers again
and close the box.
 © 2006
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: warmth

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

That New Day






I've thought of country mornings a lot of times when I was struggling into another day, far removed from those early beginnings.

I've missed the "leisure" of "working by the sun," rather than under the stern eye of the ever-glaring clock. I've missed those mornings when I could lie in bed a few extra minutes, savoring the return to wakefulness.

I've missed the sounds that filled the spaces between the trees back then. Now it's the sounds of the cars and trucks and buses that echo off the buildings and clog our senses.

What I've missed most, I think, is the sound of a cow bell coming to me from a meadow just beginning to fill with light.


Now that was music to a young boy's ears.

And now, the poem:

THAT NEW DAY

Sounds came crawling across the coolness
of the damp night air, climbed into the cot


where I lay stretching to touch the sides
of that new day. A screen door squeaked


open, then shut again. A tractor groaned,
fired up, deep, throaty song floating to me


like a breeze. Struggling early light visited
a hint of warmth high on the hilltop trees,


an image of candy-apple red slowly rising
in my mind's eye over the wooded brow


of the opposite ridge. A cow bell clanked
into the silence the tractor left as it went


rolling off toward a waiting field; so long
ago, but like yesterday. And I hear it now.
© 2005

(published in Brave Hearts, summer 2005)

Today's word: meadow

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Dancers





Ah, the seasons.

I thought you might not mind a summer poem ... though there are early portions of this summer that I'd just as soon forget.

Still, I'm not ready for an abrupt plunge into colder weather, either, though autumn is one of my favorite seasons ... those moderating temperatures, trees trying out their colors ... I can take a bit of transition ... a few more weeks, if you don't mind ... as long as they're not sizzling hot.

But cold, really cold? I'm not ready for that, thank you very much. I don't tolerate winter cold as well as I once did, and shoveling has become something of a chore.

Of course, when next summer comes around, I'll probably find myself thinking of crisp, cool mornings, the sun glinting on a new covering of snow ... my search for mittens and scarf.

Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of a place long, long ago and far away, originally published in Capper's:

SUMMER DANCERS

Flecks of sunlight
descend through
the leafy canopy,
dancing on the path,
still dancing
after the breeze
has gone off
toward a hillside
lush with wheat
that slowly leans
and straightens,
 
as though hearing
soft music, too.
 © 2001

Today's word: canopy

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Renewal







Symbolism isn't always apparent when I take a photo. 

In this instance, I was simply prompted by the colors, the reflections, the quiet of this spot in Charleston Falls Park. 

But now I see the greening of renewal, the fallen tree both as a symbol of decay which will lead to renewal and as a footbridge, offering a choice at that juncture, of wading through the stream of events, or of taking a dry, if somewhat acrobatic, crossing ... all symbols of passages.

Appropriate, I was thinking last night ... looking at the calendar, marveling at how fast this year seems to be going.

I know ... it's still a bit early to be thinking about year's end ... parties, resolutions, turning over a new leaf ... all that stuff.

But renewal, I think, can really come at any time of year ... any day ... any moment. 

End of sermon.

And now the poem:


RENEWAL

How sad sounding
the rains of spring
were, thudding
on the empty drum
of my young life.

Renewal lacked
meaning for me,
but the years
have washed away
that emptiness.

Now the song
of those gentle
drops on my roof
nurtures dreams
of beginnings
and new growth.
© 2002

(originally published in Brave Hearts)

Today's word: beginnings

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Plague of Squirrels








I'm kidding, of course, about the "plague" of squirrels.


The squirrels and I actually get along pretty well. Oh, I see them occasionally, pausing to stare at me and one of my funny looking hats.


But they never laugh and poke fun at me ... and I try to treat them with equal respect.


I do recall, though, that there was one encounter the day after we moved into Brimm Manor ... I thought I heard someone ... or something ... at the back door.


It was a squirrel.


From all indications, he was there for a handout. He'd been accustomed to being offered goodies.


Then there was the one which came down our chimney. Did we ever have fun that day!


Mostly, though, we just go our separate ways ... I'm afraid of heights ... and they seem to have a thing about mowing the lawn and watering the flowers.


The poem:



A PLAGUE OF SQUIRRELS


What vile crimes have I committed
that I must be punished by you,
you frenzied plague of squirrels?



You dig up the tulips, tear out
the gutter guards, leave pizza slices
dangling from the evergreens,



litter the driveway with twigs
and leaves while you perfect the art
of nesting, pile our picnic table



with walnut chewings, spread hysteria
by screeching from the highest limbs,
patter across our silent green roof



at daybreak, hide juicy, squishy things
under the swing's yellow cushions,
come down our chimney bearing gifts



of frantic sooty footprints over all
the basement, spending a whole afternoon
eluding me, until finally hiding



in a box so I might carry you outside
to set you free, a twitch of the tail
your cursory thanks for the ride,



and I see you later scampering down that
superhighway of cable, as though nothing
had happened today, absolutely nothing. 
© 2001

(won a third place award in Ohio Poetry Day competition)


Today's word: scampering

Friday, July 20, 2012

Outside!






Memories! How we cherish the good ones, make them forever ours, polish them, enhance them, store them away, pull them out to comfort us in our old age.


Such is this memory of our grandson, now becoming a young man, but barely a toddler then.


How proud I felt, watching him go to that window, pointing and pronouncing that word with all the authority he could muster: "Outside!"


I just had to write a poem about it. I know ... I know ... it would embarrass the life out of him, if he were to find out that I had posted it here.


You won't tell, will you? Promise? Then here it is:

OUTSIDE!

"Outside!" he says,
tiny finger folding
as it touches the glass
of our dining room
window. "Outside!"

It carries the tone
of discovery, that ancient
"Eureka!" still echoing,
an air of possession.

He runs repeatedly
to the window, pointing
and exclaiming, savoring
this, another horizon
beckoning, a romance
budding, perhaps growing
until he's my age
and beyond, this love
of the outside world.
© 1999

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: beckoning

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moment







Only once in this lifetime have I experienced the sensation of a butterfly settling onto my hand.


I'm sure, as a child, I must have dreamed of such a thing, without ever really expecting it to happen. It was like lying on a hillside, looking up at the clouds, and imagining what it might be like to fly, literally fly, above them ... something to speculate on, but not to be attained.


Then there I was, an adult ... a very tired adult ... sitting on a hillside far from those amid which I did so much of my early dreaming ... and there was a butterfly ... sitting on my hand.


Had I known then what a haiku moment was, I would have declared that to be one. Instead, I simply sat, transfixed, watching, waiting ... and finally squinting to follow its path as it departed.


I suppose some will read into the poem a feeling, not just of the butterfly's departure, but of loss, too. I prefer to think of what I had gained.


And so it has been with the visits of those who stop by to take a look at "Chosen Words."


Then the crowd moves on. There are other journals to visit, to explore, to evaluate and comment on.


It grows quiet here.


If I were to read "Moment" aloud now, I might be the only one listening. But I would savor the words ... I would read them carefully ... and I would recall the heat of that day ... the sun ... that butterfly ... just as I am now looking back on the past several months, savoring the words you have left with me.


As I continue reading your words in the days to come, I will remember ... your thoughtful comments ... the kind things you've said ... and I will think of all I have gained from your visits.


And I thank you for all of that.


Meanwhile, the poem:


MOMENT


The butterfly sits so lightly
on the back of my sunburned
hand that I barely feel
its tiny feet clinging, tongue
tasting the essence of me.


I sit stone-still, watching
as it clings, seeing its tongue
uncurling to taste, feeling
my breathing subsiding
into the rhythm of its wings,
folding, unfolding,


sit savoring the reverie
attending the encounter with this
being that has flown to me
like a tiny fleck of fly ash,
but has chosen me, the most
unlikely of choices, and keeps
sitting here while I consider
whether I might seize it.

Then, as though sensing
my intentions, it lifts lightly
off, flying raggedly, majestically
across the sun-swept field,
perhaps pursuing a search
for someone more worthy,
leaving the weight of absence
pressing my hand.
© 1999

(originally published in Vincent Brothers Review)

Today's word: majestically

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Let Them Rollick








Still another poem about writing, another piece of evidence attesting to my quest ... not to present myself as an expert on the subject ... I'm not ... but to come nearer to an understanding of the mystery of writing.

And it is a mystery.

I often sit down to write a random thought or two, but I seldom know where this is going to lead. I almost never know the ending when I begin. That reveals itself as I permit myself to be led by the words ... "these hungry words," if you will.

Indeed, I like to let them sit at the table of my understanding, and I listen carefully to what they have to say.

Speaking of listening, try reading this one aloud ... no audience required ... simply read it to yourself again. I think it's a poem that begs to be read aloud ... or at least given another silent reading, but with an ear to the repeated sounds. 

I liked the sound of it when it first offered itself to me. I liked it through several revisions. I hope you'll find something in it to like now: 

LET THEM ROLLICK


Please don't let these
words just lie there,
losing their body warmth
to an indifference
that deepens like dust.

Let them roam the range
of your experience,
wander the gentle slopes
of meaning, become
attuned to music that

echoes from your past,
let them have rein
to gallop toward sense.
Please let these hungry
words sit at the table
of your understanding,

let them traverse
your tongue, gather
speed and light, and
rollick, really rollick.
 © 2002
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: rollick

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Impossible July







Today's poem is from my first collection, Chance of Rain.

As the collection's title implies, the poems in it are about rain, certainly, but it's also about the absence of rain ... equally important ... or worrying ... to those who raise the food on which we all depend.

This poem is about that absence. It was written in an attic room so perfectly fitted for talking about the "blue flame of sky/ leaping horizon-to-horizon/ and back ... "

It was a room never intended for air-conditioning, a place where "A fan labors, but fails" ... amidst a promise of rain, but an empty promise.

Oh, how it reminded me of those searing, rain-starved, melting days of July in Southern Illinois, where I grew up! And how I still sometimes miss them.

The poem:

IMPOSSIBLE JULY

End of July, and as far
as the eye can see
only a blue flame of sky
leaping horizon-to-horizon
and back to this room
so high, so near the sun,
that words have become
too hot to touch.

A fan labors, but fails,
to bring relief, while my
thoughts bubble and run
like tar on a lonely road.

And the sky flares up
with the promise of rain,
but an empty promise, full
of the heat of absence.

Wafting, shimmering lines
become a cruel mirage,
yesterday’s fading belief
 
that relief from this
might still be possible.
© 2003


("Impossible July" received a third-place award in a ByLine competition, and later became a part of my first poetry collection,Chance of Rain
, published by Finishing Line Press, 2003)


Today's word: promise

Monday, July 16, 2012

How the Cinders Danced





This is a homecoming poem only in the sense that I had returned to the place where I grew up.


There were no welcoming crowds, no band ... and I hadn't expected any. I had walked around town, looking for a familiar face, but found none. I ended up at the site of the bridge where a frightening experience had etched itself on my memory.


And how frightening a steam locomotive could be to a youngster, especially up close, as my grandmother and I were caught walking across that bridge ... with a freight train passing underneath.


Standing there, alone, brought that memory rushing back to me.


How quiet now! How calm. How vivid the memory of those cinders "dancing" on the deck of that bridge! I just had to write about it.


It later received recognition as a Plainsongs Award Poem, published in their October, 2005, issue.


HOW THE CINDERS DANCED

Cold, I stand recalling
how the cinders danced
on the highway bridge


while I watched a slowly
swaying freight train
creaking beneath us,


its dark, hulking engine
chuffing like a dragon,
hot cinders swirling


up, dark clouds seeking
the walkway, our lungs;
how my hand lingered


in Grandma's after that
frightening train had
gone clacking off, and I


stand here now, alone,
a stranger come home,
breathing clear air,


no cinders dancing, no
engine chuffing, but
my gloved hand rising

to a sudden welling up
that causes a blurring
of childhood images.
© 2005
Today's word: chuffing


(OK, so I made up the word, but that's how I remember the sound that the steam engine made as it struggled underneath the bridge. Oh, and the art? One of my photographs ... and, no, that's not the bridge mentioned in the poem; it's a Nature-provided "bridge" along the trail at one of my favorite walking places.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Flowering Friendship







I remember how sad it was to look out the window and see what had happened to the tulips, daffodils and peonies as a result of a late freeze.

We had enjoyed summer-like weather, and then this. All those beautiful plants wilting to the ground, as though someone had taken a blowtorch to them.

But my thoughts quickly turned to those who had likely suffered greater losses ... those who had fruit trees budding and blossoming, for example.

And then, as if to console me, this poem came to mind.

It was written at the end of a season, rather than the beginning, and it paid tribute to a good year in which no late frost had occurred, in which we had enjoyed watching the flowers, from their first shoots breaking through the soil, to their greening and blossoming, and, finally, as the season came to a close, their departure.

I was already looking forward to the next year. I knew I would miss them during the winter months, but felt assured that they, like old friends, would be back.

And I hoped that those which were so damaged by a late frost this year would be back, too.

The poem:

FLOWERING FRIENDSHIP

Summer-weary flowers,
what beauty came
of your being with us
another season,
what pleasure grew
from your growing.
We must, by all means,
meet again next year.
© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: pleasure

Saturday, July 14, 2012

End of the Day








Today's poem is about a bit of "ancient history." 

Written well after the fact, it's a recounting of a time when I traveled much more than I do now, a time before interstate highways began crisscrossing our country, when passenger trains were still in abundance.

It was sometimes faster, or "more convenient," to travel by car. Oh, how I recall trying to think of that convenience as I fell into bed somewhere along the way and tried to get a few hours' sleep before pressing on. 

Ah, those were the days.

But for now, the poem: 



END OF THE DAY

The ceiling grows vague
and cold, its tiles swirling
like snowflakes toward me,

and I taste them, melting,
the bed sways under me
as though bearing me away

to some strange place, my eyes
close, and I see highway,
an undulating ribbon whirring

toward me, narrow out there,
broadening here where it gains
speed, goes threading beneath

my car, as it has all day,
dull pewter funnel pulling
me in, pouring me out here

where I lie on a strange bed
in a cheap motel, thinking
of the events bringing me

here, thoughts drifting
like the slow, curling smoke
in a room suddenly empty,

being pulled toward the ache
and soreness of tomorrow,
not caring, not caring at all.
© 2000

(originally published in Waterways; now part of Wood Smoke, my third collection, published  by Finishing Line Press)

Today's word: fatigue

Friday, July 13, 2012

Daybreak, Autumn



(Oh, how I wish I'd had my camera with me that morning; instead, I again offer my little watercolor study, done in a different time, different place)


It may have been a bit later than daybreak, but not much. The feeling of newness was still in the air as I walked the paths of one of my favorite places.


The play of light across the clouds was beautiful.


Improbable as it seems, they did look like paving stones to me.

They had that worn, traveled look about them, and the early sunlight did make them look like they were cupping the coals of an overnight fire which had just been given a breath of morning air.


The ducks were on the pond, of course, keeping an eye on me for any move suggesting a handout for them.


And the crows, the raucous crows, who always seem to be arguing about something, were there in the trees.


It was a sort of shopping list of images, but I tried to make a little more of it than just that. I think ending with the hint of coming snow added to the mood.


The poem:


DAYBREAK, AUTUMN

Clouds hang
like paving stones
in the eastern
sky, hammered silver
cupping the coals
of early light,
while ducks glide
like fallen leaves
on the shadowed pond
and crows crowd
the feathery trees,
swaying and talking
raucously about
the chances of snow.
 © 1999

(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: raucously

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cup of Memories









We didn't have a "drinking gourd" when I was growing up, and I always felt deprived ... in the early years, at least.


Instead, we had a common aluminum dipper (we all drank from the same dipper) beside the water bucket in the kitchen.


Germs aside, it offered a cool, refreshing drink, when the weather was cool, refreshing. During the summer, as I recall, we went directly to the source, the cistern just a few steps from the back porch, to fill the dipper.


The "drinking gourd," on the other hand, resided at a neighbor's house on a nearby hill. Judging from the frequency of our visits, they were probably distant relatives.


They had a well which, I thought, contained the coldest water around.


And that gourd, that marvelous old weather-beaten gourd. I just had to have a drink from it, even when I wasn't thirsty.


Oh, how I remember sipping slowly, dawdling, while enjoying both the cold water and the great shade of the tree near the well.


The poem:


CUP OF MEMORIES

The well water
was never colder
nor more sweet tasting
than when it was sipped
from an ordinary,
but memorably special
gray gourd dipper. 
© 1995
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: dawdling

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bouncy Pine






Things I say, particularly in those pieces which may eventually become poems, are not always intended to be taken literally.


That's the case today, of course.

Anybody who has ever looked even casually at a pine tree, knows it doesn't have springs, concealed or otherwise.

But it doesn't take much observation to lead one to the thought that it looks like there must be some kind of mechanism at work there.

There have been times when I've been in the company of pine trees, unaware of a slight stirring of air, but there is movement in their needled branches.

How else explain that movement?

It seemed to be the way to describe them at the time. The moral of the story ... the "lesson" ... the "mini-sermon" ... seemed to follow naturally.

It's a thought, at least ... and I use it sometimes to cheer myself up.

Here's the poem:

BOUNCY PINE


The boughs of the pine
ride on concealed springs,
rising and falling
at the slightest touch
of a summer breeze.


Oh, that we could be 
as resilient, as quick
with our enthusiasm.
 © 1996

(originally published in Explorer)


Today's word: concealed

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All Those Trees






Memory ... how important it is ... not just so we can find things we seem to have hidden from ourselves only minutes before ... but for preserving events along the way ... to be savored later.

They may not be vitally important ... or important at all, in their own right ... but I'm convinced that they do have a role to play.

I enjoy recalling pleasant events ... or even just enjoyable moments ... when all the world seems to be working against me.

I guard against "living in the past," of course ... an impossible task, but also an activity that can have disappointing, if not disastrous, results.

I am pleased, however, when I see someone I haven't seen for a while ... and I remember their name. I am doubly pleased when I can remember where I put something. Memory ... memories ... so important to all of us, I think.

Today's poem owes much to the memories associated with a day trip taken with a group of "senior citizens."

Phyllis and I had sort of wandered off from the group ... intentionally, mind you ... I like to do that sometimes ... simply to enjoy a bit of quiet, to stretch my legs, to view the scene from a different angle.

But let's let the poem tell the story:


ALL THOSE TREES


We'd grown tired of winding
along with the other tourists
through the aromatic rows

upon rows of captive plants,
felt our own tendrils tugging
gently toward a nearby hill.

We had paused half-way up
when there was a sudden
flutter of excited footsteps,

the clatter of young laughter,
and we were swiftly engulfed
by a surging flood of children

racing tree-to-tree, so intent
on their game they didn't see
us standing there, recalling

a game we had played so like
theirs, savoring the memories,
and now, loving all those trees.
© 2001

(originally published in St. Anthony Messenger)


Today's word: aromatic