Finally I learned to carry a notebook and a writing implement with me always, so I could write anywhere, anytime: in the woods underneath a deer stand; at the seed store; accidentally locked in a stall in a New Zealand loo; at my job, between patients or sitting on the stone steps of the only part of the building complex that hasn’t been modernized. Trains, planes, automobiles. At odd hours, at my old oaken desk in the study. Also, on the deck, tucked among tree tops with with steep hillsides of grand forest. Here is one piece that I wrote there:
A Good Morning
Sometimes just something to write on
and an implement to write with
pot of tea
rose petal cup
stack of books at my elbow
thin volumes of poetry
book of translations
good back support
a magnifying glass for the fine print
bottle of ink
my well of experience
book of runes
“. . .but let the wings take root and the roots fly.” Juan Ramon Jimenez
Summers, I deadhead madly, staving off going to seed.
As if that were the enemy, to be avoided at all cost.
Autumns, I crouch, a paragon of patience,
gathering tiny seeds that store magic,
guarding secrets of their species.
Despite dry and dying,
stately, ornate seed pods mature with singular beauty,
protecting their bundled contents from the elements
until snow blankets the road
and carries them forward, farther.
Howling winds carry milkweed’s silky wings,
blowing them through deep hollows to bloom on different hills.
Jewelweed daughters shimmer and explode,
propelling themselves far from the mother plant,
demanding more room to grow.
Burdock seed sons, impetuous,
latch on to shaggy, unkempt coats,
lumbering toward next year.
Planted firm and sturdy, my own years accumulate
softening seed casings of resistance.
Control, worry, sorry.
I kneel in the familiar gardener’s pose.
I bow my head to seed.
You loved ones in quiet graveyards of centuries and before,
on twisty back roads nearly disappeared from today,
where deer gather at dusk and ghosty white flowers climb with mysterious vines.
You loved ones in graves still fresh,
where the good scent of rich dirt mingles with funeral flowers.
The salty scent of slow tears
trace the lines of loss in your mourners’ faces.
You loved ones, your powdered bones lying lost and quiet, somewhere
for centuries. Grave dust, star dust.
You loved ones with your ashes settled into rough urns of stone,
resting on mantles, or lost in forgotten cupboards of no consequence.
You loved ones: listen.
Your remains gave the spark of you back to the universe.
But the glow of you still glimmers.
At last your daughters are seeking you.
We can almost feel where you are.
Contemplating tattered prayer flags whipped by the north wind,
pondering the dance of trees in the storms,
breathing deep the moss on dark forest floors.
We carry each of your stories yet still know so few.
The language of the dead is difficult for the living.
Loved ones, we pledge this to you: we are learning.
In scattered huts and houses on the hillside
yellow lights appear in dark windows
Every morning this fire festival
built from yesterday’s brushwood
fueled by good work and breakfast
and the blaze of sun
as the new day surfaces.
Whether we’ve spent the night on our knees
or at the crossroads,
whether we receive first light with celebration
or with dread,
whether we’ve drifted in dreams born by rose petals
or in nightmares.
Dawn calls to each of us, alike.
What path will you walk today?
How will you worship
in this age of dreams and visions?
Will you whisper, or call out
to all that is holy?
I will kneel in the soft dirt,
murmuring spells to the seeds.