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I am delighted to have my poem Emergence appear in the summer issue of Rose Red Review.  It is always delightful to have my poems appear in print and what a great name for a journal.  Yes, there is a connection between Rose Red and Snow White; here is the relationship as described on the site:

Rose Red is the outdoorsy, curious sister of Snow White, a shy, delicate wallflower. Rose Red represents warmth, passion, and the thirst for knowledge; it is she who invites the cursed bear-prince into the home she shares with her sister. Rose Red is enamored with life, and she possesses a sense of adventure. If she were a real girl, Rose Red would seek out the magic in the every day: a sandy riverbank, a new song, strange happenings in an airport. In difficult times, she would recognize the nature of hardship: a hurdle to overcome.

They have also taken a poem for their spring issue so I’ll let you know when that comes out.

After all, but still

To arrive by quiet finally

at the doorway into dark

nothing, force

that renovates the now,

puts daily plans

to eternity’s test

so that just these three remain:

To love, the heart cracked, spilling now its unstoppable fire.

To die, the body at rest while the hawk rises.

To live, the hand pulls silken seeds from a pod,

lifts them to wind,

lets go.

Dark Milkweed for Post Illustration

 

This poem was published in Freshwater 2014, I am proud to report.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. Martin Buber

Yes, I thought my journey today was a short circuit around the Smith College campus, lovely and well groomed.  This was what I knew.

But there were wild eruptions beneath the tended beauty.

Dark-dot tadpoles with their manic tails swarmed the pond’s edge. Above them, surely mountainous in their small view, a full grown frog. Hind legs mucky grey to match the mud from which it rose but from the back starts a new-leaf green that smooths the whole of this frog’s head.  An unblinking eye; the stillness in which it wants to hide.

So much life in this small spot. I could encircle the whole of it in my two arms.  But, of course, if I tried water, tadpoles, frog would all flow out.  They are beyond my grasp and move on in tune to spring’s quick beat.

Buber also invites me to look at my journey through grief.  The start in tidal waves that overcame my boat of self: swamped and treading new-strange waters.

I was not the first to go on this journey, though it seemed I was because I hadn’t heard about this pain.  How could anyone else have felt this way and not have spoken of it?  Of course, this journey had been spoken but I didn’t know to listen below the words; this first grief can be described but it cannot be captured.  You know it when you know it.

And once I met grief, I thought I was on one kind of journey: all full of pain with the instructions to be brave.

But the secret destination of grief is not pain.

The waters do calm, become like the edge of the pond. I can be like the frog then; rising from the muck but new green and listening. I am listening for my dear departed one.  The messages can dart in from any direction.

I no longer listen for words.  We don’t have words together anymore – and even in life words failed us, probably more often than not.

But I feel the rise and fall of my chest when I remember breakfasts followed by walk down the street and how he cheered me and all my projects on.

I feel my feet sturdy when I stand in the room where he painted the window’s key stones purple.

I feel energy enter my left hand and move up my body when I dare – yes, I dare – to receive what I can only call love flowing from my beloved in his new place.

And that’s it then:  the secret journey of grief is not pain.  The secret journey of grief is love.

First Anniversary

Dear Departed One,

The evening

became evening

became dark,

led you to Nowhere.

 

I knelt at that threshold

whispering all the words

I knew into Winter

night after long night

down on my knees.

I couldn’t leave.

 

But Spring came and ice broke.

I mixed your ash in with the seeds

answered soil’s call to be fed.

Prayers now in my palms,

under my nails, turning the earth.

I watched green take the field,

raise the vine, feed the bud

and blood of strawberry

opened my lips.

 

I walked then

in our old places

as green turned to flame,

turned to brown,

everything fell down

and this is the day

you’ve been gone

in all the seasons.

 

I’ve used up my prayers

 

A white goose rises

so close I hear air lift each feather,

the sound of earth embracing sky,

turning me into the shift

where I no longer speak

but instead listen to hear

from the wind,

from the field,

from the snow

the prayer

you make now

for me.

 

There is plenty of contemporary writing about grief and mourning, but I’ve found it to be very clinical and its focus on the individual isolating. As a society, we have forgotten that the Goddess and Her Stories are guides for our grief and mourning, but She hasn’t forgotten us. She remains as She Who Watches and comes to us when we are in need, even when we don’t turn to Her.

She Who Watches showed me Her face as the Egyptian Goddess Isis, and Her story has been as a guide for me to creative mourning. Yes, even in the deepest loss, Isis shows us how that the new is being born.

DGT Isis

Isis from The Dark Goddess Tarot

There are many version of her story.  I will share with you a version of that story that has 5 parts; you might call them tasks that Isis assists us to complete:

  • Wild grief, weeping, and seeking.
  • Finding the Beloved Dead in Unexpected Places.
  • Re-membering.
  • Conception of new life.
  • Shapeshifting for the Living and the Dead.

Continue reading on my Art of Change Tarot blog

Wild Wisdom Series

I have started a series of poetic nature meditations inspired by the many wonderful photos I have.  I’ve been posting them to my Tarot blog, but they certainly fit the themes of this blog as well.  Periodically, I’ll let you know about the offerings over there so you can decide if you want to make a cyber trip.  Unlike today’s New England weather, travel is easy and there is no snow in cyberspace!

Gate of Water

John at Water Edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Water

Trail of Cedars Close

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gate of Fire

Burn and growth 2 of Wands

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Fire

Bonfire

The Field Where I Laid Him

With the help of friends, I scattered John’s ashes in a field destined for flowers in a place that he loved.  I thought mostly about how his ashes would mix with and feed the blooming flowers, but the field is ever changing.  It buds and blooms and decays and disappears.  In September all of these life-death processes exist side by side.

Two weeks ago they plowed over the field.  I knew it would happen and, yet, seeing the empty field hurt, brought John’s absence into sharp focus.  OK, the field will be my teacher of loss, I thought. But this week when I returned, the field was green again!  Winter rye, that potent soil fixer, was already growing and greening the plowed rows again. Life and death are in a dance together and we do well to learn its power.

What follows is a glimpse into that changing field interspersed with quotes from Normandi Ellis’s Awakening Osiris:  The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Phanes Press, 1988).  It’s a book of John’s that when I pulled it off the shelf this past winter brought me great comfort.

The Field

“I am like that old [Egyptian God] Osiris waking in the night. Drunk on the cool wine of darkness, I eat the bread of life and die. I know. I am blessed by mortality. I am a field enduring, growing wheat one year, barley the next, tangled flowing papyrus, a hill of sand. I am ever after changing, while the eye of the watcher shines and takes me in” (p.52).

Just scattered with ash

New field slant

“Even nothing can not last. The seed laid into the void must grow.  The candle’s only purpose is to shine in the darkness. Bread is meant to be ground for pulp in the teeth. The function of life is to have something to offer death. Ah, but the spirit lies always between, coming and going in and out of heaven, filling and leaving the houses of earth” (p. 58)

First flower

First Flower

“I come forth from the edge of heaven. … A half moon, I sail on the edge of heaven.  The wheat in my field has sprung up in straight rows.  I am guardian against forgetfulness, keeping watch, moving on” (p. 134).

Full flower

Full Bee in Sunflower

 

Full Yellow Flowers

Full Sunflowers against purples

“If you stood on a summer’s morning on the banks under a brilliant sky, you would see the thousand petals and say that together they make the lotus. But if you lived in its heart, invisible from without, you might see how the ecstasy at its fragrant core gives rise to its thousand petals. What is beautiful is always that which is itself essence, a certainty of being. I marvel at myself and the things of the earth” (p.167).

Descent begins

 Descent

“The snake observed with amber eyes. He motioned toward a door that opened from air into air. ‘If that is so, can your heart name the name of this gate?’

‘Being,’ I said.

‘And the lands on either side?’

‘Creation and destruction.’

‘Pass then, [Eternal One],’ he said.

The snake withdrew and the multicolored birds gathered, circling in the dark, gathering me, lifting me up. I stepped through and nothing changed, yet I had entered heaven” (p. 192-3).

The fall

Fall with shadow

“The truth of what we all our knowing is both light and dark. Men are always dying and waking. The rhythm between we call life. In the night I turn and face myself, the many howling, laughing, pausing in the body of one. Some miracle is about to happen. Some new man unseen wishes to rise and speak. I walk in darkness feeling darkness on my skin. Dawn always begins in the bones. … Death maters, as does life. As it ends it begins again. Knowing that is both my comfort and my fear” (p. 218).

The empty field, the sun set, the moon

Empty Plowed field

Empty Sunset

Empty Moon

“In the land of the sun, in the season of the end, I climb the highest hill. The moon is a sliver caught in the trees. Entering night I carry the lamp. Though no man sees it, I shine my light into darkness. See who even a single beam cuts through so the path lies clear. The wolves run frightened.  Still no great harm comes to [one] who walks unafraid to die” (p. 167).

The field greening again

Winter Rye

“I wait to come forth by day again. My body turns to greening. I wait to give birth into dream, to give form to the peace in my heart. I shall be a man of the earth shaping the things of the god. I am light entering fire, coming forth and shining through darkness. May I walk beneath blue heaven singing, my heart telling the story of light. I am a man blessed by becoming millions and millions of time” (p. 105)

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