poetry


I need motivation to clean house. If I don’t have a good reason to do it, it doesn’t get done. Really. There are so many more interesting and creative things to do with my time. The best motivator is when company’s coming, then it’s, Yikes, how high the paper piles have grown,” Gee, I didn’t realize the dust was that thick,” and, “Whew, that floor looks baaad!”.

Big band music has been my go-to energizer when even I can’t take the mess any longer. It doesn’t lend itself so much to dusting, or going through papers, but putting away clutter or swiffering to Glenn Miller and Harry James is about as painless as cleaning gets. With my motorized wheel chair for locomotion my floors are done and danced to in no time.

There are advantages to living in a three room apartment. By just turning up the volume on the computer, I can hear music in the bedroom and kitchen as well. Taking this a step further I can catch up with TED Talks or some other podcast in the living room or kitchen while I cook or clean. I found a public radio blog called On Being and listened to a wonderful interview today with the poet Elizabet Anderson.
The help page for On Being has a hundred or more pod casts to choose from and several ways to access them. I used ITunes.

Speaking of TED Talks and wheel chairs here’s one you simply can’t miss. Multimedia, performance and installation artist Sue Austin has a fascinating mission at the center of her work: to challenge the idea of disabled as “other” and represent her experience as a wheelchair user in a brighter light.

“Here is an amazement–once I was twenty years old and in every motion of my body there was a delicious ease, and in every motion of the green earth there was a hint of paradise, and now I am sixty years old, and it is the same.” *

There hasn’t been a delicious ease in my body since the age of six when I got polio, and I’m sixty-eight not sixty, but specifics are immaterial. Mary Oliver has, once again, reached deep inside my heart and given exquisite voice to my feelings.

Playing Frank Chacksfield’s Summertime in Venice today on iTunes I felt young and in love and it hit me that I’ve spent most of my life in love. The thought amazed me! It’s been a long life and one with the normal share of problems and sorrows, so what’s going on here?

The answer is, I’m blessed. Sounds simple, atheists might say simple-minded, but neither would be the case. My life is a complicated process demanding constant adjustments in thoughts and actions, in beliefs and reactions, but there are certain constants that bring me joy regardless of good times or bad. The major constant in my life has been my Christian faith and that faith has led me to perpetual thanksgiving.

This blessing of gratitude colors all my thoughts and life views and grows stronger and stronger by the day. To begin with, God loves me. What could deserve more gratitude than that?

My great joy comes in prayer, in nature, in art and beauty of all kinds. And so I am in love and in a state of wonder at the sheer magnitude of God’s creation. But I am not always happy. The miseries of this world are far too apparent and too appalling to ignore or minimize. A friend writes today about the seven deadly sins and votes greed to the top of the list. Yes, I agree. And want to shake the apathy from the placid and the evil out of the wicked, but who will listen, who will care? Most importantly, who will change?

So, I ride the waves of bliss and despair and my heart suffers, but scratch the surface of that bleeding heart and as it bleeds the hint of paradise appears, the promise, the glory of a God who is righteous and who will judge fairly, with both compassion and vengeance.

Mary Oliver lives in that state of wonder, too, senses and articulates that hint of paradise in nearly every poem. I’m grateful to her for adding to my hope, for singing her psalms of praise and joy, for loving the world and God as I do.

*This quote appears smack in the middle of Ms. Oliver’s poem Am I not among the Early Risers?, from both Thirst, and New and Selected Poems–Volume Two.

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I decided to begin an exploring poetry notebook but didn’t like its flimsy yellow cover, so I glued on a sheet of cardstock from my Mariposa collection and then one thing led to another. I gessoed the edges near the spiral to cover the yellow, added a Photoscape collage, then blocks of lettering made from the leftover cardstock. The back cover got a different pattern cardstock, a Wordle and some text. A pretty envelope went inside the front cover to hold collected bits, but the inside back cover is still unadorned and sad; maybe I’ll do that later. Right now my floors need swiffering.

I am from family:
from a genealogy traced back to the good ship DeGroot out of Friesland in 1659 and another that begins and ends with no place name but Poland.

I am from sauerbraten and potato pancakes, kapusta and kielbasa; from pride and good blood and a loathing of lies;
I am from Roman Catholic and Protestant;
from Easter lilies and raisin-studded babka;
from decorating eggs to egg-tapping.

I am from stories:
of how they met in Sears and how much she disliked him;
of what the tree buds looked like the April I was born.

I am from history:
from Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy;
I am from a war every twenty years or so;
I am from the first steps on the moon, to the Twin Towers and a planet in the midst of global warming.

I am from polio epidemics and “Will she live?”
to survival but legs that no longer ran.
I am from hospitals and therapy and
missing my first grade play,
from tutors and home-schooling,
from summers playing endless skelly games with best friends,
to winters of isolation with the Bobsy Twins and Nancy Drew.

I am from a lack of all grandparents but one, who rarely spoke, but read the newspaper from cover to cover every evening and brought me books from the same library where I worked for nearly twenty years.

I am from miracle stories:
of an uncle who died at seven listening to the angels sing;
of a vision of Christ as life was saved by one more pint of blood;
of faith renewed in a house blazing with celestial light.

I am from stories of WWII:
of bone-chilling foxholes and purple hearts;
of a body invaded by bullets and shrapnel;
of missing the “Battle of the Bulge” by being thrown in the “clink”.
I am from a grandpa buried on Christmas Eve, a grandma dying eight months later, a father deployed the day after the funeral.
I am from hand addressing envelopes to buy formula, from censored letters so blacked-out nothing was visible between My darling wife and Your loving husband.

I am from a cord of three; of hard work shared, of love for nature, laughter, bread-baking, ocean travel and one another other.

I am of stories and language, enthusiasm and creativity, of classical music, pastel portraits, of manuscripts unpublished but finished. I am of porches and magnolia trees, of chatting with neighbors over the back fence and phone calls measured by hours, not minutes. I am of depression and coping, of falling down and getting up, of failure and success, of missed opportunities and roads less traveled, of lifelong learning and growing my soul, of meditation and prayer, of fellowship and gratitude.

I am from generations never met, to a circle nearing completion. I am from faith, love, and thanksgiving for a life blessed beyond measure.