A Cool Platter of Cooked Shrimp

imageWeeks after my birthday gift in December, I used my gift card
of $50 to Whole Foods to have this amazing experience of
abundance when the other day I bought a whole pound of fresh
shrimp, cool & cooked, with a balance on that gift card left over
for another foray into food extravaganza.

“Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.”

That quote is from a Mary Oliver poem that has nothing to do
with cooked shrimp, but has every thing to do with Joy. When
I knew I could share this odd joy of the cooked shrimp with you,
I went looking for a poem to match the sense of aliveness that
having all you ever wanted of one thing was right there.

It takes only one moment of being in the right place at the
right time to know it’s possible, at no great cost, to find joy
in the smallest moment.

You’ll recognize it when it happens to you. The memory of
this got me up at 3:30 this morning to remind you.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

……….Quote from the poem, October, in the Mary Oliver book of
poems, New & Selected Poems, Vol. 1, 1992.

 

 

CONVERSATION

photo 4WHENEVER I read a poem for the first time, I start out
eager to explore. ( please be advised that this is not
the way to treat a poem)

Because in the middle I am so curious as to where I
will end up, not even where the poem will end up,
that I get to the last line out of breath.

I may suggest that I simply step out of myself,
reach for the poem and let it happen. Yes:

” YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE
A CONVERSATION IS
GOING TO GO

Said Ricky to me one day, “Why is it you
don’t have a tail?”

Well, I just don’t. Maybe once upon a time
I had one, but not anymore.

“What happened? Did you have an accident?”

No, no. Things change. Sometimes. Over
time.

“You mean, maybe sometime I won’t get a walk,
I won’t get dinner? I won’t get hugs? That’s
scary, plain scary.”

No, No, it takes a really long time. In
fact, some things change, over time, and
some don’t.

“Well, how do I know what’s what?”

Day by day, Ricky. You find out.
Has anything changed that troubles you?

“Actually, nothing. I like everything a lot,
every day.”

Well, see? Just keep on liking things
and praying.

” I don’t know anything about that.”

Yes, you do. Every time you wake up and
love your life and the world, you’re
praying, my dear boy. I’m sure of it.

………………………. MARY OLIVER, from her book,
Dog Songs, 2013

I did have to read that one at least three times.
Every time, it changed me.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

 

DELAYED GIFTS

Today we are on the eve of a new moon,
a little after 4 am tomorrow.
A time to wash my hair, shower until the water feels like rain,
and bask in freshness.

I knew Mary Oliver would have a word or two on that:

THE SWEETNESS OF DOGS

What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise.  It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, make me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven.  thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world.  Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face.  As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.”

………..MARY OLIVER, in the book of poetry,
Dog Songs.

Back to the subject I chose: Delayed Gifts.
I received that poetry book at Christmas, 2013.
I read the last poem, a middle poem, loved it
and then the long winter of 2014 took over.

New moon or full moon, the words touch me
and I am grateful for this morning, for the idea
of me being one iota pondering heaven, and
how rich it is to love the world.

Oh, yes,

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

photo

 

SPRING’S RUMBLINGS

Each morning, recently, I have awakened hoping to see buds 

bursting green on the branches of my trees.  Well, I call them
my trees because they greet me every day, rain or shine.
 
In the afternoon the sun casts a glow on those trees, the promise of coming
sunny days, yet the branches remain stark against the sky. 
 
Maybe, after some rain,  a tomorrow soon will bring that promise.
 
Until then:
 
BEING COUNTRY BRED
 
Being country bred, I am at ease in darkness;
Like everything that thrives
In fields beyond the city’s keep, I own
Five wooden senses, and a sixth like water.
 
These things I know
Before they set their mark upon the earth:
Chinook and snow,
Mornings of frost in the well, of birth in the barns.
 
Sweet world,
Think not to confuse me with poems or love beginning
Without a sigh or sound:
Here at the edge of rivers hung with ice
Spring is still miles away, and yet I wake
Throughout the dark, listen, and throb with all
Her summoning explosions underground.”
 
……………MARY OLIVER, from New & Selected Poems,
                                      Volume One, 1992
 
They are predicting weather in the 70’s for the weekend.
Just in time.
 
always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

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DOG SONGS

I leapt forward just now.

It’s that time of year when we approach
Daylight Savings Time, and I just moved my watch forward.  The computer
and the T-V have already been forwarded.  Amazing that we can arrange
time that way.

These early morning hours have a mystery of their own.   On the verge of
Spring, I prepare to be bold and brave again:

EVERY DOG’S STORY

I have a bed, my very own.

It’s just my size.

and sometimes I like to sleep alone

with dreams inside my eyes.

But sometimes dreams are dark and wild and creepy

and I wake and am afraid,  though I don’t know  why.

But I’m no longer sleepy

and too slowly the hours go by.

So I climb on the bed where the light of the moon

is shining on your face

and I know it will be morning soon.

Everybody needs a safe place.”

…………MARY OLIVER,
from her book, ‘Dog Songs’, poems.

……………………………………………….

May  your day include a safe place,  dear ones.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Art by Lucy Campbell
Art by Lucy Campbell

IN FEBRUARY

My travels are mainly looking through the large windows
surrounding the courtyard where the SWOOSH of wings
tells me a flock of birds have found their way to shelter.

Now, if I had a dog and if I were in my 30’s again I could be
having quite another experience:

” Now through the white orchard my little dog

romps, breaking the new snow

with wild feet.

Running here running there, excited,

hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins

until the white snow is written upon

in large,exuberant letters,

a long sentence, expressing

the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better
myself.”

…………………………………MARY OLIVER,
from her book of poems, ‘Dog Songs’.

Oh, yes!  I, too, could not have said it  better.
…………………………………………………………….

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

JOY

TODAY

I slept longer than I thought I might, and lo, it is already almost dawn.
We are approaching the traditional celebration of a change of season: labor day weekend.

There is still time this morning to hold on to the mystery of just the change from night to day!
Time enough to listen to a poem?
Let’s try:

T H E P O N D S
Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them —

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above the difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

– MARY OLIVER, (from her New & Selected Poems Volume One. 1992)

The sun is turning a gold rim on the horizon, the trees
stil dark and patterned on the sky.
The whole day is before us.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

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GENEROSITY

There are some days when I awaken and lie sleepless, and that’s OK.

Something is knocking, trying to tell me
something.

The reason I know it’s OK is I am not feeling anxious, only curious.
OK.
I got up just now and knew that I could find a clue in a poem.

And I have:

ROBERT SCHUMANN
Hardly a day passes I don’t think of him
in the asylum: younger

than I am now, trudging the long road down
through madness to death.

Everywhere in this world his music
explodes out of itself, as he

could not. And now I understand
something so frightening, and wonderful —

how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing
through crossroads, sticking

like lint to the familiar. So!
Hardly a day passes I don’t

think of him: nineteen, say, and it is
spring in Germany

and he has just met a girl named Clara.
He turns the corner,

he scrapes the dirt from his soles,
he runs up the dark staircase, humming.
MARY OLIVER (New and Selected Poems, Volume One. 1992)

This reading this morning has reminded me of the fine line of art in our spirits. No matter what follows, to trust the impulse from the heart that explodes into art of any sort is true eros.

If that can move me, approaching 95 now, to a place of a common joy, where now in quite another century,
I find I am running up a staircase just as eagerly for the life to be found there, then all is well.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

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MORNING POEM

“Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.”

………..MARY OLIVER
new & selected poems, volume one.

Even relinquishing the easy balance and strength of my body, in my 80’s and now at mid-90’s, took more
than I thought I had of a willingness to “keep trudging”.

My morning silence this whole year was like holding my breath to reach a landing place I could trust.
This far and no further.

That’s what I thought.

And this morning I honor what it takes to dare to be happy.
My prayers were all over the place, prayers for us all.
Maybe scattered because I was only trudging, unsure of what prayer can actually do.

Sometime in May this year, a ground swell of gifts showed up at my door, and I learned just how wonderful it is to feel so loved.

A few people knew about the edema in my lower limbs, and spread the word that I needed equipment to enable my body to adapt to a healing mode of life. To each and every one of you, who contributed so fully, THANK YOU …. Thank you for caring.
Words don’t say enough.

My place has been changed to create room for a lift-chair, bookcases moved, a new TV to delight in. I have learned to use my Rollator with seat to move with confidence anywhere.

Feeling loved?
I had to dare to let that in.
I can dare to pray, whether or not I have ever truly dared to pray before.
……………………………………….

Well, really, our hearts pray for us before we even understand prayer is being in love with life, with each other, with every breath.
……………………………………..
See you around dawn, soon.
always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Antoinette/Toni

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DRIVING THROUGH THE NIGHT

I have word that right now, in the indigoes of the night, loved ones are driving toward a gathering for the sharing of love in its healing mode.
Night or day, this is welcome.
Take this thought with you:

“P O P P I E S
The Poppies send up their
orange flares, swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black curved blade
from hooking forward —
of course
loss is the great lesson.

but also I say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight —

and what are you going to do —
what can you do
about it —
deep blue night.”

…………..MARY OLIVER, from her book, New & Selected Poems, Volume One, 1992

There might be a song you could be singing,in the solitude of almost dawn, that gives permission to feel the warm, blessed feeling of love.

Prayers to all.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

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