Country Mountains

Country Mountains

Today is my 90th birthday. It might seem confusing since I have been celebrating
this birthday for several days now.

On Saturday, 19 of my family, across three
generations including four great-grandsons, took me out to Tequila Mockingbird for dinner.

Poetry or the lyrics of songs always accompany any occasion in this family of assorted creatives. Just now I pulled out a birthday folder of 2 poems and Lizzie’s comments following each.

 

I intended to share one poem by Pablo Neruda,
closely related to my own art,when I noticed Lizzie’s comment on the first poem:

The first line made me think of you and how often I say to

you that I long for you to fall in love with yourself, to

remember who you are in your startling beauty and passion.

I push this —and this poem made me realize there is no need

to push this. It happens. It happens. We find that love

when we find it — and until then —we are held in our knowing,

held in patient, loving arms, held in our troubled sleep —

held in our darkness — held in the mountains.”
………………………………………………………………………………..

Here is that first poem:

HERE IN THE MOUNTAINS

There is one memory deep inside you,
in the dark country of your life.
It is a small fire burning forever.

Even after all these years
of neglect
the embers of what you have
known rest contented
in their own warmth.

Here in the mountains,
tell me all the things
you have not loved.
Their shadows will tell you
they have not gone,
they became this night
from which you drew away in fear.

Though at the trail’s end,
your heart stammers
with grief and regret
in this
final night
you will lead down at last
and breathe again on the
small campfire of your
only becoming.

And draw about You
the immensity
of the black sky
which loves your fire’s
centrality.

The deep shadow
that forever
takes
you in its arms.

The low song
of the long
and patient night
that holds you
in your sleep

and stitches
faithfully
with that impossible light
the dark blanket
from which you were born.

……………DAVID WHYTE

Lizzie ended with ‘held in the mountains’, the mountains of memory
for us being the Catskill mountains in New York State.

I love the next to last stanza: ‘the low song of the long and patient
night that holds you in your sleep,’ —- recalling the sound sleep of
youth and memories of each annual trip up to the “country mountains”.

Thank you, one and all, who are sharing this journey with me.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Babes In Toyland

Winter Landscape, Valley of the Catskills by Charles Herbert Moore (1840-1930)

“…… Magical, merry JOYLAND…
once you pass its portals, you may never return again.”

The sounds of that music echo from my childhood.
New York’s November & December programs on stage
were standard fare in our home. My sister and I put on our white gloves,
carried our little purses, and boarded the train to Grand Central
for the magic of illusion, accompanied by the adults.

Dears, that was many moons ago, yet is this not the season
for the very young?

Who could have said it better than this:

“My heart of silk
is filled with lights
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than these mountains,
farther than the oceans,
way up near the stars,
to ask Christ the Lord
to give back to me
the soul I had as a child,
matured by fairy tales,
with its hat of feathers
and its wooden sword.”

……………..FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA.

Hearing those words, who could not reclaim that
simplicity of childhood, matured, indeed, as it has through
the years and tears and tears to the fabric of belief.

Yes, Tinker Belle, I believe!

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Antoinette/Toni

OCCASIONS

PAFA-Image-3
Woman Reading by a Window, 1905 Artist: Gari Melchers

To celebrate the return of the early sun is a kind of wonder.
What do we say to each other?

How about this:

“I wish for you that when you awake

You emulate the leaf and the bird;

That like them, touched with grace, you take

Note of the wind.  You have not heard

Its low-voiced billows yet, nor seen

( Lost in your less elated rest)

The empty light upon the green,

The leaves and tumbling birds that gave

The wind its due, and then redressed

That small excess, each bounding spray

A boat that dances on the wave,

A whip that tingles in the day.”

……………..DANIEL DAVIE, 1922-1995
from an Anthology of the Best Poetry Since 1900,
edited by Michael Schmidt

Very much like the view from my window this April morning.
Celebrate the day.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

TAKE OFF from February

Can we wait for February and it’s weather’s ups and downs to
be done with? I realize how weary we are for the change of
Spring and a sense of lift-off!

The armchair traveler in me will have to do with this poem:

TAKEOFF

Our jet storms down the runway, tilts up, lifts.
We’re airborne, and each second we see more —
Outlying hangars, wetland with a pond
That flashes like sheened silver and, beyond,
An estuary and the frozen drifts
Of breakers wide and white along a shore.

One watches, cheek in palm.  How little weight
the world has as it swiftly drops away!
How quietly the mind climbs to this height
As now, the seat-belt sign turned off, a flight
Attendant rises to negotiate
The steep aisle to a curtained service bay.”

……………………….TIMOTHY STEELE, from the book,
180  more Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, compiled
by Billy Collins.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Art by Lucy Campbell
Art by Lucy Campbell

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

20130828-065109.jpg

OUT OF SEASON

Sometimes I have to remember that what’s ahead,
directly as on a calendar, does not have to be my
primary concern, as in walking forward into the
holidays coming up.

I do find myself singing some old Christmas songs
that merrily play away on radio and mall domain.
Yet today, I’m minded to remember the summer.

Take a deep breath, and step out with me:

“Walked out this morning
into a broad green garden
with the rising sun in my eyes
and the first hint of the day’s heat
touching my face,
feeling as broad as the garden
and young as the day
and soaking up the heat
in my black tee-shirt,
walked straight forward
out of the gate,
through the wood,
along the river,
toward the mountain
and thought of the future
I could make in the world
if I walked toward it
like this,
with my face toward the hills
and my eyes full of light
and the earth sure
and solid beneath me,
walking on
with a fierce anticipation
and a faithful expectation,
with the sun and the rain
and the wind on my skin
and the old sense
I remember at twenty
of many paths
breaking from one path.

As if the body could walk
forever,
as if we all could walk
and keep on walking
from one path to another,
noting and loving again
the wonders
of the turning world….
that’s what we’ll do,
practicing as we go.”

…………….DAVID WHYTE, from his book of poems,
River Flow, 1984-2007

That mention of the ‘black tee-shirt’ is what
caught me, since I do have a favorite short-sleeved
tee that I feel so at home in. It’s sitting on my
summer shelf.
Available.
Any day, any time.
My choice, practicing with a warm sweater over it.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

FINDING HER HERE

Where will I find me? I awake in the morning and wonder
who she is, the me for this day, for this task of being human.

Apparently, this is seasonal! After permissive summertime,
the Fall is here and back to reality. Pack away the light colors
of summer clothes and thoughts. Create schedules that work.
Look in the mirror critically in preparation for the day.

This morning I found a poem from 2006 that I had kept for
a reminder, and maybe today is the day to look at it again:

“I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor —
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
weathered basket

I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises,
I am becoming full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
but knows she’s not scarce —
who knows she is plenty,
plenty to share.

from her book, My First Real Tree.
……………………………………………………………..

That’s the way she woke up on a day that she
then created more.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

PERMISSION

I have a wonderful book about poetry and healing, it’s square-ish,seven inches by nine inches, and at least an inch thick. When all else fails, I generally can find a poem or a paragraph that will fill the need of the moment.

This morning I turned to a new chapter, heading reading: Giving Yourself Permission To Be Wild and Magnificent. It was on the right page, facing a simple poem on the left page:

“Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or bush does is lost to you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.”

………..DAVID WAGONER, from the book, Poetic Medicine,
by John Fox

Sometimes my room is my forest. I can suddenly stop, think,
what am I going to get —- and it finds me if I just stay still.

If I just stay still.

And then, it’s summer, maybe I will find that forest and
let it find me.

Meanwhile, I’m Here.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

TRANSITIONS

I am sure we are in transition. Daily, awaking to gray skies,
it’s hard to think any season is present. So, I look ahead
to the remembered time of summer, a summons perhaps,
to warm breezes and sunny days:

“What is the change in summer
of which one expects nothing?
Nature is not reborn,
nor does she perish except
in the streaks of a rare elm
that has outlived itself.
The weather conceals nothing:
the months are temperate,
even in the hardest rains
one may walk without a coat.
The gardens flourish, and bear
without a gardener’s help.

Sitting in windows at night
black cats and their masters
look out on summer; the moon
feeds their yellow visions,
the opened windows cool them.
One learns to smoke a pipe
and is pleased for solitude.
One wants nothing to happen
forever, and thinks of those
who perhaps are ready to die,
except that it is summer
and they are putting it off.”

………………….ROBLEY WILSON,
from the book, A Dream of Summer,
Poems for the Sensuous Season,
selected by Robert Atwan.

Putting it off! What a lovely thought. Time takes on
another way of being that suggests a sense of
‘living like a river flows, carried by the surprise of
its own unfolding’.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

VEES ACROSS THE SKIES

On Sunday my friend Diane and I took salad-take-outs to Southport Dock,
where sitting on a bench one can see a huge horizon. Lovely. Suddenly,
silently, some sense said, ‘look up’, and there they were, a long stream in
V-formation, heading north again, the geese.

Breath-taking.

Seeing that affirmation of nature’s order was like turning a calendar page.
Yes, it’s Spring, wild geese time. I honor that by recalling the freedom of
a poem:

W I L D G E E S E

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You have only to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell my about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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

A chance glance, and all seems new.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette