Like Fair Ophelia, the daisies are drowning. Daisies! —the very symbol of freshness and life. Recent rains here transformed a patch of daisies into something more like a lily pond. The daisies are valiantly trying to survive—some managing to hold their heads above water; others standing no chance at all. In the nearby lake as the waters rise, fish are investigating newly expanded territories… splash, splash! … and herons are investigating the fish. Question…
Five months since my last message? I was going to claim I’d been on sabbatical, but I’ve used that excuse before. Well… past is past and now is now. It’s time for a winter thaw and new beginnings. “The beginning is the most important part of the work,” Plato said. But I disagree. Repeated re-beginnings like this are even more important.
After a decade of writing near-daily poems, I’m surprised at how often I’m surprised doing it. When I don’t come to the task ready with a topic, I often simply position the pencil over the paper, clear my mind, and wait for some kind of flow (words, images, or emotions). If I resist writing whatever first appears, that resistance sets up a blockage. So no matter what comes, I welcome it, even if no poem results. In every case, though, a wonderful gift arrives—an absurdity, a memory, an exploration of pain, or something else altogether.
Writing this way is akin to dreaming. It taps into normally hidden or disowned realms of consciousness. Once retrieval is made, analysis can begin. Today’s poem-writing process illustrates that adventure.
Today, September 20, is my mother’s birthday. My Dad and most of his children gathered at Mother’s gravesite tonight, and it was a beautiful time. We siblings put out a big basket of silk flowers and—since we had a notion it might be carried off, as sometimes happens—we put a weatherproofed note deep within the bouquet. It said:
On daily walks, I never know what I’ll encounter. Usually it’s something marvelous. Other times it’s funny or beautiful or grim.
DEAD TO THE WORLD
two body lengths
from the electrified fence,
lie unmoving in the dust and weeds.
A neighborhood walker approaches.)
“Where’ve you been, buddies, huh?
I been missin’ you these last few days.
Not gonna raise your heads, are ya?
Too stuck up? Too dang taaard?”
“Hey, I’m callin’ ya’s, … whistlin’.
It ain’t that hot; you ain’t that tard.
Cain’t be. C’mon move, ya lazy lugs.
I bet this rock I’m tossin’ll bust you awake.”
OH! Oh ma gawd,
who done you in, boys?
(An ear twitches.)
Well that was a somber episode ... until it flipped. Spooky. Those were some, yeah, dead-to-the-world critters. These are the same two dogs that used to howl and bark and chase along the fence every time I walked near. Now they’re inured to me … or, hopefully, my efforts to befriend them have been ultra-successful. This is a good way for this episode to end.
(By the way, that is not my normal mode of talking. But the boys enjoy it … when they’re alert.
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