We’re told we must be silent when we paint
Turning off the left brain so that we might see
With artist’s eyes
In front of me, a small pallet –
Six colors to make six colors
and six hundred colors more
Finding hidden shapes
and shades within this leaf
Emerging slow in silent reverie
I dip my brush into the water
Let it soak in deep
Specks of paint spread quickly
Life bursting into light
Close to nature
Sister Prejean spoke from the altar
a preacher of rivers and fire
awakened to injustice
to secret rituals
hidden behind walls
where she walked with dead men
into the fire
locked eyes with the dead men
to restore life
honored the flowing river of life
knowing, as Jesus did, that
we are all worth
than the worst thing
we have ever done
In Ireland, we take a bus to 18 Parnell Square
home of the Dublin Writers Museum
to witness the old manuscripts
letters and diaries,
first editions and rare books
locked behind glass
Outside, a steady rain
pounds on leaded windows
while we greet the ghosts
of Behan and Beckett
Swift and Wilde
Dracula and Sweet Molly Malone
Alive, alive, oh,
their passionate yearnings
scrawled across yellowed pages
released once again to the musty air
where they swirl and swirl
before settling into my bones
Today after walking I sat in the sun
September air making its subtle season shifts
readying the leaves for changing
while bird shadows dance high above my perch
and woodpecker taps out his autumn song
time time time time
transporting me back to summer’s end in Papa’s yard
standing still in the garden beneath a tall pine tree
slow bee buzz and my first woodpecker concert
Papa in his suspendered jeans, tapping time on a rusty trash can
Yesterday I cleaned my closet,
donated two trash bags stuffed with clothes that used to fit.
I watered all the plants, repotted the lemon tree.
It has been three weeks since I retired.
So far, I have rocked two babies, one at a time.
Played pickle in the middle with two grandsons.
Read four books.
Sat in the garden for hours on end,
Thinking about life to the tune of a wisteria-drunk buzz of bees
and one raucous crow.
It’s lovely here in the garden.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll write.
Dear Naomi Shihab Nye,
Congratulations on your selection as Young People’s Poet Laureate.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to spend a weekend in your class at Asilomar. I still have the work I completed that weekend, including a detailed drawing of my childhood neighborhood. There were many magical moments as we worked together in our small group, including your recitation of “Kindness” and your sharing of the back story of that poem. To this day, it remains my favorite poem – I’ve passed it along to numerous friends and family when they’ve needed it most.
Years later, I was studying for the week at Teacher’s College when you gave the closing address. Listening to you speak, I felt such kinship with you. Whenever I’m asked who is my favorite poet, your name is the first to pop into my head.
Your words have such power and I am so very grateful for the way your words have enriched my life.
My friend and I were riding home on BART from San Francisco. The only open seats were the priority seats right inside the doors, designated for disabled riders. We grabbed them and sat down.
At the first stop in Oakland, a huge crush of people entered the car all at once. The last one on was a young woman, nearly doubled over. She grabbed onto the seat, looked at us imploringly and said, please, I’m seven weeks pregnant. With that, we both jumped up and she fell into our seats.
She looked up at me, and since no one had taken the seat beside her, I sat back down. She then turned to me tearfully and told me that she was in pain. Excruciating. Had to stand up in the middle of a meeting and leave work. Asked me, is this normal?
What do you say to a woman doubled over in pain in the early stages of pregnancy?
Every pregnancy is different. You should call your doctor. Have you called your doctor?
She had called her dad. He was picking her up from the train and driving her to the Emergency Room though he didn’t know why.
We rode together for the next several stops. Spoke in quiet voices. Invited calm. It will be all right. No matter what, everything will be all right.
Today is Easter Sunday. The day she and her husband had planned to joyously announce to her parents that she was pregnant with their first grandchild.
I don’t know her name. I don’t know the rest of the story. I can’t stop thinking about her.
Today she is my Easter prayer.