Encounters

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a person can be a meadow you slowly walk through
wild-flower spangled in the early morning light,
another a stony courtyard
horse hoofs sparking as they clop clop clop.
one, two, three stepping stones, across a fast moving brook,
or a crunchy gravel path, with many pebbles in your shoes.

a person can be a gentle hillside, that stretches to the sky,
or a treachorous murky bog, that waits to snatch your shoes.
a craggy bluff you climb, where you dare not look down,
a half built house, with rooms in disarray,
where you wouldn’t want to linger and you head right for the door.

And oh, the person who is a garden, all loamy filled with smells,
or the person who is a mountain, covered with sturdy firs.

Each person is your journey
how ever long they stick around.

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Quick on Her Feet

pantyhose

When I was twelve my body shot up until I am the height I am now… 5 ft 9. I was the tallest kid in the whole elementary school, boy or girl. I was all knees and wobbly ankles while trying to navigate this new reality…and part of this new world was learning how to dress as a preteen and wear things like pantyhose. Oh, how I hated pantyhose at first! It felt stifling and one had to be so prim and proper, otherwise inevitably the pantyhose would get snagged and get runs and that was a fate worse than death.

One evening I was at an event at our church with my parents. For some reason I don’t remember now, my three brothers weren’t there, so it was just my parents and I. For the occasion I was wearing a skirt and blouse and the inevitable pantyhose. And, of course, panties. I was a good girl and good girls ALWAYS wear panties. Or at least I did THEN.

Now, here’s the important detail. I had decided, that I should wear the panties OVER the pantyhose. The pantyhose weren’t a good fit, with my long legs, and I believe I decided that the panties could do double duty…..keeping the pantyhose from slipping down too far also.

We were standing in the middle of a long line winding it’s way towards a potluck table. As I stood there, I felt a whooooooosh of something slipping down my legs. My panties had fallen down and were now pooled around my ankles.

MY PANTIES HAD FALLEN DOWN IN A HUGE ROOM OF PEOPLE.

As quick as a wink, I stepped out of the panties and nonchalantly reached down, grabbed them and stuffed them in my purse.

I WAS MORTIFIED.

I looked around to see who had noticed. My mom was smiling at me and my dad was looking the other way. She leaned over and whispered….you did that so fast…nobody noticed! Sure enough, I looked around the room and nobody was staring. I was still mortified, of course. I didn’t tell anyone. But here’s the thing…..the best thing about it.

From that point forward… I knew I could think fast on my feet. (literally AND figuratively.)

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Life Can Go On Undimmed

 

glam

“He liked to see a woman still flaunting her powers of attraction.  His taste, these days, ran not to the young, not even to the middle-aged, but to those about to enter their late fifties or even early sixties.  He liked to see what a woman could make of herself then, as if he might catch her out on her whole amorous history by virtue of the signals she still displayed.  A disappointed woman, he thought, would not bother, whereas a woman whose faith in herself had been preserved would go to town, embrace every remaining year, enjoy the afterglow of her past, and thus earn his indulgent and always amused approval.  He knew, of course, that the signs could be misleading, that not all decorative, or indeed decorated women had had a gallant past…..what he admired now, he thought, was a sort of pluck, the quality that made a woman want to dress herself boldly and sally forth in spite of the damage that the years were doing to her…..Life could go on and that it could go on undimmed.”

 

-Anita Brookner, Latecomers

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Poets Live On Their Senses

campfire

“I suppose what most people associate with poetry is soul-searching and fiercely held emotions.  We expect the poet to be a monger of intensity, to pain for us, to reach into the campfire so that we can linger in the woods and watch without burning ourselves or grubbying up our clothes.  Then, even if we don’t feel the fire, we can see the poet’s face illuminated by light, hear her flushed chatter, the blazing wood crackle, and imagine well enough what the fire feels like from our safe remove.  Though we can’t live at red alert from day to day, we expect the poet to, on our behalf, and to share that intensity with us when we’re in the right mood.  And if we become frightened or bored, we can simply put the poem back on the shelf.  Really, we are asking the poet to live an extravagantly emotional life for us, so we can add her experiences to our own.

 

Because poets feel what we’re afraid to feel, venture where we’re reluctant to go, we learn from their journeys without taking the same dramatic risks.  We cherish the insights that poets discover: we’d love to relish the moment and feel rampant amazement as the seasons unfold.  We yearn to explore the subtleties, paradoxes, and edges of emotion.  We long to see the human condition reveal itself with spellbinding clarity. Think of all the lessons to be learned from deep rapture, danger, tumult, romance, intuition.  But it’s far too exhausting to live like this on a daily basis, so we ask artists to feel and explore on our behalf.  Daring to take intellectual and emotional chances, poets live on their senses.  In promoting a fight of his, a boxer once said: “I’m in the hurt business.”  In a different way, poets are too.

 

And yet, through their eyes—perhaps because they risk so much—we discover breathtaking views of the human pageant.  Borrowing the lens of a poet’s sensibility, we see the world in a richer way—more familiar than we thought, and stranger than we knew, a world laced with wonder.  Sometimes we need to be taught how and where to seek wonder, but it’s always there, waiting, full of mystery and magic.  Much of my own duty as a poet is the open those doors of vision, shine light into those dark corners of existence, and search for fountains of innocence.

 

The poet Heinrich Heine once said:  “Life is the best teacher, but the tuition is high.”  So true.  That’s why it’s important to find time for poetry.  Poetry is an education in life.  It’s also an act of deep play.”

 

Diane Ackerman, Deep Play

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Spirals Up A Mountain

spiral

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The Unfurling

umbrella

How fragile and tender

                               that little girl yearning

Just wanting to be loved and to love.

Building beautiful cities inside her

                              with moats and high towers

Walled gardens behind sentinel gates.

Ferrying her love

                             clenched fist

Around a hyacinth seed,

Protecting tender shoots

                              from ruthless boots

And only letting so much outside.

 

But now!  An inner unfurling!

The gates creaking open!

Her love spreading boundless and free.

 

Her umbrella of love is ever expanding–

Soon it will shelter the world.

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Recipe for a Sour Day

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Walk to the lake-

preferably at dusk, the gray cashmere air soft upon your cheeks.

Wear polka dot shiny rain boots

and carry a furled umbrella, twirling it like a baton.

Savagely stomp through every puddle you find,

unless there’s a small child or dog near by.

A man stands motionless at one end of the lake…

stop to see that he’s staring at the clouds reflected

in the shiny still mirror of the lake.

Hear the squelchy humor of the ducks

busy beaking the buttery mud

and up ahead….in the soft kind light,

marvel at the whirring wings of a flock as they settle upon the grass

like a stuttering old movie projector as it shows its last reel.

Discover the last great truth of the day….

it’s impossible to be unhappy,

while watching a duck waddle from behind.

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