Stones gathered on chiseled limestone counting souls who have gone before me. Coins on headstones, flags on tall poles, but not so tall as the mighty sycamores. The cool brisk air broken by a warm cup of tea to sip from. Pouch of lavender takes me back in time to wood floors, dirt floors, glass bottle windows. I look out on the valley, low water as the land suffers from drought. Crying to Mother Earth to bring the rains, to color the leaves of autumn. Sisters gathered in purpose of words, infinite love with cosmic relations as we, the daughters of time bring forth the future of the stars. Written while sitting on the Blacksmith Cabin's porch swing during an Indiana University, Center for Rural Engagement, session for girls and women of all ages with author and professor Catherine Bowman.
Sinking lower in disguise, Lost to simple navigation of life, unhurried absence from des soirées, grandes fêtes. Excuses bound on escaping canary Flying from clouds of doubt, torn wing, tattered thought away from billowing fantasies. Mind's eye driven to ledge As butterflies flitter inside, I call them back, away, come back, The future I must decide.
My feet are planted on quicksand, Never to stay too long I’m told, The changing tides, the roaming winds Blast me to my knees. I’ve never reached solid ground, Not known of a homestead my own, The grasping of my arms Jerks me back to a ledge. Pulling up, seeking dry land, I dream of a garden of light, My children there, their babies too, As my roots cling to the soil I’ve found. My dear mother, let me grow, Let me plant my tree right here, I need the nourishment found, I need my own spot on your earth.
Hearth is the heart, warmth, fire, raging and tranquil. Gathering us together, we warm ourselves by its flame. Suckling bosom of knowledge, a hall of words, books and catalog cards. Legal debates pulling reason in opposite directions, but never too far from the center of cold limestone turned warm by wood of surrounding land. The dragon leads the menagerie, two heads with sight of towers where grotesques and serpents keep watchful eye on all who enter. Serpents taking flight at night, playing in darkness as they slither from transom to transom, never touching the floors of men. Grotesques howling and flapping their wings as though in discussion, as though in defense of the shield they bear for love of building, and craft, and university. Yet the dragon is the seer, the knower, the one with thought and knowledge too powerful to expose. Does he envy the others’ views of the hills? Or does he find solace in hearing the whispers, the secrets, the plans of women who now grace his throne with beauty? Art now conquers the cold limestone, while humanities compete with the science of masons. But with transcendent words our beloved beast changes, studies, creates. Words devoured by the dragon, it feeds on new dreams, new hearts, new love for its majestic survival. As I leave this place, these grounds, this building. I whisper to the protectors my gratitude, my respect. I tell them of my jealous heart that cannot grasp the treasures only they consume.
I wrote this poem on the anniversary of 9/11 while working our local farmers market. A time to reflect the attacks that day, and a time to think about my fellow brothers & sisters in military service who lost their lives over the last twenty years while serving on foreign land. 11 September twenty years have come and passed, fades of existence, ghosts reminisced. souls lost and never forgotten as our hearts and minds break with the wind. twenty years of conflict ended with lines of flags and tombstones and medals. more of our finest killed in war than on that day, thousands on our soil, thousands on theirs. that day, those hours, three fields, death and destruction. charred planes, fallen buildings, only memories to be found in the dust of the attack. as family, we mourn. as a nation, we mourn. as human, we cry.
We went to the river nearly every full moon, kids out and lost together, hot summer nights in West Texas. Bonfires glowed along the river's edge in Socorro as we looked to Isleta and Fabens, our views through pecans and bends grinding our thoughts along the border. I rode Calamity Jane there, wind or rain, sand or tumbleweeds, or heavy monsoons, (which I secretly loved while frightening my mother as I arrived home, soaked amid lightening strikes so strong the hawks I loved hid under the corral's metal roof.) Friendship was priceless, it was all we could afford. Free dips in the water's edge, gathered sage to scent mesquite from the hillsides, stones petrified from the dry desert air circling the flames of our future.
This partially autobiographical poem was written during a writing workshop at the Lazy Black Bear Farm (Paoli, Indiana), led by Catherine Bowman from Indiana University's Center for Rural Engagement. Guiding us through images from our childhoods and the elements, we used our personal words to create. My images were my horse, Calamity Jane, and my walking down the dirt road I lived on off Montana Ave. in El Paso through dust storms. (The first home I lived in while attending Socorro High School.) My elements were the Rio Grande River (water), a hawk (air), petrified wood (earth), and memories of bonfires in the dry washes (fire.)