Today I woke my loved ones
from their sleep,
turned down their leafy covers
from last year’s summer.
Joyfully stunned into stillness,
I watched them unfurl
so many split orange parachutes,
and the ladybugs soared
away from winter.
So many years I could not find them here,
Shook my fists at tidy neighbours
vacuuming under bushes
as the weather turned.
Dry ground cannot shelter my babies–
Nature needs neglect,
needs cycles, decay, and
As do I.
Because of the pandemic, all of my family have been stuck at home since mid-March. The men, with a bit of help from me, have renovated the entire basement of the house, making a new bedroom for my son, many new storage areas, and an exercise room. They have amazed me with their ingenuity and cooperation.
The other day, I edited one of my older poems because I shared it with my Toastmasters group. I don’t remember if I ever posted this before, but here is the slightly edited version. The poem was inspired by a time when I had a balance disorder originating in the inner ear, which stopped me from being able to stand upright for any length of time, walk without staggering, sleep for more than a half hour at a time, eat more than just a couple of foods that didn’t make me sick, or focus my eyes properly, meaning I could only read for 20 minutes at a time. The main symptoms were nausea and lack of equilibrium.
This illness lasted for two years at least in the most severe form, and then it persisted in a milder form for several more years. I went to every possible professional you can imagine, but none of them had a solution. I researched and tried many things and eventually got better, one agonizingly slow step at a time.
Recently, I have had my brain remodelled–
the wallpaper was peeling, the baseboards were grimy,
the furnishings were decades out of date,
and the carpet was one of those
psychedelic colour combinations
that look like someone threw up.
My ears became sick of my voice
repeating the same old thoughts
in the same old grooves,
so they started ringing–
and did not cease,
which put a lot of pressure on me
to clean up the mess.
I did call upon a few professionals for help,
a priest, an ear doctor, the dizziness clinic,
gurus plucked desperately from library shelves.
But, in the end, the responsibility fell upon me
to rip up the old decor,
to scour the flours and walls.
I cannot believe the trash I hauled
out of there.
And, to be truthful,
though I could possibly fake it
as you’ve no way of checking
when I say,
“This sweet little loft is fresh, bright,
brilliant, and clean,”
I must admit that throwing out useless ideas
has left me with a lot of bare spaces,
the only furniture being one small wing chair.
I’ve sprinkled some forgiveness around,
which smells really good,
applied a coating of prayer to the walls,
replacing the flowered wallpaper
with a simple light-reflecting hue.
Now that my brain has been decluttered,
I think I’ll leave it that way for a while
as I decide what to put in it,
and for now just use it as the only empty room
where I can sing with abandon,
and make the tones reverberate
Truly, this space was made for music.
On Sunday, I listened to a free online concert given by Stephen Fearing. If you want to hear the next one on Tuesday, when he will pick one of his songs and deconstruct it, go to Stephen Fearing’s Facebook page for the link. The system was maybe overloaded because the video didn’t load quickly, but I used the link later on and heard all of the concert and his interesting comments. We have seen Stephen in concert a few times and remain fans of his music in our house. Here is one of his amazing songs.
I saw Ferron perform when I was in my twenties. Her songs are moving and I love her interesting voice too.
Try this one:
My brother passed away just before Christmas a little over a year ago. He was almost 70 and had lived a full life–a life full of chaos, that is. Despite being very ill, carrying around an oxygen tank, he made sure to give me this sweet teapot and cup. His poor decisions had left him with very few friends among those of us who behave legally most of the time. His death was a sad and lonely affair. His gift reminds me that he was thankful that I never gave up on him.
When we give of ourselves, no matter how painful it may be, there is a chance that our effort may be appreciated. When my brother was staring death in the face, he chose to show his love for me. Sweet.
Two years ago, I visited my older sister on Vancouver Island. I was terribly upset about my unhappy marriage and a few other huge stresses. My sister, who is a dear close friend to me, was also upset. Two years before that, she and I had watched her son dying in a Victoria hospital at the age of 49. His cause of death was hemochromatosis, which is just a condition that many people live with and keep under control.
My sister’s brokenness had affected her little dog in a negative way. The dog had developed the habit of biting friends and relatives of its owner. I was told there were bite marks on a lot of people. When the dog approached me to bite for no reason, I moved behind an end table, blocking the way. When the dog persisted and charged at me from under the table, I kicked it hard like a football. I recall uttering a kind of war cry at the time. I am not too proud of that moment, but I stand behind my behaviour. I don’t know why other people would just sit there passively while sharp teeth are breaking their skin. After that, I went into my bedroom and closed the door behind me.
A half hour later, when I opened the door to my room, the little dog came in and grovelled apologetically to tell me that she knew she had done something wrong. I petted her and told her it was all right. I didn’t let myself really trust her, though, and I noticed some other weird behaviour that showed she was quite a traumatized little animal, for whatever reason.
Another incident occurred between my sister and I when we were deciding how to spend the evening. I had been going out to the forest to pray and meditate for many hours a day, usually beginning at 5 a.m. Her idea for the evening was that we would watch the movie called La-La Land. I knew from the preview that I wouldn’t like the movie and I knew it wouldn’t “cheer me up” as my sister claimed. We argued vigorously as she tried over and over to make me watch the movie. We ended up watching a different show but my sister didn’t drop her insistence that the movie La-La Land was exactly what I needed.
During the visit, which was about 9 days, there were two or three occasions during which Rose continued her barrage of persuasion. Essentially it was about her imposing her likes and dislikes on me, but I am a very different person, despite some similarities that we hold in common. It was not a very happy time. We had been through so much together and masks of lightheartedness and fun were impossible to maintain.
Later on, when I was back home, I did watch her precious movie, and as I had anticipated, I thought it was one of the lamest pieces of garbage I have ever wasted my time on. Further to that, there is no way that escaping or denying our pain, living in our own little La-la Land, does much to alleviate it. Indeed, the sooner we decide to delve into the abyss of sorrow that we must eventually face, including being realistic about the way we ourselves contribute to things not going well, the sooner we are relieved from pain and find peace. It’s terribly uncomfortable, but this discomfort is less risky than being stuck in how we wish things could be.
Learning to handle deep conversations that involve conflict and pain, this song is an inspiration.
A little poem:
Let you and I become ninjas for love.
We’ll ambush others with undeserved affection.
Our hugs will replace the grid
and screens around the world
will surrender their toxic content
and emit the powerful hormones of love.
Oxytocin makes a woman a mother
when she instinctively gives herself to others
in a thorough emptying of her own self.
You and I will scatter oxytocin around
as others may use Purell
and the world will scratch its head
wondering where the hate went–
the vicious dream will be over.
Let’s do it–you and I–
We’ll train ourselves
to take on attacks
and turn them into