Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift

The reason I’m looking out the window
Is because dawn brings hungry birds to the feeder,
whole flocks of rosy finches,
a pair of ruby cardinals,
sky colored jays and red capped flickers,
an upside down nuthatch in its gray-blue cape,
chickadees with their black caps
pulled down around their ears.

And this morning, ten days before Christmas,
a gift – an albino finch, white as the grounded snow,
white as the shy ermine down by the pond,
white as a feathered angel,
its wings fluffed against the cold - 

stayed just long enough for me to see it,
to say Oh! and cast about for my camera.
Then something – caution, fright, a need to fly,
lifted its wings and flung it back into the sky

where white clouds waited to enfold it.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Another Sunday Prompt

This Sunday's prompt was to find a poem and respond to it line by line. I fell in love with this poem at first reading and hesitated to barge in with my own thoughts. Still, it might make you want to try the prompt, too. At the very least, enjoy the words.

And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day

Things are not as they seem: the innuendo of everything makes
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. (My mother used to say that- nothing is as it seems – and I would look around me with my child’s eyes and wonder what she was trying to tell me, for to a child of four or seven or even ten, the whole world is magic.)  

Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a
mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,

come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. (Happy moments, I’ve come to call them, those times when happiness descends, surrounds, unbidden but not unrecognized, when all that is is understandable, even when you can’t understand what it is you know. You just know and that knowing is enough.) 

Nothing I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets

and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know it
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed

so easily. (Redemption – reclamation, restoration – the same old us looking through new eyes. We find we don’t know the world at all and so begin anew to describe it, and ourselves, to ourselves.)  Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. (How easy it is to get lost in the winter darkness and forget that spring will come.) Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto

but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling. (The shape of absence – a place where we come in with our crayons, our brushes, our words, and create…)
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,

waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,

and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing. (Amen)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Colorful Sunday Write

A cheerful bit of winter green.
This Sunday's writing prompt: color.

My four-year-old granddaughter is very interested in knowing everyone’s favorite color - Mama’s, Papa’s, sister Lily’s, mine. She insisted I pick just one so I told her without hesitation that my favorite color is green. And that’s true, but so is blue in any shade from robin’s egg to cerulean, and every hue of orange with the exception of neon, rust being a definite. I’m partial to pale yellow fading to cream, and the pink that appears on the horizon at dawn. In fact, pink in every shade (though no hot pink, please) pleases me, as do various shades of brown.  I once had my colors done and was told my palette was definitely pastel. No violent colors for me, red least of all. I like red mixed with yellow, though, and when you mix it with blue I love the vast array of available purples.

Still, if I had to pick just one color it would be green; grass green and pea soup green, hemlock green, the blue green of spruce and every shade of leaf. I like lime and mint greens, military green and Kermit the Frog green.

According to color psychology, green is the color of equilibrium and harmony, balancing the heart and the emotions. It is also the color of growth and of spring. It restores depleted energy, creating a sanctuary from stress and increasing a sense of well-being.

“Green encompasses the mental clarity and optimism of yellow with the emotional calm and insight of blue, inspiring hope and a generosity of spirit.” So says one color psychology site ( When I think of the way I operate in the world, I can see that’s true. I’m a green girl, wanting to understand everything and needing to share what I learn.

I once had a favorite green blouse that made me feel all-of-a-piece when I wore it.  The gray green of unripe olives, the color complemented the yellow in my hair and the pink of my skin. I’d put it on and conquer the world every time. I wore it to shreds.

John Denver’s song, Cool and Green and Shady is one of my favorites. I love green leafy things to eat – spinach, lettuce, beet greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts – and have decorated my living space in varying shades of blue-green.

I can get lost in the blue of the sky, ooooh and aaaahhh over pink sunsets, dress in shades of russet and brown, but hands down, green is the hue I’d wrap my world in if given the choice of just one color.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Prelude to Winter

A tarnished pewter sky
peers through leafless branches.
Fog drifts and curls,

along the riverbanks and
hovers above the water.
Half a dozen geese float—

six dark shadows that
appear and disappear
as if they, too, were

mere mist and imagination.
The last forlorn light
leaches from the afternoon.

Suspended between seasons,
the days grow short;
the old year, feeling its age,

draws to a close.
Everything slows, quiets, fades,
until it seems the dreary days

will never end. Snow sweeps in,
making art of the drab browns,
the cheerless grays,

weighting the sad, dead grasses,
frosting every branch and twig
until the landscape looks luminous,

even on sunless days.
And when it does shine, oh! the brilliance
of it, the dazzling radiance.

There is beauty in the passing
of one season to the next,

even in grim November.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This Morning

This photo is from last autumn. The female died and the male mourned alone all summer. Just a month ago a new female arrived on the pond. It was this new one I thought was icebound yesterday. The male hovered close for hours but late in the day the two of them had moved to the other side of the pond. Such a relief, such joy!

This Sunday's writing prompt was a quote from Leonard Cohen. We were to write a letter to him in response. Here's the quote and my letter.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in Leonard Cohen

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I’m sitting with these words of yours this morning, looking out my window to a landscape that is marked with stark and naked branches and drifts of crumpled leaves made restless by a cool wind. I was out there when the light got in, a mere lessening of the darkness at first and then a sudden rush of gold through a crack in the clouds that made my shadow stretch miraculously in front of me.

Dawn was, in a sense, a perfect offering, the opportunity for a whole new day, similar but unlike yesterday, a day when the swans I thought then to be icebound now floated free, their elongated necks entwined in an avian hug. I had no bell to ring but I did breathe a deep sigh made up of relief and pure joy and a kind of gratitude for all things wild.

I should probably come to the day with an offering – perhaps joy and gratitude and yes, relief that I did actually awaken, are not enough? I turn these thoughts over in my mind, looking for the cracks that will let the light in. I think often that I myself am cracked, flawed in a way that pushes light away. Your words make me wonder if I ought not fuss so much about those cracks, that they just might be a place where light not only gets in but rushes back out, flinging gold into dark places.

With gratitude then,


Thanks Hilary (and Tabor!)