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Lynedoch Crescent D 417

Have you ever said just the right thing, and watched someone you love light up? The Biblical Psalms say that the right word is like golden apples in a silver bowl. (Being an imaginative child, I always assumed this was real metal… but I suspect not everyone in Ye Olde Times was running around with the golden apples of myth… and unless they’re stainless steel, silver bowls tend to be a mite pricey, not to mention annoying to clean.) When I said just the right thing to someone who needed to hear it today, I felt like I had been given gold for real. It’s lovely.

shared

“an apple a day”
a saying to keep healthy
imagine the gift
of sending golden apples
showering like silver coin

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Iona 84

Today we’re having lunch with friends who are going to Iona Abbey this summer. My memory of that place remains close enough to touch – how I want to order up another sun-splashed summer day and return… but you just cannot order sun in Scotland. It’s a gift – you take it when you get it, and celebrate it.

Abbey

this Hebrides isle
with white-sand beaches offers
jaded pilgrims peace
within her mists Iona
wraps kings and princes in sleep

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Nephew 1 was a very solemn baby who stared a lot, and who could hardly be coaxed into a smile. Unlike his little brother, he’s tended to be a bit of a loner, so we were excited to hear he’d joined an after school team.

It’s an Airsoft team. Air. Soft. This harmless sounding team sport started in the ’70’s in Japan, tailor-made for fans of guns in a country that doesn’t have them. Airsoft moved from Japan to the UK – another non-gun country – and was meant to be about safely team-building, skills and sharpshooting. Nothing to do with real violence. Americans got hold of it in the 80’s, and… yeah. Nephew 1 was invited to play by a classmate whose father takes them both to run through the woods, scoping out other fathers and sons and shooting, keeping score, counting out loud the time you’re “dead.”

It’s “only a game.”

And yet….

afterward, we sat, silent
“it doesn’t matter
him learning to hold a gun,
if what he’s holding
in his skin is the target,”
my husband said, his gaze pained.

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The other day, I made the mistake of wandering over to lean against an outdoor table to talk to a friend… and leapt back, as I discovered the entire underside of the table, and much of the top was a wriggling mass of… oak caterpillars. (aka Western tussock moth caterpillars).

I retreated to the safety of a table beneath a maple. However, these guys were paragliding down from the oak on skeins of silk, to go where the wind took them. As I sat and read under my tree, I brushed them off of my shoes… my socks… the cuffs of my cardigan, my purse, my book, my collarbone, the back of my neck…

…and then we decided maybe it was time to go home, as there was Entirely Too Much Nature outside.

fuzzy logic

a dun-colored moth –
fully unremarkable –
confirms Metamorphosis,
(that insect intermission)
transforms even the spineless

(If you look at the picture carefully, you will count EIGHT at the moment I snapped this, under the maple. Please consider that a.] these were LITTLE ones, and b.] I was as far away as I could get from said oak tree and still be within hailing distance of my friends, and c.] I took this picture AFTER I’d flicked them away from my feet. For the sixtieth time. It was definitely time to just leave the outdoors to the those who live there.)

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Sunday afternoon was out of doors for a picnic with friends-of-friends, one of whom is originally from Minnesota. It was a big number birthday celebration for our friend, thus the out of town folks absolutely reveling in a snow-free world for a long weekend. One of few California natives in the bunch, I was vastly outnumbered, and amused by it. It was ironic how Minnesotans didn’t sound anything like people out of movies (unless they were imitating movies. Which they did do, as one does).

Inasmuch as I probably don’t sound like a Californian out of the movies (unless I do? Hmmmm), this was probably okay.

What a mess of assumptions and stereotypes movies have given us.

Glasgow 1

Sown Counterpanes

aerial piecework
patchwork crops, cradled by coasts
dubbed “flyover states”
connecting Midwest marvels
just as Heartland as hot dish.

Dear Midwest, do you all have fireflies? What’s it like to have a lake house? Corn fields just up the road? Snow AND tornadoes? State fairs with cheese curds and butter carving? While just now is not the best time to go exploring some of these curiosities (HELLO, SNOW), I like the sample of the Midwest that I have tasted. Granted, last Sunday it was more beer and brats than hot dish, but it was the classic flavor of friendship just the same.

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So, we had Nephews this weekend. It’s like having mice, but a lot louder.

Nephew 1 turns eleven this month… and already he runs cross-country and wears a size 10.5 running shoe.

TEN. AND. A. HALF.

Y’know what? I’m just going to concentrate on the memory of little fat feet instead of being gobsmacked that he wears a half size lower than Tech Boy. (Also: I apologize in advance for the Dad Joke, but once heard, these things cannot be UNheard, amirite? Of course I am.)

Elf at Eleven

that gummy grin gleamed
face drool-bright and triumphant
as he found his feet –
his feet, like Saint Bernard’s paws
give him great understanding.

(Those adorable ears are why he’s been Elf his whole life. These nicknames just write themselves.)

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“We serve the world by finding out what feeds us, and, having been fed, then share our gifts with others.”
– James Hollis

she weaves

noiseless and patient
the orb mistress toils and spins.
my own strands streaming
one tangled thread to the next,
weave a net which captures stars

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I know!

I’m late (except on our family blog); National Poetry Month has started without me, and another month feels like it has spit me out and tumbled me head over heels into unpreparedness… but, it is what it is. Outside, the flowers are blooming, while I’m still trying to construct mine. I still haven’t taken down all my autumn and winter decorations.

There are blue edges to the cloudy sky outside, and the tiny boy who lives across the street is vociferously making his opinion about jackets known – he’d apparently rather walk to the park without, and his mother Is Not Having It. As I negotiated that very question on an early walk this weekend, it seems a very Springtime conversation. I think that’s my theme this month: very “now” sorts of conversations. And, as tanka is a poetic form meant to capture “themes [such] as natural beauty, love, the impermanence of life, the activities of the common people and separation,” it feels like a good place to start. “To be touched by things” or in the original phrasing, “mono no aware” is an important idea in tanka writing, which is where I’m going to head with it this month. What am I feeling about this world, in its small encounters, and its larger truths?

(Also, I’m terrible at tanka, so it’s my hope that practice will lead inevitably toward improvement. We’ll see.)

fair weather

mercurial clouds
drift over a placid sky
But! A squall threatens
rain darkens the son’s small face
but kisses return the light.

{pf original: mama bird}

I mentioned my conflicted feelings some months back about my mother coming out of retirement to return to teaching, and many of you kindly reassured me that your parents – or yourselves – worked well into your seventies and didn’t die of it. (The Atlantic actually recently did a piece on this very phenomenon.) This culture has granted us artificial ideas about when we’re “grown” enough to set out on our own, and when we’re meant to lay aside our independence, and I think I fell willingly into that pretend-we’re-all-the-Jones’-rich idea that wants so desperately to ignore differences in class and income. My parents aren’t rich. I’m not rich. It is what it is.

In November, my family came, with friends in tow, to our new house for Thanksgiving… and it was a literal crush, as our new house is MUCH smaller than our old one. And I’d just been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder I’m living with, and was trying – hard – to be the hostess-with-the-mostest; some blend of B. Smith and Martha Stewart with sprinklings of Emily Post. My mother wrote a poem about me on the fly, as I took everyone on a postprandial walk around the neighborhood.

My mother isn’t a poet… that she reached out to me in my own language, as it were, floored me, as it is a truly loving act. Also really cute. And so, I’ve finally written her one back.

Newark 104

Mama Bird

No nightingale, nor angel without wings
Her song rings out while pushing playground swings –
“Use listening ears – Is that what Teacher said?
“Sand’s not for throwing. Use a ball instead.”
Long years her songs have echoed in the yard
As Littles changed, and outgrew her safeguards
Such weary notes must falter now, sometimes…
“Keep bottoms on your chairs. It’s clean-up time!”
Some birds fly south, once eggs, now hatched, take flight
Are RV migrants, dawn, until twilight
This nightingale, whose silver-plumage shines
Still loves the song, affection genuine.

Though caged, she sings in faith. Substance deferred
Through evidence unseen, hope’s undeterred.

Poetry Friday today is graciously hosted by Elizabeth Steinglass. Happy weekend, and remember to be good to your Mama birds, if you can.