If You Come Softly

Nobody marries poetry with art better than Ravenous Butterflies.

If You Come Softly

If you come as softly
As the wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.

If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.

You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remember death.

And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why now.
Or how, or what you do.

We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich between us
Shall drink our tears.

Audre Lorde Edward

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor
Robert Hughes

To A Mockingbird

He sat for the longest time on a volunteer Brazilian peppertree. The original tree was removed because it’s an invasive species, but also resilient and obnoxious, an aggressive woody weed which displaces native vegetation and rapidly invades disturbed sites.

To A Mocking Bird

The name thou wearest does thee grievous wrong;
No mimic thou: that voice is thine alone.
The poets sing but strains of Shakespeare’s song;
The birds, but notes of thine imperial own.– Henry Jerome Stockard

#WordlessWednesday

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Even in SoCal, on this Autumnal Equinox, leaves do fall.

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Emily Brontë

To a Butterfly

STAY near me–do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart! – Wordsworth

This female Papilio glaucus, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, hung around for about half an hour, leisurely fluttering from one flower to another. I almost felt like paparazzi as I snapped photo after photo of this Lepidopteran celebrity. A little research revealed that the first known drawing of a North America butterfly was in 1587 of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail by John White.

It happened in the front yard this time along the dry river bed.

I was enchanted while she took a rest break on the ground, basically right at my feet, long enough for me to take about fifty more pics.

To a Butterfly

STAY near me–do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father’s family!
Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:–with leaps and springs
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.


By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

…and so it begins

Here in SoCal, there are unusual excessive heat warnings for the coast; it could reach 105 degrees today. It was 87 degrees at 8:00 a.m. and now it’s 101 at 11:00 a.m. HOT!

The National Weather Service announced red flag warnings for high fire probability with humidity less than ten percent. The forecast also calls for areas of smoke. High heat records are being broken this weekend. Our desert temperatures could exceed 126 degrees. Crazy!

There’s ash on my car and deck from the fire in Alpine, fifty miles away in the east county. I tried to go for a walk at 7:15 and not only was it already too hot, but my breathing was compromised from the smoke so I had to turn back. As of right now, the (named) Valley fire is estimated to have burned 4,000 acres and is 0% contained. Ten structures have been destroyed.

And then I found this, the first one of the season. The first leaf fallen from the mulberry tree. Autumn in SoCal.

I see a few more yellow leaves up there; soon I’ll be raking them up and the branches will be barren.

Sometimes I hear the voice of my poetry professor and search for a poem to illustrate the bittersweet feelings of the changing season. This is a good one by Rossetti.

Autumn Song
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
By DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI

We Wear the Mask (Poetry/Reality)

Here’s my assortment of masks waiting for me on the front seat of the car.

That’s REALITY, a temporary address where I don’t really like living for any length of time, as I’d rather dwell in the realm of fairy gardens with doors that open to a gentle forest of everlasting happiness.

fullsizeoutput_ec0

How’s everyone doing with the novel Corona virus, now officially called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2)

Are you masking up in public?

Have you been to a restaurant?

Have you or anyone you know been exposed and/or tested positive?

Are you still restricting your daily activities?

Are you still washing your hands more than ever?

Disinfection game still at a high level?

ME:
• I wear a mask whenever I go to a store. As soon as I walk outside, I take it off.
• No restaurants or bars for me.
• My DILs brother-in-law got it, was extremely sick and hospitalized, it was touch and go but he pulled through.
• I’m in the high risk demographic and haven’t/won’t attend any large gathering and I also stay well away from anyone in public.
• Still washing/disinfecting daily but to be honest, I’ve always been a clean freak, so it’s not a hardship.

Here’s the bottom line…I HATE wearing a mask but I do it to protect myself and others.
Just in case. Kind of the same reason I wear a seatbelt. Or don’t drink and drive. To protect you and me. Just in case.

It’s a small price to pay, whether or not it’s actually necessary, but doctors and medical professionals wear masks and other PPE during surgery and when they’re in the presence of patients who present potentially contagious symptoms, so why not?


Here’s POETRY.

Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a poem about another kind of mask. He was an amazingly insightful poet.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!
BY  PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

“The Sparrow” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I love this little bird. It really seems like he likes to follow me around so I started to follow him and snap pics everywhere he hopped.  A special little friend for sure.

The Sparrow

A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window–pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.
So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life’s window–sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic’s rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.
Paul Laurence Dunbar – 1872-1906

IMG_6632IMG_6628IMG_6631IMG_6630IMG_6629IMG_6625IMG_6623IMG_6621IMG_6620IMG_6618

Remembering Maya Angelou

We lost her six years ago today, May 28, 2014.
I honor her wisdom, character, and resilient soul.

“A Woman in harmony with her spirit
is like a river flowing.
She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination
prepared to be herself
and only herself ”

― Maya Angelou

fullsizeoutput_dd0

Elaine Bayley Illustrations

 

The Stolen Child

I was going to write a funny post about how my son is sometimes as childish as his four-year-old but then I saw this poem and magical picture from Ravenous Butterflies and thought I’d instead elevate my intellect with Yeats.

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
with a faery, hand in hand,
for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand…”
W.B. Yeats

Romany Soup

Image may contain: plant and outdoor
Here’s the entire poem:

 

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

W.B. Yeats

The boy who is my heart

Update Mother’s Day 2020: I wrote this post about my son lightyears prior to Angel Boy 2.0. because without him, I wouldn’t be a mommy at all.

Since the birth of his baby sister, AB 2.0 and I repeat this conversation pretty much every single time we speak or we’re together. (A little needed reassurance about his place in the world.)

“Who’s my very favorite boy?”

“I am, Grandma!”

And who’s my second favorite boy?”

“DADDY IS. DADDY IS!”

“You’re right! Now…who’s my favorite GIRL?”

“CharChar is, right, Grandma?”

“You got it, T. And then who’s my second favorite girl?”

“MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!”

Just keeping it straight for the second little boy who is my heart.

(P.S. My poem was published in Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume 34 #4)

 

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed
On one bitterly cold wintry afternoon, I embarked on a major yard cleanup project. I raked all the pine needles shaken loose during the fury of Alaska-borne winds that roared down the coast to Southern California.
Metal rake clanged against metal.
Then I saw it, a bright yellow igniting the dirt and pine needles, suffused with a gleaming radiance through the brown. 
steamroller1
I threw down the rake, crouched on all fours, and with bare fingers dug through the wet fecund soil to uncover an abandoned yellow Matchbox toy from the spot where there once was a sandbox that my son’s dad  built for him when we first moved to this house in 1985.
I discovered in situ a three-inch wide artifact imbued with all the wonder of my perfect four-year-old child, the same age that my grandson is right now, thirty-five years later.
I gently brushed away decades of encrusted soil and sand.
steamroller2
sandbox
I was engulfed in wave after wave of memory.
I was there. Really there. 1985. 
I saw him–my precious four-year-old son in this beautiful huge sandbox filled with fresh, clean sand.  
I watched him as I often watched him from the bay window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where I would wash dishes and keep an eye on him, keeping him safe–always keeping him safe–as he played in the sand with his dump trucks and cherry pickers and this steam roller and his buckets and plastic cups and forks and sticks with his cats and dog always near, and the loveliness of the memory set me on my heels and I cried.
Happy tears for the exquisite soft rosy glow of healthy well-fed cheeks, the deep Imperial jade green eyes, the curls that were my curls, my boy, my angel love.
The boy whose every breath contains a whisper of the intangible all encompassing LOVE I possess for this being who was a part of me before he was a part of the earth and sun and sky and sand.
The boy who is — and always will be — my heart.
I shut my eyes tight to keep the pictures from disappearing, but the ephemeral/evanescent impressions floated away with the tears that spilled out for the remembering of the beauty of a luminous child playing in a sandbox, singing to himself and constructing sand sculptures of the future, or, in his case, building words and spinning thoughts and erratica.
Those grains of sand that between his fingers mashed and smashed into forts and tunnels were the detritus of the granite from whence his brain reformed them grain by grain into skyscrapers of words and sentences that flow like a path from the back door to the sandbox.

And what eventually happened to the steamroller? It’s still here in the garden, living a new life helping another curly haired, green eyed little boy weave his own stories…

In a way, a sort of homage to…
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.