Bittersweet

Rob's autumn

Through the kitchen window
I see leaves  releasing their grip,
dancing to the ground
in a senseless tumbling
of nonchalance.
And I might regret their passing
but for the way it opens up the November sky.
Solitary wispy clouds
drift across a blue as pale as tears,
and sunshine spotlights
the few remaining golden leaves
of oak and maple
 clinging to their stems.
And not only the sky opens up,
but the trees themselves
undressed, 
reveal tiny birds’ nests
vacant since spring.
The fallen leaves, in rust and bronze,
are lovely still
splashed across a green grass canvas.
Inside, on the kitchen window sill
sits a sapphire blue pitcher
filled with autumn vines of bittersweet.
Branches offering berries ~ crimson, copper, gold.
Bittersweet.
 I love her name.
Her willingness to speak the truth.
“With every birth, comes some new grief.
With every death comes some delight.”
Kathy MacDonald
 
 

Branded

We must be clear about the risks.

There are people who imprint our hearts

like a rancher’s fire-heated brand cuts into flesh.

Accept your heart’s identifying marks ~

each beautiful, complicated, complex soul

who “branded” you with or without permission.

It is irreversible.

If death, or distance, or irreconcilable differences separate,

the absence becomes the joint damage from an old accident ~

not correctable by surgery, not erased by medication, not restrictive enough to keep us from being ambulatory.

But enough to make pain free walking a thing of our past.

We don’t speak enough of this Universal grief.

Watch toddlers who wail when a parent disappears.

They speak the heart’s language openly: inconsolable,

until they are taught to use distractions, a different toy, a sweeter cookie ~

to mute a grief that makes us uncomfortable.

“Missing” is not an optional “add-on” to a human life.

There ought to be places, besides country songs

to hold the unquenchable longing thirst to see again

a face that has disappeared from view.

A Hundred Years Old at Forty-Five

 This was written for my cousin, Jean, who passed from breast cancer 6 years ago today. She is still a light in my life.Jeannie Jeannie 2

A Hundred Years Old at Forty-Five

 

A hundred years old at forty-five,

she holds her purse across a crooked elbow

and with mincing steps along the pavement

moves her bony frame to my Subaru.

Once in, adjusts her turban down over her ears,

to cover wisps of hair that remain at the nape of her neck.

 

Will she be buried in the turban

or a wig, I wonder?

How to ask her preferences.

 

“Put your seat belt on”, I say

in response to the ding, ding, ding of the warning bell.

“Oh, I can’t”, she says, “it hits the tumor in the breast and it hurts.”

 

“The” breast.

Not “my” breast.

 

I’m wrecked.

I want to pound the steering wheel with my fists

until I’ve shattered the bones in my hands.

 

Does God understand how precious this one was at three?

With corkscrew curls and sky-blue eyes?

This fatherless girl?

This childless woman?

 

Might God not have looked the other way when parceling out the cancer?

But which way?

My way?

 

We ignore the ding, ding, ding

on the twenty minute ride to her house

and chat about her car troubles

which is why I’ve been called to drive her home.

 

Lifting her arm to open the passenger door,

she winces, reaches for her belongings

and shushes me away

before I can help her into her house.

I gather her to me anyway.

Not on the driveway

but in the poem.

 

 

Kathy MacDonald

August, 2008

 

 

 

 

Butterflies Do Not Glance Backwards

Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies do not glance backwards.

Is butterfly obliged to remind herself and others

that her present day beauty is somehow diminished

by her former day unsightliness?

 Is she any less beautiful or gifted because of it?

What difference does it make that she was not beautiful at inception,

but rather beautiful through deception?

The hiding off of herself,

and then, a very private transmutation, to arrive

fully equipped for flight.

If she has a memory of her caterpillar days,

surely as she is about flower business and the whispering of the air ~

surely she does not linger there?

She has earned her right to claim herself beautiful

in the only time that is real, if any time is real.

Now.

 She is entitled to let the light dance on her wings.

She is caterpillar no more.

She will die, a butterfly.

Seductive Whisper

Not "the" hibiscus, but lovely all the same.
Not “the” hibiscus, but lovely all the same.

It was no casual encounter.
I cut and claimed a hibiscus blossom for my desk,
though she seduced me first.

I am more easily seduced than when I was a young girl.

A flower.
A bird.
A sky.
An autumn palette of color.

The hibiscus got my attention.

I grew expansive within her beauty
and sought to hold her closer.
I selected a miniature cut crystal vase
to support peach splayed petals
stained with cherry red.

I carried her up to my workspace
and several times heart-fell into her loveliness
without apology or regret.

Then, content, I moved on.

I forgot her existence until this morning
when I see she is spent,
curled in upon herself ~
a lullaby instead of a rock song. 

I love her no less, perhaps more
as she folds up her canvas,
her art show drawing to a close. 

I love her seductive whisper now, in this room.

 

 

Enchantment

Image  

Remember when there was magic in a backyard?

At five years old,

 you are part of the enchantment. 

Dandelion buttons sprinkle the emerald lawn

with puddles of sunshine by day.

Those you do not pick

transform under the night stars

into globes of silk.

Bewitched with your power

to release and rebirth

you scatter seeds like fairies’ wings.  

Knees to the ground

you hover with bumblebee, sipping at

pink and white clover blossoms.

Taste alongside to learn

if one is sweeter than another. 

You swoon on the scent

of freshly mowed grass and lilacs.

Intoxicated, recline

to join the ants who

track up and down the slender stalks,

crumbs, like boulders, in their jaws,

transferred from worker to worker. 

You are not observing the world.

You are this world. You and it are not separate.

At five, natural born mystics,

with daily experiences

of what we now, seek to reclaim. 

Magic everywhere

and we, unaware,

are part of the enchantment.

 

 

 

 

Synapses of Trust

Image

I was hungry for alchemy.

Every night, devoted to the quest for magic,

I went to sleep listening, through headphones,

to new age meditation tracks of binaural beats

hoping to entrain my brain to theta waves

like zen monk masters on the mat.

I listened as disembodied voices walked me through archways,

beside streams

into golden temples

where Beings of Light waited to dialogue with me.

 

Every night I hoped for magic

and instead awoke, hours later, with headphones hurting my ears,

red light of the CD player interrupting my sleep.

No peak experience.

 

I wished for the embedded subliminal suggestions

to slip past my conscious gatekeeper ~

work deep in my subconscious

to ignite the law of attraction

in my life.

 

I listened to CD’s with titles like

Flow and Synchronicity and

Retrieve Your Destiny

 

I longed to be switched over to a guidance system

programmed from within.

Connected to Source with

a crystal clear path to happiness

where there could be no more missteps or misdeeds or misalignments.

 

I imagined it was a failed experiment,

as synapses of trust I could not see

were being laid down, reinforced.

New tracks in my old brain ~

 I was not meeting Spirit guides in golden halls;

I was learning how to let go of desires and surrender.

But because I was expecting something more dramatic

I let the CD’s go.

 

Now, I am no longer looking for magic.

I am seeking, no, not seeking even ~

I am holding a space for the possibility of resting in

the Silence and the Everything I Am.

I am no longer using meditation

as a disguised goal setting trick,

to attract love, money, career, health.

Nor to set up a dialogue with a contingent of angels

well known and named by others, but strangers to me.

Nor to get a clearer view of my Spirit Guides,

hovering around me, special me, to advise, lead, encourage.

 

It feels to me now that all that kind of meditation

is still a seeking for something.

Still a construction of self,

to manipulate future self into better circumstances.

Insisting that NOW is lacking.

Which as every Buddha knows, is not possible.

 

Instead, I wish to drop down and trust

The Nothing That Is.

The mindful awareness that observes

with no judgment

all the thinking, feeling, emoting, story telling

that I engage in, but which is not ME

and not any more ME, even if I am conversing with angels,

spirit guides, or Ascended Masters.

 

I wish to drop down and trust

that regardless of the myriad experiences of living ~

the joys, the sorrows, the pangs and terrors

the blessings, the loves, the accomplishments and failures ~

that behind and through the cycling of that wheel of life,

my wheel of life,

is a spaciousness that will ever hold me.

This spaciousness that is the true Me.

This spaciousness that could never leave me.

 

Perhaps, decades from now, with one day at a time,

a Spirit Guide may enter my consciousness

and beckon with a hawk feather.

An Angel may illuminate and whisper a word of love.

God may enter every cell of my being and set them on fire with bliss.

But that will be the by-product, not the goal.

The day after the beckoning, the whispering, the fire

I will be back on the mat

practicing the emptiness of spaciousness once again.

Resting in the Nothing That Is.