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November 25, 2012

Well it’s a little late.  I intended to have this up before the holiday, but life keeps intervening in my plans, mostly because everything always takes me longer than I expect. Well, also because things I didn’t plan for, but could have, also happen.  Not because any catastrophe happened.

Still, I think that considering gratitude, appreciation of whatever abundance life has brought to us, is an excellent topic to keep in mind, especially as the year we now inhabit rushes toward a new year.

So, some things about being or for which I am thankful:

I’m always thankful for the turkey. Mmmm, but how thankful would I be if I were a turkey?


If I were a turkey this time of the year
I wouldn’t be thankful; I never would cheer;
I’d look for a hole in the fence round my yard–
If I couldn’t find one, I’d try really hard
to dig my way out, or I’d fake a malaise,
because this time of year I’d say that it pays,
if one is a turkey, to be crystal clear
about being wanted when Thanksgiving’s near:
it means you’ll be tabled as something to eat
you’ll be stuffed and roasted and wind up as meat.

It’s one thing for people stuffing their faces
to express heartfelt thanks with prayers and graces
but turkeys have reason to quiver in fear
and little to hope for this time of the year.

^^^    ***    ^^^    ***    ^^^

While on the subject of food:


There’s a word
that rings us like a bell:
I can already feel
my atoms vibrate
in sympathetic tones
repeat the word
like a refrain
like a mantra
vow to trap chaos
in rhythms of order
for merely a morsel
or two…
of luscious
it needn’t even be sweet–

^^^     ***   ^^^   ***   ^^^

I love where we are living; I am very thankful to be living in the coastal area of Humboldt County where the weather is so nearly perfect for me. I am also thankful to be living in a very nice home with a great yard.  This poem was written shortly after we moved here (15 years ago this month) and the idea of beads came from the thought that each year is like a necklace made up of days (the beads).


This is the moment of sun after rain;
mist holds the trees
softens the blue morning sky.

The lawn is still brown
from the long dry of summer.
The house is quiet.
Birds fly past my windows.

It’s just an ordinary day;
another round bead
late on this string of days
fall moving us
toward the close of the year.

I revel in the serenity:
the predictable tick of the clock;
the perfume and warmth
of this second cup of coffee;
the bright joy of dazzled water drops
which burn in the sunlight;
the spangle of spider webs
stitching the maple tree
to our house.

^^^     ***   ^^^   ***   ^^^

The next two poems are about sleeping and dreams.  I have always been thankful for the opportunity to snuggle down in a warm comfortable bed and think of those things I hope to dream about, for the opportunity to rest, to pull myself into my own world.  And it’s even better when there is the warm presence of the beloved (snoring) next to me.   Abundant thankfulness.


on the shores of night
clouds of stars
ebb and flood

time dances in blooms of color
stretches the possible

fragile realities
the flutter of a child’s heart
the whuffled dream of a dog
who runs across fields of memory

outside, rain sings
while your breath
brushes in measured beat
along my cheek

*****   *****


I long for your silver arms
moongleaming notes
round as a lullaby
rock me
across these waves of dreams
slide into
still green waters
caress me
while the night wears away
these stars
sifts them over the hills
dusts them out of the trees
hold me in your silence
while night noises
pass under my window
I will be deep in the moss
under the earth
until the neigh of dawn horses
the thunder of their hooves
galloping across the fields of my dreams
calls me back into the wonder
of being and I rise
I rise
^^^    ***    ^^^    ***    ^^^

We have been fortunate to have lived with a number of excellent pets.  I am thankful for having shared my life with some remarkable dogs and cats.  The poem that follows is a portrait of one of them.


The cat purrs,
rubs his head against my chin,
gazes at me as if
I am
worships me,
purrs his prayers,
adoration shining
in his eyes,
as long as I heed
his every whiskered whim.

The cat tends to his ablutions
with the same intensity,
same careful attention
he provides his other devotions:
each paw, each leg,
the belly, shoulder, hip.
Lovingly, he tends his tail
then licks his wrist
to wash ears and head:
paw over cheek and ear,
paw over
paw over…

The cat purrs.
He has his own purposes.
That sweet paw
he pats against my face,
like a kiss,
harbors claws
always honed
capable of hooking
some innocent bird
out of thin air.

^^^    ***    ^^^    ***    ^^^

I am thankful for my faith, my Buddhist practice.  Through this practice, I have learned to appreciate my own life, to glimpse the Buddha there and in other people, and to realize it is there even when I have difficulty seeing it.  As a Nichiren Buddhist, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the title of the Lotus Sutra and recite two portions of the the Lotus Sutra each morning and evening.  We can think of this as attending the Ceremony in the Air, which is where part of the Lotus Sutra is taught.  Eagle Peak is the location where Shakyamuni or Guatama Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra.


at Eagle Peak
my eye is
my eye is
my life opens
this mandala
realm of stars
the silk of breath
into the mystery
between life and death
a dance with veils
of both
of neither
creates music
almost audible
like gems
into my lotus hands
every morning
every evening
at Eagle Peak

^^^    ***    ^^^    ***    ^^^

I treasure my friends, who have been so supportive and loving while I have been — still am — going through this ordeal of cancer treatment.  I’ve written a number of poems about one friend or another, this particular one is about my oldest, or perhaps I should say my longest friendship, but I am grateful for each and every one of them.

for Chris

In summer’s shadow
beneath the elm’s tall umbrella
cool damp earth against the roots
we sat and played with dolls
and dreams of endless future days.

The elms which child eyes saw
as portals of security, ancient, eternal,
are gone, destroyed by disease,
their graceful forms
cut from the skyline of time.

Childhood, too, seems but a whimsy of the mind,
except where the sudden scent of lilacs
crosses the shade
a sun drenched tree pushes across the lawn–

past and future mingle:
ghosts of little girls with dolls
play in my memory,  make promises,
pretend, imagine, bright eyed
with possibilities that might
even now
beyond some sheltered doorway
solidify into reality.

^^^    ***    ^^^    ***    ^^^

Lastly among those things i am thankful for, there is my family.  I pulled a number of poems, but this post would become a book of poetry, there are siblings and in-laws and parents, grandparents and children.  All of them have contributed to my continuing survival, even those who are no longer physically with us. So, all of you, who do not make an appearance in the following poem–which is for my husband, (but the kids are in it)–you are appreciated and loved beyond measure.

for Steve

sun streams in the window
we sit at the morning table
stretch time into comfort
peruse the papers
savor coffee
you read aloud bits and pieces
interrupted by children’s voices
wanting our attention
intending to join conversations
that might exclude them…

My eyes repeat paragraphs
over and over, grinding irritation
the babble, confusion, profusion
of stimuli to grab at my attention…

I flashback to dawn birds
adding voices
turn melody into dissonance
while annoyance holds me
from desired sleep until
I weave a lullaby from the notes
of their full crescendo
draw your arms about me
drift into dreams…

I wonder now, as I scowl
over the article I have been reading
and re-reading for so long
if the children know
how bright they make the morning
how warm the sun becomes
when it shines into our home
if you can read between
the lines on my forehead
between the pages of this section
of the paper the words which dance
on my every heartbeat singing
you, I love, I love you, I love…

^^^     ***     ^^^     ***     ^^^

—  END  —


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