Monday, February 6, 2017

Poems of the Week ~ by Mary, Colleen and Kathleen

We have three beautiful poems for you this week, my friends, penned by  Mary, who blogs at In the Corner Of My Eye,  Colleen Redman, of   Loose Leaf Notes ,  and Kathleen Everett, who writes at The Course of Our Seasons. Each came straight from the heart of the poet, who share some amazing experiences while explaining their poems. I think you will find each one very special.

Let's look first at Mary's poem. Written during unsettled times, it lifts the reader up with its striking imagery and hopeful message.








KITE

A kite is a dream
you keep in your heart
knowing that some day
you will find a way
to make it fly.

A kite is a penny
you find on the street
then carry it home
put it in a safe place
hope it will grow.

A kite is a prayer
you lift up at night
beyond the clouds
beyond the moon
then let go of the string.

A kite is a poem
the last you penned
with care and love
released with trust
it will find its way.

~~ Mary


Sherry: I love the hopeful, uplifting message of this poem. What were your thoughts as you wrote this, Mary? 

Mary: Thank you, Sherry, for featuring my poem “Kite.”  I must say this is one of my favorites from the past few months.

I wrote the poem “Kite” at the end of November, a few weeks after our Presidential election.
Previous to that time I had been writing a series of pretty down-hearted poems, so I decided to try to write a poem with hope instead - thinking perhaps that if I wrote a hopeful poem I myself might begin to feel more hopeful.

In the first stanza I wanted to convey the thought that we always MUST have dreams within our heart. We cannot lose that ability to dream or our spirit will just wither away.  In the second stanza I thought about how much a treasure a penny can be, a lucky penny found on the street that we can keep in a special place and perhaps look at as the first step toward growth.  In the third stanza I thought about the importance of prayer and the importance of lifting up one's thoughts.  I find if I  picture my prayers rising toward heaven I have a lighter heart, and hope can more easily take root and grow.  In the fourth stanza I wanted to express that a poem is not to be taken lightly, as it was written by the poet with care and love; and when it is released to be read by others it is with trust (as well as hope) that it will be received by the reader as a gift.

It was a good feeling for me, at the end of November, to write this hopeful poem.  I do think that it lifted my spirits to write with a positive slant.  I am wondering what other poets think.  Do you think that consciously writing a particular kind of poem can affect your mood?

Sherry: That's a good question, and I hope people will respond in the comments. I know that writing and reading a poem can change my mood, especially the ones that lift my heart up, like this one did.

I especially love the idea of the poem being released with love as a gift. That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this poem, Mary, and for writing it during weeks when many of us were feeling downhearted, and needed some positive messages.

Colleen recently wrote a very moving poem about emotions released during acupuncture. There is a story of heartbreak and resilience behind it. I know it will touch you deeply.








Pricked at birth
The sting still hurts
Now my stiffened knee
is loosening
Now one tear falls
for two losses
A mirror speck
that holds the past
The tear my mother
couldn’t shed
The one my sister
couldn’t hold back
It swelled then slipped
like a clean drop of rain
Like a gem of truth
snapped from a necklace
Down my cheek
in undistorted release
A precious pearl
hard earned
---Colleen Redman

Sherry: This is beautiful, Colleen, with the one tear for two losses, one that your mother could not shed, one that your sister could not hold back. Tell us about this poem, will you please?

Colleen: I lost two brothers a month apart in 2001. It was a complicated grief that wrenched my heart and changed my life in a way I didn't know was possible. I inhabited my grief fully and wrote a book about it, called The Jim and Dan Stories

This year, I lost my sister and my mother five months apart. The grief was once again complicated, but so different. It was slower to penetrate, as if it had to go through scar tissue to be fully felt. I've been processing the losses incrementally through dreams and poetry. Every nerve I've been able to hit and every emotion deepened has felt like a gift  that I've chosen to welcome.

The poems I've written since my sister's and mother's death fit well as part of a collection I've been working on, Packing a Suitcase for the Afterlife. The collection is a distillation of my life, a tracking of the inner and outer journeys of growing up, aging, care-giving and weighing life's inevitable losses.

Sherry: I am so sorry for your grievous losses, Colleen. I am impressed and inspired at your strength, surviving so many. Thankfully, as writers, we can write our way through our experiences. I do think that release helps us heal. I love the title of your book, by the way.

Colleen: The poem "Crying During Acupuncture" was a turning point. About 6 months ago, the cartilage in my knee wore out, causing me to limp with pain. I used the experience to tap into my survivor's guilt, as well as some delayed empathy for the pain my mother and sister, who both had bad knees, endured.

My knee has greatly improved, mostly through a series of acupuncture treatments. During a recent intense session, I noticed that my acupuncturist had inserted a lot more needles than usual and that the connections and sensations were strong. I asked him if all the needles were for my knee and he answered that he was also responding to and treating other imbalances he found by carefully taking my pulses.

It's not the first time that I've experienced an emotional release during acupuncture. Some of the points when stimulated  do result in opening the heart and a release of grief. I don't cry easily (as my sister could) but I cry easier than my mother, a stoic hard worker of German descent.

So the tears came. The first single tear that rolled down my cheek was the one I focused on. It was completely unexpected and spontaneous, and was more beautifully bittersweet than sad. There was a window in my view, and I watched the tall wheat colored grasses bend in the wind as meditative music played in the background. It was timeless, and as if childhood disappointments and the tensions that had collected in the last years before their deaths (related to my mother's decline and her care) dissolved.

After the session, when I got home, I grabbed my copy of Hans Christian Anderson's fairytales and re-read The Snow Queen. It was a fortunate story that my father read to me when I was a child - the only story I remember that was read to me. So much of it was over my head then, but I never forgot the part about the love between the little girl and boy who played together.

The boy got a piece of mirror made by demons in his eye, and it distorted the way he viewed the world. He was eventually kidnapped by the Snow Queen and lived in her cold world until the girl traveled the world and found him. When she did, the boy was so happy to see her that he cried, and his tears washed out the mirror speck. I let my own tears purify and save me, the way he was saved at the end of the story.

The pearl necklace was also a reference to a formative life experience. When I was in second grade, my mother clasped a string of her pearls around my neck for school picture day. It was a gesture that stood out, and I remember feeling beautiful and seen as special by my mother. With her death, our circle of family, worn from previous losses, has given way. There is a letting go, and the precious parts that once existed tightly together now exist more on their own.





Sherry: Wow, Colleen, thank you so much for sharing the deep meaning behind this poem. It is even more moving, knowing all that lies behind it. Tears are such healing agents.  Losses do seem to come in bunches. My family experienced the same thing, a scattering once the matriarch was gone. One misses that central figure, the hub around which family revolves. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I so admire your strength and awareness.

In closing, I would like to share a beautiful poem written by Kathleen Everett, which also describes grief, and then lifts us up into a beautiful buttermilk sky. Let's read.







Kathleen and her mother, whom she recently lost


The bright winter sky is dappled with high clouds
The color of butter.
The light and shadow play across the landscape,
Light then dark,
Then light.
A dark shadow comes across my brow
And the grief returns to my heart.
Though our lintel was marked
With lambs blood,
Blessed with prayer,
Adorned with mirrors,
The dark angel still came.
Her beauty, awful,
As she sat at our table
And the losses became un-countable.
I wonder still when she will return,
Because, oh yes, she will return.
Or perhaps, she is just
Sitting on my porch step
Waiting for another shadow to form.
My face again is in sunlight-
The dappled clouds moving away from the sun,
Casting shadows on the winter landscape
Bright in the buttermilk sky.
~~ Kathleen Everett


Sherry: I love the image of a buttermilk sky. What an original idea. Kathleen, we are so sorry for the loss of your mother. As she lived with you, you must feel her absence very strongly, especially at this time of year. Would you share your thoughts about this poem with us?

Kathleen: My poem, Buttermilk Sky, was written after a period of 14 months when we suffered the deaths of 16 family members, friends and a beloved pet. From our first great nephew, my wonderful father in law, aunts, uncles, friends parents, a young woman I had known since her birth, to our little miniature schnauzer, Lulu, it seemed a season of unprecedented loss.

The imagery of the angel of death is sometimes seen as fearsome and evil, but here I show her as a part of life, beautiful, yet awful - maybe awe-full - and always just a step away from our door. 

My mother used the phrase buttermilk sky to describe when clots of clouds form lines and seem to slide across the sky like buttermilk does down a glass.  So the idea and jumping off point for the poem was given to me by my mom.

Buttermilk Sky was written in 2013 - Mom would be with us only three more years. She left with that beautiful angel on a soft morning in April.  And the shadow of grief still clouds my sky.

Sherry: My friend, I had no idea you had experienced so many losses. Grief is a journey; it seems one loss hops aboard along with all the others, and we grieve them all. Our warmest condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, so we can better support you as we read your poems.


Thank you, ladies, for this very meaningful share. Your poems work together so well, and will resonate with our readers, all of whom are grieving losses of one kind or another. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!




27 comments:

  1. What a wonderful feature, Sherry! They are always very good to read; this one seems to me particularly special – perhaps because of the courage displayed. The excellence of Mary's poetry always amazes me: she writes with such deceptive simplicity, yet with such clarity, profundity, and meticulous crafting. I've been an admirer of Colleen's work for some time too, and I think this is one of her best. And Kathleen is a new discovery for me with this beautiful and heartfelt piece. Thanks you all for sharing your work and your reflections on it – such a gift with which to start my day! (Here in Australia, where I'm just up and about to pour my morning coffee.) You make me experience the value of poetry – which is to move our hearts and souls, is it not? Moments like this, I know it is absolutely worthwhile to keep writing, and to keep posting our works to our blogs, so that this possibility exists. Sherry, your features make it even more possible.

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    1. An 'scuse the typos. I need that coffee!

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    2. Thank you, Rosemary. My favourite features are ones like this, work which comes from the poets' heart and experience, which move the readers' hearts in response. So happy you enjoyed it. You do the same thing with your features!

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  2. Sherry, I am honored to be featured today.....along with two other such fine poets. Colleen, I like very much the way you wrote your grief. What a cathartic poem - beautifully written. Losses of close people are so hard. Kathleen, your poem is amazing. Unfortunately none of us can avoid the 'dark angel,' but it seemed that you were visited so many times in such a short time. So difficult to endure all that grief. Poetry does help at those times. And, Sherry, what can I say! You do have a way of writing / composing such fascinating features. Thank you!

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    1. The pleasure is all mine, my friend. Thank you for your poem, a heart-lift which keeps us looking up to the sky, in hope.

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  3. Such heartfelt poetry, amazing the way these poets have dealt with grief and then expressed it in such poignant ways. And Sherry as always what a great job of pulling these pieces together! Thanks all.

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  4. I love it when the poems work together the way these ones do. And thank you to Mary, Colleen and Kathleen for the courage and trust displayed in sharing your work, your hope, and your grief with us.

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  5. How beautiful all the featured poems are. How important it is too when reading others work to get inspiration for your own. It is also great to meet fellow poets face to face so thank you Sherry for another brilliant presentation.

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  6. Wow, wow and wow again! My heart was already open when I read these--having just come from an amazing experience of forgiveness--so they entered deeper, touching feelings I had buried. Thank you for touching the losses, and then thank you for the kite, then pearl and the buttermilk sky. And you, too, Sherry, for handing me the whole bouquet.

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  7. What a wonderful comment! You made me smile.

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  8. Thanks Sherry for sharing with the 3 wonderful poets that Hank had often had the pleasure of visiting. Matter of fact but gems of a poem in all of them.

    Hank

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  9. My goodness!!❤️ Thank you so much, Sherry for featuring such phenomenal work sigh I must say all three poems exude such poise and charm! An absolute treat!❤️

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  10. Thank you, Sherry, for your wonderful service of showcasing poets. You have such a talent for it.

    I like poems with hope and poems that are dark equally, as long as they can hit the nail on the head.

    I have always called a buttermilk sky a cottage cheese one! Buttermilk sounds so much better.

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    1. You are most welcome, Colleen. Thank you for all you shared.

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  11. A wonderful feature Sherry. All three poems with their simplicity, hope, depth and courage capture our heart. Thank you, Sherry, Mary, Colleen and Kathleen.

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  12. Sherry, each of these poems touched me deeply. They were written with such raw emotion one can taste it - like buttermilk.
    Thanks for selecting these.

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  13. Heartfelt thanks to Mary, Colleen and Kathleen for sharing their very personal stories in their beautiful poetry. Thank you, too, Sherry, for making it possible for all of us to read them. How wonderful for each of the three to be blessed with the talent to express their grief, and to find the release of putting it to paper!

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  14. Thanks everyone for your nice comments. I really appreciate them...

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  15. Heart wrenching and beautiful! Touching and more. Brought up many memories of mine while reading about yours ladies. I love knowing you and writing with you. Hugs!

    I always seem to be one day behind everyone but I'm here!

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  16. Thanks to everyone for their gracious comments.

    And a very special thank you to Sherry for her thoughtful and compelling articles. You are the best! I so appreciate being included with such wonderful poets.

    To Mary and Colleen- thank you for your stories and poems- they were so poignant and lovely.

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    1. My pleasure, my friend. Thank you for that buttermilk sky, which I will always remember!

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  17. All three of these moved me--thank you Mary, Colleen and Katherine for your beautiful work and thank you Sherry for bringing these pieces to my attention

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  18. gracias, Mary, Colleen and Katherine for sharing your hearts your souls and Sherry, like always mi amiga, you are the spiritual conduit. this truly is appreciated in that, in all of our life's personal woes we share and lessen the heartfelt forlorn

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  19. Loss is so hard to bear. There are no words to ease the pain. Thank you for the post!

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  20. I loved each one!!! And am so sorry for each loss, as if it were mine, and maybe that is one thing that binds us to together. Each lise must suffer some loss, if it loves.

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  21. Luv this sharing, each heartfelt, each different and yet all similar in the offering of feelings from the beauty of a poets soul. Thanks Sherry for bringing these three lovely ladies together

    Much love...

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