Friday, March 15, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This


by Elizabeth Cunningham

This moment is all we have.
Someone told me that, but—

What is a moment?
When is it?
What is it made of?
How can you separate one
from another?

I am wondering
as I sit by the river
in a high, hot wind
that blows the river north
against the current.
I am wondering
as I smell the scent
the river leaves on the rocks.
I am wondering
as I look for patterns
in the grain of the driftwood
next to me.

Don't we have memories
that change meaning with the wheeling light?
Don't we have visions that draw us on
dark as a speck of bird in the shifting clouds?

If there is only this moment
where would the river be
the river's rise
the sea?

From Wild Mercy: Tarot Inspired Poetry. Cottage Grove WI, Creatrix Resource Library, © 2007.

I realise I was remiss last week and should of course have chosen a woman poet to celebrate International Women's Day. However I have a wonderful woman poet for you this week. As this was set up ahead of time, the poem I've selected is not specifically feminist, but universal.

I like it because I get impatient with mindless parrotting of New Age notions, turning them into slogans and sound-bytes. (Yes, I do it too, but at least when I share things on facebook that sound good, I will add some comment suggesting they are food for thought rather than infallible pronouncements.) The idea that this moment is all we have is profound, but is probably meant to encourage reflection and lead to deep insights rather than to be trotted out glibly or serve as an excuse for self-indulgence.

This poem raises thoughtful questions which reclaim the validity of our experience and its continuity, and respect the patterns and progressions of the natural world. The language is simple and serious, and cuts deep. With great economy and lack of fanfare, Cunningham brings her environment to life, full of sensual detail.

The questions are rhetorical, and the implied conclusions certainly compel my agreement!

As a professional Tarot reader and teacher, it's not surprising I'd like the book this poem comes from. But the poems — obviously— are not descriptions of the cards but musings inspired by the energies they represent. They are grouped according to some of the Major Arcana cards, but not all of them, and not in Tarot order. She takes us on her own journey through the archetypes. The piece above is associated with the Judgment card, which is the last section in the book. Every poem in the book is a treasure, and I'd like to have written them all.

The link on her name, above, takes you to the About page of her website. The Home page lists her as Author, Poet, Musician, Counsellor. She is probably best known for a series of novels called The Maeve Chronicles. All her books may be found on her website, including another volume of poetry, Small Bird, which is now on my must-get list. You can also find several very interesting articles about her writing. And there are more poems!

Poem and photo are subject to copyright and are used with Ms Cunningham's permission.


  1. Rosemary,
    as you can see: I'm here ready and waiting for your Friday gift.
    Your commentary on this poem is a treasure. I hope this lady gets to see it.
    Anything to do with Tarot scares me and I have never felt any inclination to look into it. But from a general philosophical p.o.v. this poem is a satisfying read. Thank you.

  2. this has inspired me to write something close to my heart..

  3. Very interesting sharing today, Rosemary. The poem is about a subject I so often contemplate...the importance of moments, so I was particularly interested in what she had to say. I went to her website and read more about her. A fascinating woman, in many different ways besides poetry.

  4. Thank you, Rosemary, and everyone who has read and commented. It is an honor to have "Moment" appear on this site. Wishing you joy of all moments, whatever a moment may be!

  5. Every sense and faculty is stimulated by this well constructed poem. And I always enjoy the insight and perspective you share, Rosemary. Great way to start my Friday morning.

  6. Thank you, Rosemary, for introducing us to another wonderful woman poet. I especially enjoyed this week's feature, as the poet's descriptions of her surroundings take the reader deep into the moments she writes about. Awesome work, intriguing artist, and wonderful feature. Thank you to both of you.

  7. Thanks for this Rosemary - it appeals to me on so many levels - the tarot source book not the least of it...but to be introduced to another fine woman poet, another fine poet period - bonus! Thanks so much.

  8. A beautiful wordsmith
    thoughtful reflection in her poetry


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