Monday
Sep272010

Send me a postcard


Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

The world is full of words. Lately, I'm leaning to less. Inspired by haiku, tanka, and Lisa Janice Cohen, I wrote these postcard poems.


Driving Along the Umpqua

wind swirls memory as

river light shines to

disolve pain so

gnawing

sadness

can

sink

 

Crater Lake at 7,000 feet

deepest

bluest

distant

water without sound

 

Heading Back

miles to go

heavy-hearted

your hand in mine

all the way home

 

 

Monday
Sep272010

This just in 

Amen!

This stamped message appeared on the envelope containing Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, a book of poems by Kelli Russell Agodon.  Seems like a sign of good things inside.

 

Thursday
Sep232010

Thankful Thursday: Pick and pluck

Gratitude. Appreciation. Praise. Call it what you will; I dub it Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to appreciate people, places & things.

I am grateful for the sunny hour I spent with youngsters in the garden. Seashore Family Literacy's after-school programs are back in session and I am happy to be immersed in lively minds and tender hearts.

Yesterday brought a glow of autumn sun and willing spirits. We began our session, as we often do, by picking poems from bulletin board pockets. Can we take more, they asked, more than one?

As if poems were candy, we filled our hands and headed to the garden. Large rocks made for perfect poetry seats as we read to ourselves and to each other. Much to our delight, two girls chose the same poem: Praying by Mary Oliver.

In the garden, in the light, as they stumbled over new words, the 9 and 10 year old voices floated like a song. Just as I thought the reverence could not increase, the youngest girl, in a small voice, said, I like the part where it says pay attention.

We each agreed and wondered how we could pay attention to the world. With journals in hand, we explored the garden's bounty: expanding squash, heavy-headed dahlias, the scent of rosemary as we ran our fingers along what one writer described in her journal as, spiny green spikes reaching like hands.

Another youngster, fueled by the beauty of bleeding hearts, wrote, If there were flowers in my heart I would water them every day with my tears.

On this day, there were no tears. Only flowers to pick. Again, they asked: Can we take more? More than one?

And with gratitude for poetry, gardens and young minds, I said yes.

Praying

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

— Mary Oliver

Tuesday
Sep212010

Mean Disease

My friend is buying baby food for her father.

There are 168 hours in a week, she tells me.

Even with help and hospice, that's a lot of days and nights to live wide awake.

He falls out of bed. He can't chew. It's too much. The nights too dark. The days too long. She cobbles together a routine of helpers and hospice and friends and still there are too many hours with the slow loss.

You never know what you're signing up for. I wouldn't not care for him, she says in a whisper, but Alzheimer's is a mean disease.

I wish I didn't know today is World Alzheimer's Day. I wish September 21st meant nothing. But increasingly — enough to make a day of it — more of us know about this mean disease.

Here are the sobering facts:

- One in two people over the age of 80 have Alzheimer's.

- People as young as 40 have been diagnosed with the disease.

- Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 70 seconds.

My grandpa, Bart Myron, a wheat farmer, lived for decades with an eroding brain. He was one of the 5.3 million people who suffer — whose families suffer — with Alzheimer's. On this day I wanted never to know, I think of him, and my friend's father, and the increasing numbers of us walking through long days and sleepless nights, living with this mean disease.

Erosion

Who knows how

the mind files memory?

 
missing pieces, your

history, this life, lies

three states to the south --

 
lost rusted cars, bindweed

decay in the sun

 
wild geese fight winds

that rattle shingles, shake doors

 
your vacant eyes sort

through weeds, neglect

 
memory somersaults

lands against antelope

bones blanched in desert heat --

 
futile to search for data:

the face of a son, the hand of the wife

price of wheat, words   

any words to rise, rescue us

 
from this wait

this long silent loss.


- Drew Myron

This poem appears in Beyond Forgetting,  an award-winning collection of poetry and short prose about Alzheimer’s disease written by 100 contemporary writers — doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands — whose lives have been touched by the disease. Through the transformative power of poetry, their words enable the reader to move “beyond forgetting,” beyond the stereotypical portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease to honor and affirm the dignity of those afflicted. To read sample poems, see a schedule of upcoming readings, or purchase a book, visit www.beyondforgettingbook.com.


 

 

Saturday
Sep182010

Carrying a Ladder

We are always
really carrying
a ladder, but it’s
invisible. We
only know
something’s
the matter:
something precious
crashes; easy doors
prove impassable.
Or, in the body,
there’s too much
swing or off-
center gravity.
And, in the mind,
a drunken capacity,
access to out-of-range
apples. As though
one had a way to climb
out of the damage
and apology.


— Kay Ryan