Grief’s Visit

Vendicari, Sicily, Italy
Grief’s Visit

Her dress was drab, a dull brown 
that blended in with everything, the bark 
of the trees, the walnut paneling on the wall, so most 
of the time she didn’t stand out, not the way 
her sister does with her sunny yellows and passionate pinks. 
But today, her chestnut, russet and umber hues held the light 
just enough that you were aware 
of her when she was in the room. 

We sat there together at the kitchen table, hoping 
that if we did something normal, like share 
a cup of tea, we might feel like our usual selves. Her stare 
was ghostly, like she’d left her spirit on the other side 
of the lake during our early morning walk. Her ‘smile’, 
well you couldn’t really call it that; it was a dash 
at the bottom of her face; not like punctuation, more like a cut, 
maybe even a gash, the kind you get when you aren’t paying attention 
and slice into your skin near your fingernail. 

She said she was ravenous for silence and solitude. If 
she could only devour enough of it, she’d get her energy 
back, her body would start working again, the way it used to, 
before. So she stood up somewhat unsteady and left 
for the stillness and sanctuary of bed and covered herself 
up, slowly with the edge of the quilt balled in her hand and pulling it 
all the way around and over her head. 

I share this poem in the spirit of embracing all that is, all of what is in being human. These dark moments hollow us out so that joy can flow back in.

wild wonderful whales

Wind Wonderful Whales

 
Wild wonderful whales wandering 
the wet welcome waters of the Pacific
Enough of you we can’t seem to get
Each sighting a little fête.

What do you think when the little boats full of tourists 
speed toward you from all directions
as if there’s some emergency,
when all they want 
are a few moments communion 
with your majesty, 
to lay their eyes upon the body of the queen of the sea, 
to see you skin shimmering in the morning sun. 

Wild wonderful whales wandering 
the wet welcome waters of the Pacific
Enough of you we can’t seem to get
Each sighting a little fête.

Do you sense our delight
when you jump with all your might? 
Such an amazing sight! 
You are so grand, 
we can see you from land
up here on our balcony where we stand, 
drawn like magnets to your magnificence. 

Wild wonderful whales wandering 
the wet welcome waters of the Pacific
Enough of you we can’t seem to get
Each sighting a little fête.
It’s as if you can hear our oohi-ng and ahh-ing 
carrying from way up here 
a joyful song floating from afar. 
A spray to get our attention, 
a breach to show off your size,
bigger than the little tourist boats
gathered up along side you,
a great jump – and a splash
your big black back crashing
into the deep blue sea,
white water shooting like fireworks 
in a summer sky. 

Wild wonderful whales wandering 
the wet welcome waters of the Pacific
Enough of you we can’t seem to get
Each sighting a little fête.

Oops! I decided there was one more poem I want to share from my Gathering at the Sea collection, written in January 2021. This poem is about one of our big delights when whiling away the days in sunny San Agustinillo. Below, you can find other poems from my little collection previously posted here, along with a bonus photo:

on a torn wing

with wonder and delight

Exhilaration

The Ocean

little shell

a song of escape

on a torn wing

a frigate bird flying over San Agustinillo (not the one that’s the subject of the below poem)
 on a torn wing

 all alone up in the sky
 just above the scrubby hill
 like an outcast pushed away
  
 just how did you get that tear
 in the center of your long black wing
 like a knife sliced down the middle? 
  
 did you upset your brother
 taking his share of the fishy feast 
 you were sharing at the sea? 
  
 did you move in on the neighbor’s girl
 thinking you’d be a better match
 realizing too late he was tougher than you thought? 
  
 do you carry regret, or
 Was the whole thing easy to forget?
  
 what did you think now 
 as you gaze down into the aqua waters 
 lapping at the shore? 
  
 what wisdom do you carry
 as you glide solo, the thermals
 your only companion? 
  
 will you find a new family,
 maybe a band of misfits, 
 or will you forever be the 
 lone frigate soaring the sky? 

This poem, the last I’ll share from my Gathering at the Sea collection, written while on holiday in San Agustinillo, Mexico in January 2021, is about a frigate bird I noticed while sitting on our balcony one afternoon. There are so many things to notice on the beach, around the posada, and in town, especially when you’re intentional about finding something different from what you’ve seen on previous visits. You can find other poems from my little collection previously posted here:

Exhilaration

The Ocean

little shell

a song of escape

with wonder and delight

with wonder and delight

Waves on Playa San Agustinillo
 with wonder and delight
  
 the sun shines
 on the deep blue sea
 bright light pulling us
 like thread unraveling 
 from a favorite winter sweater
 
 the white waves
 splash and crash
 under the golden sky
 repeating like a refrain
 music to our ears singing
 away the cold of home

 the strandline soaks
 the soft sand
 laying down a rug
 for our callused feet
 to wander into 
 a fresh new day
  
 the sand crabs scurry
 along the water’s edge
 as we meander
 through their neighborhood
 together we dance before the sea
 with wonder and delight 

Another poem from my Gathering at the Sea collection, written while on holiday in San Agustinillo, Mexico in January 2021. You can find other poems from my little collection previously posted here:

Exhilaration

The Ocean

little shell

a song of escape

a song of escape

shoveling snow at home in Iowa
 a song of escape
  
 hat-covered heads and booted feet
 parka-wrapped people shoveling snow
 the neighborhood working in unison
 the panting of their breath visible song
 a song of escape
 a song with a tropical beat
 a song featuring heads under straw sombreros
 feet melting in soft sand
 the sun bathing half-naked bodies in light
 in warmth, wonderful heat,
 a song that becomes the sound of the sea
 gazes face the salty rocks
 out to where the whales while away the day
 to the straight line of the horizon
 miles away 

Another poem from what I’ve decided to call my Gathering at the Sea collection, written while on holiday in San Agustinillo, Mexico in January 2021. You can find other poems from my little collection previously posted here:

Exhilaration

The Ocean

little shell

little shell

Shells I collected on morning walks, displayed on the windowsill of our posada
 little shell
  
 little shell, I wonder
    what big stories
        you have to tell
        how you fell
     in such glory
 here on sand just under
 my two weary feet
  
 little shell, your beauty
    nothing so grand
        you arrived well
        your ev’ry cell
    gently on land
 I picked you up with glee
 such a lovely treat 

My morning routine when on holiday in Mexico is getting up with the sunrise and walking the beach for about 45 minutes. I keep an eye out for shells, which this year swam up mostly on the small beach in front of our posada. I think 2021 was the best shell collecting year ever. I found several shells I’ve never seen there before, and found, on average, a cowrie shell a day (they used to be so rare a find).

Other poems from my trip previously posted here:

Exhilaration

The Ocean

The Ocean

Fishing boat coming ashore, San Agustinillo, Mexico – Jan 2021
 The Ocean
  
 I. A lover

 She pulses under the little boats
 with their brown fishermen
 who know her like a lover
 sensing her moods
 content for her to kiss them
 with her abundance 
  
 II. A queen
  
 This queen reigns
 over vast lands, unconstrained,
 not to be contained,
 she spreads herself upon the shore
 saturating sand, soaking deep
 she throws herself over rocks
 splashes, transformed to salty mist,
 dissolving into air
 permeating everything
  
 III. A pool
  
 She sits like a pool
 on a hot summer day
 inviting you in
 to her stillness
 her soft wetness
 carries your weight
 and you rest on her soft body
 slumbering in her surety 

This is the second post to include poetry I wrote while on holiday last month in Mexico. (Go HERE if you missed the first.) I never tire of sitting in silence and watching the beautiful Pacific meet the coast in the sweet little town of San Agustinillo.

Exhilaration

Dog playing on the beach in San Agustinillo, Mexico – Jan 2021
 Exhilaration
  
 Oh, the way the dogs
 tumble over the sand like
 rocks freed from the mountainside
 rolling, rolling, rolling
 until
 too tired to keep going
 then
 stopping to feel the exertion
 and the exhilaration of exhaustion 

This was the first in a series of poems I wrote while on holiday in San Agustinillo, Mexico last month. I love the freedom of the dogs there. (And, how over the past 16 years, the dogs have become healthy and well cared for.) They are a source of daily inspiration (and energy!). I’ve included a couple of bonus photos of the 2 dogs who hung out with Jim and I at our posada.

Celeste joining a morning walk
Lucy wanting to know if we have anything tasty in our room

New Tricks

Me and Tucker, a dog who learned new tricks
 New Tricks
  
 I wonder why
   I keep forgetting:
    Old dogs can learn
      New tricks. 
 You’re not a shoe
   Glunked in a puddle
     Of squishy mud. 
 You’re like a kite
   Capable of rising
     High into the sky.
 Your dog showed you 
   How it works: 
     That time when he was 7 –
       almost 50 in dog years! 
 He could sit still and 
                  Let you comb his hair. 
 It’s the anticipating 
    Of the treat, 
      The little joy that emerges
 If you just push through.  

I wrote this poem to pull myself out of a moment when I was feeling trapped by my age. I feel fortunate to be able to remind myself that life is a playground, there is always something new to discover, and every day opens with new possibility

To the sunny side

My bedroom, everything in its place, circa 1977

For those who know me, you’ll see the truth in this one! I can thank my Navy Dad for these qualities.

 To the Sunny Side 
  
 Dare to care and do prepare
 You’ve got control, it’s your role
 Like a busy bee, clean what you see
 Leave it all in tip-top shape, for you there’s no escape
 Your eyes like a hawk, when there’s dirt, they balk 
 You have your rituals & process, oh, how you do obsess
 Strategies & advice, even a special tip for getting a grip, 
    using a clip, stopping a drip 
 Pray it’s all put away, down to the tiniest stray
 Even inside the drawer, there’s a chore 
 Sort and shift, with your hands give it a lift
 Some will posit there’s something special about clothes 
    lined up in a closet 
 You can do it by season or some other reason, like color 
    or length - give us strength
 When setting out to organize, the times just flies 
 Get out the duster & the mop and polish without a stop 
 Be neat, like a folded sheet and a bed made complete
 Conquer the clutter, and the butter, yep, you’re a nutter
 No level of disarray keeps you at bay, you jump right into 
    the fray
 Get it all in order, all the way to the border, be no hoarder 
 That’s how we do it, in a bit of a flit, some say really quick 
 Into the trash you make it dash with a smash 
 Picking it up as you go, minimizes the work, don’t you know
 You can do it at home or as you roam, at the table, 
    wherever you’re able 
 When things are tidy, there’s nothing to hidy
 Everything in its place within your space makes for 
    such sweet grace
 You might feel a sense of peace when cleaning is your release 
 Nowhere a dust bunny, isn’t it funny how that can make 
    you feel so sunny  

Click HERE for an audio recording of the poem.