Archives for July 2012

Raven vs. Crow

I saw the movie “Moonrise Kingdom” (more on that in an upcoming post), but one of my favorite parts is when Sam meets Suzy. She is the raven in a production of “Noye’s Fludde.” Seeing her in that costume reminded me of a little poem I wrote a few years ago.
 

IF NOAH HAD SENT A CROW
 

Some say a raven scouted land,

proceeding from old Noah’s hand.

The raven flew both far and near

but it did not return. Oh dear!
 

Then Noah sent a fair white dove

who picked an olive branch with love.

When Noah sent her out again,

she stayed to nest. The flood did end.
 

But if, instead, he’d sent a crow

to look for land, both high and low,

that crafty bird—so sly and wily —

would have returned with poison ivy.

Not On Vacation #3

I am not on vacation this month, but I’m taking it a little slower. Instead of regular blogging, I’m doing a photo essay based on last year’s trip to a place I go as often as possible: the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.

These photos are from the winter trip John and I took up there earlier this year. Here’s our cabin.

Here’s us.

Here’s the gorge we scaled together.

P.S. Happy 20th Anniversary, Honey.

“The Helper,” a poem

THE HELPER

 

The day I helped Daddy shovel dirt

is the first I remember.

 

I was a big girl, two, big enough to help

in my white shirt with scalloped edges, yellow pants.

Daddy didn’t wear a shirt, just brown work shorts.

It was hot and he was red

like the wheelbarrow we loaded with dirt.

Our yard was mostly rock but we filled that wheelbarrow

full. A yardwork miracle.

 

My wheelbarrow. The one Daddy would push me in.

We zoomed through the grass and he pretended

to tip me over and I squealed

like a new pig.
 
But that day I was not in my wheelbarrow. Dirt was.

He used the big shovel. I used my five fat fingers

and helped, one handful at a time.

 

Mom used our carefully gathered dirt

to plant impatiens.

They never did last, but every year they bloomed.

Not On Vacation #2

I am not on vacation this month, but I’m taking it a little slower. Instead of regular blogging, I’m doing a photo essay based on last year’s trip to a place I go as often as possible: the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.

Last year I promised myself I’d find the Catholic church in Estes, Our Lady of the Mountains. Turns out it’s right across from Safeway.

It was raining, and I only had my iPhone. I never even made it inside—the outdoor part was too mesmerizing.

Mother and Child.

Here’s good ole’ St. Francis with a deer.

And the Stations of the Cross are built with a roof to protect them from snow.

A Cento

Tweetspeak Poetry has declared this July to be the month of the cento. I actually did one using Mary Oliver’s “American Primitive.” Because I own it.
(Thank you, Professor Ann Miller—gone but not forgotten).

 

MORNING AT GREAT POND

 

and the black river of loss

Disorder and astonishment

skirting the secret pools —

hunting water

sleeking along

day after shining day

I knelt and drank from that crumpled flow,

the blue of the sky falls over me

I want to flow out

spit through wet stones. And a pool

climbing up out of the wet cities —

barnacles and joy

such slick crossings, deep

in the swale — everything else

clean as holy water. Meanwhile

the ponds start dissolving

The crow calls: plunder!

the loose tons of water

What a holy and sensual splashing!

tilting through the water

the warm river of the I

the splash of his touch

and the wanderings of water.

this thick paw of my life

how I love myself at last!

 

Title: “Morning At Great Pond”

Line 1: “In Blackwater Woods”

Line 2: “The Plum Trees”

Line 3: “Climbing the Chagrin River”

Line 4: “Music”

Line 5: “The Sea”

Line 6: “Happiness”

Line 7: “Tecumseh”

Line 8: “A Meeting”

Line 9: “White Night”

Line 10: “Blackberries”

Line 11: “Little Sister Pond”

Line 12: “Humpbacks”

Line 13: “Crossing the Swamp”

Line 14: “Blossom”

Line 15: “Spring”

Line 16: “Skunk Cabbage”

Line 17: “Rain in Ohio”

Line 18: “A Poem for the Blue Heron”

Line 19: “Postcard from Flamingo”

Line 20: “Egrets”

Line 21: “Cold Poem”

Line 22: “Flying”

Line 23: “Fall Song”

Line 24: “August”

Line 25: “The Honey Tree”

Not On Vacation #1

I am not on vacation this month, but I’m taking it a little slower. Instead of regular blogging, I’m doing a photo essay based on last year’s trip to a place I go as often as possible: the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.

This black-billed magpie is sitting on the porch at the administration building.

Imagine just to the right, a group of Buddhist monks in brown robes walking past, making much less noise than the magpie. Then, imagine off to the left and forward (where the field is) the Cheyenne East High School marching band practicing for football season.

Last year was the third time I’d gone to the Y during the week that the monks and the band are there at the same time. It’s one of my all-time favorite convergences.

Making poems from hate mail

EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT

 

The problem is that I

cannot distinguish a good gift from a bad one.

 

Fever seemed bad, until it saved my life.

Half-deafness seemed bad, until it taught me to listen.

Her cancer seemed bad, until it yielded poems.

The fights—oh, the fights!—seemed awful, until you and I,

We held hands that July afternoon.

 

When a manila envelope appeared in my mailbox

with no name from someone full of hate

I shrugged and threw it away.

Perfect.

How I Would Have Fixed “Brave” (spoiler alert!)

If you have not seen the new Pixar movie “Brave,” please stop reading. I am going to spoil everything. Ye’ve been warned.
 

OK. Here is what I thought was happening, based on the fact that I knew the working title for the film was “The Bow and the Bear.” I thought there was only one bear: the queen.

I thought she was always the one and only bear—from the beginning. It would have taken a little rewriting of that first scene, but it could be done. So when the queen ate the potion-laden cake, I thought it was returning her to her natural bear state (sort of like Fiona in “Shrek”).

I haven’t yet worked out why it would be in the kingdom’s interest for Fergus to marry a bear in disguise, but I figure it had something to do with the four rival clans. The one part I did work out is that the tapestry and the queen’s gown were made with the same magical green thread (probably made by that same witch who had a thing for bears).

So in my version, the queen is in a constant battle for control over her natural bear state. Over the years she has come to adapt to human customs and to have some genuine care for her husband and rambunctious boys as well as great love for her daughter. And the queen is being so hard on her daughter for the good of the kingdom. Maybe the marriage will even mean that the queen can revert to being a bear and live happily ever after in the forest.

Of course, this ups the ante even more on the tension between the king and the queen/bear, but I thought that made it all rather complicated and interesting.

If any one else has written about a similar story line, I promise I didn’t steal. It is June 29 at 6:45 p.m. as I write this, and I just got home from the movie.

Any thoughts, fellow fairy tale nerds?

for Sally

A poem for my friend. Just cuz.

 
“I don’t like vegetables,” Sally sneered

looking like a first-grader

 

Her grandparents had a farm and a dry-goods store

Sally did not partake

 

She spared her children the trials of brussels sprouts

the tribulations of runaway squash

 

Yet they learned somehow to savor a salad

Their kids—her grandkids—raised free from sugar,

 

hormone-tainted milk, the injustice of white flour,

bound up Sally’s front porch steps

 

devour her hot apple pie,

fresh from McDonald’s.