I've written three books, each a part of my journey to elderhood. Now with this blog my intention is to give a moment to moment accounting of my life as it is now, and now, and now. I'm a leader and student of Sensory Awareness, and a practitioner of Rosen Method. I believe in the connective and collective power of Love.
The poem was written by Paul Fentress while in 1st grade at Brookside School in San Anselmo.
Here is the poem:
A Dark Sea of Magic
by Paul Fentress
A dark sea of magic
Five rocks fall off songs
One wise old man in a lighthouse
A sparkly fish in the air
Here is the story by Prartho Sereno that inspired Paul to write the poem.
In my 21+ years as a poet-in-the-schools, this poem represents one of the highest (among thousands) of moments that have moved me, for this was the poem Paul wrote during a Mothers Day workshop, just a few months after his mother had died.
As we sat criss-cross-applesauce style on the carpet and I announced that we would write about our mothers that day, the students informed me that Paul didn’t have one. It is difficult to describe what I saw and felt as my eyes met Paul’s and his fellow classmates’—I felt like I had been admitted to a circle of wise elders. Their eyes were steady and clear with what felt like true compassion, without embarrassment or sentimentality. We sat quietly together with the fact of loss—its solemnity and its power to bring us together.
When it was time to write, I suggested Paul might write his poem to his father. But he shook his head no. Later, I suggested he could write to his mother, but again he said no.
Awkwardly, I went on to write what I’d prepared on the board: Compare your mother’s hair to a vegetable. What are her hands made of (e.g., water or fire or feathers)? What do you see her doing in your mind? Crown her the Queen of something.…
I noticed Paul moving his pencil, deep into the process, and left him alone for a while. When I finally came round to his desk and read the poem I’m offering here, I was speechless before its mystery and beauty.
Eventually, I asked, “Who did you write this for, Paul?… Is this for your mother?”
He shook his head no.
Again, no. Then he looked right into me and said, “This poem is for me. I wrote this poem for me.”
It’s a beautiful summer day. Fog sits on the ridge but will probably move gently out.
This morning I’m with the number of “Karen’s” threatening to call the police. The latest is near me on Mount Tam. A woman threatens to call the police on an Asian couple hiking with their daughter and dog. She tells them to go back home, and yet, home is here, in this country.
I truly don’t understand.
In each case, the woman has been fired from her job, and rightly so, but where does it even come from? They’re not old women. They appear to be in their forties, the age of my children.
How is it to live with such hate and fear?
This morning I feel sad. Mt. Tam is my place of healing. When I walk on her trails, I feel that no blood has been shed here. It’s not like going to Assisi in Italy, a place I love, but battle after battle has taken place on the ground below the town. Mt. Tam has been a place of peace.
In San Francisco, the CAREN Act could impose criminal charges on people who call 911 because of racial bias on another person. CAREN stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies.
I’m glad for the response that is occurring because of cell phones. We’re seeing what’s hard to comprehend, hearing it, and I feel sad. I keep reading that we might think we want to go back to “normal”, but that isn’t what we should want. We want and need change, and the pandemic is bringing about huge and necessary change. We’re in this together, and daily that becomes more clear.
Right now, flowers are everywhere blooming in a range of colors, petals, and sizes.
Might we be as exuberant, unfolding our petals as platforms on which to be kind.
I read these words by Meister Eckhart and sink into my absorption first with the bird nest outside my bedroom, and now with the majesty of this spider Charlotte and the intricacies of what she spins. Love Frees!
LOVE DOES THAT
All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,
because love does
~ Meister Eckhart ~
(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)
I was in a dentist’s chair for almost four hours yesterday. I won’t go into detail, but I still feel shaky at having the hands of two people plus a drill in my mouth.
I think of the bones in our skull, and how they’re meant to rock and rotate in a soothing rhythm, and mine now feel a bit out of tune. I’m trying to re-focus my eyes on in and out, and a world bigger than a tiny room, a dentist, an assistant, and me.
That brings me to the news. Enough said there, but PG&E, our local gas and electric company now says they will be randomly turning off power in our area because of the fire danger. Today, we have two different estimators coming out to give us the cost of installing a generator. Steve works from home these days and he needs the power on.
Life used to seem easier. Is that simply nostalgia?
Meanwhile my spider friend, now named Charlotte by a human friend, is busy.
She’s involved with the vine, yes, but also, has produced artwork all the way up and down the line. She’s a tiny little thing, with an array of goodies caught to eat. She doesn’t seem worried about her refrigerator being turned off, and so far no message to save Wilber, the pig, though we don’t have a pig, so maybe her message is larger. Let’s save the world, and bring together the lines and designs of the web.
When I stood in the little room in the village in Austria where my father was held when the B-17 that he piloted was shot down during WWII, I felt I knew this place. I could feel the fear my father must have felt, and yet, his ancestry was half-German. These people looked like him, and people who’d seen him parachute down looked like him.
Those who turned him over to the SS ran to meet me when they learned I was there. They felt they’d sentenced him to death but they had no choice. They were a village of women and girls, old men and young boys. The village was too small for a jail.
Seeing me, touching me, meant he survived.
Tears come because we are all so connected; we are connected.
In reading My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, I’m struck by these statistics. I knew them but these days as we are reaching to listen and understand, they flow right into and through my blood and bones.
An estimated eighteen million Native people were custodians of the North American continent when European colonists arrived. They and their ancestors had lived here for an estimated 14,000 years.
Today this same land contains over 204 million white Americans, over forty-six million Black Americans, and just over five million Native Americans. The story of the unique arc of trauma in the Native American body is only now beginning to be told.
I live on Coast Miwok land. The land is abundant, and the people lived lightly on the land. They built boats from tule to cross the bay.
Then, the Spanish and the missionaries arrived. I feel my own land as peaceful and harmonious, but when I go to San Rafael where the mission is, I feel dis-ease, diseased.
It was founded in 1817 as a medical hospital to treat sick Native Americans, making it Alta California’s first sanitarium. Of course, we now know who made them sick.
The point is we can look at history, the wounds of every group of people, and come together, bodily come together, even as we socially isolate, and heal.
We heal the planet when we heal ourselves.
This time of year the sun shines into my bedroom through the trees. I feel the touch of its light and rise knowing peace begins with me.
Today I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with Resmaa Menakem. It’s an important resource to help us understand our own bodily responses to race, culture, and fear. I give you a taste, a body practice to help in transformation.
Tonight Steve and I returned to the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove. It’s worth a re-visit. Meant to be a farce, this article shows how close it was to the truth. We’re living in strange times. May we learn bodily practices to help us anchor and release our fears to bring forth the changes we want to see in the world.
I wake to the tweets of our mother bird friend and her babies in their nest outside our bedroom.
Then the red-shouldered hawks chime in with their squawks. There must be a nest they’re protecting from the crows.
The morning is more raucous than the fireworks that went off illegally into the night.
I’m reading Brian Greene’s book Until the End of Time. He explains our beginnings with the Big Bang, and in great detail explains how yes, we are stardust. Our elements have been made inside stars. Our star, our sun, is third generation. She’s new in formation, young, like us.
Walt Whitman captured it well when he wrote in Leaves of Grass:
“Before I was born out of my mother, my embryo has never been torpid… For it the nebula cohered to an orb.”
Today I read Heather Cox Richardson, and am stunned by a history of which I was unaware until the recent attention to it.
From Heather: In 1889, Republicans knew they were in political trouble. Americans had turned against their conviction that the government must protect big business at all costs, and that any kind of regulation or protection for workers amounted to socialism. In 1884, for the first time since the Civil War, voters had elected a Democrat to the White House. Grover Cleveland promised to use the government to protect ordinary Americans, and to stop congressmen from catering to wealthy industrialists.
To regain control of the government, in 1888, Republicans pulled out all the stops. They developed a new system of campaign financing, hitting up rich businessmen for contributions, and got employers to warn workers that if they didn’t vote for the Republican candidate they would be fired. Nonetheless, Republican Benjamin Harrison lost the election by about 100,000 votes.
But he won in the Electoral College.
Republicans immediately set out to make sure no Democrat could ever win the White House again. They rushed South Dakota into the Union in 1889, along with North Dakota, Montana, and Washington—all Republican regions– to pack the Senate and the Electoral College. The next year, they rushed in Wyoming and Idaho, too, boasting that they would dominate government for the foreseeable future.
South Dakota, though, was a problem. Virtually all of the land in that new state belonged to the Lakota people.
This morning I read about creativity, which stirs in me as I’m with how our universe formed, this pulsing and gathering, expanding, and contracting, echoed with the pump of our heart with blood and air.
Jean Cocteau, a prolific poet, author, painter, illustrator, filmmaker, actor, and producer advised writers and artists.
“Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don’t like — then cultivate it. That’s the only part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.”
What a way to live our lives! Like stars coalescing, digesting, and spewing forth, may we do the same, each honoring that we are as individual and unique as snowflakes and fingerprints, each with our way to mark and make waves in sand.
And as we do, may we allow our lips to curl up in a smile, as we honor the orbs we are, the curves that flex as we connect.