Friday, November 25, 2011
A poem for the end of November and yet another year added to my ledger of days. And in memory of Ruth Stone, who died just hours ago, at the age of 96. She was and remains a poet who gives me the strength to celebrate an aging woman's vision and imagination.
go, the leaves try
me a thing or
as if I have not
of that falling
away to last
wondering what if
to the ground,
who would look
at me, murmuring
oh, what a
old woman floating
the compost pile.
from Catching Light, LSU Press
Saturday, November 12, 2011
|Primitive gravestone from the 1830's in the Smoky Mountains|
be able to see mountains circled with clouds
and fog, spiraled by hawks and the currents
they ride, we bury each of our gone
ones as high as we can astride hillsides.
We bring to their chiseled names
flowers and muttered words, sometimes
our songs, if our throats have been loosened
from sorrow at last. We lie down
in the spring grass beside them. We stand
in the snow, all a'shiver with emptiness.
Summer we scatter our memories
over their slabs, our dusty hands
opening onto another day's leave taking.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The second day of November is All Souls Day, or in Mexico and Central America, El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, when our gone ones are honored with candles, their favorite foods, and memories of their lives with us. My sister SW Georgian, Glenda Council Beall, remembers her kinfolk in this poem that seems a fitting expression of All Souls Day. The closing line, "closed under sod upon a quiet hill" rings with the voices of the Romantic poets I love. Glenda now lives in the WNC mountains, like me, over in Hayesville, where she has been active in the NC Writers Network West and now has her own writing circle (see below). Her blog sites are well worth visiting.
Stop the Trees from Growing
Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again,
but I came here today, to where Mother nurtured
my spirit and where Daddy kept the roof over my head;
where the fire warmed my bed at night, when winter winds
howled ‘round the corners of the old frame house
when this flat farm with ponds and pines was home.
It’s not the buildings all torn down, the homes of friends
that now hold dreams of families I don’t know ─ it is
Nothing stopped the trees from growing, growing ever taller,
till they dwarfed the house, the barn, the back yard,
now a tiny garden towered over by a lilac tree
a pear tree and one giant oak.
I traveled from what is and has been home for fifteen years,
to visit that which was, but is not home anymore.
Like you, Thomas Wolfe, I can’t go home again.
That place I once called home is gone.
Forever gone, except in memories that linger like lazy chimney smoke
spiraling through my mind, thoughts that surge a yearning deep within
to hear the laughing voices, see the kindly eyes – stilled voices, loving eyes,
closed under sod upon a quiet hill.
Glenda Beall grew up in southwest Georgia where the land is flat and the horizon green pines. Her home is now in western North Carolina where she feels she has always belonged. Her poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. Her poetry has appeared in Kakalak, 2009 Anthology of North Carolina Poets, as well as literary journals, Main Street Rag, Appalachian Heritage, and online journals, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Future Cycle Poetry. She is director and owner of Writers Circle, a studio fin Hayesville, NC for writing and writers. She also teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School and Tri-County Community College.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
These powerful days around the Celtic New Year have always pulled at my soul. Today is All Saints Day or All Hallows. I remember a poem of Louise Gluck's that I loved many years ago. I'd say it's haunted me ever since I first read it and remains a favorite, although I've found her later work less compelling. My sequence HALLOWS follows Gluck's poem. This was written for my grandmother, who is the "saint" in the second section; the third honors All Souls Day, also known as El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico and Central America. For All Souls Day (tomorrow), I will share a poem by my friend Glenda Beall, who lives in Hayesville, North Carolina