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Poems

A Psalm in Praise of the Oak

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Sunday in the Park The mystical oak has towered over a hill longer than any living memory like a regal sentry. She stretches out even branches, a welcome mat, for the passing hawks and owls like a perfect host. She claps her leafy hands to entertain howling coyotes like a happy mother. She keeps watch over the fog taking in a morning nap before sailing off on a sunlit ray like a forgiving friend. She marks everyday as Sabbath in her canopy like a beloved peacemaker. She kisses the enamored sun, then drops a leaf in his honor every evening like an obedient disciple. She stands her ground in dry springs and tends wildflowers at her rooted altar like a dutiful bridesmaid. She offers acorns as gifts to all, giving her mite in the holy of holies like a generous widow. At her sanctuary all pilgrims are blessed. In her shadow all our souls find rest. By her feet, silent, unbridled songs of gratitude for this wonder of creation rise easily into the air she gives us to breath. Our mother, friend, and disciple, the incarnation of love.

This Day

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September 15, 2008 This day may have passed like a thousand other days fading past memory. The sky is appropriately gray, everyone I see a stranger. It would have, I am sure, except for this poem. This poem seals this day in sacred memory. She is the epitaph swearing the day ever was. She stopped me and asked me to smell the stagnant air. Then badie me to look in the nest in the parking lot and check to see if the babies are still there. I am lucky to know her and to breathe and love. Finally she shook me to the truth that someday there will be no other day. I owe this glorious day and and its memory, to poetry.

 

Thick August Air

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Thick air hung loose in the August sky
Waiting for me to make the first move.
I stepped through it and felt its layers
Brushing my skin like Egyptian cotton.

Later it turned itself into wind
And blew by me when I stood in its path.
Reminding me it is my source of life that
Like grace, blows my way for love's sake.

The air met me at every turn, beside every flower
floating on the water and hiding under the rocks.
It carried every scent to my nose and then
Carried me back to old memories.

I look to the hills and see the air dancing.
It preaches all is well and that what began
Blowing in Eden, is still dancing today.

Beneath the Dry Creek Bed

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The week before our riverside baptism, I got a call that the creek was "bone dry". I thought about canceling, and logistically trying to move almost three hundred people to a new location was going to be impossible. Instead I thought maybe we are supposed to stand in a dry creek when there is no water, and see what happens. There were nine people to baptize, and I wanted to make sure they and their families didn't feel slighted. So a cousin of a friend shipped us some bottles of hurricane Fay water that had just landed in Florida, and we distilled it, added some myrrh and lavender, and put it in glass containers. At the baptism a beautiful band was playing "God's Going to Trouble the Water," and we had four priests standing in the creek bed with healing oils made at Thistle Farms, and they anointed each baby and adult on their hands, feet, forehead, and mouth. I was a little fearful of how it was all going to unfold, but I think of the day as one of the best days of baptizing I have ever been a part of. Everyone was so loving, and the water from the grateful tears would have been enough to hold another baptism. I am so glad we didn't let the fear of no water stop us from coming to the creek. It is a great reminder to me to stand by all the dry creeks I have known in my life and feel grace and mercy coming my way like cool streams. It is powerful to stand on a bed of rocks and trust water is flowing underneath the limestone-- we just can't see it.

Beneath the Dry Creek Bed

Worn Limestone in a dry creek bed
Reveals chapped dirt and broken roots.
We stand on the skin of the earth,
Barefoot and thirsty, through this dry season.
We baptize babies in sweat and tears above
Ashes and dust that remind us we are human.
We celebrate the waters that led us all
To this blessed dry creek.

Dry beds teach us the bounty of a drop
Falling our way like grace.
Dry beds assure us even hurricanes die
Given time and space on forgiveness's shore.
Dry beds keep us searching for new life
That cuts its path through rocky ground.
Dry Beds give us hope in bounty coming
In new waves because water never dies.
Dry Beds point us to believe in water that
Runs deeper than we know.

Her Camera

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The curve of her lens,
Is perfectly shaped,
To shield her from the world.
She can see images
Travel down her optic nerve.
Imprinted into her head, they remain,
A safe distance from her heart.
Landscapes and stories come to her,
In two dimensions with color and sound.

Until she saw the boys face-
As it turned the page of a ragged book.
His face jumped through the lens.
No longer looking at the world
Instead, he looked into her.
His smile averting the safe path
And cut into her heart.

It flooded her with salty compassion.
So quick and sudden she had to
Cover her eyes.
Her once sure protector
Now revealed her heart and soul
To this sweet child.
Her lens will never be the same
It will always bend a little more
Towards tenderness

April 24, 2008
Rwanda

Making Candles in Rwanda

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Waiting for the wax to melt
We huddled on the couch
Then ran back to check the pots.
The wax now soft to the touch,
Held the promise of freedom.

If we can just get it to melt,
We can pour it over wicks
And add sweet fragrance and color.
Then package the dream of
New life together.

We stir with purpose as we pray
That money will come
And women among us no longer
Have to sell their flesh
For less than a single candle.

As the wax is poured into molds
It begins to harden and
It almost feels safe—
To let our stone hearts
Melt into love.

April 24, 2008
Rwanda

Photo credit: Milada Vigerova

I lay me down in Flowers

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I lay me down in flowers
The harbingers of spring.
That despite the coming frost
Blossom in unaffected modesty.
They are the spitting image of their past.
The true descendants of grace.
Even though their roots are thin
I can trace them back to Eve’s mother.
In fragile spring beauty they swear
They wouldn’t miss this day for the world.
When hillsides blush in tenderness
And valleys rise in regal style.
I lay me down in flowers
To feel the blood root petal.
My heart so full of joy it cannot stand
To think how quickly this will pass.

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Listen to Becca reading the poem by clicking here.

Pear Blossoms for Sadie

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I saw her walk toward the barn
With baby Sadie in tow
As pear blossoms fell like snow
On the christening gown.
Petals like unceasing prayers fell on Sadie
Whose mother just a few winters back
Walked this same field as snow fell
And sealed love upon her heart.
Snow and Pear Blossoms in fields
Are almost too much to bear
As love rains down upon us
And covers us with blessings.

The Deluge

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The water crashed like the end was coming
In a blaring wall of sound.
The flood drowned out my best intentions,
And every "what if" that held me in bounds.
There was an echo in its thunder,
Making sure my surrender wasn't comprised.
Soaked to the bone and still standing,
It took that deluge to realize.
Water rolls our hearts of stone
Past fear and reasonable doubt.
Water changes the course of life
And ends the long-lived drought.
I'll take floods and swift currents
That pull me to the muddy brown earth,
Love is stronger than water,
And readies my soul for its birth.

In the Thick of It

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You can't see the forest for the trees
tangled in kudzo vines and blackberry bushes
You can't hear the call to work and prayer
because of the torrential rain on tin roofs
You can't tell if you are coming or going
because you are on the other side of the equator
You can't tell if you are dreaming or wishing
because the days fade into the night
All you can do is relish the thickness of
such a journey like honey in the promise land

Resurrected Memories

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Sometimes I feel like I am a ghost in this town
Walking with thin, dream-like prayers.
My life feels like a passing shadow stretched
Before the sun upon the grass.
Resurrected memories are real company
Old trees and passing birds offer comfort.

Just as I fade into myself with prayers,
Circling in my head like buzzards,
A passing thought connects me back to you.
I feel a beat inside, the prayers set loose.
Love revives my ghostly soul
Puts flesh and bone on waning prayers.

Bread Crumbs

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I walked on unfamiliar ground today. Leaving thoughts, like bread crumbs, Between the down of thistles and parched green weeds, So I could find my way home if I got scared. Maybe my crumbs were like a prayer, That someone would pass by, And piece together these bits and find my heart. There was innocence in this ritual; I still hoped that casting my bread upon the earth Would yield answers the whole of humanity had not offered.

But there was a surprising wisdom in the journey as well. In the beginning I would have traded my solitude for companionship for fear of wild bears. But here, in the clear light of day after a long walk alone, the slow emptying of my heart for the birds Created the sweetest voice that sang my own silent words.

 

 

Decanted brandy

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a poem I wrote earlier this Spring.I am happy sitting with my thoughts. They are rich company. Memories, like flowered wallpapers, Hung when time was slower, Decorate my interior halls. Fading makes them sweeter, The aging more tender. Desire, like decanted brandy, Sits on interior shelves. Knowing it’s there, capped, Makes my throat burn. Travel is easy in this space, Where dreams are free to take time. Thoughts, beyond words, live in wind, And carry me quicker than smell, To sacred ground I once walked.

March 24, 2007