Friday, June 26, 2020

After Edna St. Vincent Millay

Karen Eastlund hosts this week's Roundup. Thank you, Karen. Find all the poetic offerings and end-of-June musings over at Karen's Got a Blog!

This week I'm writing from Maine, and it feels so good to be back in my home state. Almost as if to welcome me home, one of my poems aired on WERU Community Radio in Blue, Hill, Maine last week.

During an April online workshop, participants were asked to write a poem using the first line of another poem. I began with the delicious first line of an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, "Elegy Before Death."

There will be rose and rhododendron
   (after Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Elegy Before Death”)

There will be rose and rhododendron
before you take your leave.
Apple blossoms’ heady scent
will welcome swarms of bees.

In the crotch of Cortland branches,
finches will nest and sing.
Eggs will hatch, young will fledge,
blind to your scourge’s sting.

There will be solitary picnics
beneath gnarled apple trees,
gratitude for setting fruit,
for cool shade of leaves.

Oh, would the plucked fruit of Eve,
her curious mind cursed,
yield knowledge of a longed-for cure
before orchard drops are pressed!

Your demise will leave us reeling.
Our wounds are grave and deep.
Not one of us will mourn your passing;
for you, we will not weep.

            ~Joyce Ray © 2020

You can hear the radio recording of the poem on a post on my website, along with a piece about my writing journey.  I'd love to have a visit from you!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some Keep the Sabbath

Many thanks to my friend Anne who reminded me of this Emily Dickinson poem. It seems so appropriate for these Covid-19 times when many congregations choose to keep each other safe and so are reluctant to gather in person to worship.

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.
                      ~  Emily Dickinson

Our congregation has been worshiping at least nine weeks with the aid of lovely pre-recorded YouTube videos. So we are truly "staying at Home." Our pastor and one musician work diligently to prepare the service, and it is so much more time intensive than preparing a traditional service. With no concrete plans to return to in-sanctuary community worship this summer, perhaps we need to consider an outdoor gathering where we can more fully pay attention to warblers and leafy trees.

Poetry Friday is over at A Year of Reading. Thanks to Mary Lee, and have fun discovering the poem offerings this week.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Litany for Pines

 Happy May Day and Poetry Friday! Elizabeth Steinglass has the Roundup today and offers a great video where she shares poems from her terrific book Soccerverse. Many thanks, Elizabeth!

This past week we had to do a difficult thing; we cut down 10 pine trees very close to our home.

We have lived with these trees for forty-two years, and they were huge when we arrived. This winter strong winds sheared off a thirty-foot top, which, thankfully, did not land on the roof. So it was time to say goodbye with gratitude. 

We spoke this litany to the sentinels who stood with us for so long.

 To Our Pines

To pines who have sheltered us from wind and snow
whose shade has cooled us
we offer gratitude.
And let you go.

For birds’ nests and sighing branches,
for holding swings, wind chimes and clothes lines
we offer gratitude.
And let you go.

To friends who’ve grown older with us,
given us oxygen to breathe,
we offer gratitude.
And let you go.

May your spirits remain close,
your whispers stay in memory,
your legacy bless what shall come anew.
We let you go.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Spring Collective Poem

Some of us in the Northeast are still awaiting spring (New Hampshire had snow Wednesday night).  But we welcome much needed reminder of resurrection coming this Sunday with Orthodox Easter.

At our Easter dinner last week, we gathered our daughter, son-in-law and grandson from next door. They have been shopping for our groceries, so we have contact with them when they deliver. We almost did not get together for a meal, but on Sunday morning, I caved. After dinner, we collectively wrote a poem.

Plastic eggs contained one piece of chocolate gleaned from the cupboard and two slips of paper. One slip had words, the other was blank. We all wrote lines on the blank papers. The last person to finish writing (our grandson) arranged the poem lines.

    Easter has come
    Spring into life!
    Snow is gone for now
    Daffodils sway
    Puppies play
    Turn that frown upside down
    People helping people
    We are loved
    Peace be with you!

There are all sorts of poem trails to follow at Nix the Comfort Zone. Thanks to Molly for hosting. May you all be well and healthy and find ways to feed your souls. May resurrection from this pandemic come sooner rather than later.