Creative Arts and Healing

I have lived thru my first and hopefully my last Hurricane, with Hermine. We were fortunate that none of our very tall trees fell on house, car, or cat, though one tree fell thru the neighbor’s fence into their yard. However, the damage in Myer’s Park, across the road from us, was devastating. Many beautiful, ancient trees were uprooted, splayed with their roots exposed,their long torsos and branches downed forever. I could not avoid seeing the carnage, and the line of poetry that kept running through my brain was “open graves of beauty” as I gazed at the fallen giants. I finally sat on my back porch, opened my journal, and wrote my elegy to them.

After Hurricane Hermine

Even in this golden light
I see the fallen trees
in their open grave of beauty
roots asunder
no longer vertical,
these giants,
but splayed upon the earth
bridges over nothing

How many decades, how many
hundreds of years
had they been standing watch
as we just blindly went on
ignoring them
until perhaps we caught
the moon in her branches
one crisp autumn night

You won't be holding the moon now
you'll be hugging the earth
your birth mother
until every shred of you
bark and twig and leaf
is transmogrified
just mulch,
and yet I can see you
as you waved your branches
in the days of summer
before your slaughter

I saw you before you fell.

* * *

I have written poetry all my life, and I find it sustains and uplifts me. It’s also a gift one can share with others.

One of my pen pals up north, Eve, teaches a creative writing class, and she sometimes sends me the prompts. This one was My Life as a Book Poem. I sat down and the following emerged (thanks to the kindness of my Muse):

If my Life were a Book Poem

If my life were a book
I would want you to savor it
to turn the pages slowly
to revel in subtlety and
its counterpoint boldness

I would want you
to read my book with a lover
holding hands and stopping
now and again to gaze
into each other’s eyes
as if to say
yes, how true, how tender!

If my life were a book
it would remind you of grasses
blowing in the wind
and puffy clouds floating over
a serene blue pond
where a swan swims mutely

My book would lift you up
and make you cry
giving you every reason to
and then, as you weep
you can’t help also laughing
because everything meets in the middle

You could read any page at random
while sitting on a swing
or eating rocky road ice cream
or dabbling your feet in the lapping waves
or stirring homemade applesauce

My book is ripe for picking
never boring, always in style
both mystical and commonplace
like the evening sunset

You don’t want it to end
and I don’t want it to either
I just want to go on writing
my life as a book
and never ever run out of ink.

* * *

Finally, some Autumn Haiku (and a few others tossed into the mix):

Sweeping the courtyard
to tidy my life again
tomorrow, the same

Cucumber tendrils
know how to climb the wire fence
the sun teaches them

Pens around the house
in case I want to scribble
a sudden haiku

To shiver is good
I’ve waited the long summer
for this cool moment

Brushing my long hair
while my cat stares at me – hmm
how strange Ka’s fur is

A few pink blossoms
on ragged zinnia stems
not ready to quit

Hummingbird poses
on spiky autumn flowers —
but my pen is too slow

* * *

In this harvest season, and in the Jewish New Year number 5777 (!), I take stock of my life.

My book Prison Wisdom is currently in the able hands of my graphic designer, and it will
no doubt be out by my birthday (Jan 23). I anticipate several launch parties, a potential sermon at my Unitarian Church, a Go Fund Me campaign to get copies of the book into Prison Libraries around Florida, etc. The timing is right for this book to be valued as the testimony of those locked up behind bars, or of what one inmate anthology called “Beauty Behind Walls.”

I continue to generate 700 word stories with various pen pals, including a linked novella of 34 episodes (followed by “the author” interviewing her characters) called The Greta Tales, which hopefully will be made available in the near future…I’ll keep you posted.

I praise the wild daisy blooms of the swamp sunflower in my garden, the burgeoning fruit on “Grandma Rose’s Grapefruit Tree,” the butterflies and hummingbirds cavorting around my spiky fire bush shrub, the shivery cool breeze that calls for a robe and slippers as Tom and I read the morning newspaper on the back deck and sip strong French roast coffee…

May all of us be safe from storm, from sadness, divisiveness, self-doubt. May we each find ways to cheer each other on through the many challenges we face as the year 2016 comes to completion. May our dreams find fulfillment, and may the fruit of our labors taste sweet.

Autumn wind chimes ring /summoning the bird duets/ harmony calling


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