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Archive for July, 2019

IMG_2724
My father once wrote me
a poem called
“Letter to a Far Away Daughter”
I framed it after
El Tiempo published it
in the early 60’s.
It sits on a shelf
in my bedroom
paper turning yellow
with age.
Sometimes,
when I get out of bed,
I glance at it
remembering
that short time
in my life
when events
transpired
indeed
sending me
far away,
to a cold
and snowy place
I rarely want
to recall,
where winter
and loneliness
went hand in hand,
and the nuns
counted students
daily
at 5 am
as we stood
by our tiny bedroom alcoves
separated by a thin
wall
with only a curtain
for a door.

I can feel the cold
floor
on bare feet,
shivering
in my floor length
nightgown
as it billowed
from the hall
breeze.
On our knees
for morning prayer
and as “amens”
echoed
hearing
heavy
steps
and wooden rosaries
fade
into the day.

I could have been
a million miles
and not
in rich girl’s boarding school
somewhere
outside of Albany.
Here we knew
little of the outside world.
Our days
began with prayer,
ended with prayer,
and yet mine was never heard.
But distant as I was,
I found words
like you
and secretly
wrote poems
in study hall
which I stashed
under my jumper
and hid
under my mattress.

Even then, father
we spoke
in our secret language
and now it is you
who is more than
distant.
Today
I lay on the prairie
feeling
earth beneath me
breeze above me
hearing
beetles
flys
distant thunder
and
the tiniest
of wrens
who is nesting
above our porch:
her distinct
high pitch
call
rising
above
the incessant
chatter of
ground squirrels
suspicious
of my presence.
In a moment
of stillness
when the sun
peers
past the cloud cover,
I hear
the slow
slightly tremulous
timbre
of your last days
when speaking
felt heavy:
your voice
already ghostlike.
It speaks
of
happier days
when we finally
bridged
the childhood distance
with long walks
as I grew into
my womanhood:
you telling
me stories
of your lonely childhood
in your Andean home
and I finally
sharing mine:
we bridged the gap
and made up
for lost time.
Over years
we closed
the circle
of words
tighter
until
we sat
two poets
silent
in the comfort
of shade mango trees
gazing gently
with
knowing smiles
at the beauty
around
us
mundane
as it might be
knowing
in our hearts
this moment
said more
than any words.
But, papa, I so wish
you were here
to translate
just
this one last poem.

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From here……

Perched 6,300 feet high
the world
is distant
tiny
insignificant
its boisterous harping
thunderous
meaningless
clamor
silent:
I lose myself
in days of
long light:
up as the sun
breaks over the pass,
down as the stars
cover the horizon.
Here
nature
is my master
mistress
confidant
muse:
she gifts
me
over and over
large and small:
in ways
I will never repay,
saving my soul
with her grace;
I find joy
once again
far
from madness
in the song
of a white crowned sparrow
atop sage,
melodious
pure
lightest of trills
announcing
the day is done,
come and gone
as gentle
as her song.

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IMG_3780Today in my dad’s honor a poem wrote me – yes, I know this sounds strange, but as they say sometimes the words just come through us – we are not in charge.  My dad was my mentor and a great “partner in crime” as he liked to call our poetry blog collaborative.  He has been gone now 6 years and everyday I hear his words – “keep writing.”  I miss him more than I can ever say – and so today, in his name words in Spanish flowed through me and the product is my post today.  I cannot translate it because it is a play on words, as those of you who can read and understand it will recognize.  He was the translator – put my words in Spanish and I his in English – and so it goes….Dad, I know you will laugh and enjoy this poem wherever you are.  I love you.

Sol
a
yo…..
El sol y yo
Nunca
sin
luz
en mi alma
Mal dicho
sol
o
que?
Ni uno
ni el otro
aqui
tu
siempre
entre mis ojos
y yo
en los tuyos.
Ni “o “
ni “a”
sino sol.

 

 

 

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Morning of scattered clouds
sunshine
mild winds,
by lunch
cold
dark
ominous storms
ushered by thunder
wild life scattering
lightning,
then hail,
dog scrambling
for cover,
trembling
same one
that chases deer
or back talks
coyotes
by the sage’s edge-
now trying
to crawl into
my womb
he falls
exhausted
by my feet,
I sit
to watch
the ever
changing canvas.
Thunder
breaks
the silence
another
squall moves
down the valley
where creatures
bed down
finding shelter
till dawn
when
once again
this rhythmic
pattern begins
light
to shade
bright
to grey
to dark
and
night.

The dog sleeps
now
his back legs
barely twitching
I close my eyes
tired
from the show
grateful for my perch
as the wind
sings one last song,
my heart
soars
free
over the valley
I so love.

 

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Morning fog
doe
rounding
high grass
two fawnsIMG_3851
at her tail:
stops
ears alert
scents the air:
steps lightly
down the gully
tail high
toward the valley:
how sweetly
my day has begun.

I stare at peaks
in the distance
and watch
clouds shroud
these giants,
slow dance
of light
from grey
to white
and back
until the sun
pierces
luminescent
in the crags
that lead
to Quake Lake.
Somewhere
distant
in the Pacific
the sun
is blackened
a fire rim
burning
its heart,
but here
another
day begins
un-noticed
and all
is as it should be.
I step onto
the porch
to listen
for the river
and see
the wren
has finished
her nest,
the dog
rushes toward the sage,
but it’s way too late:
the deer is safe.

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Over years
I carry your legacy –
over 2,000 at one time:
your treasures
and yes,
a few mine,
but oh so many
so varied
so cherished
so hunted
in those days
when we were
poor
and yet so rich
at the many
dusty
musty
poorly lit
cold
book shops
across Manhattan,
creaky floors
under tired feet –
you opened
closed
chose
and
like a strict
marm
decided the fate
of each
thumbed
weighed
volume:
who was the lucky one
to slip into your pocket
on a cold winter night,
to sit on a shelf
hand made
with the many others.
Which one would
you sacrifice
a needed pair
of gloves
or lunch for?
So many books
read
over and over
voraciously
late into the night.
I always wondered
why you were
so hurried
for so much knowledge
so vaste
so varied.
Life would soon
provide
the tragic answer
and leave me
the keeper
of your treasure.

Over time
I have learned
to love these
yellowing pages
that were such
a part of you.
I open a book
and fall
back in time
to your smile
and mischievous glance
when you
had found
a cherished
first edition
under priced
the clerk
would never recognize.
So proud
we’d pay
and step into the night:
victorious
in a self imposed
battle – a new spoil
of war,
another sought after
title.

Today your books
paint a narrative
which speaks
to those who love you,
they line a long wall
high in the mountains
far from those
harried streets
of a long ago
New York,
and in my heart
I know they are grateful,
As are we
to have been loved by you.

 

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Winds of Change

27-american-kestrel-ira-runyan.jpgThe prairie
sings:
late afternoon
drifts
blow
through sage
and tall grass
whistling
into the valley
as a kestrel
dances to its
shrill rhythm.
She flashes
her banded
tail feathers
diving
eyeing
our nesting box,
while ground squirrels
alarm in fear:
their silly chirping
annoying the sleeping dog
whose found shelter
under the porch.
Disgruntled
he emerges
dust covered
to eye the scene
finding little of interest
he drops
by the door,
not aware
of the aerial dance
above his head.
This masked marauder
drops
to just
above the shortest sage
cruising
for dinner:
a stealth warrior
above
trembling minions
of deer mice
and voles.
If the universe is kind,
she will grace us
once again
nesting
in our box
high above
this sea of grass:
we welcome
her grace
and fortitude
in these times of change.

(note – the American kestrel is an endangered species )

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