This poem, by a Pittsburgh poet who lost his wife to the corona virus, really struck me hard. It is both personal and universal. The poem is by Bart Solarczyk and is published in his poetry book: Tilted World.
on a sofa
in a big
we will never
be the sky.
Sad news abounds. Death is close and remote at the same time. I now know of three deaths of the siblings of friends. There will be more. Communities grieve for the larger loss. Handshakes and hugs are bygone. Tears flow, and for this I am grateful. When Death and its companion Grief, visit—I turn to the wisdom and sage counsel of poets and prophets. Kahlil Gibran is always a comfort. His healing words from The Prophet::
“Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
“And he said:
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun?
“And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its relentless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
“And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.
“And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
Gibran is asking us to understand this both metaphorically which applies to life and physically for those called to death.
Friends. Our link to Angels and our better selves. They walk with us through the darkest nights and celebrate with us and for us when the sun shines. Sometimes they even lift us when we are in the shade and cannot see the light. We laugh, we cry, we grieve and we birth together. And in the most difficult of times, we honor death together. Despite all disagreements and even some drama, we are better humans because of our friends and friendships (including the animal and plant world).
Today I am grateful for all my friends, past, present and future as well as friends (strangers to me) who love and support each other around the globe. I am honored and blessed to be walking this walk with many friend-souls every day. In particular, today is the birthday of my soul sister and Jaguar kin, Vicky, who has repeatedly shown and taught me the true meaning of generosity of spirit and materials. She asks herself, over and over again in the most demanding and difficult situations, “What would love do here?” and for the most part meets herself in that field. And countless other souls besides me have experienced this/her unconditional love through her work and life.
In lieu of celebrating together during this pandemic, and in lieu of grieving together for those who lost loved ones at their last breath, I honor this moment within the grace and mystery that life offers to all of us. AHO.
Last night was the first evening of the seven day celebration of Passover. From my limited understanding—it is a celebration of Jews marching to freedom or Exodus–out of slavery from the Egyptians. The story is retold and passed on at the first night’s (Wednesday night this year) seder meal, so that each generation connects to this history thus renewing and strengthening family and community bonds. Family, friends, festivity and food bring these concepts of freedom and flight to the table in real time. All cultures come together in much the same fashion simply varying traditions.
There is a lot of sadness this year, because the virus is keeping families (safely) apart. The all important gathering around the family table is being celebrated and replaced, in 2020, by gathering around the computer or cell phone in virtual togetherness and sharing a meal. Matzah and wine may or may not be present.
Soon, Easter, and the Resurrection, will be celebrated by Christians in much the same manner. In place of matzah and brisket, Easter eggs and lamb are among the traditional foods shared and enjoyed.
Humans live in a continuum much as we tend to forget or disregard. Holidays and seasons are ticklers. What we are experiencing now through this pandemic is but one more “plague” or flight to freedom. Even for those loved ones passing on to the next life, there is renewal. Our sadness and grief (which may be very acute) for our loss at not being able to gather together in person with family for the holiday, or for death, will also pass-over. We may never be quite the same afterward, but isn’t that the point? We are history/herstory. We are marching toward freedom and growth every day, only with such incrementally small and slow steps that we hardly notice. There will be more viruses, grief and wars, (in the form of automated intelligence in my opinion), that challenge us and demand that we rise and renew in unprecedented ways. We are blessed in that humankind also has the gift of offering us narratives of past communities showing us the way.
Every once and again I ask for a sign from a dearly departed friend who watches over and for me from the other side. I was looking for some small sign to show our forever connection and it had to be through a clear symbol that I would be able to easily recognize here on this physical plane. And VOILA—today I got it! While slicing a blood orange, its juice spilled out onto my countertop into a perfect heart-shaped stain. I was thrilled! I’ve been gifted with these hearts before in so many forms on the beach, on leaves in trees, in tar on the street, in cloud formations, and each time, I am enchanted beyond belief. As she lay dying, closing in on a decade ago, my friend said to me “Watch for the signs—I will always be with you.”
Yesterday tears streamed. Grief for families, and a daughter in particular, who had to say goodbye to a parent dying from covid-19. Due to hospital visiting restrictions as well as long distance travel problems, the afflicted spend their last days and hours without the support of close loved ones. It’s heartbreaking because we see in each situation a part of ourselves, our own fears and our own tenderness.
Speaking of tenderness, love rivers its own course. Nurses now stand in for absent family members and tend to the spirit of those dying and to family who can not be present. Thus new families are birthed through this separation, grief and its attendant ministering of love and sharing. During this pandemic isolation, we are physically separate, and yet we are all the more connected on so many levels and as-yet-to-be imagined emanations. Covid-19 has been termed a novel (corona) virus. Viruses spread affliction yes, however they also spread affection.
I start chopping
another goodbye on the horizon coyotes howl
news of an old friend’s passing—
I switch Pandora
to a blues station
I scour grief and grease
news of a new friend’s passing
the gift of her smile
through it all
the piercing presence of thistle
in the garden
I use the pencil sharpener
grandpa’s dad’s mine
jewel weed emerges in the garden I return home
I woke up this morning in a full-mode depression after weeks/months of a low-grade turn. I felt so low that I could not think of a single thing to write about today, and far worse, I cared less. The loss of hope, caring and spirit is the gut-sucker here while inspiration or lack ideas, words or images is secondary and merely a symptom. I had thought that the remedy needed was a get-away artist retreat or residency for a few weeks or even a short day-trip, otherwise tagged as an artist’s date (by the wise Julia Cameron), or simple break in routine. All of which are luxuries that do indeed help, but in the long run–luxuries do not fully replace daily nourishment or modest natural joy.
So I sat at the edge of my bed and uncorked the valve of tears and let them flow, and in doing so, I also decided that I cannot ignore or cleanly push Depression off to the side. I need to address and walk with her, Depression, and just let her be for what she is, despite the fact that I don’t even know what she is or why she visits. She simply takes up some of my time, space and energy. With that surrender and the tears came enough release and the recognition that we have to walk side-by-side sometimes, I was able to reset and begin a functioning and even noteworthy day. I noticed the underside of the half moon and its very real roundness, and began to note other small graces. I emerged from this darker side, and while driving, started to thank my team of Angels and Guides. I asked for a sign–calling it a gift for the first time to show me a bit of the magic in my life. Just as I was finishing the thought, a car turned quickly into my lane in front of me, and its license plate held My INITIALS ALL IN CAPS (yes as license plates are want to do). I smiled broadly and took this trivial delight as the sign/gift I asked for. I have not seen my initials on a car plate in decades, and since it’s all about timing–I felt blessed and gifted. I also began to tap into Inspiration, another of many walking archetype partners that I engage with. I had lost sight of her, Inspiration, this morning and now she is back. And though Inspiration is far more companionable than Depression or Grief, we all walk together taking turns to share and navigate the trail that is life and the artist’s way.
mubblefubble–walking depression into poetry
Yesterday morning, over a breakfast quesadilla and too hot hot sauce– a discussion took place on sadness, particularly how it looked on my face. 2018 was particularly sad year in terms of loss. So I turned to one of my favorite sages on this and other wisdom– Kahlil Gibran in his seminal work: The Prophet. Thus his writing on joy and sorrow:
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”.
I confess to really not understanding this. How can sadness be contingent on joy or vice versa? And yet I do understand–the greater the love–the deeper its response (sorrow) when that joyful love is perceptively lost. Perception is the key.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
The takeaway here is that sadness is truly an act of love–damn that it just doesn’t feel that way. So I’m learning not to push it away, and instead invite it in for conversation.
walking with sorrow
around the corner
a begrudging friendship
if not for sorrow
The following are haiku-like short poems called “found haiku” or found poems. They are poems distilled from other writings–i.e. prose, news articles, longer poems, etc.. Within and from other sources, a writer/poet gleens her own version using the original author’s words in the order they appear in the original text. This is a legitimate form of writing so long as an acknowledgement is offered. There is even a Facebook page for “Found Haiku.”
In this case, the short poems are found in the New York Times Magazine section: The Lives They Lived (12/30/18); the article is on Margot Kidder by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.
This year was a challenging one for most people that I know, on all levels–personal, national and global. Probably universal if I were to hazard a guess. My mom passed on as well as another close matriarch/friend. These found words are tendered in tribute and love.
edges are sanded down
is that the actual tribute?
can you ever know
a whole person?
a closer understanding
a woman is a galaxy
a mother is a universe
so is a daughter