prowling heaven’s alleyways
with unexpected grace
you take your ease on Saturn’s stoop
then roam again the darkness,
an elegant, celestial stray hungry for attention.
Prone beneath your pathway,
curbstone-pillowed, concrete bound,
I squint and ponder
tracing your silent route through time
until I feel a tug
and hear the tiny, worried voice.
An earthbound stray has found her friend,
her source of food
no longer rising tall against the sky but flattened to the ground,
eyes turned upward,
head bent back as though the victim of a fall.
Green eyes wide,
she nudges hard against my pillowed head,
pushes back dismissive hands.
she bites and tugs my hair as though to pull me upright,
rescuing her realm
from a universe gone mad.
I leave the comet to its flight
and offer consolation to this nearer, living world.
“Look up,” I murmur,
running hands through fur that sparks
and shines like starlight in her eyes.
“A thousand years are passing.
A thousand years have passed.”
It seems there’s no help for it. Despite last night’s frontal passage, a twenty-degree drop in temperature and cloudy skies, the wisteria continues to bloom. For that matter, some sweet evening primrose are blooming, along with loquats, redbuds and azaleas. Coots are massing to head north, and baby ducks already are waddling about on the grassy banks. It’s an early spring on the Texas Gulf Coast, and winter-lovers are morose. Our last chance for a frosty, freezing blast – perhaps for even a flake or two of snow – has passed.
This is when neighbors come in handy. I was raised to believe it’s perfectly acceptable to knock on a neighbor’s back door, measuring-cup in hand, and ask for sugar or milk. This time, I was a little short on winter, so I went knocking at the door of Gerry Sell’s house up in Torch Lake, Michigan. She and her neighbors just received a good dumping of snow, and I was sure she’d be more than willing to share. She was, and as you can see from the photograph, the view from her Writing Studio and Bait Shop is lovely. I’m sure her woods can be dark and deep at times, but after this storm they were all sunshine and glimmer. Continue reading
Left to her own devices
the ocean sighs away the sunset
strips the horizon bare
and leaves her swells to sigh and mutter
beneath the bruising dark.
Fearful, the frozen moon
ascends the ratlines of the stars
and disappears from view.
Scaled by the wind’s cold knife
clouds release their torrents across the flying spume
bits of stinging darkness
tumbled to the sea.
Bereft of fuschias
emptied of limes
heaven’s palette drips gunmetal,
smeared by unwashed foam
and streaked by earth-tinged spray.
Beaneath the surging water
earth herself dissolves in patience
and dreams a dancer’s dream ~
cerulean tangos beneath tangerine clouds
and goldenrod skies.
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On or about April 5, Roz Savage will engage the next of her single-handed rowing challenges when she sets off in a fancied-up tin can of a rowboat to travel 5,000 nautical miles across the Indian Ocean. Her original intent was to cross between Freemantle, Australia and Mumbai, India, but concerns about piracy have led her to select a different and undisclosed destination. Those who like to categorize call her an “eco-adventurer”, and surely she is both: a former investment firm manager who decided to take on a few physical and mental challenges, and a passionate advocate for the oceans of the world.
She’s set a number of records since beginning her voyages in 2008 – three years of rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii, to Tarawa and on to Madang, Papua, New Guinea. Now she faces more than wind and waves as her next trip will cross the Indian Ocean, home to increasingly aggressive and nasty pirates operating off the eastern coast of Africa. As Roz says, these pirates are far from the romantic, Johnny Depp sort. Despite adjusting her course in order to minimize the possibility of contact and establishing new communication routines, she confesses to some anxiety. Still, even without piracy concerns this new journey would raise again the question asked of her innumerable times in the past as she covered her watery miles: “Why do such a thing at all?” Continue reading
New Year’s Eve parties and New Year’s Day resolutions sparkle in the post-Christmas darkness, tied to one another like binary stars orbiting some common, celebratory mass. For the observer, determining which tradition is primary and which exists as its secondary companion requires an occasional squint. With true star pairs like Algol (an eclipsing binary) or Sirius (a visual binary), objective measurements can be taken. The relationship between New Year parties and resolutions is more complex and subjective. Judgments about their importance relative to one another depend upon a person’s vantage point, and judgments necessarily change from year to year.
Like most children, I first associated the New Year with parties. Dressed for the evening in velvet and jewels, my mother was dazzling. Resplendent in his cummerbund, my father gave her his arm and they vanished into the night, my Prince and Princess leaving me in the charge of Mrs. Wilstermann, an aged babysitter who obligingly fell asleep, leaving me free to forage through the cupboards for cookies. I never found the cookies and I never heard my parents return, but every New Year’s day I awoke to a dining table overflowing with paper streamers, silly, glittering hats and cheap tin noisemakers. They never forgot. Continue reading
I’ve always thought of Boxing Day – the setting aside of December 26 for gift-giving in England, Canada and elsewhere – as a wonderful invention. Associated with the Feast of St. Stephen but evolving separately, it begins the transition away from Christmas and toward the New Year without losing the celebratory aspects of the season.
Not all gifts arrive on prescribed dates, of course. Some arrive unexpectedly, and some unfold over time in the simple course of living. Of all the gifts life has bestowed on me over the years, I particularly cherish the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Regular readers of The Task at Hand know my regard for Eliot. His vision seems true and his language – difficult at times, if not indecipherable – still is able to wrap around the most inexpressible realities and give them voice. Continue reading
This post has been rewritten, and reposted as “Becoming the Sky.” Please click the link to be taken to the new version.