If you wish to use a poem or any part
it would curl and slither and sprout
I don’t know about you but
my upper arms hunger
I long for
(published in Equinox Literary Journal, 2008)
"Light in the Jungle"
the turkeys are here again!
they’re so close I feel I must know their names.
recess they wander askew.
my sweet dog quakes--
silent through sirens and bells, she howls a savage din
all this clamor the
in October I bring in the fairy things.
still, the garden looks bare
but leaves might bury them
so they have to move
I think I know where they go
I think I spot them holding on
so I’m going to believe
and I’ll imagine that they’re dreaming
peace rally 2003
The Senior Center started it.
Saturday morning by the old stone church
It was 17 degrees before the wind blew tears
There was an old woman on my left.
A younger woman held our flag
“Drop Bush Not Bombs”
We were up against it I thought.
A thousand hands waved
A half hour had passed. Hardly
After a while it was just too cold
In the land of the free.
(published in Equinox Literary Journal, 2008)
I know how the world is saved.
It’s not what you might think:
angels, archangels, the
whole big gang swooping down in
triumphant raptures of light --
blazing wings beating back the darkness
while those who prayed sincerely
for just this occasion are
snatched up –
maybe a few artists,
dogs, well-mannered children
plucked up too for good measure.
Perhaps you picture
the cheerful group carried off
to a small new mountain
where everyone can rest for awhile,
wobbly and slightly dazed, but
Ah, but this is not what happens.
Consider, rather, a young boy
knocking at the door.
There is something he holds, tightly
cupped inside his palms.
He is pink with cold and excitement and his eyes are
two bright beams of delight.
And as you open the door (he
that you don’t recall his name, but you do),
you notice the Buddha
almost buried under the snow,
gaze gracefully settled
on you, the boy and whatever he’s got
hidden in his hands, the
“Happy Easter” the boy says
and offers it to you.
The egg is beautiful, weightless, broken.
You can see the tiny ragged pieces,
the clear tape holding them
and when he places the shell in your hands
it is so perfect that the air expands around you
and there is no sound
only the breaths,
the delicate puffs floating up to the sky.
Then your old dog sniffs
beside you. Then the crow calls
once or twice from the dense trees, and you remember
that you are still here on earth,
though the air has
just now completely dissolved into light.
And there are two small objects inside the egg.
Their tin foil wrapping shines
through the cracks, and
it’s true that the contents
seem a little squished.
But it doesn’t matter what’s inside.
Can he not see that
you are standing there
by a gift
from the soft pink happiness of the world?
Visiting Harriet at 95
How nice to see you!
Shall we have our tea on the porch?
At last, the sun is out!
Now tell me, all about YOU.
There is a story about that
I want to tell you.
Perhaps we can go to the garden.
We once looked for bluebirds, in the earliest Spring
before the swallows built their nests in the barn.
Now tell me, about the life you love.
Did you, too, once march in the streets, singing?
Shall we go to the garden now?
We’ll pick raspberries
And feel the land in the afternoon light.
Perhaps I’ll sketch the old oak
with my old blind eyes.
Sit with me, in the garden.
Are the swallows here?
The corn will be ready soon.
Do you think the soul is forever?
Let’s read about the peonies again.
I want to fill my arms again with the white and pink flowers.
And I want to hear about the egrets,
stepping lightly over things.
How I do love this world.
Stay for a while, in the garden.
A sweater is perfect for me.
Are you warm enough?
I’m too old.
I’d like to speak with God about that.
But right now I want to hear everything
The morning light in the garden is very beautiful.
(Read at the Memorial Service for Harriet Elliston, first Radcliffe College anthropology graduate in 1928, world traveler, lifelong social & community activist who marched with Martin Luther King. Conservationist, naturalist, professional gardener, farmer, artist, master storyteller, devoted wife, mother & grandmother.)
The follwing is an excerpt from a bio I wrote for her, on the occasion of an exhibit of her watercolor paintings I co-curated with her grandaughter, Lelia Orrell Elliston:
In fact, Harriet is an artist in the true sense of the word. Her human rights activism, deep commitment to family and community, her dedication to conservation, the environment, farming and gardening are sustained by an intellectual intensity and devotion to belief which exemplify the creative life.
Thank you, dearest Harriet. You will always be in the light.