#2 magic

It was nothing short of magical,
the circle of silent dancers swaying as one
while one at a time they stepped into the center,
improvising love and gratitude around
to acknowledge each gift and challenge.

This community evolved across years
with creativity and grace instilled
by our leader, embracing each
Parkinson’sed partner through
their decline. My husband, too.

Shy at first, he quickly grew to love
this group as I love the dance,
both predictable and new.
The community grew close and loving –
danced on stage, at the waterfront
in our kitchen, for one another.

When I entered the studio
three days following his death
they were circling their season’s farewell.
Beckoned to their midst, I joined
as honor, love, gratitude and grace
flowed both ways, suspending time
and loss.

It was nothing short of magical.

sarahw

#1 I am

While others are
gathering their snacks –
dark strong chocolate,
pots of coffee,
piles of prompts
books, pictures, memories
I am gathering
memories just lost
seeking my center
trying to look
out, up, ahead.

While others are
organizing their space,
choosing their view,
piling up references,
contemplating the virtues –
chips vs candy? –
I am clearing
my space, tossing
everything I can
in order to
move small, light.

While others are
juggling joy, nerves
and anticipation, I
am juggling agents
lawyers, buyers, tradesmen,
plans, timelines, loss.

While others are
imagining poems, I
am recalling them.

While others are
filled with energy,
I am struggling
to regain mine.

While others are
reaching out, eager
to share, excited,
I am pulled
into my shell
to nurture, conserve
what little reserve
I have rebuilt.

While others are
writing with me
and yet apart
I am grateful
to be part
of something beyond
the four walls
of my pain,
grateful for openings
to explore yet
another adventure ahead.

sarahw

 

another marathon on the horizon!!!

so glad we are doing this again. not gonna lie, as my daughter would say: the poetry marathon is not for the faint of heart. or hand. but it IS for the lover of worded challenges. the lover of variety. even the lover of pushing yourself beyond your imagined limits of endurance.

it is also a fabulous way to connect with other poets … share feedback … learn and discover things about others as well as yourself.

with all that said, this year i’ll be writing from northern VT, which has been home for over 20 years. however i’m soon to resume permanent MA residence. as a recent widow, i will return to the modest cottage by the sea (where I wrote for the last marathon) that has been the home of my heart for many decades.

with me on this writing journey as on others will be one dog and one cat, both approaching ten years of age and both gentle, caring companions. i am likely to listen to music during the marathon; and to alternate hot and cold drinks. i am also very likely to do squats and push-ups between writings to keep the blood flowing to my extremities and avoid cramping of legs, arms or fingers. finally of course i’ll keep a good supply of really dark chocolate at hand. also fresh fruit and roasted almonds.

i’ll compose on my computer in order to save my hands for the important tasks of hydrating and unwrapping chocolates.

word limited poem – #12

Well, it’s just happened; the happy half-marathon
has come to an end. How could this be?
No 12 hours ever before flew so swiftly by.
yet now I must bid you all good-bye
holding gratitude for your challenging guidance –
not to mention inspirational variety.

Perhaps new friends will emerge
along with helpful feedback offered.
In any case, expect me back next time around
bells a-jingling for 24 full rounds. Helpful Hint:
short gardening stints work wonders
between stanzas and lines. Some dirt
beneath these nails, but clear-headed
and stalwart the brain. Thanks again everyone ūüôā

swb

swallowtail jig – #11

high energy fingered tune
for tapping toes, knees stepping high
partnered bodies reeling across the room
skirts and shirtflaps aflutter, flushed faces
relentless good times after hard work
with joyful abandon

swb

color – #10

I love our annual Green-Up day
how we gather as a community
to clear winter’s debris, the white

styrofoam cups and black plastic
packs from take-out or -home,
the yellow banana peels turned black

from winter’s long cold, the amber
beer bottles with their red markings
and the occasional blue unmatched mitten

our own fingers turning black
from picking up trash and placing it
into those long green garbage bags

lettered to remind us that litter
is a shared affront to us and the land —
our entire state of being.

swb

spider – #9

One day I walked carefree through woods
acred behind my childhood home, only to return
red-skinned with fast-moving blotches rising up
that morphed soon enough to full-body swelling.

I was immersed in cold water with baking soda
as my older sister gasped alternately
with laughter and disbelief at the sight growing
before her eyes across my body.

Not only was my walk carefree but apparently
careless as well: I had walked right through
a red spider mite nest, to which I am
obviously quite allergic. Ever since

when I encounter spider webs, I react
(overly, perhaps) by flailing my arms to release
the sticky threads that would cling to me,
with apologies for disrupting a day’s hard work.

swb

golden shovel – #8

I call upon all of us, the people, WE
to take to heart our shared need to seek
for ourselves, each and every one – not
point to ‘others’ or ‘them’ or ¬†‘the rest’ –
but
take upon ourselves a goal of transformation.

This can only happen if we
are willing to be accountable, honest; are
able to listen deeply and stop dancing
around the elephant in the room through
blame, hyperbole, making of each
the ‘other’
as if that could possibly solve anything, as
if there weren’t already between us enough closed doorways.

We seek not rest but transformation./We are dancing through each other as doorways.from ¬†‘Circling’¬† by Marge Piercy

 

from inside, out – #7

I chose this tagline for my weekly writing project
in Vermont for its duality –¬†bringing incarcerated women’s words
from inside, out –
and intentional  layers of meaning.

Over the eight years of practice, we have indeed
brought many words out, words that have spilled
onto fast-written pages and found their way

into our weekly blog, into our quarterly anthologies,
even into our more widely-read published book.
Words that have told of pain and confusion,

of betrayal and loss; of children not seen since birth
taken by distant relatives, by unfit fathers, by the state;
of losing battles with serious addiction and of winning

the right to freedom – WITH all kinds of restrictions
and caveats and requirements that would put most of us
under such pressure, we would cave before starting.

And yet I have witnessed wonderful women
pull themselves through the pile of paperwork,
the stupefaction of stigma, the challenges of chaos

to return home, rebuild a sense of self, find work,
and even in the face of all odds, honor their inner pledge
to become whole again – from inside, out.

swb

 

layered stanzas – #6

Racing against time and myself to complete
promised deliverables with enough time to take hold,
enough care to survive, enough space to grow
and expand into meaningful connection

I think of the daughter who plans
each moment of her classroom day, goals
and activities devised to stretch young minds,
teach them to think, link facts to reach meaning; and the other

her focused attention on the dog before her,
each practiced movement precise, intentioned,
a sequence learned like a dance, its results beauty
and satisfied clients; and how my son yearns

for distraction when he contemplates
the task at hand, to complete credentials
to plan a meaningful future for himself and family.
What is it about our relationship to time,

to process and ultimately produce
that makes us tick with different beats,
move forward and back within the pendulum
of time, measured or not, and yet succeed?

Like Penelope, I unweave my stitches
again and again, as if I did not want to finish
the project so eagerly begun. And yet
I have learned,¬†it’s important to work well;

not to be free of mistakes – after all,
the flaw proves the humanity, the meaning –
but because there is joy in a job well done
and lessons to be learned along the way.

swb