Hour Eleven

I prepared for two whole days before this marathon. I reviewed my poetry already written, reviewed old prompts from past years and played with possibilities, wrote a couple poems for practice. I was totally on board and ready for today. Then I woke up with a very sore throat, ten minutes before the first one was due, and dragged myself to my computer. Despite everything, I could not stay awake and could not think poetic thoughts, could not feel any emotions aside from a desperate need to go back to bed. I stayed with it for three hours anyway. I am disappointed, deeply sad that this event that was so important to me could not go as planned.

After sleeping a few hours, I still don’t feel great, but at least I’m not falling asleep on my keyboard and waking up with seventeen rows of the letter N where a poem should be.

I have reviewed the prompts given, and the one that spoke to me the most so far was Hour Five, a childhood memory.

Redwood Cathedral

What do I remember most?

The smell of redwood dust

Every inch of ground was made of

Pulverized redwood from the centuries of rotting logs

It was a summer campground under tall, tall trees

Many numbered clearings formed the rented sites

Each with water, hookups, a ring of stones

Containing ash and charcoal

Daddy loved to build the fire

Mommy loved to cook over it

What is it about food cooked over fire

That tastes ten times better?

Every campsite backed up to wild redwood forest

Each with a character all its own

Each year, a different site we chose to occupy

Each year, new explorations to be made

The seeming-untouched wildness drew me

I a child of eight or nine or ten

Always in my thick soled flip-flops

Set off alone to see what I could see

Even as a little one I sensed, I loved

How spiritual it felt among the shrubs and ferns

So far below the roof of greenery, the redwood canopy

Perhaps the residue of happy times

Rituals of growth and gratitude and familial love

Practiced by the native peoples who once dwelled

Who worshipped everything they saw and felt

Emotions not unlike the way a child like me

Experienced the green

The sunwashed yellow green above

The dappled ground around me, undisturbed

By any human feet

Yet always full of motion, tiny changes

Full of unexpected wonders

A cathedral built of close set living redwood trees

Standing in a circle close together, so close they all were touching

The stump of long dead mother tree

Inside it, and one gap, one tree

That wasn’t there, as if,

As if to welcome a footed occupant

To come inside, stand against the mother tree

Look up and see

A redwood starburst shape

Converging on a pulsing, sunny center

Brilliant yellow green with beams

That shot down on my head and shoulders

Ever moving, ever changing, warm and sweet

Blessing me like God.



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