In my last posting, I mentioned that this was a week of poems being published. Last time it was two tanka in Ribbons, this time it is two other tanka…and one haiga in a very beautiful and favorite journal of mine: hedgerow: a journal of small poems. Editor Caroline Skanne produces this publication weekly (it goes out on Friday afternoon, a highlight of the week for so many of us). This issue is #55. I’ll provide a link to the journal at the end of this posting so you can go and read all the other wonderful poems and visit mine. I’m so proud to be included with so many excellent poets.
My two tanka here are love poems. My husband and I were married in 1978, but we’ve been together for forty years. Where does the time go?
After Forty Years
you take my hand when we walk together… the last leaves nearly gone
a single glance from your grey eyes shifts my world— the earthquake of you
The haiga published in hedgerow #55 originally appeared in this blog. I am thrilled to have it officially published in an edited journal of this caliber. Here it is.
I hope you all enjoy these poems. If you have a favorite, let me know.
When you have time, please visit the journal these were published in:
hedgerow #55, posted on November 13, 2015: https://hedgerowpoems.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/55/
An audio of me reading this prose poem can be heard by clicking the link below. It will take a few seconds for the sound to begin.
It was the year we lived in London, some 25 years ago, when autumn began like any other autumn. The fall, the changing, the color shifting, the soft breezes, the sporadic thick fog and the leaves dancing, even floating upward at times. What I hadn’t anticipated, being so far north for the first time, was how short the days grew. How dark it became earlier and earlier all during that autumn. The days were ‘closing in.’ That’s what they called it, and I loved that phrase. It brought a certain comfort of pulling heavy curtains closed and shutting out the darkness. It was a time for wearing coats and warm sweaters, and I dressed my son in practical English clothing and soft grey mittens while he ran ahead enjoying what was left of the day. He was only three, but he knew the delight in using what was left of the day’s sunlight. I learned to enjoy the simple pleasures around me that came with this quiet season. Victoria plums were my new delight. They appeared at the Greengrocer’s shop just as autumn set in, later replaced by apples—Bramley and Cox’s Orange Pippins, names that twirled on the tongue and tasted as good. Burning leaves were an unexpected, half-loved sensory pleasure. The smoke was pungent, but it brought back memories of childhood. I loved even the rasp of raking, bamboo or metal combs gathering leaves in sacred piles waiting their turn to be sacrificed in an autumnal pyre. In the English light, I found the colors were softer, quieter than the brilliance of New England woodlands. Each morning I left my son at school and then walked through Hampstead Heath. I found my own favorite route through woods and meadows up to the large ponds. Purchasing a single cup of tea that warmed my hands, I made my way to that empty bench that faced the pond. I thought about all the people it had held before. And every day without fail a lone Scottish piper played his bagpipes as if on cue. Each day I sat and listened. A world so far from my own. From where he stood near the peak of Parliament Hill, the mournful songs became a wordless chanting, charging the air with a lamentation to this closing season, every day briefer, softer than the day before.
Lost in Reverie (c) 2014 by Iosatel, The Obvious and Hidden blog on WordPress (with his permission)
This poem began in a meadow up in the Scottish Highlands while my husband and I were visiting the ruins of a castle. He went inside to explore further, but I chose to stay behind and linger in the beautiful summer fields. As you have probably experienced yourself, this frequently leads the imagination to so many new places. It also presents an opportunity for a simple sensory awareness meditation. Just standing there looking and listening is a spiritual act in itself.
The challenge for me in this poem was to use a repeating word (“listen”) to create both mood and cadence in the lines. The decision to complete the poem with a repeating line (or couplet) was a very different way to close my own lyrical love song to nature.
[Note: the following two paragraphs were added here several months later when the poem was published by Dagda Publishing Company.]
On 3 March 2015, Dagda Publishing Company, a publisher of poetry and literature based in Nottingham, UK, featured this poem in their blog. It was a real honor to have had my poem chosen by this excellent publisher. This is what they had to say about the poem:
Today’s featured poem, and the first one in March, is this one from Mary Kendall. Inspired by a trip to Scotland, this piece has a naturalistic theme to it, and we feel is just perfect for this time of year, as we start to escape the cold and dark of winter and crawl toward summer and longer days. Musing upon the sounds of nature and imagining a song being sung by the choir of trees, flowers and the meadow itself, this piece has a touch of magical realism to it, of there being something fantastical just behind the ordinary and everyday. A poem full of the wonder of nature and the sense of being away from the familiarity of one’s normal life, we hope you enjoy this poem by Mary Kendall.
An audio clip of me reading this poem is included below. Click on the link below to hear it. It will take a few seconds to begin.
Have you ever been a few thousand miles from somewhere, standing in meadow of sweet grass or barley and thistles, bright pink bells of foxglove swaying in the wind, and then you stop, just standing still and listening; listening to the wind song of the leaves and grasses.
I asked them to tell me the words they sang to those who stopped to listen. They heard me and replied, but I could not understand what it was they said.
I waited and waited until the wind resumed its blowing, the grasses their gentle whispering; the leaves sang loudest of all, and I listened. I listened the while.
I listened until the song ended, and then I went on my way. So far from home. So far from home.