I’ve had the good fortune of having two tanka published in RIBBONS, the journal of the Tanka Society of America: Ribbons–Spring/Summer–2015, Volume 11, Number 2.
lost in the pages
of a book my mother loved–
a sly narrator
speaks volumes of truth
while skirting the end
Tanka Cafe, Ribbons–Spring/Summer, Volume 11, Number 2, 2015
what I thought was a bird
casting no shadow–
if you are near
Ribbons–Spring/Summer, Volume 11, Number 2, 2015
It is always a thrill for any poet to open up a journal and find her/his own poem nestled in among those of gifted writers. The truly excellent online journals of poetry in both tanka and haiku are really schools of learning for me. I go there to read, to fall in love with poems, and to learn from the very best writers. There is no better way to learn. Read, read, write. So, on the rare occasion, one of my poems makes it into those pages (paper or virtual), my heart is filled with joy.
I’m so excited to have a poem of mine included in the “Where I Live Poetry and Photography Series’ by Silver Birch Press. They have published two other poems of mine in other series, and It is always an honor to be included among their marvelous poetry selections. Thank you, Silver Birch Press!
Wherever you live, no matter where you might be, nighttime in summer reveals a very different world of sound. During the day we hear birds, breezes, people, mowers, airplanes, cars or sometimes just bees and hummingbird wings. At night, however, we must totally rely on our hearing to grasp all the different sounds that play out in the night chorus. Here in the south, in North Carolina where I live, summer nights are especially noisy. From frogs and owls to whipoorwills and katydids, there are times when it is absolutely deafening. I wish I had the expertise to identify all the different frogs our small garden pond must be home to. There is one frog that sounds much like what I imagine an alien creature would be like—high-pitched, very shrill and almost dizzying in its persistent song. It’s irritating enough to go inside.
Then there are the “call and response” night singers. I love those most of all. I can sit a long while listening to them. Occasionally I hear an owl, but lately it seems there are fewer around. I remember when we regularly had barred owls nesting in our woodland garden. Catching sight of one was always impressive, but hearing one in the middle of the night was truly haunting. I love to sit outside in our screened-in porch when it is dark. The dog often comes and sits with me listening and keeping me company. She makes no sound herself, knowing that we are the polite and attentive audience to this vast chorus of night.
Here is an audio recording of me reading this poem. Just click on the link below, wait a few seconds, and it will begin.
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.