As you’ll notice the two poems are quite different in style and content, but I’ve grouped them together in Dream Time since both were written while poised on that slender edge of dreaming into another time and place.
A Special Word of Thanks:
A big thank you to my dear husband, Ritchie D. Kendall, who took this photograph on a hill in Greenwich in 2013 when we were living in London.
Crow on a Willow Branch, Japanese woodprint, Library of Congress woodprint
Today I feel a deep pride and happiness that a poem that has taken 15 years to complete has been published in one of my favorite poetry journals–The Whirlwind Review. This journal has a focus poetry following a spiritual path, and the current issue has a theme of journeying. That made it a perfect place to submit this poem, Drifting Along. My deepest thanks goes to editor, Jill Jepson, herself a writer I greatly admire.
New Zealand is a land far away from my own, but it is a spiritual homeland of sorts. After visiting there in July 2000, a twenty-five year silence in my writing of poetry ended after a spiritual experience I had on South Island. The beauty of the country and the kindness and friendliness of the people made this a trip I will never forget.
The link to the poem: http://www.writingthewhirlwind.net/Kendall.html
Audio: If you care to listen to me read this poem (and I hope you will–this is one of my most favorite poems), click on the link below. Give it a few seconds to load.
. Visiting Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
There are moments when I wonder if one day
I will drift too far, too deep into my mind,
a world where fragmented thoughts,
memories and feelings might be lost forever.
The last trip.
A one-way ticket.
Traveling halfway around the world, we are
in New Zealand, the land of Aotearoa,
‘the land of the long white cloud.’ Driving
south, we arrive in the Maori heartland.
From Rotorua with its dizzying sulfuric scent,
we hike past brilliant springs, steaming lakes
and hot, bubbling mud pools where it seems
as if the underworld might hover just below
the surface of this ancient thermal valley.
One morning we go to see Pōhutu Geyser.
After a while, I wander from the path only to be
unexpectedly splashed by a small spurt of water
that was invisible until I came too close.
The Maori guide tells me that I’ve been blessed
by the spirits. Brushing off the still warm spray
of water, I hope she is right. I want to believe.
Driving through this world of rolling green
volcanic hills, we finally reach the Waitomo Caves.
As we wait for our boat, I feel a pulse in the land—
I know we are standing on sacred ground.
With our inner clocks all timed out, we begin
the dark journey into the heart of the cavern
Skimming silently through the still waters,
the young boatman leads us far into the blackness
of a cave that tunnels in so far, we lose all light
and sense of where we are. Our eyes now adjust
to this obsidian underworld, and it seems that
we have begun to cross into unending nighttime.
Everyone in the boat is silent. To be this close
to the infinite expanse of darkness,
to transcend time and self—this is a place
for stillness…and so it is.
With only the lapping of water against the boards,
the boat slips along. Although we came here
knowing what was hidden in this hollow, no one
is prepared for the full beauty of what is there.
I look up and see endless strings of glowworms—
glowworms hanging so high up, they become
numberless strands of summer stars—pale green fires
in these underground heavens whose ghostly translucence
leaves me feeling as if I am asleep somewhere,
not wanting to wake up from this ethereal place
in which I float between two worlds.
The boat glides quietly in the gentle sway of water,
and it is then that I begin to fear we have drifted too far.
I can remember no way back.
No trail of crumbs.
My thanks to the New Zealand Tourist Bureau for the magnificent pictures shown above.
Transformation and the Ineluctable Signs of Ageing
by Mary Kendall
This is not my first transformation. No, it happened way back when—six decades and then some, and I find myself no longer who I thought I was just ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. Those were other lifetimes, times I lived through, times I felt so alive, enjoyed, loved, and times I remember, but those were lives I knew I had passed through completely.
I have the evidence.
Now, going further back in time—forty or fifty years ago, it all begins to change. It starts to slow down—slow—slow—slow—as if someone has put a finger out and touched the spinning world—and now it slows down enough as if I must to look for a place to rest.
This viewing backwards makes me dizzy—dizzy—dizzy enough to want to keep traveling back to the end, which in fact is the beginning, and…
I’m working on a series of poems based on dreams. The draft is tentatively titled, Dream Time.
For years I didn’t dream. Oh, I know I did. Science can prove we dream. I just didn’t remember them at all. When my doctor put me on a new medication, a surprising side effect was very vivid dreams. Colorful dreams, strange dreams, confusing dreams, and beautiful dreams. I loved this unexpected gift, and so I have been working on cultivating how to recall dreams. We all know that dreams are quickly lost upon awakening. If they aren’t written down or recalled consciously, they float back to where they came from.
I’d like to share one of these dream poems today. This poem is loosely based on a very strange dream I had about chasing a bus. It was very disorienting to say the least. Of course, I checked dream meanings online, and I read that to dream of missing a bus is a very common dream. It tells of someone not sure of the path in which they are headed or if they missed an opportunity by hesitating, or even perhaps that they are faltering in a relationship. But none of these fits my dream of being lost in a city I know but looking totally different. A city in which no one can tell me its name or the direction in which they are heading. Please remember the poem is not a literal retelling of the dream as a journal would do. It is a poem and thus a product of the imagination.
Dream Time 1 ~ The Missed Bus
The missed bus
from the curb,
picking up speed
faster than I can run.
In my sleep I am able
not only to run fast
but shout loudly enough
in a stranger’s voice
that might be heard
if only the driver
a glimpse of me
in the mirror
as I chase
the departing bus
on a street
I don’t know,
in a direction
I am unaware.
Running so fast,
until my voice
gravels to a rasp,
my legs and arms
and suddenly lift up.
I am flying
above the bus
waiting for it
to stop or even slow,
but it speeds on
I see it is empty,
with lowering wings
I fly into the open
my fingers emerging
from dusky feathers
I grasp the wheel
my foot able
to hit the break.
The stop is sudden,
my head rolls
into the glass.
in my bed, heart
in the tall tree
from his branch.
Even he is silent
to erase the night,
and the mist
begins to thin