Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

I might have seemed lost- seeing I haven't posted since the plowing match! But I haven't been. 2007 was a huge year for me. I managed to complete my first short story Ever and I actually enjoyed writing it. I've come to love the mornings, which I never have, not even when I was little. Jeff and I moved to a new apartment, to place full of light and space (though maybe, someday soon, we'll get to move to our own house). And well, I look forward to each day and how each day will be different in simple and homey ways and maybe in big ones and I'll get to see it all. If you've known me for awhile, then you'll know how I've always dreaded each day and how getting up in the morning and brushing my teeth was always a time of trying to push down desperate panic.

It's different now. 2007 has been my year of inward and yeah, outward change.

And this brings me to one of my new heros, EBB. EBB, I've just begun to read you, so I don't know you really well, but so far you're tremendous and if I had lived when you did, I might have set up a shrine and put fresh flowers everyday on its mantle, underneath your picture.  So here's my 21 century mantle:


Recognize her at all? Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I've just begun "Aurora Leigh" and despite the high "falutin'" language sometimes, I'm really into it. If you're not familiar with Aurora Leigh, it's a story about a woman creating a writing life for herself and writing(!) and the backlash she gets for it, even from her beloved. He does, however, in the end, recognize her for the great writer she is (thank God).  I think any woman trying to create a writing or creative life for herself, trying to follow her own inner voice, might think of reading this. True, it's Victorian but then again, people are people and this poem is pretty terrific. And it's supposed to be an encouraging story, despite its ups and downs and those who are learning to listen to themselves and their voice and their dreams, NEED THAT. 

So yes. Dear EBB, I hope these flowers work for you.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.



the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling


(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.