Hold

Why, wild Giver,

This loathsome, leaking

Wretched blackness

Threatening to swallow, to swallow swift

All good gain, all light

 

You say it so softly, so softly

Right into my tingling ear

Wrought red by weeping, by raging

-My love, despair not

Take this wretched, this leaking, this puncturing

This pain

Take it in hands of flesh and hold it.-

 

I cannot hold it

I scream

It weighs, I bend

Hands slip under my arms

-Hold up your arms, I aid you-

Tight, tense, through pale lips

I CANNOT HOLD IT, TAKE IT AWAY

-Hold, beloved, hold.-

 

I hold.

Screams.

Arms, every muscle quivering, alive with weight pulling into the ground

His hands under my arms lifting.

-Stronger than the weight

Dear one

We hold, we lift.-

 

Up it rose, past my swollen face

With salt, salt of tears, all traced

Up and above us

Held.

-We go to offer it, we go to make an offering

This way go the martyrs; they held

Take courage, dear one,

You will not always lift

I myself will lift you up

When arms no longer tremble, when backs threaten not to snap under the weight

This way go the martyrs; they held.

Dear one, hold.-_mg_8393

 

 

But I Have It

 

51540122_10157396442668352_632964388566859776_oI have this little

But I have it

The polar vortex has passed

And the aching, sore earth is sighing and misting

My boot finds every kind of frozen

Ice, slush, snow, hard snow, light snow

51101891_10157396442833352_1647782435246571520_o

51059162_10157396442963352_8314855530262691840_o51064526_10157396443113352_7210241253705777152_o51068864_10157396443403352_4129828157110878208_oIt doesn’t escape notice

The way the green plants dance in the stream

The way of the red branches among the dry grass

Silent sentinels of vibrant color.

I have this little

But I have it

51593466_10157396443693352_2698223013693751296_o51387579_10157396443243352_4749509088004538368_oThe way of water in winter scenes

Obsidian moving, gleaming, slicing through the white

Expired plants extend their dried up hands

And offer their seeds to the wind

Live again

When snow has been drunk back into the earth

I have this little

But I have it.

 

 

There Would Be Water

There would be water.  There would always be water.

She was growing to expect it; feeling presumptuous, but faith is that; presuming to be caught, to be held, for thirst to meet water.

When it glistens, flashing light to her eye, she turns and follows to where the rays spark; a leaf cupping a small pool.  Everything feels fragile, tenuous.

Leaf tilted, hands barely touching skimming the edges, water slipping down the green and into her mouth, down her throat.  When will she stop weeping at these gifts?

She faces again the sandy dunes.  Did you imagine her in a verdant place; a mossy wood?  No.

Her feet collapse the sand under them, each step is a pulling against the earth.

She presumes to continue, she presumes there would be water in the desert. There are memories of easier paths, and rich-laden tables, and companions and words that tasted like chocolate on the tongue and words that made her grow taller inside but less-seeing.

Heat waves obscure the horizon, and all she knows are two things:

Go.

There would be water.pool

Cast Down

Damp paper pots, seedlings standing resolutely within,

Nestled into deeper dirt, room therein to sink their reaching white roots.

Sixty degrees under overcast skies; gray in the greenhouse.

Agitation, or just plain grumpiness, anyways

“Lord, help me find You, sense You, see You”

Watering can heavy against my palm, tilting and pouring

Currants, lemon, peppers, onions, radishes, lettuces, promise.

Into the house where the vacuum is humming and the mop is swishing across the floors

Johnny Cash on the record player and a board game spread out on the table

And my spirit a bit lighter, the day remaining gray.

Sometimes the soul casts about, feeling a want, a thirst, feeling bereft of a something, or a Someone.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.   Psalm 43:5

They’ve said that God never distances Himself from us, but that we distance ourselves from Him

Which may be true or perhaps

He withdraws to teach us to miss Him, to thirst aright, to feel the chill of gathering dark, when the Light recedes

As a parent pauses, the children struggling at this thing or that, not rushing in as heroes

Allowing roots to press deeper and for faith to find an answering

Can I trust the One on the other side of my hopes

Are You there and unabashedly loving, closer than my breath, every atom of me held together because You are?

The day continues gray but outside the birds are singing.

IMG_3383

This Is Love, Here.

I want to see it the way it is

And push the sunglasses up, resting them like skylights on my parted hair.

I’ll take these colors, these ones, unfiltered, un-pink and un-amber.

This is love, here.  I will face colors un-borrowed.  Murky blue of dusk, grays laying over oranges.

With that, this voice, this synthesized, smooth coiling of sound?

The singer

Never sounded that way, not two inches away, not three.

There is no breath, only vocal cords made of shiny vinyl; tidy, precise, liquid, limber.

Mom says it like a truism, I can’t sing

But her breath-born songs lifted me gently into sleep

With the rhythmic creak of the rocking chair and her warm arms encircling

I am so safe here.  This is love, here.

I carry it yet, the warmth and the quiet safety; it’s a slow burn inside.

This is love, here.  Realest mother and realest voice singing and the soul alight with fire.

Now and then I rage at myself, my stupidest self that cringes when

Every way I fail is thrust, clattering, onto the stage, an awkward pile

A silent audience.  A heckler calls out:  Missed appointment!  Lost library book!  Overgrown lawn!  FAIL!  FAIL!  FAIL!

Face flat upon the floor, my words echoing back in tight syllables, lips moving feverishly against the wood, wet with words-become-vapor.

My explanations rise and fall back around my head, too heavy to fly.  I try, I try, I try.

I turn my head, rolling it on that hard floor, my cheek resting in the dampness of my words.

His eyes meet mine, where he lays beside me like a twin starfish, limbs akimbo, eyes waiting.

You try, I see you.

His eyes crinkle at the corners; his eyes smile.  The warmth flares and I feel higher than the floor.

This is love, here.  Seeing me, down here with me, lifting.

Let me step out of this, this ever-tidy shell and farce

If I am loved I can unmask

I can un-cringe and un-explain

I can fail without despair.

This is love, here.  Naked and poor.  Smiling.

bestill2

 

 

 

 

Once, Twice

Pushing swings

One, two

My sons grinning and

The light falls spotty.

A lump rising in my throat

At the beauty and the swift passing

Of time, which always plunges ahead

Undisturbed by our own scrambling

Our yearning for it to slow a while

So we can breathe that flower in

Once, twice, once more.

We could rip the hands off of the clocks

All the clocks stripped bare of their ticking arms

And yet, still time would march

Undeterred

Seasons obeying, dropping leaves, dropping snow, dropping rain, throwing flowers up and out of the ground, inexorably forward.

I take my child’s face in my aging hands

I claim this moment before it hurries away

And kiss it once, twice

And once more.  IMG_4065

Make The Soap

Dig deep the spade, coconut oil mounding

Measure it ounce by every ounce, exact

Olive oil, ladled slip and splashy

ounce by every ounce, exact

Be it palm oil, orange and greasy, be it tallow

Rendered by hand, not easy

Be it lard, creamy and bright white

The fats, the oils, are heating

and ready.  Shea?  Okay.  Castor oil too.

For bubbles, for lather, for this and for that,

There’s a science here, for utilizing fat.

Hold your breath now, don gloves and goggles

Lye

the Instigator, the chemical catalyst, the danger in it all.

Bringing that pure water up to 200° lickety-split,

Caustic enough to eat through metal, to blind on contact

There’s always a hush of awe and

much respect and caution,

Time to make this new thing.

Lye water poured into warm oils

Sliding down across the bottom of the pot like an underwater river

See it turning white?  That’s saponification and

never was such a big word so fun.

Yeah, we hang our be-goggled faces over the pot and watch the chemical reaction.

We ooh and ahh like we’re watching fireworks.

We’re seeing the molecules being stripped and the oils turning into salts

and glycerin and this is soap’s beginning.

All that clear fluid turns creamy white and I can’t help but smile,

my cheekbones lifting my chemical goggles.  Adjust.

Stick blender whirring, we give the chemical reaction

a huge shove forward, molecules crashing, soap happening.

It’s like a thin pudding now

Essential oils are dribbled in, herbs, root powders, seeds,

honey from our lovely bees.

Blend again and we have fragrant, beautiful pudding.

Pouring that mass into molds of all shapes and sizes,

some big slabs

some round columns

and we can’t stop smelling the air

and smiling.

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*our soaps are available for purchase here:  lancastersoapco