Monday, February 28, 2011

Things I Learned This Week: Post 2

Saturday: no blooms.

Sunday: witch hazel
unfurls ribbons

hurling golden notes
at the sky
like spring's sirens.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Things I Learned This Week: Post 1

Things I Learned Last Week
by William Stafford

Ants, when they meet each other,
usually pass on the right.

Sometimes you can open a sticky
door with your elbow.

A man in Boston has dedicated himself
to telling about injustice.
For three thousand dollars he will
come to your town to tell you about it.

Schopenhauer was a pessimist but
he played the flute.

Yeats, Pound, and Eliot saw art as
growing from other art. They studied that.

If I ever die, I'd like it to be
in the evening. That way, I'll have
all the dark to go with me, and no one
will see how I hobble along.

In the Pentagon one person's job is to
take pins out of towns, hills, and fields,
and then save the pins for later.

Things I Learned This Week: Part 1

The Northern Mockingbird
proud operatic maestro,

does not sing after bathing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Whole Lotta Lovin'

Water striders
ride & scoot
on starry bubbles,
their coupling
a spring constellation
in creek-sky.

Friday, February 25, 2011

One Skill a Day

My new camera is complicated enough that I can manage introduction to only one skill a day. Today, I read about and practiced FlexiZone focus.

Over the last month of shooting, I have been frustrated that I couldn't make the camera see what I wanted it to see.

Now I know how.

Two buttons, some further adjustment of the focus rectangle, and the single small part of the frame sharpens.

Today, a green bead and a pink ribbon.

Soon, an iris throat or bee's antenna, dew on Dutchman's breeches or pollen in a butterfly beard.

Between now and then, much learning and pleasure in experimentation remain.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Single Fly

When I was 15, my mother took a friend and me to Charleston, South Carolina. Of that trip, I have only one absolutely clear memory: a single fly buzzing in the open-decked ferry to Fort Sumter.

Why doesn't the boat leave the fly behind?

That's all I thought about -- not the Civil War, the view, the water -- just that fly and my puzzlement at the ease of its flying within the moving ferry.

This morning, that fly, long gone, buzzed back into my consciousness, thanks to this clever video: A Tale of Two Twins.

Gotta love relativity!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Day for Verbal Images

Frank X Walker calls himself an Affralachian poet: black and Appalachian.

I add word-painter and spirit-lifter extraordinaire.

I spent late afternoon, eyes closed, listening to him read miraculous persona poems voiced by York (William Clark's slave who journeyed with him and Meriwether Lewis across the continent), his Nez Perce and slave wives, his knife and hatchet, the water that fuels us all. His is a gift of language and humanity.

I give you the gift of Frank X Walker, spellbinding poet/magician.

Creative Solutions to Life's Challenges

Poems from Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York

Affrilachian Poets

Coal Black Voices

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Along a Tennessee Avenue fence, spring makes its balletic debut.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Almost Here!

The wild daffodil
unfurls, loosing
blossom from swirling
lemon-lime tissue.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Speaking in Tongues of Angels

crocuses turn
leaf into palette.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I'm the fireplug
down the hill:
useful but flaking.

Today is one
of those times.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simon's Cat Comes to Sewanee

For about two and a half weeks now, Lucy has awakened between 5 and 6 AM. I have nothing against her early rising, but . . . she insists I do the same.

Like Simon's cat, Lucy follows a routine every day: 1/ climb on the human's shoulder; 2/ meow many times toward the sleeper's hear; 3/ lick the human's forehead and bangs enthusiastically; 4/ tap the sleeper's shoulder firmly; 5/ repeat till the human wakes up; 5/ let her pet me; 6/ slide under the covers and go back to sleep.

By this time, of course, I am wide awake and rise, leaving her to my bed.

What's wrong with this picture? Sleep deprivation and my utter lack of creativity. Why didn't I think of "Robley's Cat"? Argh.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Snowdrops by Louise Gluck

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know

what despair is; then

winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,

earth suppressing me. I didn't expect

to waken again, to feel

in damp earth my body

able to respond again, remembering

after so long how to open again

in the cold light

of earliest spring --

afraid, yes, but among you again

crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Earth Poems of Tense Joy

Thinking of Madame Bovary by Jane Kenyon

The first hot April day the granite step
was warm. Flies droned in the grass.
When a car went past they rose
in unison, then dropped back down. . . .

I saw that a yellow crocus bud had pierced
a dead oak leaf, then opened wide. How strong
its appetite for the luxury of the sun!

Everyone longs for love’s tense joy and red delights.

And then I spied an ant
dragging a ragged, disembodied wing
up the warm brick walk. It must have been
the Methodist in me that leaned forward,
preceded by my shadow, to put a twig just where
the ant was struggling with its own desire.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


traces the trees
where woodpeckers
laugh and drill.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Art Rock

Squint and turn rock into art.

Joseph Cornell

Wassily Kandinsky

Chuck Close

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Walking to Write about Reading

The Caldwell Rim Trail feeds off a fire lane, becoming a single-track amble over the Depot Branch, up and down the rim, sometimes flat, sometimes treacherously steep with a drop-off at the elbow.
The view of the cove below hides behind branches and trunks. Wind, water, moss cushions, dry leaf-crunch, one woodpecker, and one small plane my only company, I wandered thoughtless, filled with writing about reading and longing to read the flow of water, clump of fungus, animal scat.
By the time I re-entered the fire lane, I felt my mind race toward revision, a tunnel of green opening toward home and writing about reading.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Poetry Through the Window

In a bloggers' meeting not long ago, I described my own blog and its evolution. Originally intended for my three great-nieces and one great-nephew so I wouldn't be a stranger to them, the blog has morphed into something more akin to a daily journal. When one of my colleagues asked us to think about audience, I admitted that I never think of the reader: I think only of myself and my own thoughts. I added that I have grown to think of my "snaps" as daily poems, in word and image.

Poems have been on my mind a lot this week. Thursday, I attended a reading given by the wonderful Marilyn Nelson, a visiting professor at Sewanee this semester. With honey light of late afternoon pouring through Convocation Hall's stained glass windows, she read softly and spoke thoughtfully about her poetry. By the end of her reading, I wished I could have taken her class, if for no other reason than to be in her calming presence.

This poem, especially, reminds me of my Daily Snap, in which I capture the glimpse of each day's tiny miracle and hold it, if only for a moment:

Bali Hai Calls Mama by Marilyn Nelson

As I was putting away the groceries
I'd spent the morning buying
for the week's meals I'd planned
around things the baby could eat,
things my husband would eat,
and things I should eat
because they aren't too fattening,
late on a Saturday afternoon
after flinging my coat on a chair
and wiping the baby's nose
while asking my husband
what he'd fed it for lunch
and whether
the medicine I'd brought for him
had made his cough improve,
wiping the baby's nose again,
checking its diaper,
stepping over the baby
who was reeling to and from
the bottom kitchen drawer
with pots, pans, and plastic cups,
occasionally clutching the hem of my skirt
and whining to be held,
I was half listening for the phone
which never rings for me
to ring for me
and someone's voice to say that
I could forget about handing back
my students' exams which I'd had for a week,
that I was right about The Waste Land,
that I'd been given a raise,
all the time wondering
how my sister was doing,
whatever happened to my old lover(s),
and why my husband wanted
a certain brand of toilet paper;
and wished I hadn't, but I'd bought
another fashion magazine that promised
to make me beautiful by Christmas,
and there wasn't room for the creamed corn
and every time I opened the refrigerator door
the baby rushed to grab whatever was on the bottom shelf
which meant I constantly had to wrestle
jars of its mushy food out of its sticky hands
and I stepped on the baby's hand and the baby was screaming
and I dropped the bag of cake flour I'd bought to make cookies with
and my husband rushed in to find out what was wrong because the baby
was drowning out the sound of the touchdown although I had scooped
it up and was holding it in my arms so its crying was inside
my head like an echo in a barrel and I was running cold water
on its hand while somewhere in the back of my mind wondering what
to say about The Waste Land and whether I could get away with putting
broccoli in a meatloaf when

suddenly through the window
came the wild cry of geese

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is It Possible to Love a Building?


I love this one -- for its red roof, moss-mottled stone, amber clock, change bells, crested doorway, and windows.

If I could, I would end every day here in the dying of the light.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remembering Ann

To the moment of her dying, Ann radiated joy.

At the camp reunion, she was the surprise: a woman of great intellect, grace, gentleness, humor. She embraced the gift of her life, her family, her students, her friends. We sat on that hill leading down to campfire for a long time, talking. I don't remember that conversation; I remember the absorption and joy.

Not long after, cancer settled in her brain. She didn't surrender to self-pity: she published records of her journey in a newspaper. She didn't stop: she golfed and vacationed. She returned to the Louisiana fields and bayou of her childhood. She delivered notes of thank you and left others for her family.

For some time, Ann had slipped deep into my memory, so when she surfaced last night on Facebook, I was uncommonly moved, not just by thinking about her and by seeing the photographs documenting her youth, family, and illness, but by the thoughtful impulse of her oldest child, a son, who posted that trove. Had a shared friend not tagged me, I would not have seen his album.

Caffery wrote, "My mother, known among family and friends by many nicknames, passed away on February 5th, 2003, of brain cancer. She was originally told she had maybe nine months to live, but she held on for almost two years. She was 53. On that date, every year, a small handful of people usually reach out and lend kind words or stories to me, my sister, my brother, and my father. This year, I found myself pouring through old pictures at the same time. I thought posting some of my favorites would be a great way to share some of her with all of those who still love her, as well as those who never could."

We reunited friends had such ease with each other after so many years. The love we shared of the place that brought us together and of each other shines in our faces. Now, joined to Sister's memory, I join her son's courage and generosity. In him, there is much of his mother.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Now We Are Six

When I was One,

I had just begun.

When I was Two,

I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,

I was not much more.

When I was Five,

I was just alive.

But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six forever and ever.

A. A. Milne

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sincerest Flattery

When the package arrived, I hesitated before opening it.

Which had he sent me?
I wasn't sure.

My Facebook friend (an artist friend of an artist friend) had complimented my work, offered advice, even encouraged me to try selling photographs.

He asked about my Christmas book, so I sent him one. His package was his return gift.

Not one but two prints. A fine gift. Both imitations, the sincerest form of flattery, and treasured.

Add ImageMy original photograph above; his variation below.

Now I feel like an artist.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Remains

Standing near six-figure houses
the old barn -- a relic
of the days when milk and meat,
bread and eggs had to be supplied
fresh from the mountaintop
to college boys -- stands,
thicketed by vine and birdsong,
lingering like the sweet
stench of some musky animal --
raccoon or skunk -- that sneaked
under my deck before morning:
still here, still strong.