In poems that came through recently I have "documented" (tried to capture) two other meaningful experiences of the last few months. (These are completely separate from the travel referenced in my previous post.) I hope the poems will be relatively self-explanatory, but I add a bit of context to set the stage.
The first poem arose from the feelings I had while visiting and processing the Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe exhibit currently on view at the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Tawney was a pioneering fiber artist whose work had a strong impact on me since I first encountered it in the 1960s. The work was not just technically innovative and visually compelling, but it was about her spiritual journey. This exhibit was a retrospective that also featured a reconstruction of her studio/working space. I was riveted. The installation was powerful in itself, and was accompanied by a stunning book, filled with poetic descriptions and lovingly-shot photographs. Through the recommendation of the wonderful scholar Glenn Adamson, I was asked to write a review of the exhibit for the British publication, Crafts. What an assignment! I pored through the book for hours, and was able to revisit my connection with Tawney on many levels. In some ways, it felt like a life review for me too. There's a sweet smile when I think about the project, and I now have a satisfying sense of completion. I offer the poem here, as well as an image of Tawney and her 1966 piece, "Path II."
There’s a thread between us
made, no doubt, of linen,
with long fibers and waxy sheen.
Not quite straight, like yours, or solitary;
this thread meanders, and twists around others.
Thank you for the transmission,
the black bird flying high above the canyon,
riding updrafts and seeing far.
Thank you for the open space,
the drawers filled with feathers,
bleached bones, and tiny sweet shells.
I learned the thread language, once you had named the grammar,
and followed the path you first set out.
We touched just once, in an overheated room,
mingling tears and sorrows,
but you were always there
flying through the crow-world,
The thread loops around now,
calling out the lineage
and coming to rest, deeply bowing
to those open spaces, recognizing
our connection, and
deeply grounded love.
The second poem came from a shamanic journey I did where I called in the spirit of my mother. I describe the way she was at the end of her life, and the way she appeared in this non-linear experience. I hope the words convey the majesty and power of the experience.
Small, and in soft focus
eyes enormous behind the thick glasses
of the legally blind.
Dwarfed in the white sheets of the big bed,
my mother, weighted down,
feeling useless, defeated,
and far too old.
Today I found her, well past all that.
Looking intently at me, she opened her body suit,
parted it right down the middle,
a superman gesture, but slowly,
with deliberate grace.
She stepped out to her full size, her full self
and I took it in--
so tall, smiling, resonant,
oh, the bright glory of her.
“I see you,” she said,
meaning me, in my own light body
far beyond the human life
she once thought she knew.
“I see you,” I said,
meaning this magnificent one,
infinitely large and beautiful.
There we were, beholding,
the full awesomeness of it all.