This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.
My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.
I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.
But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.
This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.
I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.
That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.
I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.
My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.
The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.
While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.
That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.
The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.
Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).
On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.
I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.
Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.
Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs.
On any trip I take I try to find a garden, whether a tiny patch of flowers in someone’s front yard or a botanical garden where I can get lost, inside my head and on the trail.
So I took the road less traveled between scratching shrubs, dirt, and rock, where spiny pine needles carpeted the earth. My eyes focused on delicate petals flying miraculous colors, every shade of purple, orange, red and yellow.
The scent of oak, a whiff of lavender, the sight of quaking grass reminds me that beauty exists among the everyday trials of life, a day of media news, or the sameness we sometimes feel.
I’ve been to this particular garden about seven times. There is always a new flower, a blooming tree or bush to entice me so I carry a journal, pen and my cell phone for photos.
This time, my thoughts spilled haikus, which is a good thing since I just read that Denver Botanical Gardens is having a haiku contest.
A plume of smoke rose
lion-headed above the forest
A tilt of face to
children reading together
a devoted mother
The stone sculpture is from Zimbabwe.
Wrapped in a fragrance of love
Standing firm as one
This last one is not a haiku. I love the wisdom and peace of this quote.
In the spirit of poetry month, I thought I’d make a poem for this week’s post. Last year, I celebrated the month with the post Late To The Poetry Party, offering a poem and several links to other poets (who actually submit poems and win honors).
Have you ever heard a term that sounded so odd you wanted to blurt, “Say what?”
That’s how I felt when I first heard of Ekphrastic poetry but I didn’t ask the question out loud. First, my mind and tongue tried to wrap itself around the weird word. Second, maybe I didn’t want to hear the definition; sounded like a cutting word.
I heard the word from my writing mentor, Fred Arroyo, who participated in this interesting workshop:
“PINTURA : PALABRA, a project in ekphrasis” is a multi-year initiative that encourages new Latino writing inspired by art, above all a Smithsonian American Art Museum traveling exhibit titled Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Aspects of this initiative include ekphrastic writing workshops; inviting writers to engage with the exhibit; and partnering with literary journals to publish portfolios of ekphrastic writing. The exhibit debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and concludes its tour in Sioux City, Iowa in 2017.
An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.
Now, whenever I go to a museum or see a lovely piece of photography, my creative juices begin squirting and sometimes land on something I like.
This is a photo which mesmerized me for a few minutes. A story followed.
In another time,
sunlight danced on the shoulders
of forbidden lovers
pressed against columns
moist with passion
a canopy to cover scandal,
sighs of love.
Her velvet gown
crushed by nubby wool
of a friar’s frock,
surrounded by scents of jasmine
and aromatic oils.
More than one great romance
glowed in the shadows
of the setting sun
in another century, in another monastery.
The photo connected with me, perhaps because I love architecture, medieval times, and television shows like “Reign.”
I find that Ekphrastic poetry is a good way to stimulate creativity and can serve as a writing prompt. Many times I need something to propel me to start writing, especially if I’m revising (which is most of the time).