Summer Solstice 2017

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After the long winter of seed-soaking rains
when the driest taproots drank their fill,
the privet and the bougainvillea
revel in inebriation,
besotted roses plaster their vines with blooms,
and even the stately redwood indulges
in tipsy explosions of baby green at every needle tip.
Now comes a feast of light
for the leafy exuberant ones.
Deep in their cells they remember
the way they thirsted in the drought,
but this memory is just a gilt edge
on the solstice invitation to summer.

The prodigal stretched-out days ask,
how big is your we?
Does it include
this velvet yellow petal,
an extraterrestrial guava blossom,
the courtly redwood?
Oh come, my darling,
it’s the summer solstice –
lift your glass to the light,
and dance with the whole shimmering forest!

We the People

On the day a bully takes office,

the rivers roar out a lamentation,

and the sky sheds frozen tears.

Even the marble statues weep.

In graves that the earth

had finally folded into healing arms,

the ghosts of slaves stir

from too short a rest.

 

But on the day the women march,

parchment rustles in glass cases.

us-constitution

We the people

Are created equal

Molecules vibrate faded ink into quivering.

Life

Liberty

The pursuit of happiness

On the day the women put on the armor of light

and march into the streets across the land,

on the day we claim our right

peaceably to assemble

and remind the bully

Congress shall make no law respecting

an establishment of religion,

or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of speech,

or of the press,

the lady in the harbor will lift her torch.

On the day the women resist hate

because we are all created equal,

no matter our

gender,

age,

color,

creed,

or sexual orientation,

the earth will answer our stomping feet with jubilation.

On the day the women demand

care for the planet,

health and safety for our brothers and sisters,

we will wake the country from its Trump-induced trance

and across this hazy land the wind will blow;

on that day the words in the National Archives will dance.

We the people do ordain it so.

 

 

Words in italics from our Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Image of United States Constitution courtesy of Jonathan Thorne through a Creative Commons non-commercial license.

Winter Solstice 2016

labyrinth by the ocean

One hundred steps to the center of the labyrinth,

and light enters the world as gently

as the pilgrim making her way to the center.

Can you tell the moment when the foxtail

takes shape out of the night

and the pine needles assume their points?

In the pause between

breathing out

and breathing in,

the last star fades into the brightening sky,

gone to the place you journey in your sleep.

 

I watch my thoughts dart off

like a startled flock of sparrows

in twenty directions.

I have written ten thousand words

that don’t mean a thing.

Now the solstice calls me to the labyrinth,

and my feet long for the one hundred steps.

The Murmurings of Roots

redwood tree by a stream

Will your cravings ever leave you,

lifting like a startled flock

from your naked limbs?

Will your mind finally come to rest,

one ordinary morning?

What might you hear in the sheer silence?

Your heartbeat –

and the squirrel’s,

the secret language of the garden,

what the earthworms say to the roots.

You were waiting for the voice of God,

and here in the cave of your heart

is the alleluia of the blackberry

at the moment it plumps into perfect ripeness

and the Deo gratias of the squirrel

as it plucks the berry from the vine.

 

Attune your breath to the cedar’s sigh

and rise from your cushion now

before the diamond dewdrops

on the sourgrass dry.

The Channel

mountain spring

Hidden in the hills,

a spring spills its secrets –

milk and honey from the womb of the earth.

Seeking its course through forest and vale,

water calls the banks of the river into being –

Find me!

 

Listen,

within you plays the song of the stream.

You are the banks of the river

and its bed

that give the water a place to go.

Unbraid your hair now, and

let the oncoming tide dissolve

your holding back.

Where the moon marries salt to sweet,

may your gathering waters

flow out to the sea.

Vernal Equinox

pond at Keukenhof gardens

Before work I sit beside a pond

where frogs sleep and dragonflies play.

Winter is tipping into spring,

and already French lavender sends out faint tendrils of scent;

purple blossoms flutter up rosemary branches.

This is what we’ve been waiting for,

my hibernating muse and I.

 

Sun just peeking over a roof touches my forehead

and dapples the rust-red algae

covering the little pond like a velvet coat.

The monarchs are departing, winging their gentle way northward.

Now the sun kisses the page of my notebook,

and daffodils praise the morning light.

A Holy Fire

 

angel candle

 

What if you were pregnant with a holy fire?

Would you be lit from within?

Might your warm skin and glowing eyes hint at the mystery to the outside world?

 

How would you nurture this fire?

When my friend was pregnant,

she gave up caffeine and alcohol,

ate fresh organic food,

and slept as much as she could.

She practiced breathing

to prepare for labor pains

and listened to beautiful music

so her babe’s delicate developing ears

would hear sweet sounds in the womb.

 

Rest your hand on your belly

as you long to gaze into the eyes

of the being within

and hold her  in your arms.

Imagine the names that might suit her.

 

You are pregnant with a holy fire.

Purify yourself.

Rest.

Dream.

Now is the time of waiting,

now is the long night.

Breathe in

the darkness,

and breathe out

your fear.

 

You are tinder for the fire,

and it will burn in your bones.

Attuning to Autumn

Autumn Trees

The leaves of the liquidamber tree flame into orange and red,
glowing in the hot light of Indian summer.
Even now a strong breeze can pull off
those that are ready to release their hold
or that the tree is prepared to relinquish.
Without pain or sorrow the leaf lets go
and floats into a current of air,
a wanderer now after a lifetime of vowed stability
with one tree in one place.
The new gypsy may know, but doesn’t care
that this grand adventure will end with a crumbling into mulch,
for the gift of the autumn wind is liberation,
and the songs of spring are just a sweet memory.

The bereft trees will stand naked
all winter,
and this is why they never forget who they really are.
The annual stripping of all finery
reduces each to its pure form,
and in this integrity
they offer their bare branches to the long winter night.

The Physics of Desire

Wednesday night I had the honor of sharing poems “in praise of the earth” with seven beautiful and talented Santa Cruz poets. Here’s one of the poems I read.


The Hunger That Crosses the Bridge Between

The physicist studies photons and particles,

while the seeker watches the sweet pea blossom

and waits at dawn for the hummingbird to sip its nectar.

What brings us to our knees before the altar of the holy?

In the darkness below ground,

what stirs inside the seed of the sweet pea?

In the moment when you strike the match,

what calls fire out of the sulfur tip?

It’s the physics of desire,

and God writes the equation for its fulfilling

in every place we might look.

(Title from Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass)

In praise of the earth poets
In Praise of the Earth Poets

A Map to the Kingdom

Let me draw myself a map

out of my world of scarcity

into the kingdom

where everyone has enough.

The map I’m talking about

requires a subtle yet revolutionary algorithm

to rewrite the neuronal pathways of my brain.

Let my ears hear the soft call to prayer

from the cave of my heart

instead of the 21st-century symphonic blast

begging me to worship at the altar of the mall

and buy more apps for my iPhone.

The promise of productivity

and the buzz of news and games

want to trick me into believing

they can fill me up and give me purpose.

But no.

Rewire the neurons,

and let me rejoice in the gift of each moment

instead of fretting about what I don’t have time for.

Then I can find the cartographers

who will collaborate with me

in mapping our way to the kingdom of enough.

In that place time is the currency,

and communion is all we want to buy.

 

Mary Camille Thomas