Sunday, May 28, 2023

Some Pretty Pictures and a Poem

On my twitter feed, I make sure to temper my covid and climate change posts by re-tweeting incredible physical feats (mainly cycling and gymnastics), beautiful art, hilarious posts, lots of animals, and the occasional profound poem or piece of literature. It's vital, like, absolutely vital, to stay in touch with the beauty in this world. That's what can give us the impetus to actually try to save this dumpster fire!!

I don't do that much here, a place where I mainly just try to sort out whatever's spinning around my head, and most of that other stuff doesn't live inside me. It's all from my admiration of the world outside of myself. But today's my birthday, so here are some pretty pictures and a poem. 

(I'm typically too shy to talk about myself this much, but I feel a bit like it might all be ending soon anyway so WTF, amIright?)

May is the most spectacular time in my garden. This crabapple was planted long before I moved in back in 1995. There's a grumpy old couple who wandered past a few times one September, oblivious to me sitting quietly, hidden on the porch just seven feet from the sidewalk, and commented loudly to one another that I haven't been a good caretaker for the tree, which was clearly dying (the leaves on this tree falling before the others). The following May it bloomed its brains out yet again. That was years ago, and look at it now!

When gardening, as in life, we need to be very careful not to pronounce the end too soon.

Flowers from my garden. My entire house smells like perfume from these tiny bouquets.

And here's my beautiful family as they exist right now, braving the bugs to go on a hike with me yesterday. I don't need to blur their faces because my crappy phone and photography skills have done that for me! My youngest at the back doesn't even look like she has a head. I didn't ask them to walk in order; it just happened like that. 

Right this minute, they're all gainfully employed in jobs they actually love or don't hate too much, that highlight and make use of their specific skills, and they all have good people in their lives. And I'm so overjoyed that they're finally finding their path in this world. One of many paths with some scenic views after trudging through the weeds and muck. Knock wood!!

Here's the poem that's been taking up space in my brain for a bit. It's "After Silence: for Rachel Carson" by Neil Gaiman:
Seasons on seasons. The spring is signaled by birdsong 
coyotes screech and yammer in the moonlight 
and the first flowers open. I saw two owls today 
in the daylight, on silent wings. 
They landed as one and watched me sleepily. 
Oh who? they called. Or how, or how who? 
Then they leaned into the trunk 
into the sun that shone through the tight-curled buds, 
and vanished into dappled shadows 
never waiting for an answer. 

Like the sapling that buckles the sidewalk 
and grows until it has reached its height 
all of us begin in darkness. Some of us reach maturity. A few 
become old: we went over time’s waterfall and lived, 
Time barely cares. We are a pool of knowledge and advice 
the wisdom of the tribe, but we have stumbled, 
fallen face-first into our new uncomfortable roles. 
Remembering, as if it happened to someone else, 
the race to breed, 
or to succeed, the aching need that drove our thoughts 
and shaped each deed, 
those days are through. 
We do not need to grow, we’re done, 
we grew. 

Who speaks? And why? 

She was killed by her breasts, by tumours in them: 
A clump of cells that would not listen to orders to disband 
no chemical suggestions that they were big enough 
that, sometimes, it’s a fine thing just to die, we're heeded. 
And the trees are leafless and black against the sky 
and the bats in fatal whiteface sleep and rot 
and the jellyfish drift and pulse through the warming waters 
and everything changes. And some things are truly lost. 

Wild in the weeds, the breeze scatters the seeds, 
and it lifts the wings of the pine processionary moth, 
and bears the green glint of the emerald borer, 
Now the elms go the way of the chestnut trees. 
Becoming memories and dusty furniture. 
The ash trees go the way of the elms. 
And somebody has to say that we 
never need to grow forever. That 
we, like the trees, can reach our full growth, 
and mature, in wisdom and in time, 
that we can be enough of us. That there 
can be room for other breeds and kinds and lives. 
Who’ll whisper it: 
that tumours kill their hosts, 
and then themselves? 
We’re done. We grew. Enough. 

All the gods on the hilltops 
and all the gods on the waves 
the gods that became seals 
the voices on the winds 
the quiet places, where if we are silent 
we can listen, we can learn. 
Who speaks? And why? 

Someone could ask the questions, too. 
Like who? 
Who knew? What’s true? 
And how? Or who? 
How could it work? 
What happens then? 
Are consequences consequent? 
The answers come from the world itself 
The songs are silent, 
and the spring is long in coming. 

There’s a voice that rumbles beneath us 
and after the end the voice still reaches us 
Like a bird that cries in hunger 
or a song that pleads for a different future. 
Because all of us dream of a different future. 
And somebody needs to listen. 
To pause. To hold. 
To inhale, and find the moment 
before the exhale, when everything is in balance 
and nothing moves. In balance: here’s life, here’s death, 
and this is eternity holding its breath. 

After the world has ended 
After the silent spring 
Into the waiting silence 
another song begins. 

Nothing is ever over 
life breathes life in its turn 
Sometimes the people listen 
Sometimes the people learn 

Who speaks? And why?
In the background of my days is my oldest brother, currently in the ICU, very likely in his last days of pancreatic cancer. I hope he's comfortable and feels safe and loved with his wife and kids at his bedside and from the many well wishes in the air.  

And a bonus pic from my Facebook memories today: My birthday just six years ago feels like another lifetime. How was this me? This was a moment at the end of a brutal year of losing my father and having cancer, taken just weeks after a second surgery, when I was just starting to come up for air. I captioned it "Every band needs someone who can play the laptop," because my main musical contribution was scrolling Chordie for everyone and offering an occasional stumbled-upon harmony. I used to have friends over to drink pints and play music regularly, like almost every Friday after school. That ended shortly before Covid, when my oldest two moved back home at once, both with too much despair at a downturn in their lives for a concert in our kitchen to feel remotely considerate.

It feels like we'll never hang out like this again. I've lost touch with two thirds of them (including the photographer). But you can never tell for sure when things are at their end. 
Inhale, and find the moment before the exhale, when everything is in balance and nothing moves. 

ETA: From my morning bike ride. Taking it easy today, so this is just 10 k away.

Reflective selfie.

Lots of things to be grateful for. So blessed.

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