This Poem is Not a Poem BY JUDI BACHRACH This poem outside my window is the shad tree that is not a shad tree exuberant in white lace for spring an unidentified shrub reminding me of the tree that bloomed for twenty-five years outside my old bedroom window This poem is the husband who is the not the living husband holding me my empty bed remembering our love of almost fifty years now a vast horizon where the sun stunningly dips down behind the ocean This poem is a deadly pandemic freezing in place chaotic days and nights that are not our days and nights sheltering nostalgia for what was compelling history searching for the right use of our time our actions our hearts This poem unmasks a world of sighs and sorrows a fierce skin-to-skin embrace of love and beauty in every hope and fear a shimmering possibility sweet breath by breath creating what is and what will be
For the Great Mother and the nurturing compassionate mother that dwells in us all.
A photo taken by Rebecca Cardozo on one of Kendal’s many ponds.
This poem arose in me during our last Quaker meeting.
I hold myself together
I forget I am already held
Let the pieces fall where they may
The following song was written and performed by my dear friend Jason and is offered as a gift of gratitude for those who struggle on our behalf. Please listen and help it reach those who need to hear and know that we are never alone.
As the writer Arundhati Roy observed in a beautiful essay (click on beautiful essay to read it) in The Financial Times last week, “historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Headlines for The Fiftieth Earth Day
Canals Clearing in Venice!
Smog Lifting in Cities Around the World!
Seismic Activity on the Earth’s Upper Crust Quiet as Christmas Day!
If it were not a pause due
to tragically manhandling nature
we would be cheering at last
Help me to believe
fifty years from now
my grandson will congratulate
the successful generation before him
handing off the healing baton
to those coming up behind
Sustainable life on earth overcoming short term politics and financial gains!
All life thrives on our beloved planet!
A dear friend’s birthday today. I sent her an ecard– poor substitute for last year’s flight to New York and in person hugs and kisses and chatting with her friends and family– but so it is in these times. Love is boundless as we know, as is time, though that last bit is harder to believe. What we know on an everyday stage is that time flows from the past through the present into the future. Mostly, we spend a great deal of time going backwards or projecting forwards from where we are right now. To stay in the right now takes practice, and even after fifty years of meditation, I find it challenging to stay still in silence.
I am profoundly grateful that sometimes Silence blissfully rises up as an almost impenetrable barrier to accessing the non- stop flow of brain processing. But every sit is a different one and sitting with open expectation is forever spacious and non-specific. Now I go to zoom my Buddhist meditation group. Today I just hit the potential of deep quiet when the hour was up. So it goes. I heard the rain splattered against my window in this windy weather. So my thoughts splattered against that momentary ceiling of quiet. Passing and gone.
Thoughts “good” or “bad” slide on by. One thought I had was that all living things share the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of their bodies. Whether it is in the air, within and on the land, or in the sea, this is true for ALL living things. The simple act of paying attention to every breath is our binding connection to life on earth. Breath itself is neutral, and the movement of that bodily exchange is going on sleeping or waking, for as long as we live. The last gasp is literally the end of our sojourn on the planet. Inside that thought I felt that I was being breathed, which is a familiar sensation/realization and always comforting to experience. To know that in this moment all I need to do is pay attention to each breath becomes such a refuge. I will make that phone call, read that article, connect with this or that person, eat my lunch- but not now. Now I am only focusing on that inbreath, that exhale, and the next and the next. Simple difficult work but with such rich rewards.
I wrote to another friend that anchoring in Love is what I work at every day. I am anchoring in my heart so that I am not drowned in statistics but can stay open to acknowledge the loss of the thousands of humans who have departed en masse from our world due to this virus. I felt seen and so moved by a poem sent to me by another friend doing the same work we all are while we safely find our groceries, cook, clean, use our computers, stay physically fit, and keep breathing every day.
Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.
Snowy rain fell all morning, melting within minutes of contact on grass or road. A chilly dreary spring day after brilliant sunshine yesterday. Then I gazed at a thousand bees in the flowering tree. Today streaks of sunshine are embodied by goldfinches at my bird feeder. Sweet greedy little creatures fussing at the larger sparrows and the other males for their grip on a perch. I am awaiting to tune into the Buddhist meditation group by zoom, my new daily ritual during the week. I am so glad to share this hour with others in silence.
The above image is waves on a Kendal pond by my friend, Rebecca Cardozo
The following poem came about as I noticed how closely all three religions of Abraham’s descendants were celebrating their holy days of Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. It moved me to include the very Buddhist metta invocations beginning with “May all beings…” as well. Each verse includes specific references to the individual holy day.s
We were glad the Angel of Death
did not come to our door
we came together asking why?
we remembered ancient oppression and freedom
Are we still oppressed?
Are we free?
May all beings be free.
we will awake at sunrise
once more from dark
the manifold paths of
Love and Compassion
May all beings awaken.
In thirteen days
we will maintain our fast
remembering the Source
remembering those less fortunate
small sacrifices of gratitude
we share with those we love
May all beings be nourished in body and soul.
Ancestors of Abraham’s children
knew death and renewal
of every season
rituals, sacrifices, celebrations
cracking open the egg
May all beings inhabit fully the Mystery of Life.
time for a little smiling:
I send two photos- one of me visiting with a Kendal resident (from the larger community beyond the Care Center) who took the photo from outside my window standing six feet away. The other is what a proud Daddy sheltering at home helped his 4 month-old son, my grandson Max, to do, what with having time on their hands….