April was A POEM A DAY month and this was one I pounded out like bread dough.

Unrecorded

Once she wrote
with the sharp edges of her being.

Strands of her stories were used to make nests
and her words were footprints
that could lead you home.

Then
The Fire
The Famine
The Pestilence
The Wars
left her only with
seven names for herself and all her sisters.
Sentenced as the cause
her story was reduced
to being just a man’s rib.

She was worn as smooth and small as a pebble.
She curled like an apostrophe
in a sentence
describing
history.

The only proof she was ever an author
woven into nests and buried
in unmarked graves.

vasearms

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About Oliver Schroer and Music as Inspiration

I started trying to write a poem previously called “Coasting” after watching a science program that showed the link between mankind’s developmental leaps and areas of great tectonic instability, (what would become lakes and coasts) the whole science of metallurgy literally bubbling out of the ground. The soil was often richer too as a result and so agriculture thrived and then communities formed. Trade and commerce followed as we pursed the ingredients needed to make metals and so required the development of new skills, boat building and new ways of living developed.

So the idea of LIFE being a coastline came to mind; Shorelines become places of departure and change but also our homes. Historically venturing out into the unknown was terrifying and exciting, the things of legends and ballads; Fear of Death at the heart of all our stories about the sea.

In Oliver’s own words:

“At the moment we pass through that portal, things rearrange themselves so thoroughly it cannot make any sense to us now. I have the feeling that, at the moment that I slip across, it will make ultimate sense. And I’m not going to look back.”

Listening to Field of Stars everything fell into place.

The greatest departure we can ever make is from life itself. But as we are of the earth, we still see the stars as we once saw the ocean, our next unknown, our next destination. Listening to him play “Field of Stars” I realized this was really what the poem was leading to, and how I would finish it with the tone I had wanted to convey. I never felt it was about the futility of life even though, “eccentric and wild-eyed”  I have cried in frustration at times.

When I read more about Oliver it felt like finding this piece of music was one of those events when a missing piece falls into place.

This is written by someone who saw his last concert:

“The first week I moved to Toronto I went alone to a random benefit concert for Oliver Schroer, a fiddler I had never heard of. He was dying of leukemia and needed money for an experimental treatment. His former students had flown in from the corners of Canada and put together an amazing impromptu show in a desperate effort to save his life. The place was packed.

Oliver was supposed to be at the hospital that night, but he snuck in toward the end of the eve, a frail sallow man in vibrant striped pjs, with a powerful frame, cheerful hands, and hulking Mongolian boots, such a striking visual contradiction. He was in the building for all of 15 minutes attended by a wild interweave of medical equipment and one very concerned-looking doctor, yet he managed to play a single song and see his friends before being rushed back. The doctor insisted that no one touch him. I remember thinking that must be hard.

This piece was played 3 feet in front of me by a man who had dedicated his whole life to music and knew it was likely he would never play another song; yet he had the fortune to play for his most desired and intimate audience. I felt so incredibly lucky to be witness to that. It was undoubtedly one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of my life.”

He died a few days later.

I bought the album, Camino and learned that the music had been composed during his 1,000 km walk along the Camino de Santiago, an ancient trail between France and Spain. With a portable recording studio, violin, and sleeping bag in his backpack he stopped in the churches to record what you hear.”

Finally, though it seems a bit of a conceit, the poem. But it says something I thought I couldn’t say and now I’m just excited to say it. (Thank you for your indulgence). You can accuse me of defaulting to a sort of religious or spiritual delusion to answer the unknown. My punk youth would argue it is  a cop-out, but my old lady blues would admit she just doesn’t know and that makes room for everything we can imagine.

Beneath a field of Stars
There were the beaches of your youth
where you marked impossible feats in the cool
sand
that you tossed up in cartwheels,
piled up in castles
and burrowed under.
You built and destroyed and built again.
You shone with the dust of eons on your skin.
You
collected tales of seafaring folk,
like polished stones
that you shifted
in your pockets and carried home
Older, you watched the sky for storms.
You got a dog that barked at sea foam.
You never stayed long
then older still,
eccentric and wild-eyed
you climbed to the top of the cliffs,
and you cried:
“I lost everything here. Life was so hard.”
THE COAST with its cliffs jagged and worn
and rivers that spilled and mixed with the brine,
forests old before prophets were born,
all your kin, all your life, all your time,
all those who would have called you back
are gone and you’re
adrift
like a tiny raft lost in the ocean’s sway
alone beneath
a field of stars
a field of stars to light your way.

I Find Reading About Neurology Helps Me Feel Better About Myself.

I just finished “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and now I am reading, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self”  by Anil Ananthaswarmy. The first made me feel a lot better about my mother’s death, which was a “good death” all in all. He makes reference to several other books which put me on another path of reading, hence “The Man Who…”

“Thinking Fast and Slow” is the next one I hope to get from the library although I am 369th on a waiting list.

I have had a few experiences and I possess a few patterns, at times frightening and other times  wonderful . But I have never enjoyed being “odd” or “weird” except perhaps when I finally gave up trying and just practiced Zazen and Tai Chi a lot. It is exciting for me to learn that neurology is coming up with some very neat connections; New ideas that sometime sound like Buddhist psychology, Zen, Shinjin.  🙂

Harvest

My garden consists of pots filled with the rejects of small grocers and hardware stores, usually marked down to a ridiculously small amount, to the point that I could not help but be tempted. I grabbed them, put them in whatever bag, or pocket and carried them home.

I am going to have a lot of green tomatoes, the temperature is dipping lower every night and the air has the fresh bite of a Canadian Autumn coming: I will make some salsa.

They feed my soul, or at least the part of me that appreciates the late bloomers. 🙂

harvest

I Mean to Focus on The Good

Mike SchreinerTheresa May is one member of parliament and yet she makes a lot of noise. (Even when she is asking for less noise in the house). We got a Green in Guelph, Mike Schreiner!

Think of it this way, you can have miles of pavement and one little dandelion can crack it! Here’s hoping he is our Dandelion in the Ontario legislature!

 

When in Doubt: Wave Hands Like Clouds!

So until I can get a loaner brain I am hanging out with babies and family pets and avoiding complex questions, like, do I need to wear clothes?  The last time I felt this confounded I had recently fallen on my face metaphorically, I won’t expand on the subject, suffice to say, falling on your face can take time to get over, even when its metaphorically.

I could however ride my bike, not a metaphorical or even a stationary one like those being ridden by the spin class behind me in my heading picture, but a REAL bicycle  and so my youngest and I rode around Ottawa taking in all the great parks and canals and free stuff that our wonderful capital city provides.  After riding until we felt tired we would get off our bikes, lie on the grass and slurp on some box juices and watch the clouds.

There is a wonderful state under a big sky when you feel as if you are falling, or flying or floating.  And nothing moves in your mind faster than the clouds, in fact it almost seems you are thinking the clouds.

This is Wilf.  He is six months old.  I think he noticed the same thing.

Which brings me to the Tai Chi movement, move hands like clouds. I am still sitting zazen, but I am finding tai chi helps the most.  After doing a short set in the morning I can move my head from side to side without feeling dizzy. When I was studying Tai Chi with a group in Ottawa I met many people, including a man who had been severely brain injured by a drunk driver, who found Tai Chi good for their brains.