On Shopping Malls

I came of age in a mall. Working my part time job at a now defunct towel and drapery store called Homemaker Shop. My best friend worked at an anchor store which was called May Company (quick who knows what city I am from?). It became, I believe, LS Ayers and eventually turned into Macy’s like all of them. She sold lamps. We both had to dress in skirts and blouses. Another friend stocked shoes next door at Kinney Shoes and yet another worked at a fast food steak place called York Steak House, which had a big “no tipping” sign at the door. We met on breaks at Orange Julius or maybe across the parking lot at a popular restaurant called The Ground Round. We ate a lot of pizza and ice cream and played Ms. Pac Man. And we shopped, a lot. We tried on make-up at the Clinique counter, and we went to lots of movies. This was before Starbucks and Game Stops and pre-teen stores like Hot Topic and Justice. We went to Spencer’s for lava lamps and posters and fart jokes. We ripped fake plants out of their planters and squeezed into photo booths and raced around empty parking lots when the mall closed. One year, at Christmas time, this desperate lady who ran the Christmas stocking booth hired a friend and me to write kids names on stockings in glue and glitter. I pity all the poor kids who got my sloppy left handed hook scrawl on their stockings that year. I am sure Santa didn’t know Sally from Susie. I got a free elf hat for all my efforts. Another time we went into a furniture department and cozied up on beds and began to read the prop books they had on display, playacting from corny old stories about farmers and their wives.

So, I have this real fondness for the mall of my youth. I don’t go in them unless I have to any more. (They give me a headache which I have deemed mall ache.) but the ghosts of all my best peeps and me when we were young and stupid and thought time was endless hang out there. Sometimes, when I am quiet, I can see them.

Amy for the PGM

How Can I Keep From Singing?

The other night, as I processed laundry in the basement, sorting soggy garments, transferring delicates to the drying rack and tossing un-delicates into the ancient Harvest Gold dryer, I found myself singing “Beautiful Savior,”  a beloved old hymn from my childhood. It’s a lovely tune with resonant, comforting words. I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t yet know it.

It got me thinking.

My basement hymn-singing is one of my oldest habits, one of my first self-soothing strategies. As a girl, I was terrified of basements. The first had one friendly, semi-finished playroom, but also an unfinished concrete warren of scary furnace sounds and dark, spider-webbed corners. And once, a stray spark from the fireplace above fell through the hearth, smoldering in the ceiling below, nearly causing a devastating housefire and fusing my fear of basements with my even greater fear of fire. The second was darker, even scarier, with a terrifying octopus furnace from a long-gone era. When sent to these basements on errands for my mother, I took to singing or whistling “A Mighty Fortress is our God” while I scurried down and back, dragging my little brother with me if I could.

I used to sing all the time.  In the shower, for a good 20 minutes to my girls at bedtime, as I cleaned and walked the dog and made supper in the kitchen. I knew the words to countless songs— folk songs and ballads, 60’s protest songs and protestant hymns, nursery rhymes and love songs—and accompanied myself during my days by singing them to a select audience of—myself.

I also listened to a lot of music, on CD, before that on cassette tape or LP. Music filled my life, informed my existence with singular energy and storytelling and metaphoric contemplation of various emotional and life states. My housecleaning jumpstart song was The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love),” my kitchen floor scrubbing soundtrack was provided on Saturday nights by Fiona Ritchie, Bruce was a great companion to all manner of chores.

And I have allowed this life-giving, sustaining music to largely leave my life.

About 10 years ago, I experienced a change in my voice, and not for the better; my awkward, limited range seemed to constrict further, and the top and bottom notes were even harder to eke out, making many of my favorite songs unsingable, even for myself. Gradually, I sang less and less. And listened less to music in the house, not wanting to disturb those working at the dining room table or slung across comfy living room chairs, (who had by now developed their own distinctive musical sensibilities and abilities), not wanting to bare, or perhaps declare, my own musical tastes.

Now, when I work in the kitchen, I usually listen to progressive talk radio, endless analysis and recounting of every aspect of our alarming national state of affairs: NPR, 1A, The Daily, Pod Save America. All of which, suddenly, seem unbearable, unconstructive, treading the same dismal territory in which we currently wander, leading nowhere.

I am resolved to restore the soulful, life-giving soundtrack of my life.  We are living in a scary basement of a time. I, for one, will sing my hymns again, sacred and secular, as I travel this dark and dispiriting territory.

Mary Peckham for The Poplar Grove Muse

From the Road, Kansas City

The old house was easy enough to find off of Interstate 70.   The language used to describe this particular Air BnB was “secluded” or “semi-secluded.  I hadn’t questioned my choice much until I was driving earlier and the thought occurred, Do I really want to be semi-secluded by myself in Kansas City? 

I arrived, tired…, after eight, just as the evening light turned blue  The drive from Bloomington, while manageable, was long and the summer heat made impressions on my skin, hours of time over 100 degrees.  The house was advertised as cozy, just off the interstate, all accurate.  The front drive was on a slope, with an old fashioned clothes line stuck crookedly in the lawn.  I walked through a screened-in porch housing a wet ‘smoking couch’ and used the key pad to retrieve the key from the lock box.  As I opened the first door, a second door to my left with an opened combination locked blew open.  Behind a flimsy bead curtain the opened combination lock door revealed a pathway of paint-chipped wood stairs down to a basement crammed with old junk.  A turned over wooden dresser, a white baby carriage, trunks, old lamps…, the rest was left up to my imagination as I hurried up the second set of stairs into the house.

I stood, back in time, next to the lime green stove and fridge and wood paneled cabinets.  The furniture clock above the sink was no longer working and two glass roosters stared at me, each out of one eye.  I knew at that moment I was not going to sleep that night.  On the white board next to a broken rotary phone, written in black marker “Welcome, Allison,” followed by some scrolled symbology-little doodles that looked like diamonds and triangles with eyes in them.  The hosts also wrote, “let us know when you arrive.”

All logic in me knew that I would not be killed this evening, only haunted by the unlatched door.  And a little spooked by the other locked door at the end of the living room…, and the way the ceiling fans were not regular-size but miniature and rainbow colored, like each of the bedrooms were for children and never changed.  A rainbow sticky horse lined one wall, dust bunnies collected under the bed.  And each room had large metal floor grates with eye views directly down to the basement.

I called the owner to let her know I arrived, and let her know the basement door was open.    In less than ten minutes she arrived, rapped her hand on the outside door.  I answered her knock, said hello.  She moved fast past me, slid in and clicked the lock on the basement door.  Her long grey hair smelled of smoke and old water.

“Sorry,” she says, “that basement is really creepy, all of my grandmother’s eleven-room farmhouse is stored down there.”

As quickly as she slid in, she slid out, waving to me from her car parked at the end of the driveway.   I stood blank in the doorway next to the locked basement, still feeling that eerie energy, now with the picture in my mind that this woman’s grandmother is trapped down there.  I don’t know if it was better knowing what this house was sitting on top of, or not.  But all night, all I could picture is the ghost of this woman’s grandmother floating around in the basement running into old wooden chests and bureaus, knocking them over, begging to be recognized and out let out of the rotting basement.   Maybe I should have left the door unlocked.

Allison for the Poplar Grove Muse

 

Buried Treasure

I was at a party last night, a rare event for me, a woman who prefers solitude and quiet nights at home with the dog and a book.  But I went to honor the birthday of someone dear to me and found myself in a room surrounded by family and friends, people I’ve known for a long time and many others I had never met before.   I was surprised at how comfortable I felt in my own skin – the hard earned result of years of inner contemplative work, especially the Conscious Feminine Leadership Training of WWf(a)C.  I used to be such a people pleaser, playing the role of a happy, confident person, appearing interested in others and their small talk in shallow conversations.  I would nod and smile a lot, my radar always out for how they were perceiving me.

Last night was different.  Mostly, I avoided small talk.  Small talk has always felt a bit off to me, but until recently I didn’t understand why.  The truth is that it is much easier to feel intimate and connected with people when there aren’t a lot of words getting in the way.  Small talk is meant to help us get to know one another – what we do, where we’re from, who we know.  But the thing is, none of that is really who we are deep down.  I am tantalized by the depths.  What I really want to know is: What do you love?  What breaks your heart?  What truths do you hold down in your bones?  What do you dream of?  Long for? How are you learning to love yourself?

The problem is that questions like these really throw most people off as conversation starters, and they make awkward-feeling follow-up questions to normal folks’ laundry lists of career histories, the way most of us have come to identify ourselves.  But I have trouble answering questions like, “So, what do you do?”

Well…um…to be totally honest?

And how many times do we get part way into our answer only to realize that our questioner’s attention has drifted off?  Like mine did when a man spent fifteen minutes going through his latest iphone photos like a third grader doing show-and-tell with no main topic.  In the past, I would have pretended to be interested, asked questions, made enthusiastic faces, all to make sure that he liked me.  In other words, I used to trade my authenticity for the approval of others.  I no longer live with the burden of trying to be polite, instead I do my best to be real.  And I no longer put my self-worth in the hands of unskilled others, instead I do my best to hold myself and to listen.

I realize now that I was always so uncomfortable with small talk because I thought I had to bend the shape of my self to fit the questions that were put to me and to try to be understood.  And I always felt disappointed in the shallowness of those interactions, as if it were my conversation partner who lacked an ability to reach down to their soul’s core and present that to me, giving me permission to bring mine out as well.  But the truth is that depth is in the ear of the listener.  So, instead of filling up the space with witty comebacks and funny slings, now I simply lean in to listen.  I listen deeply, past that litany of career moves and seemingly disconnected thoughts streaming from a stranger’s camera roll.  I listen for what it is you love, what you long for, what truths are coming from those stories you carry down in your bones.

 

~DRH for the Poplar Grove Muse

Dear Mom

(Dear Women Writers and All, I’ve decided to share a personal correspondence with you today.  Perhaps it will give you a window into where I am this week, where I come from, and how very grateful I am for my family connections.  Peace and love, Glenda)

July 3, 2017

Monday morning

Dear Mom,

Has it really been a year since I made the trip from here to Dearborn County Hospital on a Sunday morning to find Daddy in Intensive Care, and you and a dozen other members of the family either waiting your turn to go in and visit for a while, or standing by Dad’s bedside, keeping him company?  Sometimes it seems like it was just last month—it’s so present, right there in the forefront of my memory—Daddy trying to keep things light by joking with the nurses or teasing the grandkids; you looking worried, clutching one of your hankies, praying.

Other times it seems like it’s been way longer than a year ago, that week he spent in the hospital, and a couple of weeks before when Reta and I were at your house on Father’s Day weekend. That was the last Rook tournament that we played with the two of you.  Daddy often bid more than you thought he should, even though he usually made his bid—much to Reta’s and my chagrin!  You two were formidable partners to pair off against!  I remember that last tourney well—you beat us like a borrowed mule (as Daddy would say)—or maybe two borrowed mules!  And it’s not that we were greenhorns at the game, or incompetent; we’re both pretty savvy when it comes to playing cards.  Guess you were sitting in the lucky chairs, or maybe we didn’t whine enough. I think the tally was ten games to four!

We were so glad when they moved Dad into a private room—not only because it meant (supposedly) that he was improving, but also because we could be more relaxed about hanging out with him.  It was more visitor friendly than the Intensive Care Unit.  And Daddy seemed more chipper, at least for a couple of days. Then his appetite went downhill, and he became less and less talkative— seemed apparent that he wasn’t feeling well.  It surprised us when his doctor told us on Thursday that he’d be ready to go to Vevay for rehab either Friday or Saturday.  We rearranged the Saturday family reunion we’d had on our calendars for a few months; instead of a picnic at Markland Dam’s shelter house, we’d congregate—eat, drink, and be merry—at the Vevay Rehab Center.  Everyone was looking forward to Dad’s release from the hospital and our summer Baker get-together.

You and I have talked several times about that last Thursday afternoon we were with him before we headed back to your house.  How we kissed him good bye, told him we loved him, that we’d see him on Friday.  Hindsight has made so many things clear that weren’t clear at the time.  We would’ve made different decisions if we had known that Daddy wasn’t going to live through the night.  I would’ve been more forceful, probably downright contentious, when talking to the doctors and nurses.  Maybe I could’ve bullied them into paying attention to our concerns about his belly, his appetite, his mood.  I do realize that even if I had convinced them to check him out further, the result may have been the same.  His body was shutting down, and even the experts may have been helpless to change the outcome.  Still…I wonder.

And I know you wouldn’t have left the hospital that evening if you’d had an inkling of what was to come.  No matter how exhausted you were, no matter how much you trusted the doctors (or God, for that matter), you would’ve pulled your chair closer to Daddy’s bed, held his hand, traveled with him as far as you could through that last difficult night.  And I would’ve been there with you—through the good, the bad, and the ugly of it—if we hadn’t been assured that he would be leaving the hospital by Saturday.  Hindsight.  Yes, we would’ve been there every minute with Daddy if we had only known what was coming—you and all of us kids would’ve been there.  And I believe that he knew that, too. Somewhere in his heart and mind that held all his best memories, his biggest love, his strongest family ties, he knew.

We miss him so much, Mom—all forty-some of us that called him George, Daddy, Pop, Dad, Grandpa, Papaw.  We know he wasn’t perfect—he never claimed to be (as far as I knowJ)—but he was perfect enough.  You two were so fortunate to have loved and liked each other for nearly three quarters of a century, and the rest of us were lucky to have been under that umbrella of family love with you; still are lucky to be under that umbrella with you.

This year hasn’t been an easy one for you, and yet here you are, still being Mom and Granny and Polly, still welcoming us into your kitchen, still being plainspoken about your beliefs and opinions, still being the woman that Daddy loved.  You’ve proven yourself to be a strong woman, Mom, even when you weren’t sure you could find the strength you’d need to carry on without Daddy.

Now if we can just whip them into shape at the cemetery!  I called them again, by the way.  Left a message on the answering machine that it’d been nearly a year since Daddy had been buried there, and that I was disappointed that the gravesite still hasn’t been leveled and seeded with grass.  Seems like there’s been enough dry weather and plenty of time since I called a couple months ago, asking them to check it out, to spiff it up, to make it look more presentable so that the next time you dropped by for a visit, you wouldn’t have to face a double whammy—Daddy’s tombstone and the unkempt look of it.  I think you and Ronnie (and everyone else who’s been part of the mowing brigade) have done an excellent job tending to your yard at home almost as zealously as Daddy would’ve if he were here, but I’m afraid he’s going to come back and haunt us, or at least haunt the cemetery caretakers, if his gravesite continues to look neglected.  He so loved a well-kept lawn.  His name on the tombstone and the lumpy, patchy ground in front don’t match up.  We’ll be vigilant though, and if the workers there aren’t up to the task, we’ll give it a facelift ourselves.  (Picture Daddy peeking out from behind a nearby tombstone, nodding his head, grinning that cock-eyed grin of his.)

I’m grateful for all the time I’ve spent with you this past year, and intend to continue to block off a few days every two or three weeks to point my Subaru your direction.  Believe me, my visits are as good for me as they are for you.  I slow down when I’m at your house—it’s a welcome respite for my body, heart, and mind.  Okay, enough of my rambling—you know how I am!J  See you soon.

 

Love,

Glenda

Tails and Tales from Iona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mythical Creatures you swallow your tails

entwined for eternity,

the never-endingness that is Iona.

 

I can no longer tell where Iona stops and I begin.

We have become one,

forever linked in our mirror images.

 

I am released into

the rocks, sea, sand, birds,

water, sea, and sky.

 

I have let go of corporeal me.

Here I am all spirit,

a light being like

a Sufi spinning into pure energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister Delphinia

Sister Delphinia is blue. Every day she sits on the stone bench of the Chapter Room to confess her sin, the sin of lust. All-encompassing. All-consuming. It is her only sin. It’s not that she is otherwise pure. Put simply, there is no room for any other sins. She lusts after the color blue, craves it, wants to embody its brilliance.

When she joined the order and chose Sister Delphinia as her name, Mother Superior failed at dissuading her from using that name. Alternative suggestions were met with a firm no. And Sister Delphinia being a Taurus stubbornly clung to her choice and wore Mother Superior into acquiescence.

Her love of blue did not make Sister Delphinia a purist. She loved all shades of blue. The cerulean blue of the sea, the marble blue of the sky, the steely blue-gray of the water on a cloudy day, the shimmering silvery blue of the shoreline where the sun kissed the waves, and the azure surface of the bay on a calm day. Sister Delphinia’s favorite Spanish word was azul, the word for blue.

She was a woman behind her time. Had she been born in the twentieth century her favorite book would have been Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. She hated her own dark brown eyes, which went from brown to obsidian when her emotions ran high, which was often. She would have thought she had died and gone to heaven if she could have been part of the Blue Man Crew, covered in all of that lovely blue paint.

She thought of herself as a blue blood although she came from no royal bloodline. It made her smile, smirk actually, just to think of it.

Although her love of blues was universal, there was one shade that scared her, the schizophrenic periwinkle, which couldn’t decide if it wanted to be lavender or blue. She felt periwinkle was an agent of the devil, trying to lure her to the dark side of purple.

Sister Delphinia knew that, in truth, her greatest sin was not actually lust. Her greatest sin was that she didn’t truly believe lusting after blue was a bad thing. Blue was so pure, so innocent. She imagined Mother Mary always wearing pale, pearly blue. What could symbolize more purity than that?

So she kept on confessing day after day after day. Hoping against hope that she would not go to hell where there would certainly be no blue. And for Sister Delphinia that would be Hell, indeed.

 

Rebekah Spivey for The Poplar Grove Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unappreciated Aspects of Modern Life

The carpool. If there are gods and goddesses out there who are not overseeing the sheer brilliance of the carpool, I do not know who is. I thank my lucky stars for sharing the daily and weekly rides to activities and camps and appointments with all kinds of parents. Some I have never even met in person. I have been fortunate to be a part of several over this past year and the effort it takes to arrange and drive a carpool is so worth the saved time and driving. I bow down to the carpool gods and hope that they continue to bestow their quiet beneficence on me.

The soft serve ice cream cone. Dairy Queen does it best, but pick your brand. Anytime you hand me a soft serve (especially with a chocolate twist) ice cream you can be sure I will remember you in my will. You can have your mix-ins and your chunky ice creams with designer flavors (lemon basil –what is that?! Cardamom pecan—get away!)   I love soft serve on a hot summer day. We do not praise its name nearly enough. Go soft serve!!

Outdoor Dining. I love eating outdoors. I love breeze and sunshine and fireflies while I dine. I love patios with twinkly lights. I love being served a cold drink on a hot day at a shady table. There is something incredibly civilized about dining al fresco and I intend to keep up the practice. Keep in mind that outdoor dining is way different than picnicking. I like picnicking but it is way more work.

Prose Poetry. These days it seems you can write any old thing down on paper and call it a poem. This is as it should be. Words are poetic no matter what the form. Lace. Perpetuity. Ad infinitum. Popsicle. Roast Beef. Plausible. Barnacle. Fever. Wristwatch. See!

Podcasts. I love the ladies and gentleman who whisper stories, and fun facts and interesting bon mots in my ear when I walk or drive or do the laundry. It seems they can make these podcasts in their own kitchens or closets or the back seat of someone’s van. Email me for my favorites. Send me yours.Self check-out at the Library. No really. I order books at the library on-line portal. They email me

when they have pulled them. They wait on a special shelf with my name attached. I walk in during library hours and check them out myself. I walk out. What’s more, my library auto renews two times if there is no one else waiting for the book. That means I can pretend it is my book for as long as nine whole weeks. I sometimes gaze longingly at my hold list. Hopefully the old lady who used to check out my books has her feet up somewhere enjoying a Mai Thai and the latest from Malcolm Gladwell.

Open windows. Did you know that modern buildings all have sealed windows? It’s an environmental thing. Sealed windows are better for the environment. (This seems to fly in the face of all logic but there it is.) All new buildings or remodeled buildings have permanently closed windows. I have occupied them at my work now for more than 10 years. This means I cannot open a window at work on a spring day to feel the breeze come in, or on a summer day to hear a thunderstorm, or when the heat is working overtime and I need some cool air, or any one of a thousand reasons why someone might want to open a window to the atmosphere—the real live earth air that we rely on for our very sustenance. So when I am at a place where the windows actually open, I say a special thank you to the gods of the air and the open windows. I bless you for your beneficence.

Old friends keeping in touch via facebook. I am so happy I know what is going on with Ann’s children and Jim’s career and Gina’s job and move to Texas. I am gladdened (is that still a ward?) to see my high school friends kids are graduating from high school themselves and my old work-study students are having babies and getting married. I am happy that I found a person I used to work with at a retail store long ago and a woman who used to be my nemesis but with whom I now have a lot in common. I found a friend who has an adopted daughter from China like me, and we both know what red couch photos are. I like to know they bike ride and run marathons and quilt and travel and criticize their government and give to important charities. This social media abundance is worth every wasted moment. For thee I give thanks.

Landscapers. They toil away in the hot sun planting, digging, weeding, watering and mowing so that campuses and parks and median strips and hospital memory gardens can be beautiful and bring peace and tranquility to us mere mortals. Next time you pass a sweaty man or woman who is careful tilling the soil in the flower planter by your parking lot or an hourly working digging cigarette butts out of the rose garden walkway tell them thank you. What you do is a beautiful thing. We need more like you. Amen

~Amy

Window

Being a writer is being a window – an interface between inside and out.  On one side, you can see into the other.  Inside, from outside – point of view.  Inside, a fire, cocoa warm bath with whip cream bubbles.  Outside, from inside a dry winter, or cold drizzle.  I sit from the inside well and warm, look to the outside icy death.  I stand on the outside with elements on my skin, staring into the interior-life.  Sometimes, when I look through the window, nothing is there – no one…sometimes, I can tell someone has just been there by the bits of clothing strewn near the overturn lamp.  Strange how something is the same about being in or out – – point of view.  I always recognize there is ‘some other place.’  Somewhere where I am not.

Being a writer is being a window – touching both places: simultaneous.  One side old with rain worn paint, the other radiating heat.  It is the interface between.  Itself remains clear.  When it is dark, outside a window, inside (often) there is light.

Allison for the Poplar Grove Muse

Of Summers Gone

A candle flickers in the dimming last light of a summer night and the sweet smell of citronella and lemongrass float on the air as I sit on the back deck, smoking cigarettes with my mom.  Inside, in a puddle of lamplight, a little girl in bare feet and a floral nightgown is perched at the kitchen table, her long dark hair still wet from the bath, the slightest citrus scent still lingering from the detangling spray.  She is eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream in big heaping spoonfuls, so big in fact that they cannot pass her lips without leaving brown skid marks at the corners of her mouth.   A little brown dog, just a baby of a dog, is asleep in my lap, her head heavy and hanging a bit off the edge of my leg as I stroke the smooth space of her neck, down her chest, to the plump little belly and its bare spot of warm skin.

These nights, I know there is still much to be done – there are puppies and girls to feed and raise and teach and train.  But I will get to that tomorrow, and for many a tomorrow.  But for these blessed moments at the end of a summer evening, when the dishes from dinner are already being wizzed clean and the bathroom floor has already been dried, and Ariel and her friends are drip-drying on the edge of a clean tub.  These moments before goodnights and sleeptights, are perfectly in between, as the candle light dances and flickers in the dark.

 

~DRH for The Poplar Grove Muse

Soul Collage March 2017

Duality Times Two

I am one who dreams of morphing
into at least four of me:
One, the me who feathers my nest with memories;
feeds my family and friends laughter and love
and lots of soup.
Two, the me who watches Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy
with my lonely mother;
fries skillet-size corncakes for her
and slathers them with butter.
Three, the me who throws myself with vim and vigor
(probably more vim than vigor)
into political action—
marches, carries signs, maybe even gets arrested
with a dozen other grandmothers—
for peace, equal rights, and justice.
Four, the me who writes poems and stories,
letters and essays and songs,
and aspires to perform, to sing,
and (one of these days) to piece together a book
from my heaping scrap pile of strung together words.
I am one who strides forth with confidence (sometimes)
and good intentions (always),
giving as much of my one true self as I know how to give
to whomever or whatever calls my name
at any given moment.
My fantasy (duality times two) hovers near my left ear,
whispers affirmations, reminds me
of possibilities and limitations,
teaches me about balance:  the complementary strengths
of dark and light, male and female,
earth tones, sky tones, and the bare bones
of the one me that is wrapped up in the duality
of what it means to be a human being.

 

I Breathe and Pray

      I plant my feet on spongey soil between knobby roots of Grandmother Sycamore.  I plant my hands on spongey moss-covered bark. I breathe, breathe, breathe.

      I breathe my legs, my feet, my toes into forest floor—stretch, reach, burrow them down, down to the deep, vast aquafer below.  I breathe my body into the trunk of the tree, as thick and solid as twenty of me, my heart into throbbing heartwood, my blood into life-giving sap.

      I grow tall and call to the spirit of all living things as I breathe my arms, hands, and fingers into touching-sky branches.  Liquid sky.  Living sky.  I feel the blue as fragile and silky as butterfly wings between my fingertips.

      I breathe my prayers, my cares, my fears and tears, my carefree play and earthborn-sacred up through ice-cold-water-sucking toes to my sky-dipped, blue-tipped fingers.  I rest my forehead against moss and cry saltwater tears.

      My breathing, praying, singing draws all that I love and cherish—hummingbirds, human beings and humpbacked whales; ground-hugging violets and redwood giants; my red-blooded, blue-blooded, green-blooded family—up through my soles, in through my lips, down through my fingertips and into my soul.

Into my soul.
Out to the world.
Into my soul.
Out to the world.
I breathe and pray.
Breathe and pray.
Breathe and pray again.

Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse