Sunday, May 9, 2021

Happy Mother's Day!


Mother’s Day

I am overwhelmed by the primal reality

of mother and child,

as a father I feel the pull to the child

and joy in who they can come to be

from their own crafting,

from the genes we’ve shared with them,

from the unconditional love and guidance

that each parent freely bestows upon them, 

yet they who conceived and carried the child within them,

they who undertook the first great labor

that is the sine qua non of human existence,

of them, of the mother, I am in awe,

as Spring awakens plant and animal upon the land,

it is time to celebrate the Mother, with a day,

now Demeter makes sure Persephone returns 

to bring forth the growing year,

despite the patriarchal assertion of the male principle

within contemporary religion and culture,

I hearken back to Gaia, the Great Mother,

whose primacy we ignore at our own peril,

Happy Mother’s Day, mothers and fathers,

thank you, mothers, for the primal gift

of the children you brought forth,

how wonderful it is that the child goes forth from you,

and that you work with all who help

to enable as bright a future as possible, 

for them, with them,

congratulate yourself, for today, and always, 

the mother is first.

by Henry H. Walker      ’21

illustration by Milly Grace Ames

Saturday, May 1, 2021

I wonder today


Edisto and Me

the kid in me, the toddler,

knew the Atlantic Coast first here,

I’d toddle barefoot through the ubiquitous sand,

I’d move unprotected toward the great salty world,

more background than actor in my world,

my world more my parents and my brothers,

who wanted me to play my part in a play

none of us controlled, though each thought they did,

Edisto Island, South Carolina

today, I am 73,

I still look out at the ocean

and only get hints of what is there,

the shells, the flotsam and jetsam at my feet,

the huge flat expanse of salt water

holds worlds whose reality comes at me

only in the vaguest of hints:

I can fish and hope for a bite,

I can watch pelicans and dolphins fish

and witness that piece of the story,

and today I savored some shrimp and oysters

from that undersea world,

I loved that taste of a world I do not really know,

I hoped to see this island and beach with my two year-old eyes,

instead, I found myself unable

to feel the same wonder I did seven decades ago,

instead, I feel the wonder of a soulmate who completes me,

I savor every day we have together.

by Henry H. Walker

April 23, ‘21

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

figures don't lie, but . . .

 humans and figures

figures don’t lie,

but the language of their truths

can be hard to figure out,

some of the same people who think

God finds us more special

than trillions of other planets in the universe

can also deny that human actions

can influence and cause climate change,

can we be central to God

and peripheral to the planet?

can the universe view us as central

and the gases from our bodies, our cows, our industry,

not be of any consequence we nee to consider?

are we so important to God

that he will spoil us, indulge us,

never hold us accountable for what we do with our lives?

as George Orwell warned in his cautionary 1984, 

2 + 2 = 4,

reality depends upon us knowing that truth.

by Henry H. Walker
April 20, ‘21

Monday, April 26, 2021

who was the pact with?


Low Country, South Carolina

the Low Country is where my Walkers first found purchase on this continent,

they were drawn to where the Salkehatchie and Little Salkehatchie Rivers

snaked through deep maritime woods of pine, live oak, magnolia, and palmetto,

they knew these forests hid rich farmland if somebody

would clear the fields, plant them, cultivate them, harvest them,

too often my ancestors chose to increase their productivity

by enslaving those of color to work transformation upon the land,

to fell and clear the trees,

to uproot the stumps,

to enslave the community within the soil to produce what would sell,

only the domesticated allowed to flourish,

natural diversity sacrificed so that only the favored species thrived,

and they would benefit only those of the favored skin color,

the plow and the hoe the tools

to break the spirit of the land into obeying our wants:

rice, indigo, cotton, peanuts, watermelons,

decades ago I visited a farm where my grandfather was born,

there a finger from the coast reached into the fields

and I heard of the occasional alligator who visited

the summer crop of watermelons there,

I reach to empathize with those relatives who did what they could

to make a living out of this Low Country,

I imagine them as warm, loving, good people

who worked hard to serve their family and their God,

and yet they also went along with the tragic barter

of creating a good life for one’s own family

largely by being a part of slavery, a pact with the Devil,

while I imagine all of their consciousness 

considered they were on the side of the angels.

by Henry H. Walker
April 21, ‘21

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

a piedmont spring


Flowers and Naps

I look up into the treetops

and hundreds of pine cones festoon the green pillars,



thousands of catkins litter the ground

and pollen coats every surface

subject to the wind’s matchmaking,

the dogwoods flower as do the sugar snap peas in the garden,

and the fringe bush in the front yard,

along New Hope Creek flowers abound:

small buckeye trees, May apple, bluets,

the first laurel, foam flower, wild iris,

and myriad other early season ephemerals,

the forest is fulling with leaf

and holding the Sun in the green of their hearts,

birds and squirrels seem manic in their courting rituals,

I, and our students, are tired,

for we have endured and worked through Fall and Winter,

and the pandemic has added countless straws to our backs,

the ebb and flow of nature contrasts strongly

with how we structure our working lives,

hope burgeons in the forest,

and we are ready for a restorative nap.

by Henry H. Walker

April 16, '21 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

escaping the prison of our individuality

 what ties can bind?

how can we feel ourselves as community?

how can we bind together?

what is the glue that can bind us together?

how can we find commonality despite our differences?

as a defining reality, 

how can we share the same language of defining story?

now we can choose the source of our information,

the source of our news, by what feels right to us

and reinforces our take on it all,

we are all so different

in what we want to eat,

in what we want to read,

in how we want to experience the world,

it used to be that the news came to us

in shared newspaper and television,

so that we knew what was happening

and a range of possible actions to deal with it,

stories were left out, nuances denied,

but our solution to that problem fragments us,

so many voices come at the collective

that babble replaces shared truth,

and we don’t know which is the prophet from God

and which is the prophet from the Devil,

in America for hundreds of years,

The Bible gave us commonality of story, of parable,

so that we could communicate with a shorthand of allusion.,

The Odyssey performed a similar function,

defining value, worth, gender identity,

what would Moses do? Jesus do? Odysseus or Penelope do?

the common experience of Shakespeare much the same,

now we seek to be free from anything that can channel us

into wrong-headed, parochial systemic thought,

the canon can stultify,

yet its absence and the plethora of choice

makes it hard to share experience and revelation,

I can imagine commonality still pulling us together,

but the steps away from the communal stories

make me fear that the way forward will become even harder,

now we do not share even the same news, the same truths,

so that masks are logical necessities to deal with Covid 19

or tyrannical restrictions on God-given freedom,

is science a liberal conspiracy

or a lens through which hard truth reveals itself?

if we can’t agree on what the news is,

or on what defining stories should be studied in middle school,

our diversities stand out over our commonalities,

how can we escape the prison of our individuality

and gambol in the open air

of what makes us one species?

by Henry H. Walker

April 12, ‘21

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

poems come to me


Where do poems come from?

poems come to me:

sometimes like dreams,

from out of nowhere, it seems,

yet they know me

and shake me out of a daze

to deal with a reality 

that demands I notice it,

often it’s a death, a loss,

sometimes like a shape

just at the edge of the mist around me

that I feel more than see,

when I move toward it,

my eyes pull it forth, recognize it,

and I can hold it with my pen,

a way my self works to understand

where I am and where everything else is,

and how I feel about it all,

often, for a poem, I first ground myself

in the natural world around me,

where every flower and rock and touch of water

can be my center,

and by describing them I find that within myself

that needs to work itself

through my heart and head,

and onto the page,

sometimes poems don’t come to me,

but a photo does,

sometimes I just need a doing,

an action more true to the now than words,

I look at my watch

and see it’s time to go cook supper. . .

the fried chicken was delicious.

by Henry H. Walker  

April 2, ‘21