Saturday, May 30, 2020

we partner with the parents

Parent and Teacher, Together

when it works,

we teachers see the child in the present,

and see the child in futures that beckon,

we love that present and future

 calling the best within them 

that hopes to be born

within the alchemy of choice and circumstance,

when it works,

the parent sees the child

and the possibilities inherent within them,

even better than the educator,

yet with overwhelming feeling,

both parent and teacher knowing

that love and circumstance alone can’t let the future

become what we hope it might be,

in this world, free will thrives within our young,

and each of them chooses every moment

between paths forward, or back, 

that seem best to them,

with the present reality often 

overwhelming the possible future,

the woods not so much trackless 

as filled with beckoning tracks,

I was given a great gift today

by the mother of one of my students, 

a student with whom and for whom 

I have done my best 

to see her, to know her, 

to support the best in her

that labors to be born,

that mother described me as a helper in the journey forward

that drove her to have a child and to do her best

to allow and facilitate that child becoming the best she can be,

I am heartened, and gratified,

when I can partner with a parent,

when I can help her and them

to support that young person

take steps forward into the power that calls to them.

by Henry H. Walker

May 29, ‘20

Sunday, May 24, 2020

digital reality Zooms into their safe houses

the heavy lift

the way in might be the way out to understanding,
my emotions always want to lead me,
as I feel the world,
and I let my heart lead me,
as a teacher, as a partner, as a lover of the natural world,
as a parent, as a grandparent, as a citizen,

in the virus-tossed seas of the end of this school year,
I fear for the kids and for the adults,
but especially for the kids,
whose friendships hold them up
as normal adolescence pushes them down,
and virtual presence doesn’t touch and hold them up so well,

home should be a safe foundation
from which they venture into challenge,
now digital reality Zooms into their safe houses,
no wonder that so many are just flummoxed,
anxieties and challenges all turbo-charged,

still, often, many find a way forward,
their light escapes the encroaching dark.

by Henry H. Walker
May 23, ‘20

my psyche in the night

turbulence roils

in the night my psyche roils in turbulence,

during the day I can feel like a calm ocean,
all in harmony and rightness,
the sun pours down upon me
and all seems right with the world,

all that power, though, percolates down,
driving great emotional currents that just need a way
to break through to the surface,

my dreamings can be openings to my conscious surface,
and I toss and turn with the power
that churns me within,

in the morning I am glad of the therapist within.

by Henry H. Walker
May 18, ‘20

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

little boxes, little boxes

the circle and the box

I love to work with learners,
less as a teacher, more as a guide,
as an opener of doors,
one who works to free-up stuck doors,
a cheerleader who supports the Light within
to find its way out,
to help the tenuous realize it is rugged,
to celebrate each victory of self to become better,

the classroom for us is where the circle dominates, unbroken,
each of our eyes upon the others,
and we begin to see who each of us is
and share the feelings which rise upon the other
which then wash over us, and we connect,

the audience in our new theater
sit in rows with as much curve as we could manage,
the theater consultant supporting us
away from the regimentation of lines
toward the embrace of the circle,
for then the audience sees each other,
feels each other’s laugh, sadness, joy
as performance comes to life,

such a community can be challenged hard in distance learning,
where the whole becomes more tenuous,
as the artificiality of cameras with us in boxes
can pull us away from each other,
with fear and anxiousness powerfully resting on us,
with the way back in to the others, into the group,
less beguiling than escaping away,
back into what comes more easily,
our individuality simpler, less risky,

yet in this world of Zoom, of distance learning,
I can still be moved by the spirit of the student,
who wants to do well,
who wants to learn, to achieve,
who still can find a way forward
to make tomorrow better than today,

each step forward a bit harder,
the view of the path murkier,
yet the light within each of us is just as bright,
and I joy when the beams will not be denied,
and the journey forward continues,

it is a privilege to be there in the digital woods,
and to help self and community find paths forward,
wholeness continues to be built and rebuilt,

the circle longs to be unbroken.

by Henry H. Walker
May 19, ‘20

Saturday, May 16, 2020

the murky brew of the virus

distancing and immediacy

the future used to look like the past,
the wheel turns, and, like the seasons, 
our activities of work and recreation
would return and leave with predicability,
all of this, though, with a personal end-date 
we can’t quite figure,
the story goes on, 
and suddenly it’s over for us,

now, the reassurance of repeated experience
into the tomorrows that may be still possible for us
dissolves into the murky brew 
that a virus uses to cloud the clarity 
of what the future will look like,
the reassurance of human contact
reduced to the closest of family,
plans of trips out of country, in country, poof away
as if they were never real anyway,

community challenged by the tenuousness 
of the Internet connection,
and by the new social distancing
that turns us each into personas of little boxes on screens,
hard to read at the best,
many of my students retreat into blank screens
or the whim of an image not their face,
such evasions feel to me like candy,
in that it feels good at the time,
yet I fear it is self-indulgent 
and has no redeeming value,
community, at its best, is first a house of cards
that requires all of us to risk and work to connect and build 
so that the fragility of card upon card
can become as a stone bridge built with the mortar
of each of us taking risks to become more
than fear and self-indulgence call us to be.

by Henry H. Walker
May 15, ‘20

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

rock steps, walls, tools

Written In Stone

“it is not written in stone,”
we say when the tenuousness of what we’re considering
strikes us as ephemeral, like writing in sand,

I have liked to write in stone,
to make a statement that is more likely to endure,
I built rock steps down to the creek 
at our cabin in the mountains,
decades ago I carefully selected rocks from the creek
and painstakingly placed them, and re-placed them,
with no mortar for binding,
no easy short-cut to fashion stone into form,
rock used to serve both function and beauty,
as if the world and the steps
fit each other with a rightness 
that sings like a flower,

I also savor rock walls from a century or more ago
where someone who worked the land to entice food from it
got rocks out of his field that would impede the corn’s growth,
that would delay the food they needed to get through their days,
the rocks could have been just tossed to the side,
maybe loosely aggregated into a rough pile
that spoke only of the utilitarian,
instead the shaper, the artist within him,
worked the stone into form for a rightness
he felt needed to be born,


I love to find stone artifacts
whose beauty and undeniable function shout at me
to notice and appreciate them,

Soapstone pendant, experts at UNC have never seen anything like it.
Found in Henry and Joan's backyard.

a perfect spearpoint is clear and assertive
in the words it speaks, in the song it sings,

larger tools, too, can speak clearly,

Probably meant to be halfted, used as a hammer?

A chunky stone, rolled in a game.

Hand Axe.

but I spend more of my time
finding and considering rocks
who don’t speak so clearly,
was it shaped as a tool?
or did natural processes give it form
that only hints of possible shaping?

Found this in my garden.  Who knows?

every rock has a story,
and my wife and I have listened to how geology
reveals the past that led to this present,
I love the shouted tale of a mountain:
the brash power of a pluton, such as El Capitan,

Courtesy of Google Images

where a rock fist endures above the land eroded around it,
a large balloon of magma reached toward the sky
and did not quite make it, instead solidifying and enduring,
so that now it can speak to us, inspire us,
mountains back east murmur stories
as the fingers of time and erosion 
coax their softer shapes into being,

Courtesy of Google Images

last year I shoveled dirt and small stones
onto brown paper mulch in our garden,
the rain revealed a broken spearpoint,

Likely a Kirk, about 6000 BCE.

and I long to touch the shaper of the point,
who thousands of years ago knew this land as friend,
he wrote in stone, and I still read that writing,
stone which sings of his synthesis of vision and artistry.

Spearpoints and arrowheads I've found.

A drill?

by Henry H. Walker
May 6, ‘20