Monday, June 27, 2011

fully present?

so many slippers

at what age
do we as individuals,
did we as a species,
lose being fully present in the moment?

I sit here,
remembering the highlights of the day, the week,
and anticipating tomorrow: where, how, and who I’ll be,
down the stream two elementary age children
seem lost in a “now” of rocks, water, and each other,

I look at rock and water
and I see mother bear and cub earlier in the day

whom we were lucky enough to see
in a thicket of blackberries and a field next to it,
I see the kids with me then joy in those moments,
amid flowers and field and soft green mountains,
I look again and see myself at a funeral tomorrow,
clicking into connections and feeling the tear
of the loss of a great woman, my aunt,

what a gift we have
to have so many within us,
what a price we pay
for having so many slippers that fit.

by Henry Walker
June 23, ’11

the loss as raw

grace allows us to have

my mind bewares some empathic leaps,
I start to imagine the loss of a child
and I bounce off,
like a finger that has quickly touched a too-hot griddle,

even when a person has lived a full life
and has found the way to let herself go
without any fear we can see,
it’s still hard to know I won’t hear her call my name again,
or laugh, question, tell a story,
or pull me aside for a confidence,

I get the quick terse message that she died in the morning,
and I fuss that I didn’t get any word before then of a quicker slipping,
I don’t have formal clothes with me for the funeral,
a problem I could solve, and did,
more importantly, I found I could see my aunt clearly
and words came to me quickly
that would place her in context as a light,
like the high summer Sun and even surer
the light that was that of God that was within her,
and that Light which she had to let out to blaze brightly,

as I stride to the pulpit to share my words of her and the Light,
I pause and touch the rich brown wood of her casket,
I read and speak to her family and to the body before me,
as I head back to my seat I touch her casket again,

after the Service and at the cemetery, then at the meal,
it’s time to touch each other who also loved her,
with words to console, to remember, to reconnect,
for we still on the earth have time for each other,
to appreciate each other for how well the other loved this great woman,
with touch: the hand, the hug, the kiss on the cheek,

the food is good, the companionship special,

and still I know that each of us will come round a corner sometime before us,
and we will feel her loss as raw,
so that it will seem as if it has just happened,

our feelings make us more than our bodies
but our bodies are the only vehicle
that allows us to live in whatever moments grace allows us to have.

by Henry Walker
June 24, ’11

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a season change

Solstice ’11

Spring has one more day
before the years starts to die,
the Sun will start to slowly lower in the sky,
the day begin to shorten,
though it will be hard to notice,
what with all the feasts going on,

each leaf making its hay,
each insect eating its leaf and each other,
each flower & bird & bee using sex to further life,
flower to seed, to fruit, to nut,

bird to egg to fledgling,
and the black snake in our yard
waits for a bluebird baby breakfast,

the rainwashed air is clear
and the late afternoon Sun butter knifes through the woods
with a warm soft dapple to its revelations,

I’ve found a yellowjacket nest at the house I’l have to kill,
for these ferocious hunters brook no disturbance,

I get my camera and mark the rhododendron blossoms
who remind me that everything that lives has a jewel within it,
despite how easy it is to forget that truth,

the last full day of Spring wakes with a dark feel,
leaden clouds overheard and storms nearby,
while stars of rhododendron blossoms decorate the forest floor
as if to humor the changing season,

a lone wild turkey said “hello” to me yesterday,

and I hope for a visit from him or a bear today,
I’ve had to leave my camera out in the mid air for it to acclimate,
yesterday the lens fogged-up when I brought it out of the air-conditioning
and I couldn’t see the turkey through the obscuring foggy lens,
everything is watered and just waits for the drying Sun,

a cool breeze accompanies the fresh creek as the early day slowly lightens,
close to the stream the green of the rhododendron is shadowed dark,
while the leaves closer to the sky pale toward yellow in their shading,

all the leaves seem still as if in meditation,
preparing themselves for the longest day for catching and holding the light,

the hemlock are only shadows of themselves
and in their insect-plagued passing remind me
that inherent in the most optimistic of days
death still whispers its truth,

as breakfast is pulling itself together
I go to the stream with four creek-ready kids
who race back and forth to the house
and delight in exploring, wading, and throwing rocks into the racing water
sometimes at sticks they consider boats that need bombarding,
spontaneous projects pull them together
as each delights in what can be built by building upon the other’s enthusiasm,

something about the longest day pulls us high atop a grassy bald
with mountains arranged in numbing splendor around us,
the deep blue of the sky slowly forgets itself,
the Sun broils us and the grasses laugh back with flower and seed,

the young with us feel the openness and run,

on the way down we slip ito the trees
and a wet cool glade of ferns welcomes us,

back at the cabin the creek pulls us back to it,

the bear must be high now
for I’ve seen no sign of them deep in this valley,

the day dissolves into the dark
and thunder, wind, and rain welcome the changed season,

tonight the leaves no longer meditate but rather shake with the power.

by Henry Walker
June 21, ’11

into vacation

into the mountains

I drive from the night into the day,
high clouds hug an intermittent Moon
until I pull out of the long piedmont
and rain begins to dog me the last hundred miles,
the downpour starts as drizzle
and lightning shouts at me, narrow pillars from cloud to ground,
within a second or two five appears before me early on,
when the rain downpours enough to turn the streams around me brown
the light flickers as if a switch is being quickly turned on & off,
my plans change and change again,
as dirt roads in search of elk lose appeal,
the rain pauses and reveals views of high ridges and strata of clouds,
I almost choose the high mountain road in hopes of flowers and shifting views,
the fear of obscuring fog tilts me away,

I stop by the grocery and stock up,
get to the cabin, unload, and briefly notice house, yard, and stream,
the rosebay rhododendron shakes me enough so that I notice it,

the storm returns, I nap, the creek starts to mildly roar,
I cook for my guests coming in tomorrow,
and then I take the time to go down by the fulling creek,
without thinking I just whoop, and a chill shivers my spine.

by Henry Walker
June 19, ’11
Aunt Naome
Mrs. Naome Tereza Hedlund Beaman

how appropriate that on the last day of Spring,
just as 1 of the 3 longest days of the year begins,
she, who was light itself, left us,
and returned to the Light which passeth all understanding,

to be in Naome’s presence
was to be around brightness of spirit,
openness of heart,
devotion to family,
a child of God who knew
the preciousness of His gift of our lives,
and of his Son,

all who knew her grew larger
in how she challenged us to be real
and to appreciate that in our differences
we can still be one, and a richer one for it,

I remember her well:
her smile, her touch, her love,
the stories she told me of my father
and the welcoming she felt by Mother and family,
the wonderfulness of her children,
the way the song of her life echoes in so many of us,

Aunt Naome,
let us work to keep you alive by remembering you well.

by Henry Walker
June 20, ’11

Saturday, June 18, 2011

as vacation approaches

I need a tune-up

as vacation approaches
there’s both a flurry of finishing-up what I’m bound to do
and an increasing release from the harnesses
to which I yoke my energies,

as the doing less defines me,
anxiousness after anxiousness starts to bubble up,
as worries I’ve denied, while doing,
surface like bubbles on a pond,
and I have to deal with varying degrees of the noxious as they burst,

it is a good time to take stock
and clean out the effects of the neglect that has had to be
while I have dealt moment-to-moment,
day-to-day, with what has needed doing.

by Henry H. Walker
June 17, ’11

the tool shapes the user


words seem to train us in ways to think,
the tool shapes the user.

by Henry H. Walker
June 12, ’11

impatience, the virtual reality

us & time

“don’t plant a cedar for you’ll die before it shades you. . .”

that’s the advice from late middle age:
I no longer plant trees for my own life,
I marvel at ones I planted a quarter-century, a half-century, ago,

for near 40 years I’ve been putting monies into retirement,
time enough for compounding to work its wonders,

for those today, an interval of minutes between desire and completion,
can be unacceptable,
even a few seconds can feel thwarting,

patience may be a virtue,
impatience is the virtual reality.

by Henry H. Walker
June 18, ’11

with dice?

us & God

the Greeks believed in Fate,
with our lives as thread, spun and cut by the gods,
and at the same time they believed in individual will,
our lives in our own control,
with Fate and the gods adversary to be defeated,

even these days we can leap to feeling
that each action that happens, each disaster, each success,
each thwarting or abetting of our will,
is part of a plan,
with God like a helicopter parent who takes care of us,
who rewards us, who punishes us,
we are as infants with God as hovering parent
who has ends we cannot fathom,
and means we certainly cannot fathom,
God as watchmaker is but a distant memory from an earlier time,

we need a reorientation of perspective,
we need to accept capriciousness, randomness within our world,
dice rolls that destroy and create,
and which are as basic to the universe
as the deep, fundamental yearning toward order and complexity
that also drives the universe,
like an engine that will not cut off,
a drive that pushes us toward the heights we might get to
if we align ourselves with connection,
we somehow must simultaneously adapt and assert within the possibilities,
we must hold to relationship, to love,

it is important to be, to strive, to not to yield,
and it is important also TO yield,
how vital it is to know the difference as to when,
and deal with it.

by Henry H. Walker
June 12, ’11

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the power of their music

At our pigpicking last Saturday night, we were lucky to book the local band, BIRDS & ARROWS. When the rain and lightning drove us inside, they played in our dining room, while I sat at their feet, enjoying and marveling.

Here's a description of them in words and in a photo:

BIRDS and ARROWS accomplish an elegant, warm sound that is truly their own. Their compelling and road tested live show appeals to a surprisingly wide range of audiences; they are the cherished rock band for folk lovers and the favorite folk group for rock fans.

closing with the source

I sit here in front of musicians
who mesmerize me with cello, drums, guitar, and voice
within songs they themselves have created,

the vocals pierce & harmonize,
each note, each phrase, each piece of melody & rhythm
speaks to each other, and thus to us,

while within it all the lyrics also work
to express the power the musicians felt in the creating
and now in the performing,

for now, for me, the words are but sound
that leads and counterpoints but not yet full forms
ready for my thought,
I’m living this moment more basic, more in feeling,
more in places that words can reach toward
but never really touch,

the power of their music shakes me,
as if to wake me up from the sleep-walking
that can so easily pass for consciousness,

at some point I will rise up to the words and their power
as they will synergize with the primal base where I am now,

for now I cannot even hold the power of sound as song,

when I hear the songs again and know the lyrics
I hope for an even richer experience, yet, just as in this poem,
while I’m in the world of words
I cannot close with the source itself.

by Henry H. Walker
June 12, ’11

Monday, June 13, 2011

life = valuing & choice

Being True

I think, therefore I know that I am,
where I am, and where the other lies,

I feel, therefore I know how I feel myself to be
and where I want to go,

it is only in decision, in the valuing of alternatives
and then the choosing
that we are the selves we want our selves to be,

do we even exist when we’re still?
does not life equal change?
think a minute, consider, how does experience inform your answer?

I’ve watched toddlers given choice after choice,
except for the choice not to choose,
and I’ve wondered what that’s all about,

is choosing itself the sculptor
who takes us unformed and gives us form?
form that we create with every step we take,
we become who we must be
as our valuing forms us true,

I feel most sure
when I feel most intensely,
with the laugh, the sob, the smile, the tear,

I know who I am
when I am able to love another
and to help the other know and love themselves true,

the world is cold
and each of us has a fire within
that can hold back indecision
and let the actor in us
value, choose, and succeed in being true.

by Henry H. Walker
June 7, ’11

Sunday, June 12, 2011

trust, at the heart

amazing people go forth

faith, the maybe irrational belief that what one wants to be
can actually be what is before us when a new day dawns,

the start of any new journey should, logically,
shake us to our core,
for in the unknown, as the Greeks feared, might lie dragons,
yet the Greeks, and we, still choose to venture forth,

imagine the trust in one’s self, and maybe a partner,
to become a parent without knowing the path before you,
and to trust that you can find a way,

imagine the trust of a parent for a school
that we will know the paths
and find the paths that will work for their child,

imagine the trust of a teacher for the student,
our partner in finding the way forward,

and the paths are found: walked, run, danced,

and I feel humbled by how often faith is rewarded here
with amazing people going forth.

by Henry H. Walker
June 10, ’11

Monday, June 6, 2011

to be here, to notice, and the price?

Death, the Foundation

how daunting it is realize how many deaths there were before me,
how many deaths there were and are because of me,
how daunting to realize how many experiments
that were ventured since life first began,
their paths not taken for long,
and still entropy yields to complexity,

how torturous has been the path of the dots
that connect blue-green algae to me,
how daunting the many plants and animals
that have died in forced service
for me to be here with this pen writing these words,

I look out, I look back, I look forward,
and it is good to be aware
and to create meaning with perception,

yet today I want to honor the first ancestors
who stepped out of the immediate
and buried someone they loved,
who offered flowers, and other tangibles, in memory and appreciation,

should not every moment we live
honor all that has had to be, and had to not be,
that we can sit here
and notice where and who we are?

by Henry H. Walker
June 4, ’11