Saturday, June 23, 2012

summer time. . .

the long days around the summer solstice

fall and spring are blunt in their lessons:
the resignation of letting go,
the hope of starting anew,

now the long days around the summer solstice
are busy and less obvious in their lessons,
it’s time to make hay, literally,
as I see grand tawny rolls of hay
in field and moving down the road,

the sun spends so much time in the sky
that every leaf that can works overtime
for that first synthesis upon which
kingdoms of plant, animals, and people base themselves,

wealth for long millennia was what
one could gather and hunt from such casual bounty,

then the farm manufactured the wealth
with which life could exist and be bettered,

industry shifted from the hoe to the tractor,
to industries of steel, aluminum, and plastic,
and now to the power within circuits of chips,
where electrons dance in a synthesis
like photons dance in photosynthesis,

as I sit here by the creek,
lowered by the thirst of all the growing uphill,
sweat flows from me,
and opportunistic bugs bug me with their own needs,
they, like we, crash the party thrown by the dance of the sun upon the leaves,

the rhododendron here choose this time
to jewel their hard curves and prosaic somber leaves
with rose-tinged globes of exquisite white blossom,

time scatters the fallen blossoms upon land and rock
as if in welcome of the season change coming,


higher up the mountain, laurel blossoms scatter on dry ridges

where other flowers also assert themselves,

this morning the air is clear
and shafts of sun are sharp,

a red-cheeked salamander, distinctive to only these mountains,
reveals itself to our eyes
as they make sure our feet navigate a wet rocky area,

by late afternoon clouds have come and gone,
and stayed just enough to soften the light
which finds its way through the greedy nets of flowers
who, in their looking after themselves,
can deny others’ hopes
and still create a whole
whose gestalt pleases the artist within me
and intrigues the scientist who wants the truth of it all.

by Henry Walker
June 19, ’12

a pirouette at the Solstice

midday at the swimming hole
I watch one rosebay rhododendron blossom
fall through the air and
drop down, down into the cold river,

I watch it, as it perches on the flowing current
with the tenuous touch of the water strider,
on the water and not in it,

the blossom flows with the water
as light rapids drop over resisting rock,

the blossom actually pirouettes:
who it is responds to moving air and water
and it spins as if in a dance,
the rhododendron created it for a purpose and now has no more use for it,

yet because I look,
and because I see,
the random universe produces beauty
almost casual and thoughtless in its offering,

what value do we have to the universe
more than to be one who notices and appreciates what is?

by Henry Walker
June 20, ’12

Friday, June 22, 2012

worries slip in

drivers change

when the school year ends
I no longer have students, their papers, and their spirits
to fill the spaces in my head and my heart,

each precious person behind the eyes
moves off into other places
and once the connection is broken
I head off into chores and plans I’ve put off
 while teaching has consumed me,

when even that work is done enough that I can leave it,
into the spaces within me where the drivers have been
other drivers come in, worries that slip in to nag me
that something is going to go wrong,
that I don’t deserve any vacation for myself,
that I certainly don’t deserve any indulgence,

such a time gives me a taste
 of why so many hold down their emotions,
for once you let go of control,
other forces than your will can be in the driver’s place.

by Henry Walker
June 17, ’12

Sunday, June 17, 2012

the crucible of middle school

who we are   

years come and go, decades, too,
and I still know the kid
behind the eyes of the adult before me,

as words tumble from them
of classes they took,
experiences they loved,
insights about themselves and the world
that seemed to have slapped them in the face
to wake them out of lethargy into wonder,
to pull them out of loneliness into friendship,
I hear the wonder that creation could come from within them,
that the difference in a hawk  and a turkey vulture
could clearly reveal itself and is worth noticing,
that doors to learning and to other people
can be open and real,

one former student declared
 that she can’t call up as much from college
as she can from middle school,

what is forged can cut mighty swaths in one’s life,
yet what many remember today is the crucible
where much of who they are coalesced into being,

at my best I am but a catalyst,
an enabler of a process
that is as close to God acting upon the world
as I can imagine.

by Henry H. Walker
June 16, ’12

Saturday, June 16, 2012

revelation over control

words should be doors   

animals and plants were named
and we then felt we had dominion over them,

I still hear the conqueror within friends,
as one will name a thing, an idea,
and then think we understand it,
and can even dismiss it,
for we have power over it
 if we know its true name,

if a student has trouble learning,
and we name it as dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder. . .
we almost seem to believe that then we have a handle on it,
a handle with which we have no need
to do more than name it,
whereas I think the name is only a door
through which we must go and get to know what’s within,

I hear a quote, read in a book,
and I feel the quote and the book get to know me,
and each has more of a handle on me than I on it,

words have power,
for me words are not so much wands to wield
as doors that pull me up into them,
and make me larger
as I choose revelation over control.

by Henry H. Walker
June 14, ’12

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I believe

a drive to order   

deep within me I believe,
I believe in an inherent drive to order,
something there is that loves to build enough
that, despite all that falls around it,
it reaches toward the light,
and finds itself truest when it believes,
when it risks effort over surrender,
truth over comfort,
belief over despair,

the life-force cannot always win
for death and dissolution have their truths, too,

yet who I am sees the builder
within the eyes of my students,
within the effort of their parents,
within the awesome wholeness and complexity
that life builds with forest and plain,
upon mountain and within ocean,

it’s hard to trumpet the success of hope
while also still noticing all the sacrifices
of what could have been before what is,

I choose hope and I see majesty,
and I also mourn how much loss
tick-ticks despair
 as time passes and chooses no sides.

by Henry H. Walker
June 5, ’12

Monday, June 11, 2012


make the world real    

“your charge is not to fit into the ‘real world’
but rather to make the world real,”
that’s my best paraphrase of a grandmother’s charge
to the 36 graduating 18 year olds today:
some who have been within our school the bulk of their lives,
some finding, or refinding, us in high school,

as I look upon the faces and selves before me,
each peg of their being seems a different shape,
and those who would warn of the world awaiting them
would caution them to grow up and reshape themselves
to fit the holes the inertia of the culture demands to be filled,

what my heart believes, and what I hear in the grandmother’s charge,
is that each peg, true to self and to others,
will help the larger world find the right place
for the graduate to not just fit in
but rather to shape what the world needs,
even if it doesn’t seem to know it,

within all of us we know how to be real,
to be true to the best of who we are,
but we can lose our way
when we forget that which is most real within our best selves
and lose the will to help the world realize
what will be best for all.

by Henry H. Walker
June 10, ’12