Tuesday, March 25, 2014

sharply succulent

tomato dreams

the tomato seed germinates,
prods itself out of the ground
in hopes the sun will be there for it,
it reaches as high as it can go
while inside for a month
as killing cold holds sway over the garden,
it falls over and finds a way to reach high again anew,

it knows hope,
and it embodies will,

I can feel within the stalky green
the potential of tomato upon tomato coming to be,
and I long to pluck each sharply succulent globe
and bite into what was but a dream
back in the dead of winter,

humans are such stuff as can envision and make real such dreams,

I imagine the tomato,
and I work to find the path from my imagining
to plucking that first fresh tomato
as soon after the Summer Solstice as possible.

by Henry H. Walker
March 19, ’14

Monday, March 24, 2014

winter lingers

Spring Equinox ’14

just this week ice again covered the trees,
and cold drizzle painted itself over everything,
all under skies a sodden grey,

in the last days of this winter
daffodils have tried to herald spring
and have been pulled down by coats of new ice,
and across the land ice-felled pine branches litter the ground,

today the sun crosses the Equator
for its six months of rising above the northern hemisphere,

winter has been more with us here in the South than usual,
and still is as it denies anticipatory hope:
the sugar snap peas and lettuce, planted in the garden,
have not sprouted high and sure yet,
the maple has released its buds into subdued flowers,
almost black-and-white instead of a rosy glow,

the sun, after an early morning of partial clouds,
crosses bright blue sky through the day,
and now sinks into the west with more clarity than color,

daffodils have recovered and are magnificent,

iris are as tentative and bold as a teenager,

today the needs of school and home
keep pulling me away 
from the grand story sun and earth work on,

I would write more,
but it’s time for supper.

by Henry H. Walker
March 20, ’14

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"pause" before "play"

an ice sheath over the bud

the ice encapsulates the bud,
that bundle of potential that aches to burst open
into flower and pollen and into tomorrow,

today it’s stasis with growth held fixed
within a sheath of crystal,
like a bug in amber,
except that this ice soon melts away,
and “pause” becomes “play,”

flowers will bloom with exuberance
to jewel the tips of branches
and crescendo all over bush and tree,

I love the image of ice encapsulating bud,
like a frame in the animation called life,

I have it as a photo to hold and treasure this moment.

by Henry H. Walker
March 14, ’14

Saturday, March 22, 2014

to honor a producer

Don Wells

when we see a play
what’s on stage appears to have just gotten there on its own,
we appreciate the exposition, the interplay, the wonder,
almost like an organism alive before us,

that’s how Carolina Friends School seems to me now,
yet before even I came here,
there was a power at work, producing the show,
from that first summer workcamp, before any school existed,
through teaching, advising,
head teachering the middle school,
assistant principaling, being acting principal, then principal,
throughout it all, modeling by example more than by words,

throughout it all, Don has helped make real what visionaries dreamed of in Meetings,
helped staff to create what could draw parents and students
to believe that what might be, could be, then to make it so,

and, like any good producer, Don kept to the background,
like that idea of God the watch maker
who makes the clock of the universe
and then sits back to let it be,

I feel privileged to have served with him, under him,
as he served what students and staff needed,
and fought the battles to protect what was coming into being
from any force that did not see the wholeness we saw,
I have never known anyone to clerk a meeting better,
to feel the possible consensus that almost aches
to pull itself into being,
and to help us all find how to come together with it,

there’s a primal rightness,
and Don is a producer who has led us
into the play we act within every day.

by Henry H. Walker
March 20, ’14
photos courtesy of Carolina Friends School Archives, via Pam Mayer

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Calhoun Geiger


each of us is a bell, 
more or less fully-forged 
by circumstance, genetics, choice,
and we each ring a sound into the world
with the life we live,

Cal’s forging took true
and to be with him was to hear 
a beautiful clarity of self sound clear
as if to lead us to the harmony possible 
when we live our faith in how 
we treat our fellows and our selves,

so much of who we are as a school
is the present moment of students and staff
who seek together to find the way
through what can feel to be a trackless wood,
or maybe through a wood with tracks well-trodden
but tracks that end up leading nowhere we want to go,

and sometimes we need to reinvent the wheel
as we seek to find anew what works
so that each learner on each journey can find a way
that fits who they are and allows them to become
the best of who each can become,

Cal followed George Fox and Margaret Fell
as each reminded us to listen to that of God within us 
and to God within the other,
Cal was a conscientious objector during World War II,
and a conscientious advocator for lives of good will always,

as Cal would speak in meetings
the purity of the tone of his bell
helped us to synchronize our own notes with such prime commoning,
the moral clarity of Cal’s and his sister’s history grounded us,
his sister a nurse in Palestine who ministered to all as war raged,
and, when war-provoked disease killed her,
both sides cease-fired for her funeral,
Cal’s willingness to always seek to be of service challenged us,
his careful loving basket-weaving settled generations
with the physical mantra of basket after basket coming to be,

I seek to appreciate the primal power of spirit at the heart of our school,
to appreciate those Friends in Durham and Chapel Hill 
who heard a calling
and brought forth a vessel, the school, 
within which that of God in each student 
might learn to express itself with sureness, 
within Cal the spirit rang true, and all of us who heard that bell,
could seek to synchronize the sounds we could make with that purity,

who we are has needed many hands to lift us up toward the light,

Cal deserves our thanks for his part in how we can be who we are.

by Henry H. Walker

March 11, ’14

by Henry H. Walker
March 11, ’14

Monday, March 10, 2014

my plans crash with the pine limbs

a storm of ice

something, maybe an absence, 
rouses us from a sound sleep,
the electricity stops coming to our home:
no power to the clocks, the lights,
the fan for the heat,
the pump for the water,
thank goodness for emergency flashlights, lantern, candles, wood stove,

in the dark I get up and dressed 
and decide to go ahead with my morning meditation,
those 20+ minutes in which I seek to sync myself
with the underlying rightness of the universe,
as I lightly gaze out our large south windows,
darkness hides the ice which so burdens the pines,
I hear branches give up the ghost and crash down,
furtive beams of flashlight pierce out in my neighbor’s worlds,
as each reconnoiters before the upcoming sodden dreary grey dawn,

power never hints at coming back through the day
as inches of rain just keep falling
and the temperature hovers just above freezing,
all my plans for the day have a hint of possibility
until they crash like ice-heavy pine limbs,

the world is full of possibilities
and the odds do not always favor us.

by Henry H. Walker
March 7, ’14

Sunday, March 9, 2014

to burn through the mist of ignorance

the clarity of an oracle

I avoid instruction manuals,
I find them obfuscatory and obtuse,
I tire quickly when reading the rules of a game
for rules are like a skeleton:
they give structure but lack spark, adventure, life,

yet what is science
but the look for the blueprint, the rules,
the “why” behind the “what,”
the “how” within the “is”?

and I love science,
I love the clarity 
when the simplicity of answers
burns through the mist of our ignorance,
when the oracles speak not in riddle
and instead let us see an expanding truth,

how hard it is to be open
both to what comforts us
and to what challenges
how we’d like it all to be.

by Henry H. Walker
March 7, ’14

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

20,000 words

toward the stars

each year, as autumn moves toward winter,
I pull together a collection of my poems 
from the last 12 months,
sort and organize them by category:

what comes out of my world as a teacher,
a grandfather, a sojourner in nature,
a muser upon revelations that want to reveal themselves,

my computer word processing program,
besides red-flagging what it sees as spelling mistakes
(and which usually are, thought the wordsmith in me
views words as more elastic than the program),
that program also counts my words,
and last year’s collection of poems tallied
over 20,000 bricks of words in my constructions toward the stars,

whatever the path toward meaning we can find
is worth us traveling it.

by Henry H. Walker
March 1, ’14