Thursday, May 29, 2014

as passing time ticks "loss. . ."

Ann Dickinson Beal

in the southern heart of Kentucky,
a second child, a daughter, is conceived
by a gifted doctor and to her who made the home,
born in Texas just before her father left to repair ravaged bodies
of those who fought in World War II in the Pacific,
he who was gone so long she didn’t at first 
recognize him as father when he came home,

always Ann has joyed in life--
fine food, fine drink, fine music, Bob Dylan,
the fine culture of heart and mind both open to revelation,
and to a natural brilliance she cultivated well,
a good crossword puzzle, an engaging mystery novel,
even working on writing one herself,
mysticism drew her, too, as she worked with a colleague
to bring the gifts of William Blake forward into culture consciousness,
poetry and art intertwined together, both Ann and her father quoting Blake:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.”

Ann, at heart, a teacher who loved to help others discover literature and themselves,
in college at Eastern Kentucky, Wisconsin, and around Greensboro,
in high school at Chatham Hall where many young women
learned even more deeply how to love learning along with her,

nothing finer than to be in Oxford, researching,
John Rogers increasingly the topic,
he who worked to bring the Word into English,
so that the truth of the Bible could be accessible to all,

Ann in a long tradition of the Christian Church,
where the spirit of Jesus is more of the church
than the small-minded doctrines who live the rule and not the Word,

her children more important to her than life,
and her joy in her grandchildren was wondrous to behold:
the annual week at the beach
a great place to enjoy them, the surging ocean,
and fresh seafood to grace the table,

she has lived with grace throughout her life,
despite the body blows that life visited upon her,
the need to find her own way when her marriage dissolved,

yet the loss of her son last year,
plus the cancer that came into her, and ravaged,
was too much for even such an indomitable will,

like her mama, Ann lived a life of love
and joyed in her family

and in the brilliant clarity of her mind,
even when the burdens became too heavy,
Ann persevered as best she could,
until the spirit called her home.

by Henry H. Walker
May 29, ’14

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

lest we forget

from Dachau to Durham

a simple wooden box
in a small deep hole,

about 70 years ago
thousands of precious human beings were slaughtered,
their bodies incinerated at Dachau,
the ashes from an unknown number of those denied a future
were given to an American soldier, whose family finally found a way
to inter them, with respect, here in Durham, NC, USA, today,

with each handful of dirt we scatter into the grave
we remember the loss of the smiles, the gifts, the people,
who were killed in a mad dream called The Holocaust,

we work to remember lest we forget.

by Henry H. Walker
May 25, ’14

Monday, May 26, 2014

what just has to be said

the artist will out

what is worth writing?
what can slip past the defenses of lethargy and of avoidance?
past those sweetly sour voices that tell us to doubt ourselves,
that others are of worth
and that we just don’t really get it?

when the artist within my students 
wakes up and slips past their defenses,
what they notice, release, and build with their words
can shiver my spine and reawaken the artist within me
to find even more ways to express what just has to be said.

by Henry H. Walker
May 22, ’14

a salamander in her hand

the gifts all around

every moment is a present to us,
and within each present are countless other presents
ready to be opened and enjoyed if we can but see them,

I watch my wonderful middle schoolers
play in the water, adventure through the woods,
marvel at vista and waterfall,
and work hard to see and open what present is given to them,

while, at the same time, distractions pull them this way and that,
as if by magicians who want to keep them from seeing
the simple miracles that abound,

I love it when they slow down and learn to see,
and hole the moment sure,
like a salamander who visits us in one student’s hand.

by Henry H. Walker
May 21, ’14

Sunday, May 25, 2014

process versus product

the waterfall and the hike

I’m always confused by process versus product--
for example, how kids learn versus what they learn,
today, it’s the getting to and from a destination versus being there,

the process of hiking is work: effort, sweat,
overcoming the frustration of coming round a bend in the trail
only to find another bend in the trail ahead,
every moment I stop and notice the flowers, the stream, a tree,

I’m not moving so am I in another process?

the product is the waterfall and it’s worth savoring:
resting, hearing, writing, photographing, eating, exploring,

when we get to Ramsay Cascades
I hear one student feel overwhelmed and exclaim
“Oh, my God!”

how much work is necessary to be able to feel such awe?

by Henry H. Walker
May 20, ’14

Saturday, May 24, 2014

ready for the prom

the forest as teenager

like readying itself for the prom,
the forest has put on its finery,
the greens so new they look like they’ve been washed,
and they pose and bow and stand full and tall
to capture the sun as if it’s a photographer
who wants to record how perfect this moment is,

meanwhile, I know insects want the food cornucopiaing forth,
and they will provide another bounty of food for the birds,

I’m drawn to savor the perfect fullness of a tree
and the almost casual perfection of a blossom,
upcoming months will find blackberries where flowers are now,
cherries and nuts upon the trees,

for now, though, it’s time to be young and ready for the prom.

by Henry H. Walker
May 21, ’14

from the hidden to the found

Centered at Max Patch

from the beginning the world is hidden from us
as we are secure in the womb,

every revelation is again the coming forth from the hidden to the found,

our vans climb up the road
while feeling swallowed by valley and forest,
until the ridge opens into meadow
and the world enlarges to far more than anyone can hold,

mountains ripple and snake across the land,
as greens yellow from light to dark
to blue on the Appalachian ridge itself,

this view makes me think I’m at the center of the world,

and I read from that, not my importance,
but rather how large and wondrous 
the world is around and beyond me.

by Henry H. Walker
May 19, ’14

Monday, May 19, 2014

back to nature

primary sources

while there is that of God in all of us
whatever else is in there, too,
can muddy the waters and keep us from clarity,  

so it's often time to seek the primary source
of a flower, a vista, a waterfall,
how God, through nature,
reveals the order and beauty that wants to be
if we let it be so,

both a sunrise and a blossom are primary sources
against which we can compare the stuff of our lives
as we seek to find our best within,
and let it out.

by Henry H. Walker
May 16, ’14

Sunday, May 18, 2014

a sculpture of words

the form within

sometimes I have the sculptor’s eye:
what I’ve heard is the sense
to see the shape within the stone,
the form who wants to shape itself from the formless,
in another’s eye I can often see a gleam
of someone awesome within
who wants to dare to come out,

as I work with students in my classes,
what I see is order beginning to be set free
from the chaos of circumstance and hormones and bad decisions,

there’s a lot of detritus that gets cast away in the carving,
I find far more discarded chips than arrowheads
when I search ground where native peoples worked the stone
to bring forth what they needed,
what they wanted,
what they saw and caused to be,

I hold in my hand now a novel written by a former student
who found greatness potential within her
and dared to work the years necessary to bring forth
a sculpture of words to hold against
the entropic dissolution that seeks to deny the sculptor’s vision.

by Henry H. Walker
May 16, ’14

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Science Day '14

the clarity of science

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.

how wonderful when one can have gifted guides into the clarity of science,

our middle school celebrates science with a “Science Day,”

an ice-storm blocked our March day for it
with pine trees down everywhere
and power out at school,
presenters asked for a rescheduling,
the students wanted it to happen,
so we found a way for all to come together two months later:
the day starts off with an exuberant hour
that explores the science of music
and involves the kids as instrument and questing mind,

a wealth of workshops follows as practitioners of disciplines
share how their particular doors open into revelation:
how dangers can be seen and prepared for,
how soil and Siri and the brain work,
how unsettling optic illusions and settling fibers work,
how Paleolithic foods can be tastefully reciped into tasty treats,
how DNA can be enticed from strawberries

and plastic visioned into creations,

how baboons can be studied in the wild,
how gravity works in the falling
and how rockets work in the lifting,

how simple items can be engineered into drawing machines,

throughout it all, workshops leaders blaze with enthusiasm and competence,
and light after light within the students flares in sympathetic response,

how appropriate that our final challenge involves design of a package 
to protect an incandescent light bulb in a drop of 10 feet,

the light bulb so often a symbol of a new thought,
and all the packages work 
so that every light tests “on” in a lamp,

the light within each student today,
now only did not dim,
but rather the inherent brightness of each redoubles into the brightness
we believe to be the inherent rightness of each student before us.

by Henry H. Walker
May 9, ’14

the comfortable tyranny that calls us

swimming against the current

“Mother! I’d rather do it myself!”
whined a voice in a commercial
that went viral in the terms of the 1970’s,

something there is in me that is put off
by cake mixes and GPS and calculators:

I want to cook from scratch,
to reconnoiter and seek to find the way on my own,
and to figure math with the computer between my ears
and a piece of paper my screen,
I want to try to figure what a word of phrase means like a detective
before I slip into telling a servant to do it for me,
asking Google to tell me like it is,

each new tool sprouts with bells and whistles
that call us to want it,
for now I resist enough to be somewhat free
from the comfortable tyranny of the servant calling the shots
as much as it would,

my stomach keeps telling me to say “yes” to the smorgasbord
while my girth keeps reminding me that “no” can be better
if I want to be my own master,
I should swim against the current of what is easy,

I still push my lawn mower,
yet I feel the call of sitting and steering.

by Henry H. Walker
May 8, ’14
images courtesy of Google Images( note the irony)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

when potential births itself unto the world

the brilliance within

brilliance is everywhere around us,
what we can lack is discrimination, discernment,
how to notice, how to develop the inherent,

the brilliant can hide within the dull,
and we need to learn to separate seed
from the chaff all around,
for example, every moment contains within itself
the possibility of photos that can open the eyes to wonder,
every moment poems can be found, aching to be written,
and sometimes my gift allows me to find
the photo and the poem that can work,

I can imagine stories and paintings and music
that always hide just beneath the surface
to be found by those with the right gifts to notice,

also, every person has greatness hidden within
that wants to be found and to be released,

how wonderful it is every time
that such potential births itself unto the world.

by Henry H. Walker
May 1, ’14