Monday, July 21, 2014

North Branch Farm

life from the earth

the way into the past
can be the way into the future,

we visit a farm
where the farmers choose draft animals
for the working of the land,
manure and cover crops to build up the loam,
diversification of product to fit the vagaries of the market, 
CSA for winter vegetables,
high bush blueberries for a future pick-your-own,
a large orchard, too,
dairy cows to turn grasses into milk,
and all of it certified organic,

now they’re building a cheese cave,
where a room, underground, 
will stay at the right temperature and humidity
without machines and electricity,

so that milk can become and stay cheese,
and cheese draw buyers to pay the bills,

they use tractors and trucks when they must,
but they let sun and nature, plant and animal,
work with them when those ways can open,
and their footprint is gentler upon the earth,

the new and shiny can blind us to the better tried and true,

there is wisdom in those who bring us tomorrow,
and much of that wisdom can come 
from being eldered by yesterday.

North Branch Farm, Monroe, ME

by Henry H. Walker
July 17, ’14

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I see Ann in their eyes

Ann Continues On

you can list fact after fact about a person’s life,
and each is a piece of the whole of a person,
yet, if you add up all the pieces, you don’t get the whole,

we come to consciousness, alone,
at the best in a web with parents
for whom we are the center, at least for awhile,

what really makes us who we are is what we give,
and what we receive, with others,

others who live in us as we honor them
with what we cook,
with the stories we remember,
with the possibilities they awoke in us,
if we can know the spirit within our own self,
we can know the spirit within those we touch,

we live life on the surface of the great beyond,
and, when we drop below,
the ripples of our life can help others rise up
as long as they can still feel us,

mysteries may await us after we die,
it is sure we can still live in the qualities
of how our love and truth are remembered,

I look into the eyes of those whom Ann has touched,
and she looks back at me,
in her strong will and overflowing heart,
in the artist and poet in her sensibilities,

Ann had greatness within her,
an inertia that held to itself and its way,
no blowing in ephemeral winds this way and that,
rather a firmness to hold to a value, to a connection,
particularly a connection with her own and with others’ children,
once she would move forward, she would continue on,

in the strength and love and will of her daughter, Ann continues on,
in the strength and love and will of her students, Ann continues on,
in the twinkle in the eyes of her grandchildren, Ann continues on,

Ann endures and lifts us up to be better,
to become who she saw us to be,
to follow who she called us to be,
as she followed who God called her to be.

by Henry H. Walker
July 14, '14

Friday, July 18, 2014

place and story


geography intrigues me--
the patterns of land and water
and how leaf and limb have lived with the terrain,
how people have danced with the geography,

Massachusetts draws me, 
as it did my ancestors hundreds of years ago,

and I feel for their stories
as they sought hills upon which to be as God called them to be,
and valleys within which to find purpose in life
and the future with their children,

we humans erupted our world upon the Earth
as the great ice retreated north,
here where glaciers ruled and sculpted,
rock, land, and water remember that time well,

we need to remember that our current chapter
is not the first in the story,
that the book will continue without us,
and that what will unfold later is yet to be determined.

by Henry H. Walker
July 5, ’14
images courtesy of Google Images

Thursday, July 17, 2014

the kid already there

unwrapping the gift of one’s self

are we born who we are?
are we shaped to be who we are?
do we choose to be who we are?

evolution has hardwired parts of us:
the body, basic drives,
our parents, and our teachers, reward and punish our actions,
as does the school of hard knocks--
so our software updates,

still there is mystery in how a self comes to be
somewhere amidst the countless firings of neuronical connections,
and as senses and experience input data we make decisions,
within that stream of process
someone comes to be who decides between this and that,
who can look at a mirror and see the self looking back,

I see my grandchild
and I love the self before me,
I am intrigued by how much is a given
and by how much is self-made,

I mostly feel that passing time does not build the self,
I feel more that passing time 
further unwraps the gift of the person before me
who is already there at the most bacic of what is real.

by Henry H. Walker
July 8, ’14

full and fuller

they find themselves anew

children are this intriguing combination
both of the full and of the partial,
of being complete in themselves at each step
and of finding new levels within themselves
as new landings are gained,

the personalities of our nine and six year-old granddaughters
feel wondrous and sure in the wholeness of each who acts,
in the firmness to know one’s self,
in the openness to learn answers to questions,
in the solid foundation within the sense of self
that allows one to act,
to feel the courage to turn the page
and find themselves anew,

there is also doubt and pain and tears in the turning,
for joy needs its absence to be fresh on the page.

by Henry H. Walker
July 6, ’14

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

of tide and rock

Coastal Maine

rock and water,
the flatness of harbor morphs into ocean
below the rising roundness of granite mountains,
bearded with heavy green forest,
exposed bedrock all age-spotted with subtle palettes of lichen,

I work to hold this beauty with my camera--
vista and rock underfoot,
tiny fruit, and flowers with frantic bees upon them,

here is where the land rises hard against the leveling sea,
so enticingly fertile with life,
though mostly that life is visible to us via the wheeling birds
who live on what they can take from the water,
a bounty we enjoy with
the exuberance of fresh lobster for lunch,

at the edge of the sea the moon 
draws the water up and releases it down,
a rhythm like the breathing of great lungs,
fortune shines on us, though the sun doesn’t 
while it hides behind a drizzling rain,
at early morning low tide, we explore tidal pools 
adjacent to a narrows
where a great river of water
rushes back to the sea

before high tide reverses the flow back into the land,

for a few hours salt water plant and animal
reveal themselves to us as we carefully pick paths
through shoals of shells and gardens of lush seaweed
garlanded upon boulders where they hold fast,

along with ubiquitous barnacles, colonies of shelled snails,

sea urchin and star, anemone and pink clumps of tentacled hydroids 

who look deflated when the salt water leaves them,

each step an adventure as we explore this small garden
that the lowering tide allows us to briefly touch,

the reality of transcendent color and shapes 
frustratingly muted by increasingly troublesome rain,

we work to understand just what is here,
we do well if we just experience 
and let awe permeate through us.

by Henry H. Walker
July 15, ’14

where's our brain?

where is our leading?

I wonder about us as a species
and how much intelligence we can muster
to meet the challenges the world gives us
and that we throw at ourselves,

if we are as a body, then where is our brain?
Washington has seizure after seizure
as if to give oneself a stroke
will free up the rest of the body to prosper,
we can get better legs but where to go with them?
better hands but what to do with them?

we can comfort ourselves with the delusion
that selfish actions by individuals
can somehow manifest as the guiding hand of the marketplace,
that “hand” does produce the better and better widget 
yet it cannot grasp a vision of our soul
and where we should go with our widgets,
now many are guided by the lowest common denominators,
the illusion of the senses that more is always better,
we waste the great gift of fossil fuels
in cars with more power and weight
than the future will understand,
we supersize ourselves and wonder why we’re sick,

I am intrigued by the Internet
and how a distributed intelligence might work like natural selection
to help us evolve into the better,
Wikipedia, as paradigm, intrigues me,

the plant kingdom somehow fills 
every available niche with purpose and beauty
with no great gardener supervising it all,
yet that of God is a whole within all of life,
we are the crown of creation only so far as we can be the eyes
that make conscious the whole,
we can be the eyes with which life can see itself 
and know it is good.

by Henry H. Walker
July 13, ’14

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the way in can be the way out

personal to universal

the way in can be the way out,
as to write of the personal
can explode one out into the universal,

I write of the specifics of my muscles
remembering an arm break,
and the parallel specifics of remembering a death,
and somehow my poem finds its way to resonance with others,

we can barely be conscious of our own stories
as we live in first person 
and don’t slip into the third person of narrating our own life,

yet we each have a story
and nobody knows it 
unless a way can open
for another to know us well enough
to know our character within the plot we live,

all around us people live stories that deserve to be told,

the way into another’s world
can remind us that stories need to be shared.

by Henry H. Walker
July 5, ’14

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

to hear the echoes, and remember

death is like a break

I broke my upper arm
which has healed well,
nevertheless, my muscles still remember
and I cannot yet get back
to the full range of motion I had before,

a death is like that,
I can get back into the normal,
and seem just fine on the surface,
but the muscles of my psyche remember,
there’s a stiffness inside,
and pain bounces around within me: 
phantoms who remind me to hear the echoes
and still remember the breaking loss.

by Henry H. Walker
June 30, ’14

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

beauty as a search image

preparing for serendipity

to find an arrowhead you need a search image,
an internal template within your mind 
as your eyes scans the ground,
so that out of a hodgepodge of stones
a shape can reveal itself
and then find itself in your hand,
in the woods you can learn the shapes natural to the forest
and artifice can slip out--the line of an old road or wall,

the same with movement, animal to the eye or sound to the ear,

I go to the wild and hope 
for a bear in the East

and a wolf in the West,

and sometimes I get the gift I ask for,
more often, the universe cares nothing for my “wish list,”
and surprises me with a gift I’m slow to realize can be just what I need,

in the last few days turkeys and woodpeckers have touched my world,
and, like a foodie omnivore, I have marveled at the spread before me,
I hope for peregrine falcon and find sun playing with misty mountains instead,
when galax and partridgeberry bloom before me, 

I treasure them,
as I do the perfection of tiny brown mushrooms I notice on a log,

I seek to have beauty as my search image,
and I am humbled by what can be revealed
if I am open to the surprise of whatever gift reveals itself.

by Henry H. Walker
June 27, ’14