Saturday, August 30, 2014

to see in context

raise up, and look

long ago an ancestor left the water,
and found another world, this one of air,
to add to that of the mother sea,

australopithecus raised up to walk on two feet
and saw more of possibility
than visible to those on four legs,

scientists have pulled imagination up and out
so that the glory of the universe
can pull us out of the myopic,

a challenge to the teacher
is to somehow give self fully to the classroom
while also giving self fully to appreciating
all that came before
and all that might come after,

the individual finds most glory
when it realizes and feels
how large and textured we really are.

by Henry H. Walker
August 22, ’14
images courtesy of Google Images

sweet needs sour

truth in contrast

my mother argued that sweet needs sour
if it is to really work:
sour cherry or lemon in a pie,
an intensity of contrast
so that we wake up enough
to notice presence since we also know absence,

I feel blessed with a life and an attitude
that finds many glasses that reach to the full,

I also work to feel blessed with the losses I have,
so that I can also feel the emptiness in the glass--
luckily, so far, not so much as to leave it dry,

laughs bubble freely from me,
and so do enough tears to remind me
to remember the losses
that also make me who I am.

by Henry H. Walker
August 22, ’14

Friday, August 15, 2014

aging, and the tolls

I still rise

as my years add up,
I wonder how and when
I’ll have to pay the increasing tolls,

will I be able to still bike 2 1/2 miles up the valley?
I do, again, and yet I fear
each time I turn the page
that this time I won’t quite make it up,

I hike hard on the A.T.,

and muscles and agility still work
well enough to get me here to there,
and back again,
despite the hours of rain
that dog my enthusiasm,

I bike over 10 miles around Cades Cove,
see 9 bears, mostly enjoying the wild cherries,
and all still works,

my doubts and fears weigh on me,
yet, for now, I can still rise,

when it’s time to let go, I hope to know how,

while it’s still time to do, I hope to do well,

still I cry when “great webs of sorrow” grab me for a time.

by Henry H. Walker
August 12, ’14

Thursday, August 14, 2014

away from others

Alone Time

every goodbye diminishes me,
each a tear from who I am,
till, when I’m alone,
I look inside to see if anyone is still there--
at least if anyone still there has any value,

for we can build ourselves up with piles of accomplishment
and long lists of connection, like friends on Facebook,
each of which can be crutches with which we stand tall,

I need to periodically take away the crutches,
and see if who I am with only myself
feels solid enough to still stand tall. . .

another way I look at alone time
is that I need to not be social for awhile
as a way to recharge my social batteries,
I need to follow my own schedule,
have adventures in which I do not coordinate with other people,
yet instead coordinate with weather, 
with a flower I want to see,
with a trail that calls me,
with hopes of bears as I bike a valley,

screens and books also still call me,

soon I will re-insert myself into the social that is much of who I am,
for now, alone time calls to me to shut down
so that I can soon reboot and be fresh enough
to be fully present for the challenges to which I love to rise. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 10, ’14

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

camaraderie, and post camaraderie

The Effort of LeConte

August breaks upon us
with an enthusiasm of logistics and commonality,
as we orchestrate an overnight hike for over 40 of us on Mt. LeConte,

the fourth highest peak, east of the Rockies,
juts out east-west from the main Appalachian ridge,
like a great frog huddled against a rock,
a lodge for room and board,
and rock promontories for us in front of sun setting and rising,

we pull together family and friends 
who can hear the primal call of the source itself--
the investment of great effort to hike up
while the mountain offers us stream and flower and views,
the potential glory of what sun and sky and mountain can release
as day ends,

and begins anew,

through it all, we seek to enable camaraderie of people with place,
extending to before and to after the hike,
as we cook meals and bake treats in attempt to honor with effort
how wonderful the mountain is within the grand scheme,

and now, as friend and family peel away,
back to jobs and places and friends that call them, 
we are left alone at the cabin,
which huddles by the creek
as the mountain above huddles against the main Appalachian ridge,

I now seek to find myself
as not just defined by relationship 
to family and friends and event,
I like to cut away the comfort of the crowd
and check myself to see if I know myself
beyond how relationships can define me. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 9, ’14

Sunday, August 10, 2014

from Low Country, to Upcountry, to High Country

into the hills. . .

I’ve explored the Low Country of South Carolina 
enough to have a taste for its beauty:
the land dark with fertility and history,

Spanish moss above where alligator can venture,

and I have felt of how the air can swallow you in the summer,
my father loved this land that bore and raised him,
yet he needed to leave to seek a new beginning,
like being born from the womb,

he went to college at Furman in the Upcountry,
where, if he looked north, the land reached toward the cool of heaven,

today I drive from Furman into the high country,
as foothills roll with more and more enthusiasm
toward a horizon rimmed by uplifting mountains
whose green distance darkens toward blue,

Daddy followed possibility into East Tennessee
and settled away from the Low Country,

though every June, like salmon returning home,
we’d retrace his path across the mountains
and back into the Low Country,
all the way to the beach at Edisto,

today I want to feel the land my father knew
as he opened himself into more
than what the heaviness of the past wanted to allow.

by Henry H. Walker
July 28, ’14
images courtesy of Google Images

let's share the planet


human progress can deny the future to other species,
as our own needs and desires, our own fears,
end up causing extinction after extinction,

sometimes we wake up from our Narcissistic slumber,
and we can then work to allow space
for life-forms not our servants,
but who also serve us by being themselves
within a larger whole that can be us, too,

today it was black bears in a protected valley of the Smokies,
as our biking around a long loop allowed us
to intersect their wildness for a time,

bears can be dangerous,
yet, like riding a bike without a helmet,
their danger is exactly parallel to our stupidity,

still, it feels good when we choose
for our world to still contain some potential danger to us,
species whose existence reminds us
to have wisdom and not just power.

by Henry H. Walker
August 6, ’14

Friday, August 8, 2014

potential burgeoning behind her eyes


at every stage a human can be whole,

yet now I see in our oldest grandchild, 
nine year-old Rachel,
the adult inherent within her,

and I feel joy in imagining
what she can do with the world
as possibility meets the potential
burgeoning behind her eyes. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 6, ’14

Midnite Hole, Big Creek

pianissimo and crescendo

often nature only subtly shifts
with changes soft and soothing as a lullaby:
a dream of flowers, a furtive salamander,
and sometimes nature shouts with storm
and roaring water moves mountains
in ways I can begin to see,

today I sought a great pool
where huge sandstone boulders channel roaring water into a falls,

and nearby a family is absorbed in the turning over of rocks,
in search of dark green salamanders:

pianissimo and crescendo both play upon our heart. 

by Henry H. Walker
July 28, ’14

Thursday, August 7, 2014

our lives as stories

where’s our narrator?

maybe why we love books
is that we know everyone has a story,
yet only in fiction is there a narrator
who will grab our interest
and tell us of thoughts and feelings,
of conflict and effort,

so that by knowing others at a remove,
we can be closer to knowing the stories all around us,
and, if we’re lucky, we might then even know ourselves
within the stories we live. 

by Henry H. Walker
July 29, ’14

"she changed my life. . ."

Ann Changed Lives

“She changed my life. . .”

her memorial included these words that cracked open a door,
through which we could then glimpse the many inside 
in whom she believed, the many she helped guide,
the difference her positive belief wrought within their becoming,

we teachers seek to be a light
that can call the best of our students
to come out of the darkness
and find how to find the way forward
into making themselves a force
to help the world find itself into a better place,

Ann changed lives,

may we all echo such belief, such action. 

by Henry H. Walker
July 31, ’14

Mt. LeConte, and Our Spirit

Clarity Upon the Mountain

everything can be clear on the mountain,
the complex reduced to the simple,

the truth of the effort of every step on the trail,
energy and choice all focused on one step after the other,
the sky open to the eye
with the stars sharply fixed upon a great wheel
or clouds roll in and remind us of the immediate,

like the forested gardens through which we hike,

I feel myself ready to grab the moment
and feel its place within the grand scheme,
we’re a part of that scheme only so long as we know it,
as long as we fit ourselves into the wholeness
that life builds with the material,
the dance of spirit with the body of the universe,

the mist releases the sky in the night
and the stars hold me like a foundation,
every so often meteorites flare for a moment against the fixness,
like a life can be there and be gone but as a memory of brightness,

we find our way through the darkness to the east edge of the mountain
where the day softly releases itself through the dawn,
the dawn clear enough to let us see and appreciate 
the beauty that the sun releases upon the world,

we joy in the moment, in each other, 

and in the realization 
that we should appreciate our own and others’ flares,

everything can be clearer upon the mountain.

by Henry H. Walker
August 3, ’14

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

under the old growth grove

The Roots

the roots speak to me
and draw my feet to lightly tread over them on a light trail
almost apologetic in its care to work with them,

above, great trees reach to the sky,
endure, and die when they must:
one great poplar against which I loved to take family photos,
now a bone-white skeletal column glistening in the sun,

in this grove humans are not the architect,

since the Ice retreated north,
roots, like these, have held the earth here,
and I love to feel for the purpose 
within such enduring will,

and I wonder at the web beneath us all,

how much it is plumbing
and how much it is more. 

by Henry H. Walker
July 29, ’14

order upon the universe

Izzy at 6

Izzy is six
and she loves to find and to express order:

legos fitting together just right,

eight plastic boats connected and floating,
and in rainbow order,

progressions of numbers tumble from her,
a fascination with cooking 
and how ingredients can combine 
and transform into muffins, a cake,

in her play her imagination creates 
wholenesses of characters and actions,
with people she feels the potential connections 
and acts on them. 

by Henry H. Walker
June 31, ’14