Thursday, December 31, 2015

willy-nilly we change the world

of the Winter Solstice 2015

Walker Prong Smokies

as the year winds down,
Canada sends us a taste of cold
to flurry snow on the mountains
and start to ice 
where water splashes and drips and seeps,

the steeper parts of the trail today take caution,
and enough ice slicks a high section
that we retreat back down the valley,

bright above me a quarter moon
silhouettes the reaching trees
whose leafless limbs remember summer and anticipate spring,

after writing these words, days pass,
and the Winter Solstice comes and goes behind curtains of gray,

a celestial show hard to notice and remember 
when we can’t see it and feel it,
unseasonable wet southern air denies 
that it’s time for freezing cold,

willy-nilly we change the world 
for our comfort, for our whim,
and this year the world reminds us
that we may have the power of a god,
but our souls are often too young to have wisdom.

by Henry H. Walker
December 24, ‘15

of Rachel, Izzy, and Max

the joy of grandchildren

every child’s path from potential in the genes
to flesh and blood and soul reality
can be wondrous if growing pains
can be managed into birthing labor,

a grandchild can be particularly wondrous:
a reprise of what we remember in parenting,
with far less of the moment-to-moment managing and worry,
we have spells of absence and then presence 
so that  their development for us is in chapters
rather than easy-to-miss small incremental steps,

a 10 year-old fully coming into her intellectual and soul power,

a 7 year-old who can burn and joy with the fullness of her heart,

a 3 year-old programming himself
while hardware and software update faster
than he can readily reconcile,

as grandparents we love and appreciate
without condition and with wonder,
we joy with their joy and sorrow with their glitches,
as each gives birth to the best each can figure how to be.

by Henry H. Walker
December 26, ‘15

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

below an old growth forest

a community in the soil

it’s easy to be impressed by visible thrusts
within an old growth forest, 
the great trunks of trees whose lives match countries
and dwarf the human life-span,

now I’m intrigued by the roots below it all,
they who have intertwined and commingled 
since the last ice age, never dying away completely, 

individuals pass and dissolve away back into the whole,
now the hemlocks die so much en masse 
that sun and blackberries have their time on the ground,

I wonder what consciousness imbues the roots,
what connections? communication? community?

the roots as a community have endured for millennia,
and though I probably can never know just what goes on
in the intertwined mass of their lives,
I care about them anyway.

the whales sing to each other,
and we don't quite understand it,
and it is enough for me, for now,
to appreciate that something extraordinary exists below
that I cannot yet fathom.

by Henry H. Walker
December 27, ’15

Monday, December 21, 2015

to unwrap a present

I find a picture

“let me go over there to see if there’s a picture . . . “
I announce, and I go there,
and there is a picture waiting for me,
as if each is a present that I just need to unwrap,
today a particular juxtaposition 
of light and water and rock and wood
within my eye and open to my shutter,
an angle, a take, a frame
that I hold a moment, 
beauty, rightness, a photo,

some things shout of the picture inherent:
a vista, a waterfall,

 a sunrise,

 a sunset,

the smile of a toddler,

the twinkle in an eye,

though even with the shout,
choice and timing still matter, 

a photographer needs an eye
and needs to train the eye
to see if there’s a picture,
and, if there is, figure how to capture it
before it is gone,
or before we’re gone,

at times I search for a particular picture,
for example, I looked for years for snowy high mountains
above luxuriant flowers, and one day I found just what I wanted,
today I found a still pool of water with an intriguing reflection in it,

icicles above a dropping creek, 

and club moss assertive
with dappled sun and yesterday’s light snow below them,

I often check if there’s a picture, and often I find and unwrap it.

by Henry H. Walker
December 20, ’15

the "why" of it all

whence the spirit

I am intrigued by child development,
that progress from the womb dream into our tactile world,
there to learn what one can do and thus who one is
within the constraints and possibilities of tangible reality,
and then to learn the more intangible realities 
of connections with others,

I am also intrigued by adult development.

when young, physical development empowers,
when aging, physical development disempowers,
yet, if we’re lucky and work right at it,
the spirit can learn and remember 
to release the power inherent within it,

my parents gave me a great gift of the intangible:
the desire and drive to know, to understand
the “what” of it all,
the “how” of the cosmos,
yet I also want to know “why,”
the riddle that consciousness faces every moment,

I want to understand the order
the universe releases to build complexity, to resist stasis,
to use the self to subsume the self into enduring rightness.

by Henry H. Walker
December 18, ’15

Thursday, December 17, 2015

a vengeful God, or . . . ?

time to grow up, America

I hope our country can grow up.

in a child’s development
the parent, early on, can have mythic power:
the mother who never turns away
and will hold us tightly in her arms,
the father who stands as a bulwark
against anything scary,
the one who keeps us safe,

then we grow up,
parents can become smaller, frailer, limited,
maybe even more impressive in how well each can do
given the constraints reality imposes,

today in our country I hear the child in many
demand a father to protect us,
an Old Testament Jehovah, 
angry and strong and violent,
many deny the New Testament
which hopes for us to grow up
and fully live in a world of grays,
with exceptions to the rigidity of Mosaic Law,
the charge to let our hearts live as much in love as they can,
the hope for us that we will resist giving in to fear and violence
as much as that way can be denied.

by Henry H. Walker
December 14, ’15

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

oh, Christmas tree. . .

stay the dance

I often feel that as we dance through life,
we rarely know the source of the music 
that drives our feet,
that moves us to move, to choose,
that pushes us this way, or that,

I sit next to our new Christmas tree
and marvel at its pungent fullness,
its sense of contrariness to the loss of leaves outside,
to the fall of needles from the pines,
to the diminution of light,

we bring a balsam, a Fraser fir, into the house,
and it laughs at death and resignation,

some of our cousins sleep through the dark and cold,
we humans, however, stay active, and working,
we heat and light the boxes we live in,
yet what can move us this season is the ancient tradition
of a cut evergreen, dazzled with ornaments and lights,

each Christmas tree challenges us to fully live
and to deny the call of the dark to quit the dance.

by Henry H. Walker
December 6, ’15

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

the first value of Carolina Friends School

before all else? community. . .

nothing we do at school, 
no wonderful academic leadings,
no enabling of the learning of skill after skill,
no physical facility,
no bells and whistles in the classroom,
are as important to who we are as a school
as our establishing a community,
and for that community
to see the individual,
to know the individual,
and for that individual to settle into self
and then be able to release the power within,

after such acceptance each student
is then ready to excel in the academic, 
in skill development,
in social experience,
in using space to express 
the brilliance inherent within all,
a brilliance too easily hidden by self-doubt
and the absence of a supportive environment
to encourage potential to release into wonder. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 13, ’15

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

with the rawness of fear and loss

to toss and turn

I feel facile with words
and with honesty as to demons
who embody my fears,

yet words give me the illusion of control,
and what I really need
is to toss and turn 
with the rawness of fear and loss.

by Henry H. Walker
November 27, ‘15

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

the mantra of football on TV

slipping past defenses

college football on the TV,
two teams no one particularly cares about,
yet the game entertains, diverts,
the scroll of scores in other games
swiftly crawls across the bottom of the screen,

and yet we talk of important things,
those sick now and their struggles,
it’s as if the chips of the football game
distract us into being able to chew on the tough meat
our thoughts and words tend to avoid,

we go back to my brother slipping away, 
of him as husband, father, son, brother,
of avoidance and reality,
we laugh at anecdotes of him and his temper,
of cooking and smoke,
and of a smoke detector flung into the woods,
of him when most alive,
and of him denying to speak of the ending,

there are many plays simultaneously going on around us,
we are drawn to our friends and their roles,
particularly in the tragedies,
and we do not know which act we ourselves are in,
and whether our end will be tragedy or comedy.

by Henry H. Walker
November 27, ‘15