Thursday, March 31, 2016

riding swells of feeling

Izzy at 7

I see my second-born granddaughter, now 7,
and I feel the effort of her being, and her becoming,
I feel both her joy when all goes well,
when she is completely captured in the wonders of the world
she can work with in her play,
and her sorrow when her will feels thwarted,

I love to watch and appreciate the virtuosity of the parenting
that rides with her on the swells of feeling,
and somehow finds how to both support and guide
those moment-to-moment decision-makings
within which all of us live our lives.

by Henry H. Walker
March 29, ‘16

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

a brilliance in the soul

Rachel at 11

I look at our first-born granddaughter, now 11,
and it’s as if I am in her future
to which she strides with purpose and sureness,
who she is comes at me clearer and clearer,
as if the lens between me and her
brings her image more and more into focus,

the brilliance in her soul
brightens my days.

by Henry H. Walker
March 29, ‘16

Monday, March 28, 2016

Equinox 16

Spring Equinox '16

I love to notice and appreciate season changes,

this weekend the Sun crosses the Equator
and brings life-giving power
increasingly to the northern half of the world,

this year, for the first time ever,
I’ve flown back and forth across the Equator
and felt the Southern Skies above me for a time,

now back in North Carolina, Spring is coming,
not the Fall coming to New Zealand,
crocus and daffodils mostly past here,

some trees and our blueberries race to green and flower,

I plant 11 tomatoes in the garden,
they who I started from seed six weeks ago,

I ready the soil for lettuce, sugar snap peas, and potatoes,

every day, wherever one is,
is a time of endings and a time of beginnings, 
how perfect to think of that on an Equinox,
poised between those two great truths. 

by Henry H. Walker
March 19, ’16

Saturday, March 19, 2016

the oases of islands

making Hawaii and New Zealand home

as if in parallel to history,
we visit Hawaii and then New Zealand,
the last large discoveries and settlements
of the great Polynesian diaspora,
those extraordinary seafarers
who brought their world to Hawaii ca 1300 years ago
and to New Zealand ca 800 years ago,
the Pacific like a desert
and the great islands oases—
places to make home,

we read of early European explorers
who found the southern half of the world
a place where monsters lie,
where provisions run out,
and where ignorance is a bottomless pit
so hard to fill with experience,

there’s a lushness to land and sea here in Hawaii,

my camera fills with images of flower and bird,
my stomach fills with delicacies from beneath the waves,
the sun rises and sets in glory,
and the wind is exuberant,
far to the south, New Zealand is colder,
its rain-forests temperate only in name—

a bounty of beauty and possibility in both
that somehow drew Polynesians 
across the great trackless Pacific.

by Henry H. Walker
March 12, ‘16

Friday, March 18, 2016

about the city

city wisdom

maybe why people in cities
tend to believe more in government’s responsibility
is how obvious it is 
that collective organization is vital for a city to work,
some way to coordinate, direct, control,

the counter argument to government as the control mechanism
asserts that the “invisible hand” of the market is better,

I know enough business theory to know
that each business only overtly seeks to maximize profit,
that conditions of safety, the future, worker rights
must be as super-ego to the id of profit,

a cancer is unregulated growth,
our relationship to the earth should be more benign.

by Henry H. Walker
March 9, ‘16

bereft of insight, for a time

my spring of creativity

here I sit on a balcony
overlooking the great Pacific Ocean,
gale wind tosses the palms
and crashes the waves upon the North Shore of Oahu,

and I feel tired,
bereft of great insight in reaction,
it’s as if I’m paying a toll
for the rawness and sensitivity I’ve been feeling,
it’s as if there’s a creative spring in me
that was all wound up with unactualized potential,
and it has released its energy in poem after poem,
and in photo after photo, the last couple of weeks,

now I need sleep,
or mindlessness,
or getting back to work,
to recharge,
to rewind the spring of my creativity
so that I lose my insulation
and quiver anew with the shock
of how wondrous a moment in nature can be.

by Henry H. Walker
March 10, ‘16

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The challenge of the Routeburn Trek

The Routeburn Trek

years ago we heard of a 3 day hike
deep in the South Island of New Zealand: 
the Routeburn Trek they call it,
here in these Southern Alps
where rough rock mountains erupt to the sky,
and rain drenches them enough
to create the lush wonders of a temperate rain forest,

snow caps the peaks even in high summer,
impressive glaciers, for a few more years,
until climate change dooms them to the fate of the dinosaur,

the trek a trial for our aging bodies:
hard pulls up and down slopes,
often so rocky that each step forces
consideration, care, and chancing effort,

we hike through two days of drizzling to pelting rain,
with vistas closed down to the immediate around us,
and then opening enough to let us glimpse
impressive precipices just above and beyond us,

amazing vistas teasingly revealed a bit
as cloud and mist slip off
to reveal just enough to hint of what might be 
behind the swirling gray fabrics,

each step on the trek a step into green mansions of wonder,
with incredible mosses and lichens and ferns, everywhere,
a richness and diversity that the best flowering gardens
we can make only hint at in their glory,

great trees here are draped in splendor
as if for a druid meeting,
I feel that Treebeard could have just been here and tended them,
a world of faerie gardens and waterfalls,
water drops and flows on the trail
and roars in ribbons and cataracts of white down the slopes,

I keep pulling out my camera, despite the wet,
in hopes of remembering these glimpses of glory,
too often drops of water on the lens
remember too well water’s distortion of clarity,

high up on the Saddle
the second day’s trek climaxes with a high beauty
that takes our hearts into transcendence for a time,

our last day dawns with some patches of blue
and flames of color to the east,

vistas open!
the valley beneath flat with a ribbon of river reflecting the early light,

while above us, the great river falls greater than ever,

as we make our way down the mountain,
more and more vistas of high peaks, steep valleys,
and waterfalls reveal themselves,
every step garlanded by more beauty than the heart can hold,

a particular wonder opens to us at a side stop by the river,
kea (the New Zealand parrot) alive with each other, and just before us,
juveniles cavorting and putting on a show,

as we finish the trek,
the water waxes fuller and fuller,
while my energy wanes lesser and lesser,

what an effort!
what a glory!
what a joy!
what an effort. . . 

by Henry H. Walker
March 6, ’16

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

an iceberg breaks before us!

Tasman Glacier

the Tasman glacier snakes down the valley 

Mt. Tasman

for tens of kilometers,
hundreds of meters tall,
though, like an iceberg,
most of it is below what we can see,
it’s a great frozen river of ice,
black on top from all the rocks it carries,
blue inside from the purity of the compacted ice,

as we motor to it in our tour boat,
we pause amidst large chunks of glacier
broken off by summer heat, icebergs,

suddenly, a crashing sound startles us,
and a great chunk of one ‘berg breaks off a 100 yards away,

pieces bobbing quickly, the mother ice slowly undulating,
our boat bobs up and down in the swells,
we pick up a small chunk of ice:
hard, heavy, and beautiful,
so cold it hurts the hands,

sadly, climate change rushes at the glacier,
and it is retreating quickly,
losing 150 meters this year along,

the snow that compacted into this ice
fell over 300 years ago,
about the time my ancestors first came to North America,
my genes and those ice crystals
share a past and an enchanted moment now.

by Henry H. Walker
March 3, ’16