Friday, March 28, 2014

"How shall I hold my soul that it may not be touching yours?"

I poke through an assortment of stuffed animals left after our grown children moved out. Among various bears, here is our son’s rhinoceros, two circles on its face like vertical eyes where velvet horns are now tattered nubs of cotton stuffing. Such abnormalities are birthmarks, in a way, marks of the emergence into adulthood after the long human development of a child. How necessary it was, all that wear and tear, the regular nightly embraces that softened and thinned the horns of a toy rhinoceros whose counterparts in Africa lie wasted from human greed.

There are stories of terror. And there are others of human magnificence. Our small granddaughter, three days old, lies sedated in an incubator, her face, chest, arms and legs relaxed open in surrender. She has been saved by magnificent humans, her own strength, the warm touch of her parents and grandparents, and the grace of God.

I wrap up "Rhiney" for my now 31-year-old son to hold while he cannot hold his first child. I wonder at this inanimate thing, the color of stone, able to vibrate with life and healing though it cannot heal itself, or feel me holding it. We shoot meaning into what we touch and attend to. What essence are we connecting with in these things, which are also somehow vibration, linking with our own pulsing souls?

And how much more then, between living beings?

“How shall I hold my soul that it may not
Be touching yours? How shall I lift it then
Above you to where other things are waiting?
Ah, gladly would I lodge it, all forgot,
With some lost thing the dark is isolating
On some remote and silent spot that, when
Your depths vibrate, is not itself vibrating.
You and me – all that lights upon us though,
Brings us together like a fiddle bow
Drawing one voice from two strings, it glides along.
Across what instrument have we been spanned?
And what violinist holds us in his hand?
O sweetest song.” 

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Our granddaughter, Olive Rose, was born Monday night with a congenital abnormality called Tracheoesophageal Fistula, which means that her trachea and esophagus were connected in bad ways, and her esophagus did not connect with her stomach. She would not have survived if surgeons at the Children's Hospital had not operated Wednesday to reconstruct the trachea and esophagus for normal functioning, after a day of tests Tuesday. Gratefully, Olive does not seem to have the other abnormalities that can come with this one (and do for half the babies that do), and she underwent five hours of thoracoscopic surgery with four little incisions. She will stay in children's hospital 30 days to recover.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

spring equinox

My shoulders like
the ground are paralyzed
and rivers frozen thicker
than for a hundred years.
In a matter of days,
ice and snow melt will heave
in fabulous dark crowds
across roads, fast-fingered
roots creep into cellars.

I feel in my body the
frozen waiting for this
migration, the
fear and the hope
of spring upbraided,
the synapses of earth’s
unfathomable brain,

cords of living matter
bulked, tapered, floating
elongated across
low places in requisite
water, full of fault
without intent.

I want to stem this
movement, protest
on the streets, protect
vulnerable farmers, the poor
dilapidated houses in the low city!

I want to fall on the earth
with hands cupped
to the sun, like a primordial
woman before her altar,
like that almond sliver of light
that falls a few hours a year
between stone walls!

Friday, March 14, 2014

the art of fabric, the fabric of art

Besides work, my grandsons, and a granddaughter yet to be born (two days "late"), these days my daily light shines on creating art with quilts. I am full of energy and passion for painting with fabric this way. It feels odd to watch the shift of attention from words and poems to color and pattern.

Susan Sontag said
“Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
This is just what I feel! Eager!

When we write poems, we recycle words. With quilts, I am recycling fabric. Project scraps from the 1980s, clothes, dust ruffles, table cloths, sheets, whatever is salvageable and beautiful is fair game. My challenge to myself is to not purchase new fabric. There is a lot of gorgeous new fabric being designed out there, and I relish it when I see it in the creations of others. In another time I would have gobbled it up. But I find myself resisting buying anything new unless it is absolutely necessary. Besides, it is a sublime adventure to create something beautiful out of what would otherwise be discarded.

I am blogging about the quilts at birds of the air quilts. I'd love to share it with you if you are interested. I just opened an etsy shop with the first quilt, where one day someone may actually pay money for one of these.

I have only fiddled with art peripherally all my life. The media I've tried have not inspired me enough to put in the requisite work and practice. But coming back to fabric, sewing, and making quilts again, this time for my grandchildren, I discovered the wild and exhilarating world of modern improv art quilts. (Check out my Pinterst quilts board for my inspiration.)

If a poem comes, it will spill out here.

detail of my most recent quilt "Rose and her sisters"
created from a cabbage rose Ralph Lauren dust ruffle
my sister passed on to me that I never used,
vintage 1980s fabric from my stash
and linen toile leftover from a chair recovering project

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

chai winter

morning, the color
of wet stone
in winter’s china cup,
tepid, with a sweet
stirring finger
puddled in clay.
I part the trees to the road,
thus, through this white
sky. White!
Always white
and the trees
in varying degrees
of clarity, which to me
is all. The trees nothing
if not fingers
stirring white sky.
And what if it is
forever? What of that?
And I, boring
a hole through the bottom
of the cup?