A Post Thanksgiving Poem

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Origins

 

My maternal grandmother’s grandfather

was a butcher—he was Fleischman.

 

I am a poet

who knows the dreams

of my mother dwell in my sister

 

My paternal grandfather’s grandfather

was a farmer—he was Meier.

 

I am a poet

whose song is sung in

graphite and ink

 

They left Europe

for a similar place of cold and

want. Where gray covers the earth

for months on end, and frozen air

sears the lungs.

 

I am a poet

whose truth rises on

ice-bound floes

 

I am the voice of my mother

a rock of disbelief, her

hope a crumbling house, my

birth her bitter denial. My chilled

moment of delusion lasts a year,

or a lifetime.

 

I am a poet

my sea-weapons

incantations of change

 

I am like and unlike my grandmother.

She certain of her place and lineage, her

favors and grievances, my grandfather’s

acquiescence validating her at every turn,

every slight, every diminishment. Ice

infusing our lungs, our breath.

 

I am a poet

who dreams of snow

gracing a Michigan hillside

 

My mother, her daughter, adoptive

stranger. She who fled the snow

for the warming coast.

An insult my grandma never forgave.

 

I am a poet

whose voice courses through

the blood of German strangers

 

I am the scribe, recording the reasons we hold

ourselves to impossible expectations.

Retelling the tales—ghost stories

that reside in our bones.

 

I am a poet

whose words infuse mitten state

apples hawked from a rusting truck

They Speak Irish

  A poem   and photograph from my latest book,  Ireland, Place out of Time (2017).  Order your copy here.

A poem and photograph from my latest book, Ireland, Place out of Time (2017). Order your copy here.

They Speak Irish

On Inis Oirr, smallest of three Arans,
we give over our Euros
for a carriage ride ’round the isle

Horse clops ring on the rocky
road, past thatched
roofs in a town

little changed in five centuries
Past the cemetery where headstones
pronounce the dead in Gaelic

Of course there are sheep,
there are always sheep,
fleeces marked in neon

Here bygone mixes—if uneasily—
with modern; tourists
now the primary trade

We ride out to a ship foundered on rocks
decades before, its rusted hulk
reminder of the sea’s treacheries

Ireland’s west coast
remains ancient land
—a place out of time

Sea Ranch—Our Annual Writing Retreat

Here again at beautiful Sea Ranch, near Mendocino in Northern California, writing, reading, walking on the bluffs, hanging with the sea lions and sharing work with my sweet sisters from AROHO.

We met six years ago at the biannual women's writing workshop at A Room of Her Own Foundation in New Mexico, and have traveled from all over the country (Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and various parts of California, to be together once a year since.

This year I have been madly working on finishing the final revision of my memoir, and it's almost there (cheers and clapping). It has been a wonderful and relaxing week, as well, and I have relished the time I've had to walk with friends, read, and contemplate this beautiful stretch of coastline. Nature abounds. See for yourself...

 Sea lions rookery—how many can you count?

Sea lions rookery—how many can you count?

 The view from our house.

The view from our house.

 Native grasses.

Native grasses.

 Yellow lupine.

Yellow lupine.

Ireland, Place Out of Time

So pleased to tell you about my latest book of poetry and photography, Ireland, Place Out of Time. Come along as Rob and I explore the beautiful Emerald Isle, digging deep into our interactions with the people and their land during our visit in September/October 2015.

Read more about it here.

"The Journey is the Destination"—a Life Lived Out Loud

Our good friends Eva and Yoel Haller invited Rob and me to a special Santa Barbara International Film Festival luncheon last week to celebrate a new film about an extraordinary young man named Dan Eldon. "The Journey is the Destination" tells the compelling story of how Dan, in his brief lifetime, inspired people to work for peace and social justice in parts of the world where both are in short supply.

Dan was born in London in 1970, and the family moved to Kenya in 1977, where his British father headed the east Africa division of a European computer company and his American mother, Kathy Eldon, was a freelance journalist. He attended the International School of Kenya, where he met students from around the world and developed his insatiable appetite for travel and adventure. While Kenya remained his home, he traveled widely, and, following in his mother's footsteps, became a journalist.

From an early age, Dan worked to help others. When he was 14, he raised money to pay for open-heart surgery for a young Kenyan girl. At 15, he helped support a Maasai family by buying their hand-made jewelry and selling it to fellow students and friends.

After graduating high school in 1988, Dan attended college in California and Iowa, but ultimately returned to Africa to pursue a career as a freelance photographer. His work caught the attention of Reuters' editors, and Dan was hired as a staff photographer covering Somalia's terrible famine in the early 1990s. As the situation worsened, violence drew American intercession and the attention of the international community. Despite the danger, Dan continued to work in Mogadishu, hoping his images would bring attention to the unfolding tragedy in Somalia. In July 1993, American forces mistakenly bombed what they thought was a meeting of warlords, and many innocent civilians were killed. Dan and three of his Reuters colleagues were killed when a gathering mob turned on them. He was 23.

Dan's mom, Kathy, founded a nonprofit organization—Creative Visions—to honor Dan's legacy. "The Journey is the Destination" is the realization of Kathy's long-held dream of telling Dan's story. A book of the same name features the drawings and artwork he jotted in his journal.

We met Kathy at the luncheon last week, as well as Maria Bello, the actor who portrayed Kathy in the film. It is a deeply moving and ultimately uplifting film, which also screened at the Toronto Film Fest and opened the DC Independent Film Festival this week.

Creative Visions continues to honor Dan's memory, supporting individual artists working to effect positive social change. You can find out more about Creative Visions here, and read more about Dan's story here. Kathy has also written several books about her own journey, which is just as inspiring. See her story here.

Dan's extraordinary life reminds us that all of us, each of us, has the power to bring about positive change in our world. If you have a chance, see the film. And support Creative Visions.