Friday, November 20, 2020

Poetry Friday: In spite of it all, thanks



Every year, as a Christmas gift for my parents and my sister, I make a calendar. It's a winsome way to plop a year's worth of family photos in their laps, neatly laid out month by month, with context. As I worked on gathering photos this week, it was clear, of course, how quickly 2020 turned on us. I had already decided I'd be including screenshots from Marco Polo, and pictures of my parents, on our socially-distanced visits, through their sliding screen door. The calendar always doubles as a memory book; I knew that. But I wasn't quite prepared for how the sifting of photos would make me feel, how it would affect me as I considered all that we've lost. 

January's photos included our New Year's celebration, a snapshot with my parents in their apartment at their retirement community, Ramona's first time to see a Broadway touring company perform Les Miserables. (She was also looking forward to Dear Evan Hansen in March, Anastasia in June...both were canceled, of course.) In February, apparently, I took very few pictures. Were we too busy? Were we already beginning to worry? It's hard to remember. 

March's photos included teddy bears in the dining room window. 



(Remember, "We're going on a bear hunt"? That's when it felt like we were all in this together, before some people decided masks were political or controlling, rather than a simple and sound way to be kind and protect one another. Sigh. Anyway....) 

By April, pictures included things like this: 

Atticus, taking part in a video message
from all the teachers (who were at home now)
to all the students at his high school
(who were, of course, also at home now.) 

A short time after that photo was taken, Atticus hurt his back.
A slipped disc left him in pain and sent him to physical therapy
for three months. Oh, 2020. 


I somehow wasn't prepared for the tears that flowed as I worked on this annual, usually-fun calendar gift. So I let myself have a cry, and then I got back to work, looking for all the things we can be grateful for. I know how "Pollyanna"-ish such things sound, but W.S. Merwin puts it in perspective for us. It's not blind or naive to acknowledge our human nature and know that we can, we must, say thanks, even in the face of — perhaps especially in the face of — mysteries and sadness that we don't understand. Not only can we and must we ... we can't seem to help it. 

And for the record, Pollyanna gets a bit of a bad rap. Her "Glad Game" was a survival mechanism, a coping technique, and the thing that transformed her own life and the lives of others. I think W.S. Merwin would tell her thanks. 


Thanks 

Listen 
with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms 
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky 
and say thank you 
we are standing by the water thanking it 
standing by the windows looking out 
in our directions 
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging 
after funerals we are saying thank you 
after the news of the dead 
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
....
(Read the rest here, at Poets.org.) 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

It's going on right now: The Catholic Moms Summit is this weekend (and 25% off my book, After Miscarriage)



Join me anytime this weekend for my (prerecorded) talk:  
Coping After Miscarriage: 
Finding Healing and Hope After the Loss of Your Baby 

It's a completely free event that features 80+ women presenters over three days with pre-recorded talks as well as live "Main Events" each day. Enriching content for new moms, grandmothers, and all moms in-between.

Connect with other Catholic moms from around the world.

"All Access Pass" option that includes: lifetime access, exclusive LIVE Q&A's with presenters, and much more! (100% of the Summit proceeds go directly to supporting the presenters, ministries, and Catholic organizations during this difficult time.) 

Register for free at this link. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My publisher has generously offered a 25% discount on my book, 
After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope. 

(You'll find it here, at Franciscan Media
Use the discount code CMSAfterMiscarriage.

This offer is open to everyone, whether you are able to attend the free summit or not. 
Thank you, Franciscan Media! 

~~~~~~~~~~


* Find my posts about miscarriage here
* Posts about After Miscarriage are here
This post is about why families with zero, one, two, or three 
kids are still "good Catholic families." 

And, if you have a story you want to share, 
or you just want to say hello, 
please leave a comment. 
I'm always ready to pour a cup of coffee and talk.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Poetry Friday: A November Sunrise by Anne Porter


I shared an Anne Porter poem a couple of weeks ago and today I'm returning to her quiet beauty, so needed this week. 


A November Sunrise 
by Anne Porter 

 Wild geese are flocking and calling in pure golden air, 
Glory like that which painters long ago 
Spread as a background for some little hermit 
Beside his cave, giving his cloak away,
....

(Read the rest here.) 

~~~~~~~~~~

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Poetry Friday: Water



Water has been much on my mind the last few days. My sister lives in Oklahoma City, where more than 370,000 people were without power (I think over 200,000 still are) due to a massive, crippling ice storm. My sister was one of those without power for a while, though thankfully her household once again has electricity. 

Last night in our area, due to a damaged water main, we were without water. Today, we have running water (insert: renewed gratitude for flushing toilets!) but are being advised to boil water for consumption, food prep, and dishes for the coming days. 2020 is the gift that just keeps on giving, isn't it? 

Still, there is so much to be grateful for and that's what we're trying to focus on. Poetry Friday is one of those things. Emerson's poem covers it all: water as friend, foe, and everything in between. I hadn't read this one before but it seemed to cover all of this week's bases. 


Water 
by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

The water understands 
Civilization well; 
It wets my foot, but prettily, 
It chills my life, but wittily, 
It is not disconcerted, 
It is not broken-hearted: 
Well used, it decketh joy, 
Adorneth, doubleth joy: 
Ill used, it will destroy, 
In perfect time and measure 
With a face of golden pleasure 
Elegantly destroy.

~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, October 16, 2020

Poetry Friday: Looking at the Sky by Anne Porter


Anne Porter helps me redeem time. 

Time, of late, has been zooming past me at a frightening speed ("It's mid-October? What?! It's Friday again? Already? No!") We're still living in the midst of a pandemic and I'm still staying home most of the time, but there's so much to do at home when you work from home. 

But at my back I always hear
Time’s wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near .... 

And yet. 

Anne Porter, who lived to be 100 years old, offers respite. 

Her life was busy, too (from The Poetry Foundation): 

Married to the painter Fairfield Porter, she raised five children in a busy, artistic household, frequently forced to pursue writing on the side. When her husband died in 1975, she began to write poetry much more seriously. As she told the Wall Street Journal: “I remember realizing that I was alone, and I'd have to be more organized. I had these poems, and I thought that it would be worthwhile working on them. I started to write.” Her first collection, An Altogether Different Language (1994), published when she was 83, was named a finalist for the National Book Award. 

Her first collection of poetry was published when she was 83. So, maybe I have a few years left, too. 

Time. It seems I never have enough time. And yet, perhaps, I do have time enough.  



Looking at the Sky 

I never will have time 
I never will have time enough 
To say 
How beautiful it is 
The way the moon 
Floats in the air 
As easily 
And lightly as a bird
....

(Read the rest here.) 

~~~~~~~~~~


Friday, October 09, 2020

Poetry Friday: It's time for "The Writer"


Next week is the anniversary of the death of poet extraordinaire, Richard Wilbur. I miss him. I've shared his poem "The Writer" (one of my all-time-I-will-never-stop-loving-this-poem favorites) more times than I can remember (and you can find all of my Richard Wilbur posts here) but it's time to share it again. (If it's been more than ten minutes, it's time.) 


The Writer

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
....


Read the whole poem here, at Poets.org, or do yourself a genuine favor and listen to Wilbur read it here, at The Internet Poetry Archive.

~~~~~

The Poetry Friday round up today is at Wee Words for Wee Ones. Thanks for hosting, Bridget! 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poetry Friday: As Imperceptibly as Grief, Emily Dickinson


Yowza, I missed two Poetry Fridays in a row! Where have I been? What have I been doing!? Let's see. Living (with caveats ... pandemic, you know), teaching, writing, baking (sans flour), prepping for the Catholic Moms' Summit, and trying to retrain my mind to really read a book. (Reading in the time of Covid ... whoosh, it's been a whole thing for me. Or rather, the lack of the thing. I have read far fewer books in the last six months than at any other time I can think of. I. Don't. Like. That.) 

Time to get back to my favorite thing to do on a Friday: share some poetry. 

And autumn is here! Autumn is here! Though we still have to deal with the torpor of a pandemic, at least the torpor of summer is folding in on itself. Yes, it's been hot here this week, but, hey, hot? Your days are numbered. 


"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?" 

 "Don't be morbid," Jordan said. "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." 

 ~~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I don't think another Poetry Friday should pass without my sharing this one from Emily Dickinson. I've loved it for forty years. Or something like that. (The years tend to lapse away, imperceptibly, and it's hard to keep track anymore.) 


As imperceptibly as grief 

by Emily Dickinson 

As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away, —
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone, —
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape
Into the beautiful.

~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, September 04, 2020

Poetry Friday: "Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Interruption"

The "interruptions" are different these days. 

My two oldest daughters have moved out. Only Ramona is at home, taking a well-earned gap year (which makes immense sense during a pandemic) after graduating from Green Gables Homeschool in May. 

I wrote this poem (or rather, stole some lines from Wallace Stevens and worked around them) ten years ago. Anne-with-an-e and Betsy were in their teens, but Ramona was only eight years old, so I was still sometimes up in the night with a child who was sick, or scared, or needed me in some unspoken way. 

But even with teens, a mother is up in the night: worrying while they're driving home after midnight ... talking to them on the couch, in quiet whispers at 2 a.m. ... tending to tears or heartbreak; other times sharing in laughter and giddy discovery. These days, those talks might start in a text, or a Marco Polo. That's a gift, too. 

When I was twenty years old, when I met Atticus and we started dating, neither of us wanted children. We knew it. We were firm. We would never change our minds. We would not countenance such an interruption to our lives. 

Thank God for crumbling paradigms and fresh and frightening starts that shake us to our core. 

Thank God for interruptions. 

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Interruption 

by Karen Edmisten

(With apologies to Wallace Stevens. Original lines from his poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird are in italics. Obviously, all the good lines are his. The children, however, are mine.)


I
In the stillness of night,
The only moving thing
is a child.

II
I was of three minds:
sleep, motherhood, sleep.

III
I pretended not to care that I was awakened.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
There is my "to do" list, and then there is God's.
These are not the same thing.

IV

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a child
Are one.
Add, mix and stir: my daughters' "to do" lists are mine.


V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The life with the child
or the thought of that life.

VI
Chatter filled the long day
The company of children
Transformed a mood. Sometimes
for better. Sometimes ... not.


VII
O, dear control-freak-self,
Why do you imagine a different life?
Do you not see how the life
you've been given is unspeakable gift?

VIII
I know of a tidy life,
of elegance, rhythm and control.
But I know, too, That a child is involved
In what I know.

IX
When my children have grown,
They will mark the edge
Of one of many circles.
I will be grateful for their imprint.

X
At the sight of children
I used to say, "Not for me, please.
An unwelcome interruption."
But something shifted. I gave myself
Over to motherhood, and held on tight.

XI
Once, a fear pierced me,
that I would never rise to this task,
would not die to self.


XII
3:20 a.m.: A nightmare. She needs me more
than I need this sleep. 
I rise. I go.
A child will not wait for morning.


XIII
It was nighttime all day.
I loved her and I was going to love her.
The child sat entwined in my limbs.
The interruption sweetly complete.

~~~~~

Find more posts about Wallace Stevens here

~~~~~~~~~~

 The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Friday, August 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: Galway Kinnell


Sometimes, no matter who you are, what your life circumstance is, or how many years you've trudged the planet, you just need a good cry.

Ray Bradbury knew it:

"And besides, I like to cry. After I cry hard it's like it's morning again and I'm starting the day over."  
"I heard everything now."  
"You just won't admit you like crying, too. You cry just so long and everything's fine. And there's your happy ending. And you're ready to go back out and walk around with folks again...." 
"That don't sound like no happy ending to me."  
"A good night's sleep, or a ten-minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine, Doug."  
                                          ~ Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury 

Galway Kinnell knew it, too:


Crying
by Galway Kinnell
(from Three Books)

Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
and splash-splash-splash!
Then you can throw open your window
and, "Ha ha! ha ha!"
And if people say, "Hey
what's going on up there?"
"Ha ha!" sing back, "Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!"


Wishing you a good cry, the feeling that it's morning again, and happiness that's been hidden.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Poetry Friday: For Once, Then, Something


I love the questing and questioning nature of this one by Robert Frost.

For Once, Then, Something
Robert Frost

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

("For Once, Then, Something" is in the public domain.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Molly is exploring the monotetra, a new form created by Michael Walker. I love her results! 
Go check out her work — and all the other Poetry Friday contributions — at Nix the comfort zone


Friday, August 07, 2020

Poetry Friday: Spotted in the backyard

Our ever-charming Poetry Friday host, Laura Purdie Salas, is thinking and talking about anxiety today. I'm right there with you, Laura. With a teacher-husband and a teacher-daughter returning to work next week and a governor who not only refuses to mandate masks but actually threatens legal action against leaders who want to protect the public with said mandated mask-wearing (I'm stupefied by this), well, I'm ... distracting myself.

So.

Spotted in the backyard yesterday, thanks to Anne-with-an-e (who, in her 20s, still stops what she's doing to notice an astonishing little bit of beauty, and then share it with others):


Munching monarch,
overlord of the milkweed,
unstoppable force.

~ Karen Edmisten


~~~~~~~~


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Poetry Friday: Masks, and Fauci, and Coffee, Oh, My

Sooooo, I've posted a few times recently about masks on Facebook because, well, mask-wearing during a pandemic is just good scientific sense, and Anthony Fauci is my man.

Thanks, Jama Rattigan, for leading us to the bobblehead

(And no, I don't care how he throws a baseball.)

This mask is your basic, utilitarian pandemic gear:



However, my pal Tabatha (of The Opposite of Indifference fame) sent a link to a mask that she said made her think of me. (And with friends like Tabatha, one needn't worry about the friends on Facebook who have unfriended one for talking about masks.) 

Who could have imagined a mask that combines allusions to Gregorian chant, Psalm 130, and coffee? Someone did. And their "Out of the Depths I Have Cried for Coffee" mask reminded me of an ode to coffee that I wrote a few years ago. (My daughters mock me for calling 13-year chunks of time "a few years," but oh, just wait, daughters. Someday you'll understand the wibbly-wobbly that is time.) 

And so, with Poetry Friday just 45 minutes away as I type this, I give you my love song to coffee: 


How Do I Love Thee, Coffee? Let Me Count the Ways
(with my sincere apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning ....)
by Karen Edmisten 

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My cup can reach.

I love thee to the level of every day's
most quiet need (which is to start the day with you.)

I love thee freely (as I strive to awaken.)
I love thee purely (as one who is addicted.)
I love thee with a passion (which is embarrassing.)

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
when I was pregnant
and had morning sickness,
but my love is so strong
it was reclaimed when all sickness had passed.

I love thee with the breath (though coffee breath be not pleasant)
with the Smiles, tears, of all my life!

and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death,
for surely there is coffee in Heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~


Friday, July 10, 2020

Poetry Friday: It's a Party at Ruth's Place!



Ruth, at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town is hosting the Poetry Friday party today and she's focusing on — you guessed it — parties. 

I miss parties. 

Well, I didn't actually go to a lot of parties pre-COVID. My INFJ/Enneagram 4/Melancholic/Introverted self didn't exactly seek them out on a regular basis. But, hey. I miss having the option to go to a party. I miss having a few people over for dinner. And mostly, I'm sad that we didn't get to throw the big bash we'd planned for Ramona, who graduated from our homeschool this year.

It would have been the kind of party that John Brandi sums up in this haiku. I can imagine our most beloved friends and family: meaning to leave, but lingering, having one more beer, just another glass of wine, a few more minutes of talk and laughter, moments that stretch into a few more hours.

We'll have that party for Ramona someday.

In the meantime, friends, there's poetry.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Poetry Friday: "I, Too" by Langston Hughes



I, Too
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
....
(Read the rest here, at The Poetry Foundation.)

~~~~~~~~~~



Friday, June 19, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Small Needful Fact, by Ross Gay




A Small Needful Fact
by Ross Gay


Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,...


(Karen here ... it's such a short poem that I can't share much without violating copyright, so let's jump to the final lines, which are heart-wrenchingly — again, and again, and again, and again, and again — relevant.) 

... like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

(Read the whole thing here.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~