Artistry of the Wind
Today’s autumn wind blew in gusts,
lifting piles of golden leaves,
depositing them in patterns
along the thirty-foot chain link fence,
now a painted canvas,
leaves lodged between wire frames–
gold leaf filigree.
This art won’t last,
its beauty ephemeral like all things beautiful.
Tomorrow it will be just a fence,
visual art gone,
the memory enough.
by Barbara Flass
Photo by Siddharth Mallya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Some time in the stealth of the night
or maybe it was just after dusk or before the light of dawn,
something moved across the depth of the new-fallen snow.
Art appeared on the white canvas,
patterns of prints—wild and free–
swirls, curves, circles intertwined,
some intent unknown to man.
While I slept, artistry was created.
When I woke, surprise and wonder,
the artist unknown,
the art nevertheless a winter miracle.
© Barbara Flass 2014
Photo credit: Richard Dorrell [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
A movement seen out of the corner of my eye
through the window that overlooks the back woods–
a deer perhaps, or a bird in flight,
then more and more motion–
leaves in their mesmerizing dance toward the earth,
borne on the wind,
leaving their security,
their normalness before the brilliance,
now a glide up in the breeze, then down,
a graceful fall toward a soft landing
into the midst of others gone before,
they now the final ones, like life itself.
The ballet continues as I finally move away
and into my frenzied day,
leaving behind November leaves still dancing in the wind,
the dance now an imprinted image
that will soon become more than a memory,
evolving into words and meaning,
until a poem is born.
Image © Dvmsimages | Dreamstime.com
A Poem Is Born
It begins with an image, however fleeting. Maybe it’s the way the sunrise paints the surface of the lake. Maybe it’s a ladybug making its slow trek across a twig or the crawl of a turtle crossing a busy highway. Maybe it’s the formation of birds creating a cloud pattern across the blueness of the sky. Maybe it’s the way a leaf blows in the breeze in its journey toward the earth. Whatever the image, it imprints itself on the brain and waits, the process much like human birth.
Later, maybe only minutes or hours or even perhaps days, words begin to form. Clusters of thought expand the image into lines of poetry, and then into expression of feeling, and finally comes meaning, for without meaning, there is no poem.
I was a college student before I knew any of this. It was my study of Romantic poetry that revolutionized everything I thought I knew about poetry. Keats enabled me to see how feeling and meaning can be inspired by a Grecian urn. Wordsworth created for me that “host of golden daffodils” and I felt his joy and depth of emotion. Shelley’s “To a Skylark” taught me that a poem is much more than its subject. I experienced Byron’s melancholy communion with nature, and I connected to his poems in ways I still remember.
I read a lot of modern poetry, but I live with the poems of the past. Some of today’s poetry with its obscure thoughts and disjointed phrases confuses me. Do I really want to be confused when I read a poem? Some poems seem so personal and bewildering, I wonder how anyone could be affected by them. I want to leave a poem a different person. Isn’t that the way it should be?
So for me it always starts with the image that has to go through stages–conception, development and creativity, and finally birth. It’s sometimes a very slow process, but it can only come to life through emotion and finally meaning. It takes quiet contemplation, not so easy in today’s frantic world, but when there is peace, poetry is born.
“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.-–David WeinbaumExpectancy
that month of expectancy
with its endings that evolve into beginnings
that later become endings once again.
with its walks of innocence
down sacred aisles of churches or school auditoriums,
with its walks on college campuses along grassy paths
between rows of white folding chairs.
with its steps propelled by hope
that could dissolve like sweet ice cream if we let it,
hope that could fall like confetti littering pathways,
glitter now gone,
turned into celebratory party detritus the following morning,
all traces of possibility swept away.
with its sultry heat leading to the torrential rains of summer,
to occasional winds of destruction,
to refreshing cooling breezes,
finally reaching us years later as we sit on porches,
rocking movement like a childhood lullaby,
wondering if somewhere there is someone young
who walks still with footsteps of hope
toward a happiness beyond June
which is all any of us really wanted out of life anyway.
© Barbara Flass 2013
“If you must reread old love letters, better pick a room without mirrors.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966
Today I found the letters–
the ones I wrote to you and you to me–
tucked in a box of mementos in the basement.
Words we wrote when we were young and so in love
(although if one reads between the lines,
he might sense the uncertainty, the hesitation
hiding there in the midst of those sweet words).
The letters telling a story surely not ours
but about some fictional characters,
a story written by a romance novelist,
a story expected to have a happy ending.
Doors were opening for us then,
like lures pulling on our hopes,
doors we thought would still be there
after we created a future together.
We did not know then
that the future waiting for us
was not the one we wanted.
No, we were too young to know
what the ending would be later,
later when it was too late for dreaming.
There’s a patch of snow remaining
under the old pine tree at the edge of the summer garden.
Nearby where the sun touches the earth,
a hint of yellow appears,
a daffodil pushing through the still frozen ground.
When one thing goes, another comes,
it seems to say.
Like human life and death,
time for everything,
snow dissolving into the earth below,
its moisture life-giving
as the daffodil well knows.
Each fulfilling a silent promise to spring.
© Barbara Flass 2013
Photo credit:Marie Richie from Portland, Cascadia