Woman

Woman

Do you know
you are the soul
of your mother,
the Earth? And
when you watch
the lizard slink
across her skin,
together you
are bound up
in her arms
and she takes
you home—
ah, home.
Together you
have longed
for this return.

The Space of Worth

She had already started an uncomfortable widening in my mind regarding God’s love. When I gawked at my invitation into the wild and free space of voicing my own opinions, Fran* stood by my unique worth. After all, when had God ever reneged his gift?

Fran’s words had a chill certainty. That tilt of her head, the little uplift of her chin–you had to believe what she said, even if she made you cower six feet into your chair cushion. Sometimes I’d just let my eyes caress the stretching prairie outside the window–that place always free. Or I’d watch the wood moulding around the windows that was more likely to move than the stiff memory of the men and women in my childhood church–people who were always close to mind in Fran’s living room.

The scrappy book I toted to Fran’s was the sure symbol of stepping into my new worthiness–that worthiness I’d only begun to see. I would read to Fran snatches of my becoming. I needed her to believe I was living up to my new name: Changing One.

I read her a “changing” passage from my journal, one where God had visited me through the words of the Bible and ushered in some magical newness.

Perhaps it wasn’t so new or magical to Fran? My seconds of testimony launched her into ten minutes of reexplaining the passage, in more words, precise words. She piled her thesis on top of my scribbled journal note. And I withered.

But, no! I was worthy, after all, and she was snuffing those pieces sacred to me, smashing out my fragile worthiness. And by God, if I didn’t have a sour opinion of her right now! Well, I’d tell her, if she wanted to know the truth buried in this shivering, worthy girl.

I lifted my chin; I turned on her.

I finished my lament sweaty and avenged.

“So,” Fran said, “because you’re hurt, you’re going to throw blame back on me?” And if that wasn’t a selfish and childish thing to say!

But she wasn’t fighting; she hadn’t absorbed the grenade I’d just launched at her. The fuze sizzled, fizzled out. And there was Fran, standing there in all her chin-uplifted worthiness, not a shadow of fragility about her. It was like in the middle of her living room–molded and still–she could sit there as free and alive and unstifled as the prairie.

In fact, since she had opened no hateful barrage in return, I could only absorb Fran’s words as invitation. An invitation to stand, already worthy, already free. We could stand as tall grasses beside each other, one as worthy as the next, out there in the wind and sun, where there was all the space in the world.

::

*name has been changed

Explorer

Was there ever a time you wanted to hide

and the only thing near you

was a blanket—but you found

it had a mouth and its mouth so soft

the blanket was more like a kiss

that told you snow was as common

as Kleenex except the snowflakes

seen only by you in the darkness—

a darkness total yet uncertain—like

                                a cry for no reason?

 

:: This poem resulted from my second week in Making Manifest ::

What is this cathedral?

cathedral

:: linking up with dear Kelli Woodford’s Unforced Rhythms community today ::

after Father’s Day, 2014

You say there’s a bottle calf
you rescued—skinny—
from the fields. I think how
you must like to go there
twice a day to be needed
by someone so young.

I told you about the blowing
and fallen limbs, and you said
the crops were okay after hail.

And the boys are okay, too.
You wanted to know.

Our voices sound like
they belong together—we speak
through our noses,
in the family way. I wonder
what you sound like
when you’re not with me.
I’ve never known you without me.

But I know
when I am without you,
I sound different.
I built a compost bin
because of all you were to me,
but you’ve never had use
for anything quite like that.

After we say the usual goodbye,
you say, Love you.
It’s something new you
must have learned
away from me. So I try it—
Love you, too—
before I hang up the phone.

Awakening

“Awakening” is my poem that resulted from Week 1 in Dave Harrity’s brilliant creative exercise Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity and the Kingdom at HandI don’t think he said as much, but I do believe Dave intends to make his readers into poets, or recognize that we already are.

He says: “Writing is an active, but not busy, action–not business that impedes the contemplative or prayerful. It’s a slowing way.

This week, I dared to slow myself and listen to thoughts long enough to explore them, and this was one result.

::

Awakening

I remember the way you used to speak to me,
as you drove a screw into my head.
It was as if I never had a lilted walk
or thought, or lifted lump of dough
to breathe in reclamation–
smoke! The queen on a fifty-pence coin–
does she belong there, even? I imagine
it’s healthy to stay hungry often, but
a cairn falls into my mouth. I eat
the ash from off my forehead and taste
the serious chai that misses honey,
forgets to laugh. Nothing is awe–
I am twisted a bit still. My hand will
collect leaven, and Satan may yet be whole.

::

Here’s a good interview with Dave Harrity from Ruminate magazine.

Open Letter to a Childhood Teacher

wrinkle

Dear Mrs. Hughes,

I imagined writing this letter to send along with a copy of my first published book. But since I don’t have one of those yet, I’ll just send the letter anyway. Maybe I can send a second letter someday.

I’ve been wanting to thank you for your subtle influence when you were my third grade teacher. I remember little, except that you read wonderful books aloud to us. Where the Red Fern Grows had immediate impact, and I remember rereading it at home, where I could go into the bathroom and cry all I wanted over the deaths of Big Dan and Little Ann. But the most influential book was A Wrinkle in Time. The way Meg broke through IT’s darkness with chants of love, over and over, to Charles Wallace captured me, and I have never been able to shake the power of that scene.

After revisiting the novel a couple times in my adult life, I can see what terrifying encounters L’Engle wove into the story. But I didn’t have a lasting fear for terror then; the ending is what stuck.

The story got me curious about Madeleine L’Engle, too; her nonfiction book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art may explain why her approach to creativity broke people’s hearts open the way it did mine. While unafraid to handle what is dark, she also believed that true art always leaves a window thrown wide open to hope.

This past school year, I chose to read Wrinkle to a group of fifth and sixth grade composition students in our family’s homeschooling co-op. I think there were some raised eyebrows and nervous laughter at L’Engle’s startling images. But I felt so desperate to share this example of good art that I didn’t care. Maybe the recklessly hopeful story stuck for just one student as it has for me, and she, too, can quietly uncover that memory as she discovers herself becoming an artist–or finally believing herself to be one.

That, I think, is what I really want to thank you for. Yes, for reading the book. Yes, for being my teacher. But most of all, for whatever reckless hope was behind your decisions to do those things. I’d like to think that it had something to do with the belief that, whether published or not, famous or not, each student must know he or she houses the soul of an artist–a creator of good work that helps others see fractals of light breaking into a shadowed world. At any rate, you certainly helped me know that. Thank you.

I wish you gifts of peace and joy as you continue teaching and learning.

Warm regards,

Carrie Beyer

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