Poems from Interweave’s March Writing Circle

March writing circle

Dear Friends,

Our March circle convened both in person and virtually around the theme of "Entering the Stillness." We began with two inspirational poems that speak in different ways to the experience of stillness. Of stopping, listening, looking and appreciating all that is around us and within us. Of losing and finding ourselves.

They are very much "coming of age" pieces. "Lost" by David Wagoner, reflects how a Native American Elder might answer a young person who asks, What should I do if I get lost in the forest?  "Love After Love" by Derek Wolcott,  speaks to the experience of finding oneself. We read both from a wonderful book by David Whyte, The Heart Aroused

With gratitude to Nancy Burgas, Marge Dukes, Janet Maulbeck and Susan Maitner for participating in the March circle and sharing their creations on the theme – some are included here and some are still in process.  

We hope you enjoy all that is here and look forward to gathering again on April 18th (hopefully without the snow that visited us the night before our March circle!) Our theme is still emerging. Suggestions welcome!

Warmly,

Lorri

 

Lost by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here.

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers, 

   I have made this place around you,

If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows

Where you are.  You must let it find you.

 

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other's welcome,

 

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

 

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

 

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

 

Swamp Again by Margaret A. Dukes

 I wanted to write so meaningfully

                  But here I am:  blank mind

 words lost in some swamp

                  of my own making.

But aren’t swamps productive places

                  anyway?

Mulch, dark leaves disintegrating

                  with snakes crawling

in and out of water

                  turtles out to warm in the sun?

There: the geese sitting on her eggs

                  In the weedy patch

                  near the boardwalk.

There: the bird blind

where I took the great picture

                  of the red tailed hawk

                  its talons clinging

to the wooden fence.

The oft walked path

                  finding meaning where I may.

I’ll return again

another day.

 

 

Stillness Is Not Invisibility by Lorri Lizza

Stillness is not invisibility

It is easy to confuse the two

 

When I was young I would sometimes feel invisible

Sitting not at the conference table

Lined with men in suits and ties

Later to be replaced by open-collared shirts

But against the wall with the other invisible ones

 

We too wore suits and thought we knew where safety lay:

Speak when spoken to

Ask permission

Wait to be released

Keep still.

 

I have come to learn that self-selected invisibility

Is a choice with many tentacles

An atrophy of the heart

It is not stillness.

 

Stillness is strength

It opens

Expands

Invites

Its light leaves no one behind

 

Stillness is busy

 In the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies

Pouring fresh cold milk

Pulling me beyond the falsely safe

Calling me in from the games I love to play

Encouraging me to take my seat at the table

And be nourished.

 

 

STILLNESS by Susan Abbott Maitner

White cat pillowed

On red paisley

After a night of mousing

 

Purring

Her only motion

 

 

FIRST DAY OF SPRING by Susan Abbott Maitner

After the ice storm

After waking early

And checking road conditions

 

And wondering what I’ll be missing

And who I might be letting down

 

I pull up the quilt

And surrender

Driving as an option

 

Stillness shyly signals my arrival

 

 

REALIZATION by Susan Abbott Maitner

I would rather stay still

Than going to the mall

 

I would rather keep still

Than gathering possessions

 

Joy is now found

In lightening up

 

The letting go

Of pretense

 

Entering the Stillness ~ Nourishing Your Soul  by Nancy Burgas

For two years on the first Saturday of every month I chaired a council in a congregation.  The council was tasked with organizing and managing the programs for the whole congregation of over 300 members.  I was unsure how to lead the two-hour meeting because the eight members wanted to spend the time talking about what they were doing, which was fine except that we had problems to solve, an annual report to write, a monthly description of each group’s purpose and function to publish, budget needs to determine and a need to recruit more members to various groups. 

I realized I needed inspiration.  So several days before thinking through each meeting I would move outside with notebook in hand and sit in a warm, sunny, still spot.  I especially liked one near a fountain where the sound of the water was soothing.

I would sit quietly, close my eyes and just be.  After several minutes of stillness I would put out the question, “What about the next meeting?”  Sometimes slowly, other times quickly, an idea or theme would present itself. 

Spring, new green shoots emerging, the color yellow, rebirth, renewal, the gurgle of the water flowing — how can we flow more smoothly?  How can we imitate the life-sustaining nourishment water provides?  How can we renew ourselves and look to the future as we welcome a new warming season?

As I felt nourished by the stillness of nature, it occurred to me to start each meeting with a centering exercise, breathing deeply, setting a quiet time to relax from the busyness of getting to a nine o’clock meeting on a Saturday morning.  Our check-in questions became specifically gentle:  What is the nicest thing that happened to you in the past few days?  How do you choose to nourish your spirit after a hectic day?   Can you tell us about a particularly gentle friend you have and how it makes you feel being around her or him?

I found that before every major meeting it was helpful for me to be still, to nourish my soul first, to center myself and then to invite in some quiet energy that I might carry into the meeting room.