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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a bite of peach cream cheese danish.

Happy first Poetry Friday of April, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Though I always look forward to Poetry Month, April is now bittersweet because it’s the month my mother died. Even a year later, it hasn’t fully sunken in. I think of her daily, remembering so many little things — her love of stripes, her big laugh, the sound of her chopping garlic and green onions in the kitchen.

I don’t think about the thin frail woman she was at the end, but the strong, energetic, busy person she was throughout most of her life — always a good sport, the one everybody could depend on to get things done.

It’s true what many people say — part of you fears you may forget the person you lost, and sometimes you feel guilty for happily getting on with things. This universal feeling is beautifully expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem. Remember when the Dowager Countess Violet shared a line from it with Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey Season 4? Even as we happily celebrate holidays such as Easter with loved ones, we inevitably think of those we miss.

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AFTER THE HOLIDAYS,
by Barbara Crooker

the house settles back into itself,
wrapped up in silence, a robe
around its shoulders. Nothing
is roasting in the oven or cooling
on the countertops. No presents
are waiting to be wrapped, no cards
fill the mouth of the mailbox.
All is calm, all is bright, sunlight
glinting off snow. No eggnog, no yule
log, no letters to be licked
and stamped. No more butter
cookies, no more fudge, just miles
to go on the treadmill, another round
plate added to the weight machine.
All our good intentions pave the road.
We stride out into the new year,
resolute to become firm, to define
our muscles, to tighten our borders.
The thin tinsel of the new moon
hangs in the dark sky, a comma
dividing the sentence between
last year’s troubles and this year’s
hopes. The calendar ruffles her pages,
a deck of shiny cards, deals out
a fresh new hand.

~ from Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014)

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Happy New Year!

It’s nice to be back after a relaxing holiday break, and I can’t think of a better way to welcome 2015 than with two lovely poems by the inimitable Barbara Crooker.

As a longtime fan, I’ve shared more of her poems here than of those by any other poet. And with good reason: time and again, I am stunned by the lyrical beauty and emotional resonance of her work, its reassuring accessibility and seamless architecture.

A new Barbara book is always cause for celebration, so imagine my delight when I learned she has not one, but TWO new books out — Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (Future Cycle Press, 2015) and Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014), which  includes today’s poems.

The 50+ poems in Small Rain explore the cycle of the seasons: Corvid (Winter), Passerine (Spring), Tangerine (Summer), and Amaryllis (Fall). Each beautifully crafted gem brims with Barbara’s keen observations of the natural world. Intimate glimpses of bird, flower, tree and sky elucidate the heartening aspects of wonder and reverence in the presence of loss, regret, and aging. I especially appreciate the gentle reminders to stop, look, and love our world despite what we are doing to it, and to strengthen our resolve to embrace joy.

I thought of my own mother when I read “Dianthus.” She showed me my first Sweet Williams, and I’ve liked them every since. Enjoy today’s poignant bouquet. May the fragrance of sweet remembrances and renewal grace your days this new year.

Pink Dianthus by AnnA Eckstein

DIANTHUS

My mother comes back as a dianthus,
only this time, she’s happy, smelling like cloves,
fringed and candy-striped with a ring of deep rose
that bleeds into the outer petals. She dances
in the wind without her walker, nods pinkly
to the bluebells. She breathes easily, untethered
to oxygen’s snaking vines. Lacking bones,
there’s nothing left to crumble; she’s supple,
stem and leaf. No meals to plan, shop for, prepare;
everything she needs is at her feet, more rich and moist
than a chocolate cake. How much simpler
it would have been to be a flower in the first place,
with nothing to do but sit in the sun and shine.

~first published in Louisiana Literature

*

via bhg

Dianthus Plumarius via Annie’s

Dianthus “Chiba Cherry Picotee”

Dianthus “Sugar Plum” via Garden Drum

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Barbara on “Dianthus”:

Someone (Mom was a little foggy towards the end) brought her a pot of Sweet Williams when she was in the nursing home (it was probably one of her hospice visitors), and she wanted me to take them home and enjoy them. With some trepidation, I planted them outside, and the fact that they’ve come back every summer for the past six years makes me feel (irrationally) like this is keeping her alive, which, of course, she is, in my heart.

About the first poem:

‘After the Holidays’ was written some years ago, but I think I feel the same way every New Year — I love the holidays, but by January first, enough is enough, and I also love getting back to clean living and a healthier lifestyle, plus I love putting my house back in order. It’s all good.

♥ Thank you, Barbara, for granting me permission to post your poems. I’m looking forward to reading and sharing something from Selected Poems too!

*   *   *

poetryfriday180The always warm and welcoming Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week and have a good weekend!

 

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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Now that the holidays are here with all the shopping, baking, decorating, socializing, and seemingly endless things to check off those long To Do Lists, quiet moments are hard to come by.

But I was blessed with a quiet day right before Thanksgiving, having just returned from Hawai’i where we celebrated my Dad’s 100th birthday. I had time to reflect on this momentous event and transition into full-on holiday mode by leisurely doing things that made me happy, truly a day like Alice Walker describes in her lovely poem, “Grace.”

GRACE

Gives me a day
too beautiful
I had thought
to stay indoors
& yet
washing my dishes
straightening
my shelves
finally
throwing out
the wilted
onions
shrunken garlic
cloves
I discover
I am happy
to be inside
looking out.
This, I think,
is wealth.
Just this choosing
of how
a beautiful day
is spent.

~ from Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems (Random House, 2003).

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“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas.” ~ Charles Dickens

Fa la la and doodleedoodleedoo.

Throw in a few jingle bells and merry merrys.

Was just re-digging A Hole is to Dig. Good things to remember no matter how tired, busy, grumpy, bumpy or wrinkly you get:

Dogs are for kissing people.

Hats are to wear on trains.

Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough.

Tap into your essential child and you will always find the truth.

Earliest known Christmas photo of me. What I really wanted was a wooden spoon.

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HO HO HO!

If Thanksgiving is about pie, then Christmas is definitely about cookies. Even though I don’t bake half as many cookies each holiday season as I used to, I still like thinking about all the scrumptious possibilities: raspberry linzer, chocolate crackles, orange spritz, jam thumbprints, neopolitans, molasses spice, Russian teacakes, gingerbread teddies.

*sugar reverie*

Though I don’t mind eating a few cupcakes and more than a few slices of pie, cookies have always reigned supreme as something I most enjoy baking and sharing with friends and family throughout the year.

The other day I was trying to remember the very first cookies I ever made. This can be quite an undertaking when you have to dial back to the Dark Ages, sifting through the hundreds of batches you cranked out as a high school and college student, English teacher, newlywed, friendly neighbor, and old fogey mellowed-with-age food enthusiast. :)

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