Monday, October 15, 2018

Poetry Monday: "Blistered Palms"

Before we get too far away from last week, and the week before that, let me record 2 publishing successes.  I got my contributor copy of Gather, which published my article "Praying with Medieval Mystics."  In it, I explore Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich--longtime readers of my blogs know that I've explored the lives of those women before, but I like the ways I wove the ideas together.

I also got my contributor copy of Adanna, which published my poem "Blistered Palms," which I wrote in the aftermath of last year's hurricane season.  It was one of those strange moments, reading the poem, when I recognized the inspiration for some of it, but not the rest; I don't remember the writing process, the way I do with some poems.  I remember driving by the huge piles of brush which had shreds of trash blowing in a breeze.  It was close to Halloween, and at first I thought I might be seeing a Halloween decoration that had migrated, a ghost in those branches.  I remember the time when it seemed that every morning, a different piece of jewelry broke.

Do I see this poem as hopeful?  Yes, in a way.  I also see some of the spiritual elements of my Christian tradition, that direction to try fishing again, maybe from a different side of the boat.  And of course, there is the title, which talks to me of both the palms of hands, whether they be crucified hands or hands blistered from clearing away hurricane damaged palm trees.

Blistered Palms

When the last china cup cracked,
we found the courage to face
the future. The oracle couldn’t tell
us, but we knew.

We needed no tea leaves; the blisters
on our hands gave the palm
reader all the information needed.

In this month of broken jewelry
clasps and missing wedding rings,
tattered ghosts haunt the hurricane wreckage.

Branches claw the debris piles of our hearts.
We see the water marks even though the floods
have receded. The decaying mums
keep watch.

I have dined on stinging nettles
before sunrise. But I am ready to jettison
this suitcase of loss and longing
that I’ve been lugging
through the fading autumn light.

I will steal a sailboat
and glide to the place
where the deep
waters of the ocean meet
the mouth of the Bay.

I will cast my nets again
into the depths.
I will wait for new fish.

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