Kay Boyle: Monody to the Sound of Zithers

Monody to the Sound of Zithers

I have wanted other things more than lovers …
I have desired peace, intimately to know
The secret curves of deep-bosomed contentment,
To learn by heart things beautiful and slow.

Cities at night, and cloudful skies, I’ve wanted;
And open cottage doors, old colors and smells a part;
All dim things, layers of river-mist on river—
To capture Beauty’s hands and lay them on my heart.

I have wanted clean rain to kiss my eyelids,
Sea-spray and silver foam to kiss my mouth.
I have wanted strong winds to flay me with passion;
And, to soothe me, tired winds from the south.

These things have I wanted more than lovers …
Jewels in my hands, and dew on morning grass—
Familiar things, while lovers have been strangers.
Friended thus, I have let nothing pass.”

—Kay Boyle.


Sandra Simonds: There was this bear cam

‘There was this bear cam

on the Internet. It was pointed at a place
called Katmai National Park, Alaska. A few years ago
my friend sent me a link to it.
I would watch it sometimes
but I never saw any bears.
Maybe it was bad luck
because my friend said she saw bears.
All I ever saw was the enormous river rushing
and the tall pines in the background doing nothing.
I mean, that was OK, of course.
I loved the sound of the river
and wind in trees and the sheer thrill
that such a sublime nothingness
could be witnessed like this.
But I wanted to see a bear.
It seemed even more thrilling to be typing
in a cubicle and suddenly out of nowhere
there’s a bear on your screen
that maybe 50 other people in the world catch
a glimpse of. Maybe they are on a break from Facebook
or filling out a spreadsheet and BOOM, a bear.
So I thought while I was writing this
that I would just check the bear cam online
and sure enough a fat bear is in the middle of the river
eating a salmon right there in the Katmai National Park.
I get up from my desk and tell my colleagues
“You guys, come here!” and my colleagues
come in my office but by the time they run in
the bear crosses the river, or pixelated
screen or whatever, salmon in his jaws
and the only thing there is the river
and trees and they say,
“Sandra, this is boring,” and walk
back to their own offices.’
—Sandra Simonds.

Cathy Song: This wonderful opportunity

“May all beings, seen and unseen, be well, happy, and peaceful, including ourselves.
May there be peace in the world, peace in our hearts, peace in our minds.
May we use this wonderful opportunity of  human life to awaken.
May we be grateful for wisdom and compassion,
this infinite boundlessness that surrounds us,
waiting to be used by us, to open our hearts and minds
so that we may see things as they truly are,
how brief our lives, how dependent upon others we are,
and so with each act may we bring wholesomeness, humility,
and the courage to do no harm, not least of all to ourselves.
As we journey through this life may we move deeper into insight,
and see things as they truly are,
this wonderful opportunity to awaken.
May we be grateful for the teachers in all their guises who appear before us.
May we love those who are hardest to love, including ourselves.
May leaders who will work for the peace of the planet step forward,
and may we support them.
May those who have gone before us rest in peace, rest in comfort, rest in joy,
and may we remember to remember them.
May the next life be a happy one.
May we cultivate in our hearts, in our minds, here and now, here on earth,
generosity, a land of plenty for all.
May our wish for peace spread like a mother’s soothing hand
and reach the distressed, fevered places of the world
and protect each child the right to be fed, to be sheltered, to be schooled.
The right to go to sleep without fear.
May we journey safely, work contentedly, and return home to loved ones well and happy.
May the path of forgiveness and acceptance
be the path of peace,
and may we find it.
May we use this wonderful opportunity to awaken
and together find true happiness, open spaciousness without borders.”

—Cathy Song.

Natalie Shapero: And also with you

“The comet taught us how to watch the war.
The comet contended that fire
is romantic and recommended we each behold it alone,
envisioning out there somewhere our next
lover, craning up at this same sky.
Was the comet simply endeavoring
to keep us divided, I asked it, and the comet
did not reply. Then we discovered the men
who wanted us dead
were convening at night on the site where their hero
had been unceremoniously
interred. And so we exhumed the guy, burned him up,
and fed his ash to the rapids,
to be churned into marlstone and mud-rich air. Good thinking. Now he’s everywhere.”

—Natalie Shapero.

Jennifer S Flescher: Sisyphus and the Ants

“The story tells us Sisyphus is being punished.
Over and over he has to push that boulder

up and up. The mountain and God glaring.
And you, you have

your avalanche of moods.
Pills the size of stars to nearly quell

cascade and tumult.
And still you step

gravity amplified by incline, each hazard
in the way of the boulder a reminder

it should be easier. There should be
a hot fudge sundae at the top. A long nap in the shade.

The story forgot to tell us, though, Sisyphus thrived.

He learned to guide his wrists
and shoulder girdles safely to protect himself.

And later he worked to safeguard every insect
from here to the crest. Considers this his calling.

Even as the sun and the weight of time bears down.
Your strength is kingly.”

—Jennifer S Flescher.


Kathy Fagan: The Rule of Three

“One of the first I learned was the trinity, three persons in one
God: father, son, and holy spirit, née ghost. Then I started writing
JMJ on all my homework and tests, for good luck, but also because

My ballpoint’s blue ink looked pretty beside the paper’s purple
Ink, like the inside of a clamshell when I teared up or squinted
From the smell. Sometimes the sheets were wet and curled like

Petals reeking of gin, which is why it was called spirit duplication,
After the nonflammable alcohol used in the process. Jesus, Mary,
And Joseph, is what the three initials meant. I’d draw a cross from

The descending caret of the M and think of Mary, the mother,
And of the other Mary, not, weeping at the limp feet of the crucified
Jesus. Where was Joseph, I wondered, but never asked. We seemed

To pity him a little, for reasons I couldn’t name, like my father,
Who was both my father and a son, and soon to be the son of
His father’s ghost. When my grandmother was dying, she asked

Her only child, my mother, to go with her. Mom waited decades
To obey, but she finally went. Together in one grave now, they are
Two Marys, maybe with the Jesus of their most solitary prayers,

Petals littering their one stone’s four corners. Being motherless,
Like being childless, is both good and bad, I think,
And it is a third thing, too, that is neither of these.”

—Kathy Fagan.


Bianca Lynne Spriggs: What women are made of

“We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;

we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root

and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
and lobe. We are hippocampus and exposed nerve

and cornea. Areola, pigment, melanin, and nails.
Varicose. Cellulite. Divining rod. Sinew and tissue,

saliva and silt. We are blood and salt, clay and aquifer.
We are breath and flame and stratosphere. Palimpsest

and bibelot and cloisonné fine lines. Marigold, hydrangea,
and dimple. Nightlight, satellite, and stubble. We are

pinnacle, plummet, dark circles, and dark matter.
A constellation of freckles and specters and miracles

and lashes. Both bent and erect, we are all give
and give back. We are volta and girder. Make an incision

in our nectary and Painted Ladies sail forth, riding the back
of a warm wind, plumed with love and things like love.

Crack us down to the marrow, and you may find us full
of cicada husks and sand dollars and salted maple taffy

weary of welding together our daydreams. All sweet tea,
razor blades, carbon, and patchwork quilts of Good God!

and Lord have mercy! Our hands remember how to turn
the earth before we do. Our intestinal fortitude? Cumulonimbus

streaked with saffron light. Our foundation? Not in our limbs
or hips; this comes first as an amen, a hallelujah, a suckling,

swaddled psalm sung at the cosmos’s breast. You want to
know what women are made of? Open wide and find out.”

—Bianca Lynne Spriggs.