Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seeing and Hearing in the Spring

The gift of poetry is a gift of seeing and hearing the world as if it were discovered for the first time, seeing differently. A lot of my poems are written in “my” persona, an immigrant from Poland, a woman in love… One short example is below – I am a pious Catholic and I love late Gothic art, gold halos on paintings and sculptures of Madonnas.

Seeing Madonnas
at the National Museum, Warsaw

Gothic Madonnas with down-cast eyes
look within:

The infinity of love
spreads out the galaxies of laughter
amidst nebulae of bliss.

Happy overabundance
marks their cheeks
with a half-smile
of knowing.

Since I can see mountains from my bedroom window, and they look so beautiful all day long with changing colors, shadows, clouds, (not that I spend my days lounging in bed... though with a laptop you can have a "bed-office" as a part of your "home-office"), I find myself writing about the mountains a lot. When I used to fly around the country to conferences and lectures, leaving home at least once per month, my poems were about seeing the world from above the airplane wings, looking down on the Liliputian people below. Here's a poem about the rain season and what happens then:

Canyon Growing Pains

The little baby Canyon said to his Mama
“I want to grow up big, like you!”
She responded: “You have to lose yourself,
Forget your shape, your well-made borders,
Stretch beyond the boundaries
Of decency and rocks.
You have to flow with the flow
Of winter’s blizzards, summer rains.
You have to …” That’s where she was stopped
By violent tremors.

Her child, the Canyon, was no longer little.
A wall of vicious passion roaring down,
He playfully swept old pine-trees off their roots,
Broke windows, covered houses
with thick mud layers, piles on the grass.
He carved a new path from the mountains,
Down to the ancient riverbed, his Grandpa.

What would a teenage Canyon do?
We have no knowledge. Before he grows,
Let’s save our lives and move.

In this poem, I use the "device" of personalization - depicting the canyon stream as a child growing up during the rainy season.

A similar device worked quite well when I envisioned the mountains as ladies getting ready for their earthquake dance by having mud-baths and showers (see my poem, "Mountain Watch" published here earlier). Not that either one is a masterpiece; just an occasional celebration of the spring.

Another place that I cherish in the spring, and actually year-round, is my garden of roses, fruit-trees and a jungle of bushes where many songbirds find shelter.

I spent my childhood in a suburban garden like that in Poland, and liked watching the plants grow, finding the first shoots of green among the dead foliage in March. Birds would come back to sing in late March or April. The winters were too cold for them, filled only with crows and ravens, that flew to Poland from much colder Scandinavia.

The pattern of birdsong in California is different, as many northern songbirds come here for winter or, at least, a portion of it. We have a burst of birdsong in October. Have yo noticed? March is filled with a symphony of voices.

Bird’s News

The bird in my yard
eloquently said

“The Spring has come!
The Spring has come!
Completely, secretly
Oooh, yes, yes, yes, yes,
Come and hear,
come and hear,
come and seeeee!”

when I went out,
the Spring was there,


In February I went to hear the poetry of my friend, actress, poet and photographer, Elena Secota, who was a featured poet at Beyond Baroque,

Recited with a lovely voice and in a slight Romanian accent, accompanied by a guitar of her friend, Chad, her poetry took us to her favorite place in the world, the beach, where she escaped to watch the waves of the ocean in solitude. She wrote a whole book of poems about the ocean and illustrated it with her photographs, some taken repeatedly from the same place at 6:30 a.m. That’s dedication!

The book is written in one poetic persona, “her” persona – imagined to an extent, since she is the most social of my friends, always forging and strengthening friendships, bringing people together. Yet, she praises solitude…


Photographs of leaves (c) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk.

Portrait of Elena Secota, courtesy of Elena Secota.

Gothic Madonna: Tilman Riemenschneider (German, c. 1460-1531), Madonna and Child, carved linden wood. Wikipedia.

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