Saturday, June 13, 2015

Daffodils and Rose Gardens with Martin and Linda from the Society of Friends

I met a poet in Syracuse, NY. No, I did not meet him. I already knew.  Martin Willitts, Jr. has contributed fascinating poems to my anthologies, Chopin with Cherries and Meditations on Dicine Names. When he found out I'll be in Syracuse, he, and his wife Linda Griggs invited me to stay at their home and shared even more poetry with me, including the profound Daffodils, the poem that won the First international Dylan Thomas Poetry Prize in Wales, in 2014. The story of the poem is fascinating, too, as only after writing it (inspired by the appearance of daffodils in the spring garden, his vast knowledge as a retired librarian, and his own Quaker faith), did Martin find out that Daffodil is the National Flower and Emblem of Wales... 

I've seen the golden charms of daffodils scattered on the verdant green of spring grass - everywhere, not just in cottage gardens and window boxes, also in meadows, forests, parks, cemeteries - everywhere. After visiting Wales in early 1990s, I wrote a cycle of four poems for the four season, "Daffodils, Again."  Here's the last one, for winter.


Under thick blanket of the snow
forgetting past misdeeds
we will rest and refurbish what must be again
a truth beyond embarrassment and hatred.

Wait for the transparent, icy comfort
of newness, hidden from the view
of the quick and the dead
that we must pray for.

Silence spreads out from within
like frozen crystals on the surface
of ancient waters,
like liquid notes of birdsong 
easing me into that day, that morning
when smooth scent of the daffodils
brightened the air.

It will soothe, charm and alter
the painful wounds, gaping horrors,
severed limbs, mirth distorted into sneers,
and the daily supply of cruelty 
wrought from the four corners of this world
crowding the memory.

Sleep, sleep, eternal sleep
Wait, wait, you will awaken
Sun, sun, will shine on you

Daffodils, again. 

I did not read this poem for the Palace Poetry Group in DeWitt Community Library on June 9, 2015. I actually forgot that I wrote it. Instead I had a number of bilingual poems, including those from the "Meditations" and "Chopin" anthologies.  I started from a short poem inspired by an artists' project to help victims of the Station Fire in 2009; artists made beautiful pieces from things found in the ashes of homes destroyed by the flames ("Healing from the Ashes"). All the proceeds were donated to the victims that had no insurance.  The artwork that inspired the poem consisted of a burnt face of a clock, with equally burnt metal dragonfly wings marking every hour. Since I cannot find it now, here's my artwork withe dragonfly, and a clock face without hands, where time stops....

Time Stops on Dragonfly Wings.
(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk


The sundial glows
in a sunset of memory.

Time stops.

Dragonfly wings
freeze in a nanosecond

of fiery beauty
before evaporating.

Time stops.

We measure loss
in dragonfly wings,

in crystal shadows,
scattered wine-glasses

filled to the brim
with flames

before breaking,
before our time stops,

it too stops. 

Artwork by Ruth Dutoit

I read another poem written in the spring 2010, after that fateful September: 


In flames,
smothered with charcoal
the mountains sing,
greening –
grass is their song
and sage and lily

resounding calm
from the slopes
shapes the air
into inverted bells

they call to me
for my small voice
to dissolve
in their harmonies
and ring

like a blade of grass
stirred by the breeze
on the high meadow –

passing into silence

In Syracuse, Ana Cecilia, one of the talented poets gathered at my reading, wanted a copy of the "Mountains" poem, but I had a hand-written translation into Polish in the margin, so I'm posting it here instead. I was very impressed with the poets' depth of reflection and verbal fireworks that carried the ideas on their incandescent flames. That's the beauty of giving poetry readings: you get to meet poets and hear voices that  you never knew existed.

Poets at the Palace Poetry Group Reading - Linda Griggs, MT, Martin Willitts, Jr. in the front.

My altogether delightful visit to Syracuse began with a walk through the rose garden with my hosts. Knowing my fondness for roses, you will not be surprised that it was among the highlights of my travel... 

Another delight was to converse with my very generous, kind, and hospitable friends who invited me to their home, showed me their Syracuse, their organic garden, and their worlds.  Linda is a therapist and a writer, Martin - an accomplished poet, artist, and musician...Together they do, what we all should do - make this world a better place... 

Why? They are inspired by their Quaker ways, more properly called The Religious Society of Friends. These are simple tenets of peace, love, generosity, and closeness with the Divine that lives in us all, I repeat, all - without exceptions, regardless of creed. If peace, therefore no violence of any kind. No weapons. No armies. No wars. If love, therefore acceptance of the beauty of every creature, large and small, everyone - smart and not so much, but with the heart. Seeing the world through the pink glasses of love is the best we can do, so let us follow the example of Quakers and be the way we are meant to be: lights in the world. 

To find out more, visit the Southern California Meeting website:


I plucked a rose in Regent's Park tonight.
Her name was "Iceberg."
Her petals? Dressed in whiteness--
But not that stiff kind,
More like old curtains--
Like lace... You remember, don't you?

I picked another flower by the gate.
"Miss Anna Ford" - She introduced herself
While her three siblings hid their faces
Beneath the tiny creases of her dress.

They are together now--
An unlikely couple
sharing the plate of water:
Soon they will fade and die.

A rose's death
is none of our business:
Picked, flourished, withered.
That's all.  But...
What splendor!

And... her beauty is all mine.

(Today I saw thick dark-red flames
Changing into the bluest blue of the gold.
I was transformed, bewildered and forgotten
In weightless joy, in secret warmth,
Lost to the stream of life, suspended
Under the vibrant hemisphere, alone at night).

There's no tomorrow.

"Never say die"--Marie Curie reminds us
From a huge poster of her Institute outside.
So pure and simple-- Just say--"Love."

Death’s cunning force
will take what's yours away,
Will strip you naked,
Will reveal what should be left undone.

I'll go there backwards
I'll face Her bravely

When my time--too--comes...


I'm burning but I'm not burnt
In agony, but not yet dying
Light streams out of my heart
Filled into overflowing

Sounds of an ancient tongue
Trigger a glimpse of a time
When the rose and the flame were one
Wreath of fire which engulfed me

Dissolves into stillness

A white wave reaches its destiny
Of nothingness
The valley brightens 
Under a shaft of sunlight

The air is sweetened with flutes
And harps (how obvious!)
A breath and a tinkle
Spill into silence

Love is no father, no mother
But this: perfection
Of all things in all
Feelings collapsed into one
Not a longing, really,
And not satisfaction  

Perfect fulfillment: all dreams.

(c) 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk, from Miriam's Iris (Moonrise Press, 2008)

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