Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Tag: poem

Midlife Crisis

After a certain number of years—say,
fifty—it begins to appear that the thing
you’ve been doing all this time—the thing
which you thought was a minor obstacle
to be kicked aside on the way to doing
the things you came here to do—
that thing, was, in fact, the thing
you were here to do. And all those
other things, the ones you secretly
hoped for, the ones that seemed so
important that your life would have
been squandered if you spent it all
without doing them, the quest for a
glimpse of the unspeakable beauty
that formerly called to you from dreams,
all those things—nothing. Mere diversions,
vapid entertainment to dull the quotidian
ache of doing the real work.

Ah, this life will grind you down, slowly
over many years, if you’re lucky.
Stone to powder. Bone to dust. And that,
I suppose, is also the point.
Monarch fall 17-09

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Fall Dancing

Moh mohia janai dur hai.
Kaho Nanak sada hadur hai.

Sikh mantra

And there are also times of unexpected joy.
It’s always there, here, as in the leaves
that fall spontaneously in stillness
and sunlight, turning over and over.
They are their own shadows.
Joy in the breath and the sound of the breath
and the movement of the body.
Joy in bending down and reaching up.
Joy leaking through the cracks
in the mindless repetition of ancient patterns
you love without understanding.
In every season, exquisite joy
that moves in you, dances you, if
you let it. Do. Dance though the mind
has other plans. You can still count
sun salutations, and dance in between,
though the body be heavy with humanity.
There won’t be dancing later, in that place
you secretly long for.

Sun through window Nov 17-3

Mars Conjunct Venus

There’s a rabble-rouser in me.
Likes to fight. Likes to shut down
a discussion with his jury-rigged
arguments made of home-canned
logic and duct tape. Lives with his gang
in an abandoned barn on the outskirts
of my mind. Strutting around shirtless
and sweating like he owns the place.
His girlfriend, she’s interesting. Titian mane
falling over a thrift-store feather boa.
Laughs like the bell grandma used
to call everyone in for dinner. Sings
like cold water from a deep well.
I’d be friends with her, if I could
just get them apart. We watch them,
my little girl and I, hidden under the
low-hanging branches of an evergreen.
We only see shadows through the grimy window,
but we can hear their voices, laughing,
shouting. Firing off the shotgun just for kicks.
If they knew we were here,
they’d torch the place and scatter.
We’d never see them again. But they’d
still be around, out there somewhere,
causing trouble.

Rowan at window2

Black Tangle

Pinwheel

It could take a year to get this place in order,
but I have to sell quickly. And I have to give
it over to the next owner with my whole heart,
with love and joy. So today I’ll plant this stone
flower box, with mums, because it’s late
in the summer, past the season for annuals.
The box is overgrown with perennials that
no longer flower, and volunteer white heath
that flowers too late. Oddly for August,
there’s new green growth under the black tangle
of last year’s moldy stems. I grab handfuls
of dead stuff, roly-polies scatter. Oh roly-polies,
cute dry-land crustaceans, I remember now
why I hate you. How many times have I
planted mums here, how many times
did you kill them? How many gallons
of water did I carry and pour out
for that which was doomed? I remember now
the full heart I put into this place, the
hope I held. How bitterly I gave up. How
intimate I’ve become with the word failure.
Why am I doing this? Love and whole heart,
oh yes. These blooms will be bright and pretty,
if only for a short while: that’s all I need.
Give me a week to show the place, then
let it be someone else’s job. I leave
a chunk of gangly mystery flower, move
the native late-bloomer a few inches
to make space for today’s fresh batch.
No normal person would find beauty
in these weeds, but I am a master of rescuing
the unwanted, of seeing beauty where others
see trash. The beer-can pinwheel isn’t a loss,
yet. I turn it to the slight breeze, watch it jiggle.
Every time I think it’s slowing to stillness,
another whisper wakes it. It never quite dies,
never really spins.

Yeah.

One of my primary purposes in starting Veronica’s Garden was to promote my novel, which I self-published four years ago and no longer promote. In fact, I’m officially not writing anymore, except I still blog and I write more poetry than I did for years. But. I’m supposed to be promoting my massage therapy business now instead, but I keep writing about nature and writing.

Today I had a massage from my friend Joy Daley. So if anything, this poem will promote Joy’s bodywork, which is ironic because I think she only takes new clients by referral. But, if you think this sounds appealing, I can probably do it for you as well. You can ask Joy, she trades with me, so she would know.

Yeah.

When you’re overdue for a massage
and you finally get a really good one
and you forget where you are and
a you feel inexplicable joy to see
a few lazy clouds dot the sky above
your freshly opened cranium and there’s
unspeakable beauty even in the train
carrying a thousand cattle to a grisly death
and a cacophony of sunflowers jostle
for your attention and turkey vultures
greet you on the road and you want to cry
and you forget who you are
and you just keep driving, smiling, saying
yeah. yeah. yeah.

Green hills

Dark Is the Shadow

Dark is the Shadow, yes, but
Dark is also the Indweller,
silent eternal Divine Love
within you, shrouded for
your protection from light
a thousand times brighter
than the sun. Brilliance that
would burn your eyes to see it.

When the moon crosses in front
of the sun, you can see stars
you never knew of. Forget the
crickets and monsters, there’s light
out there, for those who stand in the shadow,
cosmic rays from elsewhere, beyond
the sun, rushing in in just this brief moment.

Be there for it. Seek it, go wherever
it takes you. Pay whatever is
required to go into the Dark,
to see the light you can
only see from the Shadow.
Accept and claim its alien gifts
rushing in for you and you alone.
Upheaval is only another word for change.

The Big You

hst_carina_ngc3372_0006

Image credit: NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team

Do you ever find yourself obsessing
over small things, because it makes
you feel big? A far bigger You
watches you with amusement:
sitting hunched in the doorway,
counting grains of sand,
never crossing the threshold.

Do you want to be big? Forget the sand,
step up, step into your Large Self.
Be as big as you already are.
Claim all the space you require,
we’ll walk together among the galaxies.
There’s a nebula I’d like you to meet.
See Her stretch beyond every imaginable
horizon of human consciousness,
transcending form, vibrating with
light and sound, pregnant
with a million stars.

Witnessing the End

Autumn Hills

We were told that there would be difficulty,
betrayals, losses, and lack.
We expected to make sacrifices for
love and worthy causes. There
would be demagogues, tyrants, and
CEOs who lacked empathy.
And there would be beauty,
in a face or in art or in nature.
And we were taught to love these things,
to be comforted by them in times of
suffering. But did anyone tell you
there would be days you would
walk the streets openly weeping,
drowning in the world and the grief
of knowing you are witnessing the end.
It’s time to say goodbye to everything,
to giraffes and orcas, the butterflies
that migrate a thousand miles to share
warmth through the winter. To the wild
places that save us. To earth not driven
to hiding from relentless attack by those
who would plunder, extract, and leave
her for dead. And leave us for dead.
Say goodbye to life not owned by profiteers.
We were advised to remember
that time isn’t linear, and we are immortal
beings of light far greater than the
speck of dust we know here now. That
all these things we love are eternal,
in some way we cannot understand.
But still here I am, immersed in
sunlight on grassland in winter,
red-tailed hawk circling overhead.
And there’s a man from a city in Japan,
standing on the Kansas prairie weeping
to discover that there is still such beauty
in the world. Say goodbye to it all, my friend.
The voracious maw won’t stop until
every last drop of water has been tainted, every
wild animal eaten or caged. Every heart
and mind given over to the demagogue
and the masked man behind him. Say
goodbye with every breath and impulse,
every moment, every truck that passes
on the highway, every word or beat or
image clamoring for attention. Goodbye with
every step, walking hip deep in tall grass,
or pounding unyielding pavement of city streets,
or wandering the bright-lit aisles of a dollar store,
openly weeping.

Bad Friend

Writing is like a needy, bad friend who comes
uninvited and never leaves. She plants
herself on the couch, turns on the tv,
lights up a cigarette. “What’s for dinner?”
I try to remember all the good times
we’ve had together, the light that
would radiate from the space between us
when we were deep in conversation, the
magic tricks she used to entertain me with,
but I can never get anything done
when she’s in my life. She eats all the food
and sighs when I ask her to move her feet
so I can bissel up the crumbs. Day after day
she’s on the couch, chain smoking,
channel surfing, demanding my attention.
It wouldn’t be so bad
if she’d kick in a hundred now and then,
but ask her for money and she just
sticks her hand in her pocket and pulls out
a couple crumpled singles and some change.

Kick her to the curb. “Get out of my house,
bad friend, Writing. You’ve driven away my
true friends and put me in debt.” But
she’ll never leave, nightmare witch girl
who keeps coming back,
no matter how brutally I beat her.

She’s gone, now, but not far. A hint of smoke
drifts in the window from the trees behind the back yard.
I hear her cough, lurking there, waiting.

Saturn Square Neptune

Everything at odds with everything else.
The refrigerator heats up the kitchen.
The air conditioner gives the kids nosebleeds
and the washer backs up the kitchen sink
and leaks water somewhere under the floor.
The clothesline runs through a gauntlet
of chiggers. Bug juice and sweat and
I shower and change into clean clothes.
Mud oozing up between the tiles.
And health insurance. Whole days lost
to the phone and the clock and the
checkbook. The premiums are
so high I can’t afford the deductible.
Maybe some yoga will detangle things
so I can write. I focus on my breath until
it’s too late to write. Do you see what I mean?
Sometimes everything hinges on
everything else, but sometimes everything
is a dog fight to the death
of everything else. And this blue-white light
through my core: is it lighting me
from within? Or splitting me apart?

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