Reflection I Think I’ll Go
The water and sky
made a miracle blue
There was a place you could see it
that nobody knew
The sky turns to colors
as the evening sun hid
Thought my words could describe it
but, they never did
Oh, I...just can’t say, cause I don’t know
I always kept wondering how far the road goes
JW Mack # December 14, 2018 : COMMENTS ( 1 )
Narrative Silver-Winged Messengers
But then there was something else-I began to see the hawks.
This was a new kind of interest. These birds were powerful, illusive; emblematic of feeling so large that I can't quite comprehend and poignant in a way that I can't explain. Though I will not cease in trying.
I began to have vague feelings that my sightings of these creatures coincided with something deeper within myself; it was always at times of introspective significance that a hawk would appear sailing above me, cry out through a thrilling, bleak voice, swoop down into my path while I walked in the fields at home, or appear in pairs, sometimes circling, sometimes perched at rest on a hay bale. My neighbor told me that I was seeing them because the Hawk is my totem; an auspicious messenger of power, clarity, and spiritual awakening. I figured that it was just a renewal of interest in my surroundings, a signal that I was healthy enough to once again find peace in the quiet goings on of the natural world. But at the same time, their movements matched so closely my mind's wanderings in such a way that made me question myself. Was I really just projecting myself into my surroundings; fabricating my own reality?
We tend to do that; environmental sociologists have noted this sort of social projection in a variety of constructs. Some assert that we both model our realities after our perceptions of the natural world and cater our interpretations of that which is not human to our own systems of understanding. It is a way that we make meaning and situate ourselves within the context of our state; as liminal beings that are both part of and separate from the natural world.
For now, I convince myself that this argument can come to no conclusive end, and continue in my walk.
When I first began to take interest in our family farm, I started to take routine walks along the Kentucky Coffeetree-lined stone fences and mused about my ancestors who farmed here before me. I can trace my family back seven generations on our land and now I read their story engraved in the limestone landscape. During each walk, my mind would meander through a rich tapestry of hypotheticals swelling with the nostalgia of things that I had never lived.
I think about my great, great, great, great grandmother Harriette, who raised her daughter and five boys in a two-and-a-half room cabin (the half counts the little attic bedroom that Gentry, Clarence, Cline, Floyd, and Charles shared). I think about her as she made the funeral arrangements for her 20-year-old Idalia, who died of typhoid. I imagine her bitter sense of familiarity in the walk that took her daughter's coffin across the creek and up the hill to the family cemetery where 30 years prior, she had buried her older brother Simeon, on his return home from Camp Douglas, in a rough-hewn casket lined with smudge pots; his pistol carefully situated on his chest. I think about her hardships as the female head-of-household on that rough farm; how bleak and grey the winters must have looked.
But then, I walk up to the highest point on the farm on a March afternoon, where limestone outcrops peek out from the loamy soil and grass that is just regaining its verdant rigor, and I feel her long-awaited exhale as spring renews its promise of another year of abundance. It has been on these walks that I have gained an acquaintance in a silver-winged hawk.
Almost every walk I took, the hawk would make an appearance with such regularity that it became a sort of game. Sometimes she sat in the taller branches of the old, giant Ash trees that are scattered in the rich Maury Bluegrass soil lining the creek-bed at the front of the farm; a patchwork section that bears a semblance of the ancient Blue Ash Savannas that used to characterize the Kentucky landscape. Most of the time, I saw a flash of silver wings and tawny belly as she flew from East to West across the farm (likely in her return to her Ash tree roost). I began to see her as an omen, take or leave the uneasy implication of social projection, of acceptance. I saw her flight as validation of my homecoming-as a powerful indicator that what I was doing in my return was right, was good, was whole. I wondered if Harriette had watched the hawks.
I walked the farm one day with my father, checking the cattle mineral feeders as we made our way to a karst spring on the back of the farm, that my grandfather had allowed to grow up and remain forested. I caught a glimpse of silver above me to my left and muttered, without thinking, "there she is."
... "So you've seen her too?" he inflected.
I don't know if I was more startled that I had inadvertently verbalized my thoughts or that my dad knew exactly who I was talking about.
I continue to watch the hawks. I continue to read into their flight, making note of the direction they go, their speed, the tone of each cry...I am hard-pressed to discount some semblance of significance when I see a hawk perched in the highest branches of a tree, sitting stoically as it is bombarded by three crows crying their outrage, or when I watch two Red-tails circle each other on updrafts and thermals visible only to them, or when a small Goshawk flutters wings against the wind, remaining suspended in place just long enough to mark a target, fold its wings and dive.
Maybe my interest in them is the same mystic pull that lent a sense of power to ancient diviners and oracles. Maybe it is my own personal desperation to find meaning in my experience. Maybe it is both. Or maybe playing the "Other" for a moment, it would be a mistake to categorize my fascination as dangerous practice or delusional pursuit, assuming we don't all want for the same kind of actualization, the same kind of meaning, the same kind of lift in our chests: that moment you feel like you have entered into something bigger that you. Regardless of the whimsy of my extrapolations, in these moments with the hawks, I am aware. I am present.
Anna McCauley # November 6, 2018 : COMMENTS ( 0 )
Reflection Sister Mary's Centering Prayer
Ships of Blessing
Before she knew us
Safely, we had arrived
Into the circle of her prayer
Daily she sends out, these
Her little ships of prayer
Quiet, eyes closed
She sits with palms overlapping
Resting against the other;
A centering, of her prayer
Our chairs, gathered close
Sweet smells dwell in the room
A formality of introduction
We meet a woman—Mary
Her voice, a distant shore
Prayers, mixed in among the flour
As her hands, had kneaded the dough
Our hands resting here,
Her spirit, outside of time
Our minds, adrift
Upon turbulent seas
Awaiting the days ahead
Sending us away, this evening
With a Sister’s blessing:
Her prayers for us, yesterday
Baked into bread, for today
Little triangles, of lemon-raisin scents
These, the sails of our ships;
For stormy days ahead
Ships of blessing,
Fit to travel the midst of un-calm seas
Bill Hudson # October 27, 2018 : COMMENTS ( 0 )
Reflection The Gallery of Things Forgotten
I walk the gallery of things forgotten.
Brushing past the curved back of a maple chair,
sliding a withered hand over the smooth, worn surface of a wooden desk;
a desk holding an empty photo frame.
I trace the smoke, lines of birch wood.
My fingers led to grip an object…slim and red with enameled handle;
fanned bristles at one end.
I have lost the word.
A man I know, used one well…and used one often.
I cannot tell. Are the bristles damp to the touch?
Was it years ago he painted flowers for me,
or has he only just rinsed the paint…?
Even when I forget the name of 'flower',
will I remember how much I have loved them?
Will I be able to receive their healing fragrances,
even when I have forgotten how to act towards them?
I am afraid. Soon all the words will go,
like the face vanished from the photo frame.
The picture, removed. Now only rivets;
holding against the folding rest, of the frame.
I am afraid of when the frame will go.
Then, I feel a familiar hand on my shoulder.
Now a familiar voice.
It no longer matters, what photo, the rivets had pushed against;
what round imprints were made against a face,
for which I have lost the name.
Soon, the wooden desk will be reduced
to just a desk, and then something less;
something far from resembling a tree.
I am unafraid that the last things I shall know,
are tree, and rock, and water. And flower;
long after I have lost their names.
Long after the names have gone,
Will be a calming voice:
You are my rock and my guiding light.
By his words, he still paints pictures for me.
And when the last names go,
he will be someone who still remembers...
the path, to the fountain, at Hahn Circle.
How I love the movement of the trees,
how I love the fragrance of the flowers,
and the sound of water sweeping over rock.
I am beautiful.
And he, is my frame.
Bill Hudson # March 2, 2018 : COMMENTS ( 0 )
Reflection A Mountain to Match the Mountain
Mountain of Repose
As I fall, again, into repose, I become aware;
that all things must come to rest.
The push to the summit, perilous;
there are those that will refuse to kneel.
Rest, for them, will not come at the top;
for those bent on conquering another hill.
The mountain, stands
that I may learn to kneel.
In repose, I gain strength
and a mountain rises up within me;
a mountain, to match the mountain.
From repose, I rise.
Bill Hudson # February 23, 2018 : COMMENTS ( 0 )