Straw Flowers

Straw Flowers
"Straw Flowers" by L. Folk

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Era of Needles


March 8, 2011

God is a temperamental gravity. That was the line that came up for me today. I looked up temperamental in the dictionary to see if I had the word right and it was circled. Temperamental as in sensitive, irratic; nothing consistent. Perhaps it is not God who is temperamental but my avenue to ...God.
Here is a dream: I plant tomatoes and zuccini in the house. The house has no floors, is just a wooden shell with sky lights. No sooner do I plant the tomatoes and zuccini, they are growing wildly. In a matter of seconds, they reach the ceiling and burst through the skylights. Outside, you can see the tomatoes, weighing heavily on the vine. The zuccini are like logs. I tell my friend Mark I will not pick them yet, it's too soon. I will wait for them to grow even bigger. I go to a nursery to buy something for the tomatoes and zuccini, I know not what. My sister is with me; she examines black gates to contain her rabbits. (My sister doesn't have rabbits). When I get home, the man from the nursery, Earl Proulx, the bald guy who writes home renovation articles for Yankee magazine tells me to take in the plants; the temperature is going to drop to twenty degrees. How could that be? I ask. Today it was near eighty, the sunlight made the vacant room glow gold. I tell him the plants are growing through the roof. He doesn't believe me. I say come and see for yourself, and bring a camera. He says he will do that. I go out somewhere, and maybe, in some nonlinear way, I am back at the nursery. I leave out the back door and Earl has my tomatoes in his hands. He has some minions with him, their arms filled with my giant stalks, my lush fruit. He said he's going to sell them in the store. I'm angry, but not too angry. What could I do? He sold me the fertilizer. So I go back to the house and my neighbor, an imaginary Asian woman is telling me my plants aren't right. The guy down the street has two million tomatoes and they are all perfectly red. I look at my tomatoes again, some of them are starting to wrinkle, take on brown spots. One of the plants has escaped its pot and the roots are dangling in mid air. They are starting to die.
One may relate the dream to my anxiety over my fertility endeavors. Sure, that's obvious. But I think the plants are metaphors for my writing. Sometimes when I produce something, I think it's good, it's lush, but going into the world, taints it. The rejection letters, the critiques. The fruit starts to rot.

March 9, 2011

I tell God to speak to me with compassion. Surround me with humility. This morning I received the Omega Institute's catalogue in the mail. I am tempted to immediately put it into the recycling, remembering the time I went to Kripalu and wanted to leave after the first hour. As much as I strive for some of the same things as these people, I do them differently. Their path is strange to me, almost laughable. Why would someone want to be called Wah!? Or Shamrock? I've sat through their workshops and found them vacuous. I do however, like the setting of the Berkshires and the Hudson River Valley. Just spare me the egos. So I sit at the kitchen table amusing myself with their dazzling images of poetic poses and slim bodies and wackos. There was a workshop on shapeshifting and how to touch your partner in karmic, tender ways. How invasive, I thought. I look through half the catalogue and then tossed it into the recycling.
I only like one view from my house. It is northeast, toward the pines and the woods. Looking in this direction I see the grass, a bird bath, a maple tree and the pines that lead down to the river. These are soothing images. Everything else, the cars parked on the road, the vinyl houses, the trash cans, the asphalt, I can do without.
I sit down on the mat and ask for God to speak with compassion. Josie comes and licks my palm. I wait for images. None come. That's not particularly true, I thought of the mountains surrounding Montpelier. Would I need to go there? Where do I go, I ask God, to be surrounded by humility? To hear you speak with compassion? I've only got one pleasing perspective here. I spend my time trying to protect myself from the less compassionate images, the ego-driven. Just log in to your email and you'll see what I mean. Or check out at the supermarket. Or watch a television show. Or go get your mail. We are bombarded with external images, poisonous, ego-driven drivel from every direction. What would Emerson say about this? He would curl up in a ball and cry. Our society is intent on making our imaginations go defunct. I remember the seventies, when I used to listen to a song and my mind would fill with pictures of the singer, of the song lyrics, of dreamy things a ten year old brain could wonder about. Now, you don't have to go far for someone to do it for you. And what is the mind body response to all these enforced, poisonous images? Anxiety.
Emerson said, “The moment our discourse rises above the groundline of familiar facts, and is inflamed with passion or exalted by thought, it clothes itself in images.” This is where the poet lives,in a world of his own images. But we all have a poet in us. It's just harder these days to find her.

March 10, 2011
The sun has rung up again, cheerful.
The paint on the house next door
is no less white
than it was a year ago.
We call this a good thing.
Time moves the word
and the mind is a cup
forever filled.
Why don't we just call
a spade a spade?
The Baptists color their God
inside the lines,
but my God stretches boundless
and flat
like spilled milk
across the kitchen floor.

March 11, 2011

The Era of Needles

It is the era of needles.
I lie on the table staring at the
swaying origami birds
thinking about a mother whose
life is broken.
She tells me her son
is terminally ill with a disease
I cannot pronounce.
Here in the paint
of the plum colored walls
her face is weary,
her frail frame buckles under
the weight of her thoughts.

There are some fifty vials
in a box on my dining room table.
There are two needles to use:
one for mixing the powders,
the other for pricking my abdomen.
I try to make nice with my body,
while I lie in silence,
imagine the white light, the qi,
the chakras, the whatevers
that silently surround me
on the acupuncture table.

Another woman follows me
out the door.
She is an older mother with
thatched gray hair and a young son
who draws elephants for
the receptionist.
I've seen her before.
She comments on the peculiar blush 
in the sky
wonders if, perhaps, everything
is alright.
She stops herself in her tracks, wait,
she tells me.
Wait.
Do you think it has something
to do with the earthquake and the tsunami?

But I resonate with the calm melon color.

It's probably just clearing up,
I tell her.
We both get in our cars,
make our way around the building
and look west
at the haze of pure light
under the yoke of gray.

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