"Lotus Opening" by L. Folk

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tending a Fire

I meditated this morning and the first thing that appeared in my head was the long blue (pale and steely, like the ocean) ranch across from our house in New Jersey. The Kelleys lived there and the seven years that we lived across from them, we never met any of them. We saw them from time to time, the son who drove a small car, perhaps a Toyota, blue like the house. He had long hair; my father probably thought he smoked dope. We were neighbors and yet, had no reason to know one another. Perhaps the Kelley's house is a metaphor for the impersonal, for disconnection, the disconnection common to winter.

After the Kelley's house came the boulders. My father hauled them to the edge of our front lawn to serve as a deterrent after some idiot did donuts and tore up the grass. Are they a metaphor for protection? I have been realizing as of late how blessed my husband and I are, by our children, by our belongings, house, and property. We don't realize our own vulnerability, being so close to the street. So far, I've only had to pick up the cigarettes people toss into my flowers.

After that, the wooden path to the Taylor's. I had walked it a thousand times, and dreamed of it; I flew over it, just a few feet off the ground, where I could still see every root and rock. Metaphor? Ahh, we may dream, but we are bound by gravity, by reality; we can only get so high.

A kitten with its paper bones, soft fir, warm vibrations. In Glaspell's Trifles, Mrs. Peters recalls how a boy "took a hatchet, and before <her> eyes"...And then I saw Denise's hawk, the curved beak and stoic eye after it had killed her rabbit. She told the bird she wanted to be there for the eating, and it did wait for her. She wanted to see it to understand, to know, and not have mystery to contend with; the mystery would make it worse. This is a very Buddhist thing, to not give the mind the ammunition of mystery, to make understanding a priority.

Why do these horrid images come up? It's the slaying of the innocent, and on some level, it happens to every one of us. There are reptilian forces out there. They have no empathy; they have no loving-kindness, and it's best to be aware of them. Gaining awareness is the mark of maturity.

Monday, January 12, 2015


I've been walking Green Hill lately, behind Ayer School, because the city has cleaned up the woods, cleared paths, kicked out the squatters. My dog Josie and I have a route down to the shore line, up a promontory, down, up, down again, up again, through the woods, on a vine-draped path that reminds me of a setting from Tolkien.

I saw deer prints frozen in the mud one morning, which surprised me because this patch of greenery seemed to small to support deer. I was happy when I saw the symmetrical two-moon prints, because it meant I was closer to a wildness that I originally thought; I wasn't completely engulfed in suburbia.

I wrote a poem about meeting this lonely doe. It was hard to write, and I don't feel that I was successful in describing how I felt "blessed" by encountering her. I have since seen her a half-dozen times, always when I least expect to. One morning, she sprang up out of the wood, ran a few feet, and then stopped. She actually turned around and faced me. I gave her the universal I-come-in-peace sign by raising my hand, palm facing her. She took a few steps toward me. We locked eyes for a moment, and I felt the euphoria one gets when a wild thing trusts her. I coveted her wildness, her freedom; I wanted to run with her.

Josie caught wind of her, and her hair roused off her spine. The deer seemed to sense this, and in a flash, she became the woods again, just as suddenly as she became a deer.


what I would speak of rather
is the weightless string of his actually soft and
nervous body the nameless stars of its eyes

                                                ~Mary Oliver, “Ribbon Snake Asleep in the Sun”

They toppled trees, cleared paths to open
the woods and flush out the homeless vets
pitching tents, sleeping in the oak leaves.

I saw the two moon tracks first—incredulous,
that my neighborhood’s patch of woods
could support something as big as deer.

She came to eat the tops of fallen trees.
We came to walk the new paths and view
the river from a different vantage point,
climb the rungs of roots and run loose.

Across the river, skaters motored and
scraped their boards at dusk. Through the
young maples you can see the light turn red.

Across the river, the nameless guard
their personal space, hunched over,
waiting for the train to let down her steps.

I only see her when I am not looking
when I am head-down walking
and then a flash of white, a flash of wing
from some other world.