With What Hope
did you write your way into paradox,
hands lit by thorns
and the creek
holding marsh marigolds under pines
unimaginable last spring?
this passageway over the swale
where willow tips reach upward,
gather the sap of earth
and visible as soon as we arrive.
Do we belong here?
Merely by walking with bare feet,
and what’s within comes without
In her generosity
she makes herself susceptible
Everything comes to drink with
a winter’s worth of thirst,
parched lips –
and still, she flows.
Oh, this morning. Breathtaking over the lake. The light. The way the clouds move. Misty blowing snow.
And look at her, taking him out early to let out the chickens, while I am still upstairs, just getting out of bed.
“I think it makes a huge difference, when you wake in the morning and come out of your house, whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you, but in a totally different form, and if you go towards it with an open heart and a real, watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you.” — John O’Donohue
“Dog is docile, and then forgets. Dog promises then forgets. Voices call him. Wolf faces appear in dreams. He finds himself running over incredible lush or barren stretches of land, nothing any of us has ever seen . . . Dog promises and then forgets, blame him not. The tooth glitters in the ridged mouth. The fur lifts along the spine. He lifts a leg and sprays a radiant mist over a stone, or a dead toad, or somebody’s hat. He understands what is wanted; and tries, and tries again, and it good for a long time, and then forgets.”
— From “Dog Songs” by Mary Oliver
We made it there and back again: all five of us across the ocean to beloved France, to visit Paris, Bordeaux, and then Aunt Zane and Uncle Gerard in the beautiful Dordogne Valley. What a journey. 15 years ago, Jeffrey and I were together here. I had just finished a study aboard program and he came to meet me in Southwest France. To return to this part of the world with our three children was a tremendous gift.
It was wonderful to travel all together as a family, but Paris was not easy with Wallace. I knew that Parisians are stereotypically impatient with loud, active children, but on the first day we had a couple of incidents that were particularly humbling. I speak French but Wallace doesn’t! We got “the look” more than once. Gratefully, the girls were a huge help, and we all tried to be extra attentive to Wallace and negotiate his melt downs. I hope the girls remember our walk along the Seine, Jeffrey’s commentary on the remarkable architecture, and traveling down magical narrow streets — as well as they remember coaching Wallace through it all!
On our second night in Paris, we explored le Passage de Grand Cerf, found dinner “a emporter,” and then I put a very tired little man to sleep while Jeffrey took the girls up into the Eiffel Tower to see the city all at night. I opened the windows in our sweet little apartment on Rue de Caire and let in the Paris night noises: fragments of French, dogs barking, mopeds. . . I sat on the old wooden floor and wrote, letting myself linger in poetry inspired by a Parisian Passage.
The colors seem especially brilliant this year with all the rain and overcast skies.
More so than any season, in October I feel I’m like going out into a new landscape every morning.
I find that I want to spend as much time as I can outside, even in the rain.
I want to tell you about reaching up
into the apple tree
to pick a wild apple,
when a shower came down from the leaves
and a drop fell on the corner of my right eye
and rolled down my face —
a single tear.