Listen to “On New Birth” poetry reading by Elizabeth Wynne Marshall #np on #SoundCloud
Orchids woo me with their elegance. If they spoke, opened up their petals as lips and breathed words, their cadence would roll off their tongues with eloquence. In their presence, I am drunk on beauty. I study the lines of their face. Trace with my eyes the silhouette of their tender, tall strength.
I marvel and stare. Feel drawn in by their fragile soil-birthed beauty. All my senses feel alive when I am in their presence. Every stem, petal, bulb, and leaf bear something of natural wonder.
And then they leave me. Go dormant. And I struggle to care for them. I cannot seem to meet their needs. Tend to them in the proper way. They are the Rubik’s cube of my world. And then, as with many things circling around my soul places these days, I hear what I could not hear before. I really listen. I listen to things I did not formerly hear. I know. And I am renewed by their lessons.
All around my yard, in the garden, in my home, in my art, things are being born. I hold a vigil of uncertainty. I cannot seem to fall into their rhythm. I am an impatient observer and an anxious excavator of beauty. I believe that I am on guard and alert. I believe that I am eyes-wide open and prepared to receive. I am the citadel guarding the places of new birth. Caretaker of the ordinary and of my art.
But I have not allowed for the full mystery of surprise in all the ordinary and extraordinary things. I have not factored in the unknown. The goings on under the soil. The backstage preparations behind the veil. I am not leaning into the marvelous perfection of the timing of the Spirit of God.
And trust is thrust into the light. Once again.
I feel as though I am doing my part. With my art. Wrapping my soul in words. Preparing the phases and stages of my poetry and prose to fling them out of the nest. Into the spine of a book. Out of one cradle into another. Into the places that hunger for words of hope and faith.
But this a dormant time. Ripening and waiting are part of the care package. Waiting and trusting the unseen things is faith. Breathing out while breathing in and knowing the next breath will come and with it new mercy. That is my designated role. Trusting while breathing.
Living with hopeful expectancy.
The orchid that I held onto for a long forever will bloom a second time. The one that I almost walked to the trash can and tossed. The first one of my orchids to bloom again holds signs of beauty a second time.
The bloom is tightly held. It is wrapped and protected. It is just as it should be. Dormant and alive.
I trust my poetry and prose are held in this same place. Of tender waiting. And I trust the cradle will rock and toss a bit, yet, protect my art in every stage before the release.
The spines of a book, they may or may not be out there. But I am waiting and watching. Expecting with renewed hope and wonder. Because my orchid will bloom again.
Do You Know This Goodbye
My goodbyes are spinning round
Like our tuxedo wearing cat
Donning daily her puffed paws, slippering her in silence
White like the Southern cash-cow, cotton
Out of boredom, half-wittedness, and ingenuity
She chases her tail
Becomes a blue streak
Changed in the circling
What was the clear delineation of black and white
Marked by etched lines that move neither by force or fate
Is no more
When weary she will stop the cycle of circling back around
That G in goodbye, guttural in grief
Have you heard these goodbyes
The ones that echo, boomeranging back
Like the white-socked bermuda-wearing tourist throwing his voice down the depths of
The Canyon, grand gesture for show
Easily amused at hearing himself come back
Repeating every vowel and consonant
The “H” is still silent in herb
Hard to believe
“H” does not return, now audible, changed by the journey down to the depths
Landing on your ear canal on the return trip
Instead of lingering along the lines of your chapped dry lips, broken
I know these goodbyes
But I cannot speak of them again
Instead I will learn to sign
Code them into Morse
Change the flag’s position on the pole, half-mast says
Anything but speak them from the depths of grief
Please just say hello
When it is time for you to go
Or close the door without a word
Silence holds your memory well
Who put the good in goodbye
One who never knew
For The Hanger-Oner’s
It wasn’t the wind that called my name
It was the rustling
A restlessness whipping through the parched Palmetto leaves
Death had shaded them in brown, brittle breaking
Was their song
The only color, parchment brown, silhouetted against the monochrome canvas
Horizon bleeding into sky
Sky bleeding into earth
Every shade of gray
Morning comes for those who are ready
And for those who are not
The sun did not rise today, in my imagination
It remained at rest
Holding out hope, it will rise tomorrow
I will listen to the wind reveal her whispered secrets
Gray mornings come and go
Generous in their appearance
But the birds are the storytellers for me, on this day
Washed in hints of gray on gray
A water-colored sky awash in a single shade of void
I watched them on the naked tree, black on black
And wondered in that whipping wind
How do they bare up against the wicked wind
They swayed on boughs, beaks braced and facing into the gusts on gusts
Coming from the East
Breezes warm, this morning, from the sea
The birds would not release, their small clawed feet
Riding out the storm
The rain, the wind
They hang on
Gripping hope, imagining tomorrow
The Palmetto leaves will once again be green