Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bradford pear blossoms.

'Tis National Poetry Month. 
One of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, has this lament about some students of poetry:
"... all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it."

I hope you'll be more gentle with mine.

Spring falls so softly
on the eye.
No rude alarm,
no blinding light    
snapped on in the midst 
of our winter’s night.
Spring whispers, nudges, coaxes.
It wakes us gently,
thaws our senses,
we, who have dreamed too long
in winter’s frozen palette.
Awakened, I wander,
eyes open to wonder:
Willow sighs with pale green sweeps.
Crocus peeps.
Dogwood dreams in pink and white.
Apple blossoms, pear delights.
The season’s lovely,
swift and sweet.
Breathing deep,
I head toward home
and find the promise of lilac.
Green stars hide beneath.
P.S. If you like Billy Collins, or if you've never had the pleasure of reading his poetry, come to Abington Free Library next Wednesday at 7 p.m. His collection "Sailing Alone Around the Room" is the pick for April's Ruth R. Abel Memorial Book and Film Discussion Group. 
To register for this free program, stop by the library office, call 215-885-5180, ext. 15, or email 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sunset over the bay.

In today's news, the word too often is used in reference to warfare.
There's another, more peaceful and personal meaning of the word: a pulling back, a temporary withdrawal from day-to-day life. (I look at the word and see "re-treat," as in doing something good for yourself -- again.)
The women's group at my church organizes a retreat every year, and a few weekends ago about 50 of us -- ranging in age from 8 months to 90-plus years -- headed to Harvey Cedars, on Long Beach Island. The retreat theme varies every year, but the goal is the same: to make time to do whatever it is that fills our souls. 
I love the ever-changing flow of the weekend. We gather all of us together, and spin off into small groups. Sometimes two people cross paths and connect; sometimes you go solo. 
You can follow your own path.
While I absolutely love the company of women, I do crave that time alone. The retreat gave time and space for both.
In a memorable act of togetherness, we trekked down to the beach to watch the moon rise on Saturday. We had heard the full moon would be spectacular that night, a so-called "supermoon"* that happens about once every 18 years.
We reached the beach about 15 minutes before moonrise, and as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, some may have wondered if it was worth the trip.
It was. 
We huddled together and looked out. Blue sky met deep blue sea at the horizon. Then came a small curve of orange, rising slowly. The curve eventually became a half-circle, and finally a luminous full moon, perched on the water. Within minutes it was high enough in the sky to reflect onto the water's edge. Moon above and moon below. Quite a sight.
Earlier in the day I had made a solitary pilgrimage to the ocean. At one point I stopped and just listened to the deep, constant thrumming of the wind. It felt … eternal, like the waves breaking at my feet.
The weekend was such a gift, and I give thanks.

* Technical terms: The "supermoon" phenomenon occurs when the full moon coincides with "perigee," the point in the moon's orbit when it comes closest to Earth. On March 19, the full moon and perigee were less than one hour apart, a rare occurrence, according to a NASA website.

Memorable moonrise.

A fellow beach traveler left tracks.

Zebra stripes in the sand.

Tufted grass by the bay.