THIS NEW NOTEBOOK
Arrive with every step.
--Thich Nhat Hanh
After breakfast in the Marriott
near New Ross, these are notes on walking.
Oatmeal with walnuts and raisens.
One Cup Coffee. Each page new
and clean with no frets. Here now
in Karen's country. The notebook
left at home on the coffee table
full of notes from spring and anticipation
worried me yesterday on the plane,
traveling at 35,000 feet and 600 miles per hour.
Things slow down after oatmeal.
Karen goes back to bed
and pulls the covers up to catch up
with Facebook, working with her IPhone.
It's raining and storms threaten.
This is the tornado belt
big winds arriving, too.
If I arrive with each step
then each line on this page
is an arrival point, deliberate
in its way of showing, a revelation
bringing the ancestors up the sidewalk,
Karen becomes more her mother
than her mother, gone 70 years,
she will be greeted like this
by family, commonality in genetic likeness,
as revelatary as day lilies on the roadside,
Karen come home, no words necessary,
none given. Lines on the page as progress.
Karen taking the back road built
around corn fields. Aunt Mary, calls
wondering where we are, Big Raccoon Creek.
23 June 2016
CRACKER BARREL BREAKFAST
Eggs, Grits, Biscuits.
Karen walks us through the tables
taking us to cross-ground grits
where our waitress stands.
How do we eat these, Jessica?
Karen orders blue berries
and lemon-stuffed French Toast.
Warmed blueberry-lemon syrup.
How did we find you?
An art teacher during the school year
at the elementary school, bi-lingual,
Swedish-English. Saw Mill Gravy,
or Jam-N-Apple Butter, she says,
while Karen explores Indiana on the walls.
The menu, too, full of trails,
gives me notebook time,
Thich Nhat Hanh's How to Walk
takes me to the teacher
who taught me how to enter
a room. Returning from war
before Thich Nhat Hanh found
Plum Village, the drama teacher
showing me balance in opposition,
bending knees and relaxing the elbow.
Don't worry about memorizing any lines,
get this walk down. I open to the page
where the monk walks with Father Berrigan,
remember the tribute Dan Miller
wrote in The Sacred Braid, his description
of Daniel Berrigan's walk, and pause
to recall the peacemaker's passing.
Brother Hanh kept his own pace
with Father Berrigan, and Berrigan
learned to slow down, slowing his walk
even in the city. Just like this, then,
walking into a room, away from war,
walking to Jessica's table,
receiving her instruction eating grits,
sitting at table in the heartland..
22 June-7 July 2016
TAKE THE I-65 EXIT TO INDIANAPOLIS
--Feel your feet solid on the earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Yuri checks out the Jeep Compass
at Enterprise, giving us a free upgrade
after Pulse breaks into the language.
Meditation on Violence essay breached,
gap in nature. First words from sky
on flight into O'Hare, Karen slides
towards I-94 Tollway to Indiana,
black interior in the ride.
Indoor skydiving on the left.
Sandy Hook and grandkids.
90.9 Jazz on NPR Chicago,
12 December 2012 to Orlando,
a Stevie Wonder tune, Creepin'.
Karen's Chief Joseph Vest for the Children,
names sewn in satin lining
from the summer of 2013.
Grandkids modeling, outgrowing,
ghosts in the eyeballs, reading poems
sewn into pockets. Echoing Green
on concrete, wheels of steel
walking us home. Somewhat lost
getting off the plane. Maladjusted,
Martin said. Maladjusted,
and there's a bookstore by the Men's Room.
James Welch and Fools Crew first,
then at the counter, pocket book
fits in the hand, smaller than an IPhone.
Thich Nhat Hanh's How to Walk,
angel beside me. Eat a Chicago Dog,
replace a lost notebook at Target
and trust Karen to find a lane.
22 June--7 July 2016
Walk off the plane at Solstice
without lifting one's foot. Beached,
and no sand between the toes.
Cut off from ancestors
and the full moon in the driveway.
22 June-7 July 2016
In the basement of the Athletic Club,
taking off summer sandals,
I pick two pine needles
from between my little toes
on each foot. Changing clothes,
putting on socks for the first time in days.
Wimbledon quarterfinals on tv screen
Serena Williams and the young American,
Vesely. Such beautiful people
where ever one looks. Paul Simon
sings me here, stranger to stranger.
I have brought some Chinese poems
to read while I stretch,
and then I'll roll around on a rubber ball
for five or six minutes. At home, re-reading
Jim Welch, who takes me back
to the year 1870, in the part of the earth
where I come from, Memory Springs.
He goes beneath names.
He walks through White Man's Dog,
rides through Fools Crow.
He becomes a heavy singer-for-the-sick,
present to it all.
This is the return in the bone whistle
in the basement.
July 5-7, 2016