Newness Absolute

Digital illo: CreatingCreating

Atom by atom and cell by cell,

The seconds tick and the hours tell

And up from nothingness and void,

Growing, expanding, and overjoyed,

What was mere darkness, lonely, grim,

Swells from the silence as a hymn;

Out of all absence, beauty came—

Because deep love had called its name.

Invitation to Inspiration

Photo: Our Sorrows are Our OwnIf Beauty Dwells Inside

If beauty dwells inside the mortal heart

and soul, what dark impediment can be

so strong that we’d forget, incessantly,

to let it rule and be the greater part?

Have bitterness and poverty of care

for good and kindly things the weight and sway

to force the love of beauty out, away,

and leave a wound of emptiness in there?

What fault in us could any cause invent

to trade our greatest gift for grief or hate—

can joy revive, or is it left too late

that we grow wiser, love, create—relent?

Let us let go of emptiness, grow whole

by filling it with Beauty, heart and soul.Photo: Beauty without & within

Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance

Photo: RemembranceBecause its distinctive and elegant, resinous perfume and flavor are so potent, the herb rosemary is intimidating to use. Hyper-sensory persons like my spouse can be reluctant to choose dishes when they detect a larger presence of herbs, and this beauty is among the most extroverted and easy-to-spot on that list. It can overpower extra delicate ingredients if used heavy-handedly.

But, like many accomplished and self-assured characters, when this fabulous herb is showcased to its best advantage, it’s the life of the party, the belle of the ball. With such a unique, recognizable scent and flavor profile, it’s easy for me to see how it would be the obvious choice as a symbol, and indeed, stimulant, of memory. Whenever I pass a rosemary plant I am compelled to stroke its incense-laden leaves, their odorous stickiness seeming to hold my hand in a reciprocal grasp. I inhale a long, deep draught of that alluring oil and am transported hither and yon in time and space. Of course, I was thinking about this unusually potent attraction when I wrote about the garden just last Tuesday.

Then, last night, I was reminded of how long the name has had a special resonance for me as well. My email held a little note informing me that my great-aunt Rosemary had just arrived at my blog as a subscriber, and without the aid of any herbal catalyst to take me there, I was transported back in time to when I first remember her, when I was very young and small. This Rosemary, too, has always had for me great beauty both inwardly and outwardly, not least of all because she was kind to little me and my siblings and our young cousins and friends and, especially, to my great-uncle, but also because she was eagerly intelligent, thoughtful, and full of quiet strength.

My great-uncle, her husband and companion of so many years, died just recently, and I can only imagine what a sea change this makes in her life. It’s a strange thing when relatives we have rarely been near in person for great lengths of time, whether the distance was one of miles, ages, life paths, or a combination of these as in our case, die. My great-uncle’s sister, my grandmother, left this world in an entirely different way, having been usurped by Alzheimer’s some years before she died and thus becoming a wholly different person than the one I’d known, while still living in a place where I could manage to see her occasionally without crossing the country. Two different sorts of separation, but in both instances, the person I knew from my youth had effectively been removed from my sight and my daily life for a long time; yet when each died, I was surprised to find I experienced the loss afresh. I suppose it’s partly being able, now, to mentally return to the place and conditions in which I felt I knew them best. Memory, yes, it is a strange and magical thing.

No more icebox cookies while reading in Grandma’s living room, or watching her crochet her perfectly aligned tiny rows to make the best potholders on earth while we visited. No more leafing together through Uncle Ralph’s gorgeous black-and-white photos of a full life and all of our relatives looking ever so much younger and more mysterious and glamorous in them, or hearing him discuss anything from nature’s beauty to what was on the table to psychology with avid, probing attention. Heaven knows there are enough quirks in our extended family to have kept his keen and trained mind busy with this last topic to the degree that I can only imagine it will continue to entertain him equally in the afterlife. He’s probably our there having a good laugh over my having said so.

But as for Rosemary, both the herb and my great-aunt, the preciosity lies, not just in the beauties of memory but also in being stalwart, graceful, and remarkably unassuming for such strong and lovely creations. It is truly good to reconnect with and be blessed by those gifts. One chapter of the story ends and a new and sweet one begins.

A Queen among Women

For one wonderfully sweet and lovely woman I know, I struggled to decide what to give her for a token of my respect and affection on her birthday. Then, because she is a superb singer and I, an admirer of her glorious singing, I decided to write her the lyric text for what might—with a composer’s help—become her own sort of theme song someday. For now, it’s simply Bea’s own poem. She said I could share it with you.Digital illo: A Queen Among Women

For a Lady of Great Beauty
For the song, bouquets of roses
For the day, a joyful start
For the labor, peaceful evenings
For the care, I give my heart—
For the wisdom, inspiration
For desire, a glorious year
For the wish, the starry heavens
For delight, companions dear—
For the sorrows, deepest comfort
For the friendships, never part—
For the moment that I met you,
You resided in my heart.

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And since it’s her favorite of my other poems (so far, I hope), I’ll repost the following one. For good measure.

Digital illo: Grace Again

Text: Grace

Through Winter’s Window, Dimly

Photo: Light Looks In

Change of Season

Between the rain spells, when the sun is glinting onto rose and road
The youthful smells of spring are hinting that ahead the broken code
Winter left in seed and scion will reveal its inner life,
Where what had appeared as dying wakes again with newness rife.
Open eyes and open windows! Let indoors the fresh new air,
Breathing in what melts the snows and pushes out all winter’s cares.
So renew the self and senses and embrace the growth and light
Breaking down all old defenses, setting earth again aright.

A Little Something for a Friend

Photo Montage: Manhole Covers 1I discovered quite some time ago that the admirable proprietress of a photography blog I enjoy very much, inte fan gör det det (I’ll let you look up the translation, you non-Swedish-speakers, for your own amusement) shares my affection for many things that escape attention from lots of others. Among those oft-overlooked everyday objects are the steel caps that separate cars and pedestrians and the like from whatever dwells in the underground infrastructure: manhole covers.Photo montage: Manhole Covers 2

Some of these utilitarian items are made without much regard for their aesthetic potential but even so, manage to become rather special and interesting by virtue of the patina of age and use. On top (no pun intended) of that, there are many manhole covers deliberately designed to be special and interesting and aesthetically pleasing. I don’t much care what the original intent of a manhole cover’s design happens to have been, as long as part of the purpose was to keep me from falling into the sewer.Photo: Manhole Covers 3

But it does beg the question, for me, of why, outside of emergencies, one shouldn’t make every single thing one makes as beautiful as it can be. Maybe I should simply be content that so many things, like manhole covers, can become beautiful through use and time. After all, that’s what I would like to be able to do, myself. Ah, perhaps that is precisely what is at play in the manufacture of a manhole cover; it is made expressly to become beautiful through use and years. Perhaps, indeed, I’ve stumbled onto a cosmic truth, and we mortals are also designed with that in mind. I suppose I’d better get busy!Photo: Manhole Covers 4