Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Poem For the Ages, Especially Today

Ice Bubble Hotel in Iceland

I love how this poem shifts from awe, to what is awful, to what is benign, to what is all around us. Somehow, in magical Merwin fashion, this poem feels as if it were written right here, right now.

You can read more about W.S. Merwin and his poem "Thanks" by going to the Poetry Foundation website or you can simply read his poem here, now.



with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it

standing by the windows looking out

in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the door

and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks we are saying thank you

in the faces of the officials and the rich

and of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us

taking our feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain

with the cities growing over us

we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

Monday, November 19, 2018

Auberge Ayouze Near Asfalou in the High Atlas, Morocco

There are several more appropriate places to begin a story of beauty than in the bathroom but this isn't just any bathroom! This rose-colored space has a view of the Atlas Mountains which you can see as you shower. The photograph looks more like a still life painting than it does a literal place to wash the body. For me, this image also calls up a sense of wonder and re-seeing of the simple life which is what Auberge Ayouze is all about. "Enjoy your life" is the phrase that Idriss, the innkeeper, repeats to me often. He suggests watching the sunrise over the mountains from my terrace. And so the next morning, wrapped in a blanket, I do.

Watching the sun is a slow, meditative process. At first I am checking my watch, hurry up sunrise! And finally I relax into the morning. The star studded night sky gives way ever so slowly to the light. I watch groups of women make their way down to the olive groves.

This is the region where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and more recently, three episodes of Game of Thrones. Take away the satellite dishes and cell towers, the world here has not changed much in centuries. I know that's a simplification of the life I saw only peripherally --- the marketplaces, the kasbah, the public baths.

I listen to the women sing as they work together harvesting the olives in the olive groves. You can hear then shaking the tree branches. Across the road from the auberge, I walk down the path to the river. When we return, breakfast is served on the upper terrace. Fresh squeezed orange juice and strong espresso, local dates and warm crepes, a selection of jams and cheese.

Before we leave, we drive to Teleouet with Jasmine and Idriss. We see the palace of the pasha and outside of it, the Jewish village which is now a ghost town. The royal movie theater is now closed but Mohamed, our guide, tells us Charlie Chaplin visited here and played golf with the pasha.

While in Morocco we have practiced yoga daily, we have met spice merchants and woodworkers in the souks of Marrakesh and strolled the Marjorelle gardens but nothing compares to our time in the High Atlas at Auberge Ayouze where Berber lives and American lives so easily intertwined. You will find the Auberge in a bend in the road halfway between Assfalou and Ait Benhaddou. Climb the stairs to the terrace and there a new way of life awaits you.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

It Took Too Long To Write This Experience In a Poem

Young Woman with Mandolin by Harrington Mann

It has taken too long. Too long for so many things to come to light. Here is a recent poem that takes "inspiration" from a core event that happened over thirty years ago. Thank you so much to Jordan Hart and Kahini Magazine for publishing this in their November issue. And for the writers among us,
Kahini Magazine is a paying market for both poetry and fiction.

Arborist / Abortionist

by Susan Rich

Procured by anxious relatives
who demanded

a disappearing trick—

prepaid like a surcharge
for yard work done in the off-season:

his steel tool severing

a quirk of a tree limb,
attached to the nub of a stubborn bud;

he didn’t question
how I appeared,

transplanted into his waiting room—

never inquired as to the coauthor
of my infinitesimal text—

although he’d memorized its map;

extracted the troublesome little branch
that obscured the golden overlook,

and restored the river view.