Monday, April 28, 2014

Seeing Legs Seeking Sense

My days in Boulder are abundant, early rise, walk….learn, walk….ponder, walk and home.  I’m living just northeast of the city, in a quiet suburban outcrop called Gunbarrel.  Some of us students at the Rolf Institute live close enough to walk to class.  It’s been a long time since I’ve walked to class as a student side by side with others…adorning book bags invested with packed lunches.  We talk in fervor of upcoming quizzes, intriguing instructors- it's nostalgic to feel kiddy again.

At school, our days often end with several hours of touch exchange.  During skillful touch class, we practice what we learn on each other.  Each session, the instructor asks for a model, and most of the time six people raise their hands at once.  Everyone wants to jump up on the table and receive quality touch from a learned practitioner.  However, when you are the model person, you don’t get to see what is happening.  Then, when it’s your turn to practice on another classmate, there is less reference for how to work.

I hadn’t thought of the difficulty on my own; I haven’t been fast enough to be the demo model yet.  As a student, I am thorough and perceptive - I always watch closely to what is happening.  In this school, sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.  I notice, I've still been relying a lot on the notes taken on the board to guide me,

Pectoralis Major sweep with fingers, interossesous trampoline feeling, big soft paws

The notes themselves serve as an outline of hints to remembering where to travel on a body - they help to lay out the terrain.  But sometimes, the notes stand only as cryptic afterthoughts, appearing as a secret recipe, difficult to follow.   The difficulty of following and modeling occurred to me only after my walking home friend said,

“Being the demo guy was hard because I had no clue how to work when I picked up my partners leg, and the board didn’t make sense.”

“What did you do?”  I asked him.
Its been challenge enough to navigate the touch having seen the full demonstration.
“Well, I just asked my partner’s leg what it wanted.”

In an instant I noticed something happen.  I realized another possible way to work.
I’m relying still so much on my eyes.

He continued,
“I think that bodies can tell us what they want if we listen.”

Small moments like this can shift perceptions.
“I think this is the essence of the work,” I said.

I said, knowing fully that I am in beginners mind.  We kept walking, savoring the discovery.

Here in school, there is the piece of work that relates to others, and there is the personal garden to tend.  Being present to the spectrum of self to other is at the heart of this.  A large piece of my present work is to show up with kindness and patience towards myself, and to cultivate the humbleness to accept feedback and sound advice.  The strength to be willing to melt into being taught and molded is a potent edge.  I stand seeking the expansive grace to harbor paradox; to know I have so much to learn AND know that so much can be understood by simply asking a leg,
What do you need?

The paradox of acquired learning, and spacious being – how to hold both hands?
A body, like any living creature loves to be nurtured towards vitality.  When leg is asked what it needs, it’s asking a plant.  Water?  Sunlight?  Shade?  If I water a plant too much it dies, if the pot for planting is too small, the roots don’t support and the leaves don’t flourish.  A leg that seeks space is different from a leg that needs to make sense.  The dance becomes a play of dynamic perception, what’s happening with me, what’s happening with you, what’s happening with us.  My eyes are starting to soften, perceptions blooming broad.  I sense, I walk, I perceive....seeing legs seeking space, seeing legs seeking sense.

Allison for The Poplar Grove Muse

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Poem

In spring, when the first sudden sun pours down 
Honeyed warmth onto the grateful neighborhoods,
Coaxing the hyacinths and crocuses into
The greening light of new-leaving trees,
The men take off their shirts.

Baring pale winter flesh sprouting its dark tendrils,
They stretch and strut and run out onto the paths,
Raise their hairy arms to the skies,
Shed their long pants, their socks, their winter paces.
Throwing open the garage bays, they mow and rake and seed,
Tune up their bikes, their breathing, their brains,
Celebrate the retreat of cold with their whole body-beings,
Without thought of unfitness, or flab, or suppressed instinct.

The women, on the other hand, greet the sun
With a wild pent-up grieving for lost opportunities—
Tightening of muscles, shedding of pounds,
Abnegation of the flesh and its hungers.
After long months of hibernation
In heavy woolens, dark layers,
Vacillations of refusal of the flesh
Beneath, and stoking the envious spark
Within, their spirits are weary
With disappointments.  They drive
Past, watching, filled with desire  
And remember spring.  

Mary for the Poplar Grove Muse

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poetry for two Voices

Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song. ― Jorge Luis Borges

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead a poetry circle in celebration of national poetry month. We enthusiastically read and wrote a wide variety of poetic forms.  We dabbled in haikus and tankas, odes and elegies, pantoums and villanelles. We talked about a shared love of language and poetic voice.  As I was planning the last class, I suddenly had a wild need to hear poetry, to return to the origins of poetry, to listen to and enjoy the aural qualities of verses.  I began to watch and listen to a wide variety of spoken word poems, like the kind you would see at poetry slams on college campuses.  After viewing a few dozen youtube videos of slams, I remembered a spoken word poetic tradition I was introduced to a few years ago in the form of a children's book called Joyful Noises.

Joyful Noises is a book of spoken word poetry specifically written for two voices. The poems in this book were written with children in mind and in fact, when I googled Poetry for Two voices all I could find reference to was this book and other poems written by and for children.  It was all very sweet but I really wanted an adult poem.  I wanted to look at and listen to poems for a specific age group. I couldn't believe there were none.  (Note: This still seems to be a great untapped poetry market.  If you want to write poetry for two voices--for an adult audience--I'd say go for it.  There is not very much out there.)

I came up empty on google so I started through spoken word poetry on you tube.  Again, great poetry but nothing for my audience.  How could no one have ever made a poem for two voices that was aimed at me and my peers in the poetry world?  Seriously, where was all the poetry being hidden?

Finally I came across this little gem.  By the way, we enjoyed our last class and watched several spoken word poems and we also read aloud our own poems.  We watched and talked about this poem for two voices.  I hope you enjoy it too. And if you know of any other poetry for two voices--please comment below.  I would love to know about it.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Learning How to Fly

(This is an excerpt from a much longer piece, Fly Away, Fly Away, that I wrote about my brother-in-law’s death in February.)

……Vanessa and Debbie in one vehicle, April and Crystal in another, Carl’s family left Hospice House after 8 p.m. and, despite wind, rain, and threat of tornado, hoped to be at Carl and Debbie’s house in Washington by 9:30. They drove as far as Breeden Road, a few miles south of Bloomington on Highway 45, and were stopped by downed utility poles and lines and tree limbs. So they returned to a friend’s house in Bloomington and spent the night there, then drove home Friday morning in the storm swept freshness of a new day. We wondered if Carl hadn’t been quite ready to let them go back home the night before. If he knew how empty the house would feel without him. If he was playing in those big winds that he’d always loved. You try to make meaning out of every little thing when loss and grief press your hearts to the ground. 

March 3, 2014
Yes, I guess Thursday, February 20th, 2014, was, as Carl would say, a phenomenal day to die. And now here I am, with that momentous day behind me:  Carl’s fine obituary carefully cut from the paper and tucked away in Bill’s Bible; hours of visitation and hugging family members and old friends adding new images and color to our ongoing family tapestry; the many songs from Carl’s Celebration of Life still playing loops in my mind; the comfort food his home church provided still tasting like kindness in my mouth.

Bill and I have found ourselves in each other’s arms more often than usual this past week, eyes blurred with tears, hearts aching with love and loss. And just like Virginia and Pappy, George, Bob, Clarence, and even little David Lee, Carl will always be in our family circle—he meant too much to too many people to ever be forgotten. I picture him filled with amazement; his ethereal body athletic, strong; his wings big enough, powerful enough, to find his new place in the cosmos. Perhaps he’ll land with the Canada geese on the pond near his and Debbie’s house this summer.  Perhaps he’ll tumble and bounce in the trills of Whitney and Luke’s laughter through the days and years to come. Maybe he’ll be the brightest star in the Big Dipper, or the reddest red in the sunrise at Coco Beach where he loved to run and fly kites with his family.   As he said, Cancer isn’t a death sentence, it’s a life sentence, and I truly believe Carl Breeden’s life is eternal.

Learning How to Fly—Carl and the Breeden Road Incident

Was Carl playing, dancing in the heavens,
Watching the storm from above, from within?
Did he dip and climb and dip again on the high winds,
Smile to see his family name on the street sign,
Lose control for an instant and
Wreak havoc with utility lines and trees?
He was new at this flying business after all,
It might take him a few hours to get the hang of it—
Directing the power of those unwieldy wings
Was nothing like driving a semi truck.
But if he could drive a semi for lord knows how many years
Without an accident,
Surely he could master this new means of mobilization
Before he barged in where angels had no business treading.

Or perhaps he understood in some godlike way
That Deb wasn’t quite ready to return home without him.
Perhaps he could get her attention at Breeden Road,
Suggest a night of respite—
Away from hospice, away from home.
He hadn’t realized the full potential of his other worldly concern;
Hadn’t meant to twist those poles, snap that wire, break that limb.

He couldn’t get as close to Deb as he wanted to
And yet he could feel her love so strong
That it almost blew his feathers off;
Felt her competence, her woman power
As innate and relentless as the eye of the tornado he was riding.
Joy and enlightenment flooded his being like the raw force
Of that winter storm beneath his broad shouldered wings—
His family was going to be okay.
He let go his need to protect
And got on with the business of learning how to fly.

                                                                                                            Glenda Breeden 

Glenda for the Poplar Grove Muse