Here are some of the postcard paintings and poems for dear ones that I’ve been making and revisiting lately.
I paint postcards
that are too beautiful and fragile to mail,
and then I mail them.
Something about the kindness of strangers.
Something about watching the ocean take back what it gave.
By Jane Hirshfield
A man tips back his chair, all evening.
Years later, the ladder of small indentations
still marks the floor. Walking across it, then stopping.
Rarely are what is spoken and what is meant the same.
Mostly the mouth says ones thing, the thighs and knees
say another, the floor hears a third.
Yet within us,
objects and longings are not different.
They twist on the stem of the heart, like ripening grapes.
“All Souls’ Day”
By D.H. Lawrence
Be careful, then, and be gentle about death.
For it is hard to die,
it is difficult to go through the door,
even when it opens.
And the poor dead, when they have left
the walled and silvery city
of the now hopeless body
where are they to go, Oh where are they to go?
They linger in the shadow of the earth.
The earth’s long conical shadow is full of souls
that cannot find the way across the sea of change.
Be kind, Oh be kind to your dead
and give them a little encouragement
and help them to build their little ship of death
for the soul has a long, long journey after death
o the sweet home of pure oblivion.
Each needs a little ship, a little ship
and the proper store of meal for the longest journey.
Oh, from out of your heart
provide your dead once more, equip them
like departing mariners, lovingly.
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
You would think I’d be better, for how ill I suffer fools.
But to build and to destroy seem to require different tools.
I am trapped inside
a small mammal
on an open plain
a small gazelle
a wide, grassy plain
“The Shrine Whose Shape I Am”
By Samuel Menashe
The shrine whose shape I am
Has a fringe of fire
Flames skirt my skin
There is no Jerusalem but this
Breathed in flesh by shameless love
Built high upon the tides of blood
I believe the Prophets and Blake
And like David I bless myself
With all my might
I know many hills were holy once
But now in the level lands to live
Zion ground down must become marrow
Thus in my bones I am the King’s son
And through death’s domain I go
Making my own procession
Welcome to my country,
where we never run out of fear
and the danger of other people
is outweighed only by the danger
of being too much alone.
Make yourself at home.
You don’t need to know
everything about light
to be a passenger
on the boat of light.
You don’t need to know
everything about fire
to carry a torch
and pass it on.
Cease this constant weighing of life,
as if you knew what it was made of,
what it was meant for,
and how to measure its worth.
Everything has momentum.
Once you are breathing,
it’s hard to stop.
And once you’ve stopped?
Even harder, then,
to start back up again.
By Sara Teasdale
A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.
Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;
For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?