The clouds are cold, still
heavy with winter. Layers
reveal blue borders.
Earth holds its breath, forecasting.
Throw spring, uncautioned, to wind.
(…and we will catch it, gladly.)
If you see fire, if
fire is spilled, smothered by rain,
stolen from the sun–
are bridges burned, rivers run
dry? A cold flaming. Unquenched.
James Taylor released his album “Sweet Baby James” in 1970, the year I graduated from high school. It was a constant in my life for the next few years, and remains a touchstone for remembering that time.
When Colleen title her tanka challenge this week “Fire and Rain”, James Taylor’s song immediately began to play in my head. Almost all the songs on “Sweet Baby James” talk about the sun, yet there’s a touch of melancholy in every word. Colleen’s prompt photo, too, seems to reflect these contradictory feelings. Endings, beginnings: fire and rain. My tanka is an imagined conversation with the album and the song.
You can read the lyrics to “Fire and Rain” (the source of my tanka’s title) and listen to the song here. James discusses some of his songs for Rolling Stone, with musical accompaniment, here. (But you don’t need to explain yourself, James. We understand these feelings only too well.)
I had been thinking about Draw a Bird day but when I saw Kerfe’s rooster I sat down with paint. This family came out (birds) but I realized it was also a metaphor for my current family dynamic (three adults, one with ADD, living in a small nest). It does make me go up to my art room and paint more so there’s that. Anyway, happy Draw a Bird day, honored tradition on WordPress, and a shout out to all the great people who “flock” here.
“Watch out strange kind people
Little Red Rooster is on the prowl”
–Howlin Wolf, interpreting Willie Dixon
This embroidered painting was inspired by a Mexican Carnival mask and the blues, and also in honor of the Year of the Rooster.
Red as a rooster. Red
as a heart that bleeds with
fire. Red as the rose
that blooms inside the heart’s desire.
Red as the anger that
is trapped inside the flame. Red
as the burning blood that
saturates the vein. Red red. Red.
The poem uses the red rooster as a starting point. I finally managed to do a quadrille properly: 44 words. The rhymes just happened.
Happy Draw-A-Bird Day!
Darkness gathers light
treasure of expanding grace
jewel of vastness
Invitation to enter
follow turn around exchange
For my response to Sue Vincent’s prompt this week, I used as background a photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Egg Nebula, a dying star 3000 light years away.
The photo actually shows the cloud of dust surrounding the star, as the star can’t be seen directly. How do they know these things? You can read more about it here.
The tanka is for Colleen’s challenge this week. I used “grace” instead of “beauty”, as I think that word is very hard to use in poetry without descending into cliché.
I also did a painted and collaged response, using the mandala form I’m stuck in these days.
Still in need of centering.
circled by spirit
reflections of peacefulness
written as heartbeats, spoken
in smiles, awakening warmth
I keep returning to the seven circles of the seed of life symbol. It makes a beautiful mandala.
The oracle was, once again, brief.
the fertile song
of deep winter
I’ve been wanting to do some printing, and since Vanessa Bell, my current artist reference in “100 Self Portraits”, did woodcuts as illustrations for many of her sister Virginia Woolf’s books, I had the perfect excuse. I used one of the prints that I embellished with paint and embroidery for “Straw Hat”, but here’s the original print in two versions with the print from Bell that I used as a reference.
Of course, I can never leave well enough alone. So I painted, embroidered, and collaged on some of the prints I made.
I also have another embroidery idea that I haven’t had time to do yet. It’s on the list.
You can see all of the self-portraits in this series here.
At each stage, the path
lies untested—short, brittle
as the frozen grass.
Beyond, the sky waits—alive,
waking the young day with fire.
I photographed my watercolor/collage on both white and black grounds. Context, once again, gives slightly different views of the same thing.