Hosted by Kathabela Wilson
It is always on the borders that we are most vulnerable. When we are close to our own beginnings and endings, feeling the edges of life in those we love, we feel endangered, along with the animals, plants and our world shows itself as being resilient and fragile. I think especially of the children:
with the children as they cross
and with their parents’ age old
hopes and dreams
The great art and poems of Toti O’Brien lead us on with hope, tenderness, and insight.
What makes baby irresistible
is candid decrepitude
held so gracefully.
Wrinkled and sagged
a zillion-year-old skin
stacked on its tiny skeleton
yet clear of all attitude
that of pretending none.
Little beast, born a centenarian
but without a lament
totters by with unsteady majesty.
Such conspicuous fragility
in its meek stare.
Eyes black corals
buried by timeless oceans
submerged by rippling sand.
(Pachyderm was first published in Zingara Poetry Review, 4/18).
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smiling town officials
photographed in hardhats
migrating ducks inspect
the precast concrete bioretention
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labeled a weed
the monarch’s host plant
as if we are immune
to the butterfly effect
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people need homes
land around the city shrinks
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whales belly filled with Styrofoam
my friends dying
in an ocean
filled with tears
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as if blow torched
my gingko tree
leaves crisped in July
and the roses
I am as shocked
as if it were me
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one blink and gone
a person who was a rock
the rocks themselves return to sand
coming in further each time
the ocean takes what’s left
Toti O’Brien, from Los Angeles, is a writer and artist. She says: “On his death-bed, Uncle Nino was given the book—fresh from the publisher—he had written about preservation of ancient buildings and towns. He caressed the cover, the pictures, the pages—almost reverently, as if they were the petals of a delicate flower. Then he sighed with regret. ‘Too bad, he said. I wish I could stay a little while, just to finish the new volume I’m on. It is crucial, extremely important…’ ‘Uncle, what are you writing about?’ He said: ‘Vulnerability’ and then he was quiet, as he had run out of breath. He referred, of course, to endangered architectures, which were his very specialty. But as he was left minutes to live, and because I loved him so much, the word he last pronounced took on an infinite resonance. It is echoing, still.”
Diane Mayr lives in Salem, NH. She comments: “The wildlife in southern NH has been radically affected by new construction in this area. We are a bedroom community for Boston. The song of spring peepers has been quieted. Turtles wander across parking lots. Ducks end up swimming in drainage ditches.”
Marilyn Ashbaugh lives in Edwardsburg, Michigan. The monarch caterpillar feeds on milkweed leaves. Because the milkweed is poisonous, its ingestion protects the caterpillar from being eaten by predators. This, of course does not include the human predator who through the use of herbicides has destroyed large numbers of these plants, resulting in the near extinction of the beautiful Monarch butterfly. From Wikipedia: “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”
Gayle Sweeper tells us: “I live on the outskirts of Brisbane, in Australia, where bush is being cleared for new housing. When we moved here in 2000, every day koalas were heard, (they are very noisy) and sometimes seen. Now they have gone. But people have to have houses to live in. There too, land is becoming scarce, yards are shrinking in size, houses cramped together. More blocks of units going up.”
Genie Nakano is a poet, yoga and meditation teacher and dancer who lives in Gardena, California. She feels how endangered the ocean and its beings have become, and cares for all living things.
Joyce Futa, of Altadena, California says: “The heat wave in Southern California has been brutal. When I saw the damage to the plants in my garden, the concept of climate change became immediately very scary.”
Peter Jastermsky muses: “The theme of Impermanence is the song of Existence. Invulnerable in our Adolescent stage, we grow into our Humanity, and our inevitable Vulnerability. And yet, if we think of our indestructible energy on a spiritual level, we may take comfort in knowing that we’ll be in eternal circulation, as an ocean distributes, and redistributes, the sand.” Peter lives in Irvine, California.
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