Saturday, June 17, 2017

Preparing for Italy

It's been a while since I've written. My mind has been so full of "Trump Days" since January 20. And I've written no poetry since Richard was last here in November. I'm leaving for Italy in five days - 5! Richard's hosting a poetry retreat at Lo Romita in Terni, Italy. We'll be in Italy for 10 days; well, I'll be there 11 days because of my flight schedule.

Richard always has a pre-retreat writing adventure to get the juices flowing - my "juices" have been so sluggish that my heart simply hasn't been in it. YET (thank God there's always a "yet"!) I have done this poetry-writing thing with Richard enough to know that when it's time, something will come. It may not be great, but it will at least resemble a poem.

Sure enough, over the last couple of days, I've written two poems - simple, but fun. I find that "lists poems" are so helpful for getting into the poetry flow, so I thought I'd play with that for a while. It has not escaped my attention that the other two trips I've made "across the pond" alone haven't been "sight-seeing" trips, but rather pilgrimages, retreats, soul feeding journeys. This one also fits that category, and it hasn't escaped my attention that all three pilgrimage destinations begin with the letter "I": first Ireland, then India, now Italy...hmmmm.

The poem I wrote yesterday took that into consideration and my list poem came.

Pilgrim Places
By Sheila Conner

The “I’s” have it.

Ireland first
                Blustery cold windy days in May
                Warm wool sweaters
                “Soft days”
                Emerald green moss and fern
                Stone walls and fences
                Walking the Burren
                Fairies and rag trees
                Holy wells
                Bridgett and the feminine
                Galway’s swans and rainbows
                The room with a view
                Kicking the wall
                Cottage gardens
                Pizza and wine
                City fairs and the booth from India
                Poetry, stones, shared stories
                Feet in the icy Atlantic Ocean.

Then India
                Barefoot walks on temple grounds
                Ashram days, hot and humid
                Short beds, mosquito nets and lumpy pillows
                Bananas – every   single   meal: bananas
                Buses, motorcycles, crowds and traffic noise
                Chanting mantras, prayers and ringing bells
                Arunachala ‘s stone steps
     Monkeys stealing shoes
                Ganesh, Shiva, Shakti and Nandi – great stone deities
                Fire, smoke and ashes
                Sitars and incense
                The children
                Old faces, broken bodies
                Smiles and bows
                Kindness everywhere
                Feet in the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal.

Today, Italy
                What words will follow on these next few lines?
                Where will my feet bathe in these coming days?

In preparation for La Romita Poetry Retreat
Job One – To Fall in Love with the Miracle Ache of the World

Our "pre-retreat poetry writing adventure" assignment from Richard was to write a poem about packing for Italy, and one's been perculating for a couple of days. This morning it all came together, and my assignment's done! I'm such a "good student"!

Packing for Italy
by Sheila Conner

Take your sturdy shoes
And poles for balance
Streets are cobbled
Steps, uneven.

Take your flipflops,
The red ones,
For nightly bathroom treks
And simple freedom.

Take your bare feet
Tender though they may be
Earth walking is good for the soul
And toes must dip into the sea.

                A mind and heart wide open

                Senses all on guard
                See, hear
                Taste, smell
                Feel – for God’s sake, feel.

Take your cat’s reminder:
The sense of presence
Enough to know when to go on the prowl
For this moment’s current happening
And when to lie in the grass
With your belly flat to the ground -
And purr-fectly be – just be.

In preparation for La Romita Poetry Retreat
Job One – To Fall in Love with the Miracle Ache of the World