Heat and Thunder

NC Day 3 012
Photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

This is a place where sky strives to
overcome water and aged rust of earth
deepens, decorates shoreline
like copper on bare skin. It rumbles
into sinew and bones. Peepers clamor, chorus.
Dusk is well laden with primal scent of
rock, teeming lake, the sponge of heat.
Day departs on vibrations of thunder.

I remember this canopy of tension,
and how royal summer sun leaves
its marks on flesh and mind,
a deep etching of my bloodline.
Sweat was evidence of industry,
nature’s work and our play, and it
leaked rivulets, gathered as bright beads.
We consented to heat’s demands or fell
into shadowed space, the breezeway.
Coolness swirled as we watched our mother
and a searing iron smooth cotton into fine art.

I know this heat’s oppression, it’s random release.
This place, discharging its cloying essence,
perhaps unforgiving, bound up
in a rapture of prayer, grief, laughter.
Being Southern was our way, a study in
drowsiness, easy talk, dignity and dreaming.
Din of cicadas and bullfrogs background songs,
and peaches so fat with sweetness they
dropped themselves into our hands.

See there: a spear of lightning charges a spot
that is unknown to me but I do yet feel it,
a sizzling clean flash that makes no wound.
Quaking clouds that can turn into killing force
now seem a surprise of reassurance.
This damp red earth cools like my blood,
and light flings its beauty over water’s body,
adornment like silk, a slow dance  of
ardent adieus, night secrets trailing me.

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Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: She Comes into Summer

Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

She tricks the eye. He is not prepared,
grace of shoulders aligned so strong,
feet of light that skim the earth
and her face, it is not what he recalls.
How it curves inside incandescent air
or is it her shine, this child soon
in flight beyond his scope of knowing?

It happens like this amid slogging
and leaping through his life, the falls
into capricious and unwise ways.
All the silt and slivers of rust mixing
with moonstone, wildflowers and luck before
he can right himself, sort what means what.
He fears he’s not made all good, done right.
Yet she still comes along. Forebears him.

When do daughters know they are
loved well or enough, he wonders,
then leans close to discern meanings
of expressions, spaces between words.
Once she was that fragile and wholly divine
he could hardly stand to hold her.
Now he peers into the well of his heart
to find her like sun glossing the waters,
like his own dreaming and her mother’s prophecy.

She comes into summer on a wind
from the west. Her fairy dress shivers
and her eyes are birds that must sing
and her trust is dispersed too easily
and he cannot watch all this changing
as she glides here and there, farther away.
But he will not cast off. Not now, nor any tomorrow.

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Efficacy of Flowers

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All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2017

The efficacy of flowers
is an assurance and a lesson
that living things have purpose
and meaning by mere existence.
How much mastery a seed or bulb
contains before it settles deep
into snug pockets of soil.
It’s story is complete if secret,
the conclusion well foregone.

Does the flower ever know its fate?
Does it see its future coming,
how it will inch its way through
sprawling, humid earth with
one goal only–leaf, stem, bud
to light, water from sky,
tendril roots to deeper, then
a grand unfurling amid
breezes that will carry
its scent and seeds afar?

It comes into itself with ease, on
unhurried schedule, with grace that
adorns its fullness like afterthought.
Its unfolding is a soft dazzle,
a rapture of complexity–
such execution of design,
matchless, refined, a bit shy yet
a beacon for insect lives and me.

Its victory of beauty is found
with nose, eyes and fingertips,
carefully despite its strength,
and ingenuity–did it not push
its way up through rock, worms,
creepers and gnawers, gnarly roots,
more dirt to emerge intact?

But I wonder if it knows its splendor
is short lived, its life tarrying
briefly and then an exit,
its farewell often missed by others.
And even then noted only as
a humble passing, its elegance
finally fading as it returns
to welcoming, familiar earth.

Flower, I will keep such knowledge close:
that completion lives within me, and
life can bloom divine despite
complications or twists of ego
(no flower carries our burdens)
that scheme to make beingness harder.
I, too, have all required to survive,
arrive at an apex as intended.
And yet before I know it will let go
of verve, of tenderest or brutal things,
the salve of love; let my living

transform through ending as all must,
and move on then, and so be done.

Friday’s Quick Pick: Poem/ Youth and Eternity

Forget the rest, all hurtful things
and any false efforts, the energies
discharged when every look and
multiple words meant more or less
than what was needed or imagined,
and still the train of youth barreled
into midnights and mornings
when what mutely drew you was an
enthrallment, a peace planted and
blooming in the heart of chaos.

Which is here, now, and reverberates
up and down canyons and trees
with arms raised as you carry on
one heartbeat at a time, rocks sharp
though they give way and mossy places
still nestled, tender after all this time.
And the water flows, falls to earth
generous with riches, and long before you.
The wind carries secrets to all creatures
yes, and kindly, and always to you who are
made of starshine, angelica, pine sap and love,
brought into this slice of time, a drop of dew,
a tiger soul resonant with ancient life.

(For my granddaughter)

Friday’s Passing Fancy: Poem/ A Flotsam Life

Cannon Beach-Astoria-Lg Beach, 5-17 293
Phootgraph  by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

It came to pass, the fervid dream
that claimed the imagination and remained,
captured in a design of good intention.
The boat was built in time, did run,
the sly fish were caught and sold,
and river rolled and rambled to sea
with its insistent, munificent charms.
What an abundance of days
someone had at its bow, clearing
furious whorls and blinding depths
that cultivate coldest death.
A hail life or a middling one,
the Pipe Dream prevailed with
its steadfast ways, then perhaps
mistaken for more than it was,
a good dream made sturdy but
not undaunted, not untouched.
And the weather blew in surly,
the waters bucked and battered
and our stalwart boat was rushed, beaten
until it felt it might come undone.
Near to utter lost it was, yet not forgotten.

So the Pipe Dream II was crafted to
outlast a string of lifetimes
on that river, a place of welcome,
ceaseless toil and more laughter,
the result of great laboring and love.
But not all honest work is enough,
and plans are toppled by mere slips
and that dragon of a river takes
even the best, will toss over others.
So it stands the boat is a reminder:
there is no joy like a stubborn
dream taken in hand, with the
wind song in soul and whistling in ear,
river mixing a richness in one’s blood,
a man or a woman standing tall,
strong and proud at the helm.
But it will come to pass, they will be done
one day, will be sure and finally
done, while a good old boat
will endure as it can, will go on waiting.

Cannon Beach-Astoria-Lg Beach, 5-17 284

(This boat is an old gilnetting boat, left on display as part of the history of Astoria, OR.)