Blue jacket, blue sweater, blue sleeping bag, blue eyes with thunder heads rolling over them.  I saw him folded on the sidewalk ahead as I crossed the street.  He said nothing, but those eyes silently pleaded as person after person walked past.  I got out a few dollars and then guiltily covered my expensive bag with my arms as I approached him.

I'll often stop (I don't care what the money is spent on, it's the moment of kindness and acknowledgment that matters), but I rarely exchange more than a couple of words. 

After I walked away, I heard him call out.  I went back and knelt down beside him this time.  Up close, I saw the child in his face.  I thought of his mother.  Does she know where he is?  Is she a safe haven for him?  He asked me why no one stops.  "Everyone just keeps walking, like I'm not even here."  Then, on the verge of tears, he asked, "Why is everyone so mean?  Why is everyone just so angry?"  A dozen reasons flashed through my mind, none of which I could bring myself to say.  

I touched his arm and said, "You're right, people are angry.  I'm sorry.  But I'm not angry."  A slight untruth, that last part.  I tried to smile.  A couple sitting outside the coffee shop clearly didn't like anyone giving this human being who was cluttering up their sidewalk/day/reality any attention or reason to stay.  

His voice was somehow both ragged and childlike, his back curved in defeat.  I didn't have the right words (I never do) or any soothing answers.  He was gone when I passed back that way, but his questions and those stormcloud eyes have been with me for weeks. 

I know there are reasons to be angry.  There are things that deserve outrage.  The world can be a very unkind, unjust place.  And no matter what we look like or how we manage to pass ourselves off, we all carry some kind of storm inside.  What if, instead of outrage toward our fellow human beings, especially those we don't like the looks of or don't understand, we offer a little tenderness and see what that world looks like?


slow notes:  

This, on compassion.



Poems.  I don't mean the written word, but the seen, the heard, the felt.  I find them most often in the forest, for that is where Douglas fir, Mahonia, licorice fern, and Trillium live.  It's where wild ginger, chanterelles, singing birds, the scent of humus, and a thousand glorious shades of green live.  It's where life and death and love and all manner of magical unseen things live.  But I also find poems in my own back yard, crawling under piles of rotting leaves, inching their way up tree trunks, or dripping from the rain-filled gutter.  I feel them settling into my bones like a valley fog when I walk with the moon.  I can sometimes taste them, salty and wild like a coastal gale, and my heart becomes an ocean.


slow notes: 


Have you found these kinds of poems?  Maybe in the touch of the dog's nose on your cheek?  In the rhythmic ticking of an analog clock?  In the caw of the crows outside your window?  In the scent of the garlic you grew last year browning in a cast iron pan for tonight's dinner? 

I know that some may feel that there is no poetry in the world right now, and my heart is with you.  

Maybe today you are the poem.   



January was slow and quiet.  Its calm and nothingness felt so soothing after the busyness and social activities of the holidays.  The chance to decompress and go inward was deeply appreciated.  I inhaled soft silvery fog on long morning walks and spent  many  dark evenings with a book in my chair by the wood stove.  We took four trips to the coast, where winter's king tides luxuriated on our favorite stretch of sand.  High winds came to visit our town more than once, scattering gifts of soft mossy branches with each gust.  Clear blue skies and sunshine were often present, too, giving us a lovely balance of the natural forces.  We baked bread and made stews, deep cleaned and decluttered.  We had movie nights and music nights.  We bird-watched and book-browsed.  

As we now approach mid February, daffodil greens have pushed up through the sodden ground and the towhees are back in the camellias.  Trametes versicolor (turkey tail) is taking my breath away on trails by the river.  Buds swell on the end of branches in joyful rebirth.  Baby cleavers, so delicate and bright green, tell me that the wheel is turning.  I can hear spring gently journeying up through roots and rocks, whispering sweet promises of fragrance and color and things brand new.  

I can feel the lists of flowers I want to plant / vegetables I want to grow / projects I want to start all beginning to germinate in the back of my mind.  I dream of tomatoes, hollyhocks, suppers outside under the twinkling lights, bats swooping through the trees, and bare feet in touch with the earth once again.  But, for all of these stirrings, I'm not ready to part with beloved winter just yet.  That soft silvery fog is calling again today and I'll happily fade to grey once more for the chance to be wrapped in her magical spell.


slow notes:

by mlekoshi