Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Migratory Moments

*This post originally appeared on Songbird*


When I was very young, I said that when I grew up I would be an artist, a writer, and a mother. Fast forward to today, and I am a trained classical pianist, a papercraft and scherenschnitte artist, a mom to two energetic boys, a blogger, and a novelist, childrens' and short-story author. But my deepest love in writing still comes from the sheer joy and music of words, which draws me back to poetry...the everyday kind.

As a musician I know the value of honing one's craft through revision. But I have also found that there is something lost in the dissection and re-direction of the original music or word-flow...whichever the case may be.
So for a few years now I have also practiced free-writing. I am learning to do revision as I go, so that the word-flow is uninterrupted as I write. All of my poems as you see them here are exactly the same as they originally came. I share them in this way because there is freshness and honesty in their very imperfection which I think perhaps, deep down, we all crave.

Many thanks to Marianne for allowing us the chance to guest post on her wonderful blog that has been inspiring us all for so long. Since she is on vacation at the moment, I thought I would share with you all a poem about that break-away feeling we have all had at some time.


Migratory Moments

I would like to travel with all the migratory creatures
that pass over our house

And under,

And across the road in thousands
while I make my way to work.

I would like to see
the lands they've seen,
from the air or from the earth;
And gasp with butterfly pleasure

to realize monarchs
count out their lives
in wingbeats!

Delight in every nectar, every dew—each breath
of wander-wind
and so return to earth on two feet
instead of six small, black
delicate ones—

And take my powder-wing wisdom and so live, not in years
but in wingbeats—

in seconds—

in moments...

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
June 2011


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Sailor

Foolish to say
to myself
I am not afraid
of storms.

The seaman who has shouted down
the towering ocean all
his years knows still

He will never govern her.

He lives
only by a little hard-won skill

and a great deal
of Providence.

The sailor who lives to tell the others
Fears the storm
and God also--

Each time he faces both
 with a clearer heart

and a stronger, steady hand.

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It Started Quietly

It started quietly,
Bubbling up from deep within;

Trickling through the cracks
Between veins

Like water
Silently eroding stone.

I learned to love you
Most poignantly

When the waters rolled

I was the river guide

None of us fell in
But somehow...

Both of us did.

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
July 14, 2011 11AM

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Memory of Trees

What must it be
to stand forever still,

swayed only

by long-drawn winds

that creaked in your arms

as your leaves turned up their
silvergreen bellies

to the walking world?

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
July 10, 2011


When I was a girl I spent a good deal of time in the woods behind our house, with a handmade collection bag for things like muskadines and wild ginger and rocks, my walking stick, and a book.
I remember many afternoons in my reading-places in the woods, sitting absolutely still just to listen to what was going on in the woods around me--to notice everything and try to find a meaning in some of it.  I had a vague meditative fantasy that if I stayed there long enough, perhaps I would grow "tree-ish".  Maybe in a way I did, because trees still have a powerful hold on my imagination, creativity and even emotional well-being.  I have always loved trees most of all, among all plants and things that grow. In one of my favorite books, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, there is such deep and meaningful tree-lore. I think, just as Tolkien saw himself as an elf for his whole life, I might have begun to imagine myself as a dryad when I was a little girl--and maybe it stuck. That was partly why our move away from Southern tall trees to Texas was so difficult for me. I felt vulnerable and uncomfortable for the first few months.
In many ways I think trees speak to all of us.  We perceive them as strong, long-lived, and wise--symbols of hope and courage.  Deciduous trees are reborn every spring and remind us that everything, even death, is really about life.  They give us hope; they live and give in sweet and solemn beauty.  And ultimately, at the core of all tree-lore and symbolism, One tree--the tree of the Cross--brought forth the hope of another, even more majestic; the Tree of Life.

Have a beautiful Sunday, friends.

I Saw a Hummingbird

I saw a hummingbird
and thought of you;

The feeder
you always kept full

Has been empty now
all season.

The small bird looked
confused, like me--
I went outside, barefoot,
to the feeder tree--

Then came inside and cleaned
and filled the glass
With sweet red nectar,
as you would have done.

Glad to hear you scold and smile again, too--
I saw a hummingbird

And thought of you.

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
July 10, 2011 12:20 pm

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In Sixty Years' Time

My grandmother waited nearly twenty years,
missing him.

The only Rosie Riveter small enough
Even while seven months pregnant
To set rivets from inside the airplane wings.

The girl who tap-danced
Up and down stairs
On roller skates--
The tiny fierce
you-don't-mess-with Mabel
Southern Alabama
beach-loving girl

Caught in an old woman's body,
A tired woman's cares.

She lived life best when she could Do--
Any useful something...Laundry,
Ironing, Wash or Cook

Watching songbirds, playing Upwords,
Checking daily mail;
Watching for letters we all wish now
we'd sent
So she'd have walked up the drive again
With wider smiles every day.

How will it be
In Sixty years time
To look back on the days
of our goldenhood?

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
May 22, 2011 Sunday 2:30 pm

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Woke to the Sounds of Approaching Storm

I woke to the sounds of approaching storm
in a half-light, blue and grey--

(The usual Southern ending
to a humid Southern day...)

And, grateful I was waking
from a needed Sunday rest,

Thought of other storms I'd lived through

And felt more Supremely blessed.

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
June 12, 2011 Sunday 7:30 pm

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Once Was Poem

Every night I dream
that I have lost something.

In every case
it is the same;
I dream
I am losing you.

Something I have left unfinished
Something that never could be finished
Something you never fully achieve

In my dream that undone something haunts;
A nagging tiresome:
You should be practicing.  You should be practicing.  You should
be practicing...

I have left
For something else.

How many times when I once was that someone
Did I push myself
with the same thought? --the constant

It is not so much now
As I think on what once was
That I have such a high opinion of myself
As to mourn its loss--

It is just
A nebulous feeling

that I will be called on again...
And will not be ready.

It is just
this deadweight feeling

I may have disappointed them all;


This other-natural nagging sense
that Once

Was such


a long time

(c) Kathryn W. Ritter
June 24, 2011 5:00AM