The Blue Door

The Blue Door is an illustration for the book Journey Through the Blue Door, written by Nancy-Rose Meeker and Angela Cecil, compiled by Sandy Jensen. The poem expresses my feelings about the passing of Angela Cecil December 28, 2008.

January 16, 2009

GRIEF

How does grief find me?
A visitor camping at my door.
She pitches a tent, rolls out a bag
waits for many days more.

At first I do not hear
the soft tap, tapping.
I‘m busy and the guest
continues
she continues softly to rap.

I do not sense, I’m unaware –
as the first dark days go by –
I know the guest is calling
but I do not cry.

I am not feeling well now
my body twists and cries.
I think I hear the door now,
what is on the other side?

Grief finally tires of waiting
disguised as a really bad day.
My guard cannot match – she enters and
I, disarmed cannot delay.

My friends lost a daughter –
we all have daughters
we openly and deeply grieve.
Together we drink down the bitter
None will turn, no one will leave.

Tonight I cannot turn grief away
necessary as tornados
certain as the birth of lambs.
Tonight I sit with her and I pray.

Cheryl Renee Long

I Ask My Students to Remember and I Am Still Writing Long After They Have Left the Room

I Ask My Students to Remember and I Am Still Writing Long After They Have Left the Room

I remember being surprised when the saw
came up to meet my face,
by the log truck in my lane,
by the sound of a storm cloud cracking open,
how the rain stripped the roses from the vine.

I remember screaming when I saw my own blood,
when the truck wouldn’t swerve from my lane,
when I realized part of me was dead
and part of me alive, when I was overwhelmed
I screamed, and I screamed when I panicked,
and once I screamed for joy.

I remember the smell of ozone after the lightning strike,
the faint whiff of skunk on the wind,
the landfill in the distance. Then the smell
of orange blossoms filled up the valley. When
I came in from the snow, the smell of
peach pies on the stove.

I remember the first time after that time
I was afraid of the dark
and it occurred to me
there might not be a God,
that the soul and the breath and the moment
might be all I got this first time,
this only time.

I remember dreaming my father was alive,
that I could fly, that I still
lived in the big house on the hill.
I dreamed the silver fox, the golden dog,
and I dreamed the yellow spider on my sleeve.


–Sandy Jensen

Harney County Still Life

Harney County Still Life

The slow windmill fills
the galvanized steel tub
which reflects the lilac sky
and four phoebes drink there
and a heron stands guard by the spigot
of bright rushing water.

“Write a Map of Your Spiritual Journey”


“Write a Map of Your Spiritual Journey”

But childhood was not a plateau,
birth was not a low point
from which all other points
arose; childhood is not a bar graph
or a Gantt chart,
nor is it a star chart
of comparative brightness:
it is the soul’s bright geography,
the dark woodlot where my sister terrified
me with a headless snake
still writhing toward me
fifty years later.

Do you remember the place on the hill
toward which all people
streamed for twenty years
that flashed green and bright
as the Emerald City
then snuffed out
as if it had never been?

The soul’s journey has
her animal companions,
the repetitive landscape
of nightmare and dream,
murky with memory.
This journey needs a map
with rivers that run underground,
that run backward through time,
that loop through
reconsiderations,
love affairs that blossomed and fell from the tree,
evenings that dazzled,
trees that burst into flame still standing as
landmarks in a burning swamp
where St. Elmo’s blue breath
throws the antique shadows of ibis
into time’s rippling stream.

If we speak of maps dangerous
as these, you must know there is a man
holding three fingers in warning;
there is a crossroad almost unseen
out of the corner of your eye.
This is populated wilderness—
even the desert has its signs of banded gold,
as sand shifts down into the dune
of geologic time.

My hair has stood on end
in an electric wind.
The sealstone on my wrist tells a story.
Helen, the world’s treasure,
has spoken personally to me, and I
have tried to turn her away.
I follow my own dreams—
a silver fox, a golden dog,
a woman named Nightwinds,
and a soul boat on the River of Stars.
I have been stopped by barriers of height and stone,
by fire and snake.

I have been known to turn
reasonably away, and thus
a map is shaped, some neat
and faded label re-inked,
strengthened on the page:
“Here lies true north,”
and south–I’ve been there,
to the east, memory,
to the west, terra incognita,
the calling land
and the road ahead.

–Sandy Jensen

Three Dolls and a Horse

In the hour between Should and Would,
three dolls dance
and a spotted horse with a lightning bolt tail
reaches his neck in a twisty gallop
to taste the streaky meteors
hissing out of the Persiad
to pepper his pasture with stars.


Frida Kahlo Doll dances
with pain in each small bone—she
is all wires and screws
and insistence on free will.
She would call the Silver Fox
and trap its face in a necklace
woven of wild rose thorns.


Snow Kachina dances his own
culture’s dream of rain or change,
blessing or corn,
healing or chance. His eyes
are black slits, his costumed
art elaborate.
He has something to say about
exigency, but I don’t know
what it is.

Sandy Doll smiles and smiles:
she thinks she has
all the answers.

–Sandy Jensen

The Old Glen Ivy Inn

The Old Glen Ivy Inn

I lived in an old inn
whose balconied stories
rode the heaving surf of the hillside
like a tall ship with many masts,
square-rigged,
riding at anchor
above the valley floor.
Old-fashioned windows hinged
like wings you could shove open
to the winking moonlight. Gables
gave portholes to the ragged roofline,
and there was something in the way
the bow breached the air
over the hill that made the old
home seem to hove to and rock
in the wind. Hundred year old
Washington Palms rattled
their dry skirts and slid their slim
gray hips from side to side
like old hula dancers
who never forgot their moves.
A pair of white owls flew
up out of the dark, perched
on the top balcony’s high
rigging, then sailed off, their twin
faces holding the moon.
In those days, I often
kept the dawn watch,
that still, dark hour when the cool
mountain breeze flowed downhill
and rocked the great ship in its arms,
before the sun struck my windowpane
with its hammer blows of gold.

–Sandy Jensen

Ruby Heart

Ruby Heart

If she were a mountain,
she’d be Diamond Peak,
sharp-edged and cold,
sea to her west,
continent to her east,
face to the northern wind,
California has her back.
If she were a song—
play her name on an Indian flute,
fiddle her home to grandma,
fill her up with lilt and longing,
call her “Song for a Daughter.”
If she were a time of day,
sunset would dry her tears
and paint her arms
with the spindrift tattoos
of the scarlet surf.
If she were a river,
she’d flow green and slow
as the Siuslaw,
shadowed by cedar,
dreaming of spring Chinook,
flickering trout
where her hair waterfalls down.
If she were the heroine of a film,
she would ride a camel
around the world, find
the ruby heart of the world
and bring it home to you.

–Sandy Jensen