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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.