It has been told by my grandmother
that when I was just a tiny girl
before language, I would group quilting
squares into matching sets of colors
nodding and shaking my head with my choices.
It has been told by the matriarch
that I was always an artist and
had the gift of seeing things differently
though I sometimes I didn’t believe it,
but finally I do.
Sometimes, I feel alone in my noticing.
Struck dumb by a white bird on a hill.
Struck to tears by a spider spinning her web.
Struck to the core by a man and woman dancing
in a dusty bar.
Struck in the heart by texture by color by sound
by scent by sight by taste.
How do we fit it all in?
Where does it all go?
Into art. Into song. Into poem.
How do we get all this living into our lives?
After crying into my beer
(yes I held it up to my eye and let the river of tears
flow into it down at John and Zekes last night)
I called Texas at 2am to talk to Norma Jeanne.
I wanted to know –
How many folks did she know
who, when listening to EmmyLou Harris
sing Boulder to Birmingham or
Red Dirt Girl,
felt like they wanted to die with love and aching?
How many folks did she know – like us?
Who notice everything and find ourselves
heartbroken by beauty? Whose lips
do not cease to praise creation?
And stumble around in wonder?
Sometimes when the heart aches,
we, in our isolation imagine ourselves
to be the only one crying in the world
and so we reach out to touch the tears
and remind ourselves that we are not
alone in all this beauty
and in all this suffering.
The gravity of noticing
is a burden and a gift.
We are not alone –
together we cry for suffering
and for the beauty of a single
tiny feather in the palm of your hand.
I sing a praise of thanks,
to the Creator of life
with breathless vulnerability.