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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Of Squirrels and Skies


Greetings, Poetry lovers! A different kind of post this week...


Maybe my father-in-law, who passed away a year ago July and whose birthday is today (Sept. 10), was playing a little joke.  How else do I explain the baby squirrel that fell right into my path on my gravel driveway Wednesday afternoon? Poor thing clumsily ran a few feet and collapsed beside a big potted rosemary bush. 


Twenty years ago, on Reuben's birthday and the day before 9-11, I was picking up then-six-year-old Seth from their house late in the day, and grandfather and grandson greeted me with a surprise – an injured baby squirrel.  Somehow I managed to keep the little guy alive overnight (its eyes weren't even open yet). When horror upon horror struck the next day, I became determined that while the world might be falling apart, I was not going to let that helpless creature die.  (That squirrel's story had a happy ending; After keeping him through the winter, we released him the next spring.)


So on Wednesday this week, I was immediately transported back to that haze of days.  This time, the squirrel was a little older (about six weeks old), but I feared, worse off. It wasn't moving, and I could see blood on its nose and mouth. Its eyes barely opened and closed.  It was on soft grass, so I let it be.  Mama Squirrel didn't come. Checking on it again, I noticed some large ants in bothering range.  Then some drops of rain.  Though I still thought the creature might quietly exit the world, I couldn't just leave it there to suffer with harassment and rain.


I wrapped it in a blanket and put it in a tub in a box under the carport.  I tried giving a bit of Pedialyte in a dropper, but it wouldn't swallow. Soon enough, storm system Mindy's outer bands lashed our area for two straight hours, with near-constant lightning, sideways wind, and unreal amounts of rain.  When it was finally safe enough to venture out, I was afraid to look in the tub.


The wee thing was curled under blankets in the corner – a bit cold I'm sure, but not too worse for wear. I transferred it to a small crate and put it on the screened front porch (and tried a little liquid again). It still had a bloody nose, but I was beginning to wonder if that was actually from hitting its face when it fell rather than some massive internal injuries.


I headed out to PetSmart and Walmart for puppy formula and a tiny pet nursing bottle, and a cheap warm blanket to cut up for more layers.


Trying to remember what had worked two decades ago, I mixed both substances (later reading that you are actually supposed to use only the rehydrater first). I was equipped with syringes and the little bottle. After some persistence on my part, I was amazed when the little animal took the bottle, grasping it with front paws. 


I also heated a sock full of raw rice in the microwave, put it into another sock, and placed it in the crate. This helped keep the baby warm from time to time.  Mostly, it just wanted to sleep.  Which I didn't do much of that night.


Rising long before sunrise, I checked on my snoozing charge.  It didn't rouse much to drink, so I tried again later.  Mindy, in the meantime, sent more rain, flooding a few streets and our entire back yard. Couldn't blame the little fella (finally ascertained that) for wanting to burrow and hide, but with some coaxing I was able to get him to drink a bit more.


This season-of-life time around, I realized a busy little city neighborhood was not the best place to hand-raise a squirrel.  All those years ago, we had 12 acres and two sets of extra little hands to help. So from our vet's office, I got the name of a wildlife rehabilitator in our area.  (Technically, there are laws here against keeping squirrels without a permit anyway.  But getting them to a rehabilitator is okay.)  The kind voice on the other end of the phone and I met up at a shopping center, and she graciously took on another misplaced baby. She already had others she was rearing, and had received a copule of new calls after the storms. 


It was hard letting him go, but a family farm on two acres with a competent caretaker was definitely the best thing for my furry September surprise.  I so appreciate folks who volunteer to care for needy animals.


Thanks for reading this epistle;  I'll keep the poems short. 


The first is a haiku I wrote on the 10th anniversary of 9-11, back in 2011:



same blue

as ten years ago

empty sky


Notes from the Gean, Dec. 2011



And, here, an excerpt for September 10 by Percy Bysshe Shelley in THE ILLUMINATED BOOK OF DAYS, edited by Kay & Marshall Lee (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1979):



      There is harmony

In Autumn, and a luster in its sky,

Which thro' the Summer is not heard or seen.



As we all pause to remember this weekend, my hope and prayer is for harmony and lustre in the days ahead.


Thanks to the ever-talented Tricia for hosting the Roundup this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

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Poetry Friday - Hop on Over to Heidi's!

Woops!  Another week whooshed right by.  I didn't quite get a post up for this week, but be sure to hop on over to Heidi's My Juciy Little Universe for ghazals galore and all kinds of poetic goodness in the Roundup.  See you next time!

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Poetry Friday - Farewell to a Fine Dog


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  A sad week for our family, as daughter Morgan and son-in-law Matt had to say goodbye to a very special four-legged family member.  I traveled over to visit as he was coming back from a university veterinary hospital after being in and out of the regular vet's office in recent weeks. He had cancer, but with some rare complications.  It was heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to a fine dog at age 7.


"That face!" is what my mother, and others, always said about Cooper. Those soulful hound-dog eyes would get you every time. He was a beautiful, quirky boxer mix:  a rambunctious puppy, a dignified dog, a tireless tennis ball chaser, a relentless castle defender, a picky eater, a boat captain, a snuggly cuddler when it was his idea, and a devoted member of the family. He will be terribly missed by fellow canine family member Maggie, and of course by all of us humans.


On Wenesday evening we toasted this fine fellow via text, from four different geographical locations. Here's to you, Cooper!  


And here's a fun poem I found in Cooper's honor.  I didn't know it, but evidently it's a regular in schools in Scotland.  The Scots words might seem intimidating at first, but you can catch the drift if you read it through once or twice in a rhythm.  The audio at the bottom of the linked page is the way to go - with an adult and child reciting the poem, it's very entertaining. I hope it brings you a smile.


from "A Dug, a Dug" 

by Bill Keys


Hey, daddy, wid yi get us a dug?
A big broon alsatian? Ur a wee white pug,
Ur a skinny wee terrier ur a big fat bull.
Aw, daddy. Get us a dug. Wull ye?      


N whose dug'll it be when it durties the flerr?
and pees'n the carpet, and messes the sterr?
It's me ur yur mammy'll be taen fur a mug.
Away oot an play. Yur no needin a dug. 



Well, now you HAVE to click the link to find our what happens, right?


Find the rest here, and enjoy that audio link at the bottom. It's only a minute and a half long. 


And join the talented Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections for this week's Roundup.  Thanks for hosting, Elisabeth!

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Poetry Friday - Life Layers


 Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I have missed much of Poetry Friday this summer, and I've missed you all.  Many thanks for coming by, despite my flitting in and out every few weeks.  


As I'm still (don't judge) getting my artistic house in order, literally, after having to leave my downtown studio space at the end of June, I've been craving some time and orderly space to

c-r-e-a-t-e! Getting there, slowly but surely and all that. 


Putting together the new-to-us second home in the SC hills in recent weeks has certainly offered some creative expression, as I've mixed old stuff and new stuff and upcycled elements to make it, I hope, as welcoming as a cozy pub. It's only a couple of hours for our kids to get to from their respective homes in North Georgia and North Carolina, and we're delighted that they and their dogs are already enjoying going there as much as we are. We've had repairs done, painted a couple of rooms, and fenced the back yard (I held boards while Jeff did all the work!), and we plan to actually spend quality time on the front porch next time we go.


But what I'm craving to get back to soon is collage.  Life is very layered right now….


Son Seth and his girlfriend recently returned from a glorious and ambitious trip hiking in and around Yosemite (a surprise graduation present from her).  The beauty in their pictures, which they said only hints at the grandeur in person, was breathtaking.  Other images on the news from California have been gut-wrenching, in the aftermath of the already relentless fires.


Watching the Olympics was often inspiring, admiring the results of years of individual and team practice and dedication, and records smashed, and frank discussions about mental health, and the unexpected and heartwarming instances of athletes from different countries caught on camera in moments of kindness and cooperation.


And then there's Afghanistan. Right this minute.  (And other hotspots of atrocity across the globe.)


A friend in the next neighborhood sent me a first-day-of-school photo of her precious and eager young son, as he embarks on third grade this week.  I've been cheering from afar as daughter Morgan just launched her third grade class this year, too, with an enthusiastic and sweet group of kids.


And then I've been horrified at what's going on in my home state of Florida (where all of my side of the family lives).  Covid-19 cases have been averaging more than 20,000 per day.  But in schools there – the governor is actually attempting to punish school administrators for trying to keep children alive and well?!


On Thursday afternoon on MSNBC, Dr. Kavita Patel voiced a thought which had crossed my mind when she said, something to the effect of, the current situation evoking similar feelings to those following Sandy Hook.


Don't we want our children to be safe in this country?


Then there's the dire climate report this week, and more stories than I can keep up with.


As often helps, I've turned to the past to find some nuggets of wisdom for going forward. 


A couple of poems about peace seem as relevant as ever.


Here is a short poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), which a commentator said likely refers to inner peace but can also describe the longing for peace in the outer world. (This poem can be found in Complete Poems, 1924, Part One: Life, LXXIII.)


I many times thought Peace had come
When Peace was far away—
As Wrecked Men—deem they sight the Land—
At Centre of the Sea—
And struggle slacker—but to prove
As hopelessly as I—
How many the fictitious Shores—
Before the Harbor be—


The search for that peaceful harbor continues.


Then I found a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941), a poet I must confess I was not familiar with but who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.  I'm guessing Seth, well versed in a variety of religious literature, and Jeff, well versed in Ayurveda, have read his work.  Tagore, who possessed many talents and was a social reformer, was sometimes called "The Bard of Bengal."


Here is "God in the World" from Tagore's 'Gitanjali':

LEAVE this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee! 

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil! 

Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever. 

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.


 Here is a link to The Poetry Foundation's entry about Tagore.  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/rabindranath-tagore


These lines spoke to me after I was able to watch the first part of an outdoor worship service on Wednesday, livestreamed on Facebook from Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, where Seth was invited to preach this week.  The recording ended before the main part of Seth's message (which involved the struggle to feel gratitude and praise expressed in some Psalms in the midst of turmoil), but it's always soul-nourishing to witness the dynamic give and take with this congregation.  Services are interactive, and everyone is welcome - housed or not, healthy or struggling, gay or straight, religious or skeptical. Seth was the first live-in intern there for a year right after graduating from college and before going to seminary, which he just completed.  


If you're still reading these rambling thoughts, thank you.  I don't have answers to the strife and troubles which coincide with life's joys and appreciations.  Each day, and each life, is layered, layered.


But I know that peace is always worth keeping a weather eye out for, and God is where the dust is.


Christie is rounding up Poetry Friday this week at Wondering and Wandering - Thank you, Christie!

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Poetry Friday - Still Topsy Turvy Here, But Go See Mary Lee!

Greetings, Poetry Lovers.... August! How did that happen? Extra love to all you teachers. I'm still popping in and out of town and getting settled cramming all my studio stuff into closet corners and such st home, but I hope to settle down next week. ;0) & Hope you are having an inspiring summer.
Go see Mary Lee for this week's Roundup over at A(nother) Year of Reading - https://ayearofreading.org/


Stay safe!!

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Poetry Friday - Featured in Local Life Magazine!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Oh, I've missed you so.  I've been out of town and out of pocket much of the last couple of months.  This time last year, I was quarantined and caring for family members with Covid, right after the death of my father-in-law. What a difference a year makes.  


Since May, we've celebrated my sister's wedding in Florida; our son's graduation from grad school at Candler/Emory in Atlanta; a postponed-from-the-holidays family gathering on my husband's side in Georgia; and the wedding of a dear friend's daughter last weekend in Georgia. Also, on Mother's Day weekend, I made a crazy solo trip to the Upstate (the foothills and mountain-y part of South Carolina) to be the first person to see a house that was coming on the market, as we've been hunting a second home/retreat-type place closer to our kids for weekends and holidays and such.  We bought it!  And, yes, it was a crazy experience in a crazy market. 


Then another trip over so my hubby Jeff could see what we were buying.... Then out of the blue I learned that rent for my downtown studio/shop space was going up by 70 percent(!). So I packed up seven years worth of artistic hoarding and clunkily moved it all to my house - still sorting it out here. Shhh.  That was right after said son took much of his stuff out of the house post-graduation, to move with his girlfriend to the North Carolina high country.  (His closet is now full of art and framing supplies and such.)  Then came our house closing and moving a bunch of stuff there, and taking a week to set it up and take care of repairs and lots of little necessary things.  [Jone, if you're reading this, you'll like that I've decorated it all with Celtic/Scottish, British, and Irish themes!]


And in the midst of all of this wonderful activity, I was invited to submit work to the Local Life Magazine here to be the featured poet for July, and the kind editors and staff chose several summer-friendly haiku to publish this month!  The poems are accompanied by a stunning photograph from the month's featured photographer, Joan Edkhardt. What a treat and what an honor.  


You've probably seen most of these before, but here are the poems included, followed by names of the journals in which they first appeared:



my small insights

a hummingbird

at the trumpet flower



night thunder

shaking the house

and the dog



hatchlings - 

beyond orange tape

the sea



telling it slant

a ghost crab

slips into a hole




rounds of rain

rounds of treefrogs



(Haiku originally published in Modern Haiku, Prune Juice, Frogpond, Acorn, and bottle rockets. Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.)



Click here to peruse the entire issue of our local Local Life Magazine - my poems are almost at the end, and there is a lot of fun sizzle between the covers of the "hot" July issue! 


For lots more summer and lots more poetry, visit our wonderful Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone! Thanks for hosting the Roundup, Molly, and Stay Cool, All. 

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Poetry Friday - Um, New Week, Same Deal... ;0)

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Still navigating all the craziness over here.  (See last week.)  In fact, let me just go ahead and give a hearty wave and a catch-you-in-early July!  It'll be a couple-few weeks before the dust settles.  Wishing you and yours Happy Summer-ing as we journey through June and into the rest of Summer.  Be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup today over at Buffy's place.  Thanks for hosting, Buffy!

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Poetry Friday - Boxes, More Boxes, and Emily Dickinson's "Ebon box"....

Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Poems: Packet IV, Fascicle 8. Includes 20 poems, written in ink, dated ca. 1860.
Houghton Library - (14c, d) In Ebon Box, when years have flown, J169, Fr180; Portraits are to daily faces, J170, Fr174


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I've missed you.  We've been happily gallavanting around for weeks to a family wedding, to our son's M. Div. graduation, to a belated "holiday" family gathering, and more.  Very grateful for vaccines.  


AND, life is currently crazy - we are also very grateful to have found a great weekend/holidays family-meet-up house, just a couple of hours away from our grown kids, near the mountains.  (We're closing in a couple of weeks.) Soon in addition to our small coastal cottage in the SC Lowcountry, we'll have a small house in the hills of the SC Upstate.  It's not far from where we got engaged in the mountains decades ago, or from our alma mater, Furman University - and close enough for easy day trips to Asheville, NC, one of our favorite spots on the planet. 


So we have boxes everywhere, with things from here we want to take there, and things I've bought along the way the last couple of weeks.  Seth was here after his recent graduation, and has just moved with his girlfriend to Boone, NC.  So he was elbow-high in boxes, and Thursday was his first time driving a U-Haul truck. From the looks of the pix they texted, he did just fine.


And finally, in the last bit of boxy news, I received an unexpected email on Tuesday that rent for my studio space downtown was going up - way up.  I was fortunate to rent it very reasonably for seven years, and I loved the dappled-light space in the 1889 building, with its high ceilings and windows and worn wooden floors.  But the new cost is beyond my artist's budget, so I'm boxing up my shop this week, too. Whew.  My artsyletters business is still alive and well - I'm just moving all my work stuff to our house and will have a larger footprint at one of the two local shops where I sell my wares.  My Etsy shop still keeps me hopping, and I look forward to devoting more time to it than I've been able to of late. 


Anyway, all of these logistical adventures had me looking for poems about boxes.  I discovered one by our dear Emily, and though it's not about moving boxes, its subject certainly resonates with my artistic endeavors.  (I hadn't read this one before; hope you enjoy!)


by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)



In Ebon Box, when years have flown
To reverently peer,
Wiping away the velvet dust
Summers have sprinkled there!


To hold a letter to the light —
Grown Tawny now, with time —
To con the faded syllables
That quickened us like Wine!


Perhaps a Flower's shrivelled check
Among its stores to find —
Plucked far away, some morning —
By gallant — mouldering hand!


A curl, perhaps, from foreheads
Our Constancy forgot —
Perhaps, an Antique trinket —
In vanished fashions set!


And then to lay them quiet back —
And go about its care —
As if the little Ebon Box
Were none of our affair!


You can find facsimiles of other Emily Dickinson poems, too, at http://edickinson.org.


Move yourself on over to Carol's Corner, where you'll find our wonderful Round-up and some gorgeous writing. Thank you, Carol!

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Poetry Friday - Go See Michelle!

Happy Poetry Friday!  My merry month of May has indeed been crazy-wild-busy, from start to finish.  Grateful for several family gatherings and events this month.  I'm away from the computer today, but please enjoy the Roundup over at fellow Etsian Michelle Kogan's place, and wish her a Happy Birthday this weekend!  

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Poetry Friday: 1800s Teacher Humor for Mary Lee!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Happy to pop back in during a crazy-busy month to celebrate our wonderful, talented, generous, tenacious Mary Lee Hahn!


Congratulations on your retirement from teaching, Mary Lee.  Can't wait to learn of your next adventures.


When you become a bit wistful about the classroom, perhaps the following poem will be good medicine.  I found it in one of my old favorites in my studio, CROWN JEWELS – OR GEMS OF LITERATURE, ART AND MUSIC … (and the rest of the title is about three miles long.)  This particular volume hails from 1887, compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., and published by L. P. Miller & Co. (Chicago and Philadelphia).


No author is credited with this poem; if anyone knows who wrote it, let me know and I'll give credit where credit's due, a century and a quarter-plus later!





Forty little urchins,

          Coming through the door,

Pushing, crowding, making

          A tremendous roar.

          Why don't you keep quiet?

       Can't you keep the rule? –

Bless me, this is pleasant,

          Teaching public school!


Forty little pilgrims

          On the road to fame;

If they fail to reach it,

          Who will be to blame?

High and lowly stations –

          Birds of every feather –

On a common level

          Here are brought together.


Dirty little faces,

          Loving little hearts,

Eyes brimful of mischief,

          Skilled in all its arts.

That's a precious darling!

          What are you about?

"May I pass the water?"

          "Please, may I go out?"


Boots and shoes are shuffling,

          Slates and books are rattling,

and in a corner yonder

          Two pugilists are battling:

Others cutting didos –

          What a botheration!

No wonder we grow crusty

          From such association!


Anxious parent drops in,

          Merely to inquire

Why his olive branches

          Do not shoot up higher;

Says he wants his children

          To mind their p's and q's,

And hopes their brilliant talents

          Will not be abused.


Spelling, reading, writing,

          Putting up the young ones;

Fuming, scolding, fighting,

          Spurring on the dumb ones;

Gymnasts, vocal music –

          How the heart rejoices

When the singer comes to

          Cultivate the voices!


Institute attending,

          Making our reports,

Giving object lessons,

          Class drill of all sorts;

Reading dissertations,

          Feeling like a fool –

Oh, the untold blessing

          Of the public school!



Dedicating this find of a poem to Mary Lee and to all the teachers out there, especially after THIS surreal and challenging year!  Kind of heartening to know teaching ancestors were going through some of the same things, isn't it? 


And a tip of the hat to my third-grade-teacher-daughter Morgan, as today is the last day of class for her students this year.  Whew!


One more tidbit for Mary Lee, again without attribution, but tucked into JEWELS FOR THE HOUSEHOLD; SELECTIONS OF THOUGHT AND ANECDOTE, FOR FAMILY READING by Tryon Edwards, D. D. (Hartford:  Case, Lockwood & Co., 1866).




So I saw that despondency was death, and flung my burden from me,

and, lightened by that effort, I was raised above the world:

Yea, in the strangeness of my vision, I seemed to soar on wings,

And the names they gave my wings were cheerfulness and wisdom.


Soar on, Mary Lee! #MarvelousMaryLee #PoemsforMaryLee


This week's Roundup is hosted by the lovely Christie at Wondering and Wandering, where you can find out more about the Mary Lee poetry celebration, and other Poetry Friday posts, too.

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