Last week we continued our theme of National Poetry Month, learning more about the Beat poets. We read several poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Given the choices to write to a theme of protest or create their own ‘Changing Light’ poem, most of the dozen or so women gathered around the circle opted for light.
As always, it is a heart-thumping experience to sit with these women at various stages of incarceration, to hear their words spoken in their own voices and then reflected back through the ears of the rest. So many ways to think of light, something precious and sacred behind windowless walls. And here in Vermont, the spring is especially slow to come. April can still bring snow atop the softening mud. It takes a couple of weeks of rain and more warmth than we’ve had yet to live up to our billing as Green Mountain state.
But get there we do! Thanks in part to days like we had last week just prior to our gathering time. Read a sampling of the writing from that night and be transported into the light as filtered through the eyes of some of Vermont’s incarcerated women:
The changing light
inside my son’s blue eyes
is the most beautiful light I‘ve ever seen.
His morning light of sleepy seeds
and yawns of his fascinating dreams
of the night before.
The light in my son’s blue eyes
is different shades of blue; the ocean
roars with waves of light every time
When he’s sad the painful
clear light of his tears
blanket his face.
When he’s happy, his eyes
are the brightest blue
his light shines so bright
it will shine right
through me and you.
When his eyes are a dark blue
and the light is very dim, it’s because
he’s up to no good – he’s being mischievous.
He’s letting his bright light fade,
it almost goes out. He closes his eyes.
The light went out for only a second.
Until he opens them wide, they’re alive —
the light is everywhere — there dancing.
He looks up at me. I am shot with
laser light of love, my favorite light of all,
the light in my heart that never goes out.
* * *
each passing day
the lights go dim
like the flicker
of a switch
to nothing unknown
Blinded by darkness
a tunnel of fear,
no self worth, or faith
as these walls seem
closed in with unsurety.
Blinded by the
sunshine of rainbows
of all colors
to see the seasons
the wonderment of awe
the love of a friend
an experience never
forgotten of this
* * *
‘Chaos unscrambled back to the first harmonies and the first light.’
I ran with the light today with an attitude to match my surroundings. If you can’t beat them, join them; and off in a dead run I went.
Trash littered the roadway. Capped off bottles of old beer displayed dark browns and mahogany shards as the sun beat down on them.
Katie shared a teeth-baring smile, playful as she was she kept up and there were moments we shared the heat. The sun peeking through the trees, yellow white blue and then to nothing. I couldn’t see.
The blotches of light behind my eyes danced, gray, black and it was enough . I reopened my eyes as Katie nuzzled up to me with a thank-you lick on my chin. The sky blue, the day warm and the first dog walked, my service given back to the community for the day. My light and energy was one, bright yellow pulling from the center outward.