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How to remember will be the trick.
Pull the golden thread from the past.
In the story and song unfurled
we mark Yamim Holy:
Kippur, Hashoah, Hazikaron, HaAtzmaut.
We hold the golden thread gently
in the sparkling moment
of Mazal Tov,
in the quiet meditation
in the whispered wish
of Misheh Beirach,
in the intertwined glow
How to remember will be the trick:
help others see the golden thread,
teach their hesitant fingers,
to follow right to left,
to see the magic in the letters,
to weave this old thread with Tikvah
through the warp and woof
of their hearts beating.
This will be the trick.
Melissa and Doug
June 2004 / Sivan 5764
"I arose with a shaken heart, a
- Moses Ibn Ezra (late 11th century, Granada, Spain)
Realizing I had crossed the Red Sea,
Survived arrows, outrun chariots,
Felt the salinity of the mikvah,
An ablution of choice, of ceremony,
I danced in the desert of solitude
Following Miriam's tambourine,
The sibilant cymbals and purple ribbons,
Used the sand as cleansing pumice,
To slough the smell of rotting frogs, disease,
The crackly locust wings.
The horrific screams of mothers
Holding dead sons still haunts me;
Especially when the desert wind blows at night
I hear with my mother's ears, those mothers'
Wailing, keening cries.
I hold my own son closer, rub his soft brow
And the point of hair at his neck nape.
I call my daughter to me, and we join hands.
We recognize in the sandy moonlight of the Sinai
The strength in each other's fingers
Is also the strength in our hearts,
Hearts with questions trusting answers,
Hearts willing to order chaos and oppression
Into an archaeological dig of self,
And Miriam's tambourine jangles
A freedom song.
Melissa - 04-04
keatsean kavanah #1
truth is beauty
that is all you need to know,
so plant a trumpet vine
and watch it grow,
twining and silent except
for the hum and buzz
of a golden bee.
misheh beirach -
to a crazy brave quest
involving thorny thickets
to a rough raw crucible
tempering pure essence
to a wide wild sky
blowing against horizon lines
your shy heart
throw your arms out
trust the passionate
in your chest
melissa and doug
Whether you tend a garden or not,
you are the gardener of your own being,
the seed of your destiny.
--The Findhorn Community
For many years now,
youve been a visitor
in the gardens of others.
Youve learned much about
how things grow--
Now you will
grow your own garden,
sow your own seeds,
take strength from the sun on your back.
Seek others who recognize the weeds
and make you laugh while you pull them.
Value fallow soil and the unexpected.
Enjoy the color and scent of what you create.
Melissa and Doug
15 June 2003
Poem for our students - September 3, 2002
we picked up
a smooth grey stone
half-buried in the sand.
We put it in a blue glass jar
to be a new beginning,
the first object in a collection.
Today is a new beginning for us,
a smooth grey stone
to rub between our thumbs
to inspect closely,
to get the feel of.
Today has been waiting
for us to pick it up
How am I to live? A question asked of those ready to move
on to new adventures...perhaps these three stones will
provide a firm footing with which you may continue your
journey: Humanity - Interacting with people
in ways that show acceptance and understanding of multiple
perspectives, not merely your own. Thoughtfulness - Interacting with
people in ways that show care in the use of constructive and
helpful language, both verbal and nonverbal, as well as
knowing when to or not to continue the
interaction. Strength - Interacting with people
in ways that show clarity and conviction through humane and
thoughtful deeds even during times of stress. Congratulations on the steps youve
taken. Were so proud of your progress. Doug and Melissa - June 2002
How am I to live?
A question asked of those ready to move on to new adventures...perhaps these three stones will provide a firm footing with which you may continue your journey:
Humanity - Interacting with people in ways that show acceptance and understanding of multiple perspectives, not merely your own.
Thoughtfulness - Interacting with people in ways that show care in the use of constructive and helpful language, both verbal and nonverbal, as well as knowing when to or not to continue the interaction.
Strength - Interacting with people in ways that show clarity and conviction through humane and thoughtful deeds even during times of stress.
Congratulations on the steps youve taken. Were so proud of your progress.
Doug and Melissa - June 2002
what do we wish for you,
on this, the first day of summer?
the dignity of freedom,
the song of wholeness,
the desire to twist your heart around,
the responsibility to repair the world.
and if the second or third
is grey or lonely,
and the fourth or fifth
is quiet or hopeless,
we wish for you
we exhort you to
press on with your work
which is the only barrier
to finding your treasure.*
and on the sixth and seventh
we wish for you
the understanding that
melissa and doug - 6-01
I love fall: 9-00
Who will our learning,
We must rub
We are in a safe place
After the palpable damp
And together we
Melissa and Doug
To the pioneers - 6-00
We saw your picture yesterday:
Some of you sitting
In the corner
With your guitars,
The unpacked boxes of September.
Your cheeks were full and smooth
Half-smiles of pleasure on your mouths.
We watched you for months:
In a small classroom,
On a walk at Lake Hodges,
In a bus to the desert,
On a train to Berkeley,
On a playfield with a soccer ball.
We looked closely,
Suddenly saw you for you,
Not the classroom or the camp,
Or the field or the kippah,
But you in your singleness,
In your cinnamon-gold flurry of fourteen,
The particular essence
That is you.
And in your June circle
On the green grass hill,
Cheeks more angular,
Voices more sure,
Smiles more certain,
We love you.
Haiku for Beginnings
"If the angel deigns to come,
Like hundreds of small
Melissa McKinstry - 8/99
a poem for the last day
june 3, 1999
our small planet
begins to spin today.
edges blur and whirl.
why did we spend so much time
growing up only to separate?
if there are words left to say,
hanging small and bright
like venus in the gloaming,
let them be these:
whom can I ask what I came
to make happen in this world?
there is a place
for each of us
in the wide bright sky,
an order to the chaos
that, as gabrielle rico says,
makes learning possible.
was it where they lost me
that I finally found myself?
we'll find our places
in the brilliant spinning.
our pales and vibrants,
smalls and bigs,
quiets and louds,
will embroider darkness.
you will be the star I wish upon.
(bold from pablo neruda's book of questions)
for my students
new year 1999
you give thanks:
to the questions
that lead you into the forest,
to the answers
you have survived.
the achingly solo flight
of a long-legged crane
circling the tallest pine tree.
at the moment of your birth.
a love note on the wall
to say you're alive today.
you're part of the spinning,
a Stonehenge monolith,
taking your place
in green grass
under a blue, blue sky.
The following was written for our students Spring 1998.
We presented it to the class and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
"Whatever you can do, or dream
you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." - Goethe
Today, the marine layer floats over orange and yellow flowers blooming in the brown earth, and we think of you, our students, who bloom unexpectedly in corners of the room, on beanbag chairs, sprawled on the carpet, upright at desks intently focused on monitors, slumped over keyboards, hovering over the printer, basking in the afterglow of a digital haze:
Shelby who aspires to journalism, takes 12 steps away from the ashes
Marco who loves to hate institutions, reflects his mother's love
Iliasha who moves and smiles with Jamaican grace and memories
Tahni who recycles paper, wood, and words with gentle hands and Julian spirit, ocean blue
Bobbi-Lyn who records innuendoes glowing like stars, our Cinderella
Syd who peels purple onions to see what's inside and goes to the races in platform shoes with her mom
Ryan who explores technology searching for answers
Vince who visits pyramids and Salem, who wouldn't call himself a writer, but is
Karina who found her Spanglish voice and uses it like music to make a new beginning
Michael who is abducted by aliens and Pooh bear, finds arrowheads in Pennsylvania and a friend in Jia
Natasha who's forgotten her childhood but remembers books, words, images and pennies
Ashley who lives confidently, creatively, finds family at home and in Salamanca
Gary who sees stories in pictures of a fishing grandpa, learns to balance work and play on a pallet knife
Jennifer who wears a plastic princess crown, pitches no-hitters, and may someday sign softballs herself
Melanie who brings her life from Kansas to Coronado with journal records and survival skills
Joclyn who goes by Katie, misses Kelly, plays soccer and recognizes the power of teaching
Daisy who brings spiders, talking snapdragons, Phyllis, frog, and family to make words that swallow us whole
Henry who hikes to Santa Cruz with Les Paul, a notebook, a pencil, and the Brothers Marx and Blue
Kelly who loves the sacrifice of waterpolo, her brother, UCLA, and team memories
Robin who sifts Saudi Arabian sand through delicate fingers and paints pictures with words for Jade
Nino who infuses rhythm, Atwood, rubber cement and love poems into spiral pages and tapped toes
Nicole who beads brother, sister, and mother in kaleidoscope moonlight between guitar and metaphors
Ian who holds the ocean in a jar, listens to Jimi, struggles through the Panamanian jungle and laughs
Amy who fashions summer memories, collections, order, a life in the genteel South
Eric who comes from Mississippi, writes poems, no, "po-aims," that rhyme and make us love the Dinger
Sacha who could kill with a look and love with all her Oma, mother, brother, woven into words and pictures
Lecinda who collects shoes for each day and snapshots of an old South Africa blue and white, the efficient one
Nici who speaks in trilingual pictures with her tag tucked in, our savvy traveler of the world and words
Summer who dances with words of power, hymns of faith, began in an Alaska journal carried on to Africa
Cheryl who lifeguards, teams to play, sees Hawaiian sunsets and odes to Laura in Coronado dusk
Nate who brings, yes, his toothbrush, Speedo and goggles, writes of magical surfing adventures off the IB pier
Lisa who visits us on angel wings to remind us of hope and love and the grace of metaphor
Caitlin who lives fireflies, rusty oak leaves, Pablo questions and answers her mother's charge to art
Karrie who paints Billie and writes jazz to tap our feet and minds with Miles and the Tao
Jamie who is all that and a bag of chips with a quillow, a laptop and a journey back home
Loni who sails on words and pictures and finds words and pictures waiting expectantly
Roman who thinks and figures and knows who he is as he questions and examines in magnified words
Aaron who listens to the sea in a giant shell, longing for surfing, snorkeling, sailfishing, and order in words
Rayna who shines like sunlight in autumn, listening to Bob, sitting in freshly cut grass, always with paper and pen
Jia who has a tiger inside wearing African beads, feathers, feeling the salsa beat of Puerto Rico, released by the pen
Katie who uses words to wave the red Running of the Bulls ribbon, roll in Angela's Ashes and swim in Irish Guinness
Tina who holds a Jamaican box full of frogs leaping, struggling to fly into free purple air and dance questions
Leah who finds Byron's "Euthanasia," journeys from Nebraska words, brings a strong voice along
Drew who thinks his way into computerized characters creating worlds with glossaries and footnotes
Marc who wears headphones like a necklace and dances the digital two-step in the MUD
Josh who carries artbox and wears a red ponytail like a badge of imagination writes of Wellsville
Natalie and Melissa who share a culture bag, weaving a tapestry of jewels and misty stories
Amy who knits her brow, revises until happy, creates words that we crave to eat
Jaeme who dances to a gothic tune, cuts off her braid and finds her voice
Jeremy who speeds to and from Jamul hearing music, seeing pictures
Lexey who swims and paddles flexing mental muscles through words
Christina who doesn't want photographs to steal her soul that she saves for children
Robbie who uses tragedy and comedy to create a life scrapbook, searching like Pippin
Kristina who leans her head back, turns her open face sunward, and belts out musty snapshots
Jessica who karate chops words and computers and converses with Scott Card
Katie who loves family and dolphins and speaks quietly with loud justice
Matt who describes himself as "random" breathes power into words, pictures, and the stage
Rachel who sleeps on her grandmother's pillow, runs, jumps, and moves coast to coast with grace
Pat who lives on a boat, close to the water he surfs and swims
Kevin who reads "The Hobbit," plays soccer, foot and base ball and writes rules to live by
Becky who rides horseback, counsels campers, and moves toward a future in words
Melanie who loves tomatoes like plump red hearts, odes them Neruda-style
Alexa and Melissa who devote themselves to team, family, toothbrush and dreams
Noel who ruled the neighborhood with her brother, transforms on stage and creates tropical paradise
We gather you all like bright orange blossoms in our arms and dance you around the marine layer where your light blazes across the horizon, hopeful, golden, and bright.
How to Write a Love
for my students
love poems bounce off
your red vest,
reflect on her white teeth,
collect in corners of the room,
lounge on bean bags,
flicker with flourescents,
crawl down keyboard fingers,
scratch out of pencil lead...
look at a neck nape.
listen to Billie Holliday.
feel January sun
through a window pane.
smell hints of twining honeysuckle.
taste a really red ripe raspberry
and close your eyes.
read the love poems
written on the inside.
In the Raspberries
Raspberry vines wreath your head;
Sweet red juice stains your fingertips;
Full sun washes an empty sky with yellow.
We love like warm, soft brown earth,
Soaking fresh blue, pushing healthy
Green shoots toward yellow.
We work to fill the same enameled
White basin that Grandma Griswold
Dropped berries into, one by one by one.
From hot harvest through preserving
We join in Thanksgiving worship,
Our love homemade, like raspberry wine.
When we fill our basin our arms sting
With thorn prints, blood dries, red
Sugar drops, juice stains white enamel.
The sun covers itself in the last row
Of bushes; berries glow with rays
Embroidering leaves, thorns, vines.
Lullaby of twilight fills our ears;
Ripe berries fill our mouths;
We sink to the warmth of the earth.
The Big Dipper
In October the moon o'd
displaying three Hereford cows
and their calves, blinking and chewing
as the big dipper reached low
to scoop them up through
the roofless hayloft, floating
past glowing alfalfa dust motes
into the rusty old oak,
catching and holding a moment
in Swain's wood stove smoke
and finally dipping through ashy coal,
only to be dropped bawling and lowing
back to rocky soil on Enumclaw Plateau
where we leaned on arthritic fenceposts
and our breath made frosty o's.
For My Students
Northern Idaho points
like a panhandle
to the Canadian border.
Here deep lakes reflect
the color of the sky.
One of these lakes,
laps at the feet
of the Selkirk Mountains.
On clear days
the sun rises
behind the Selkirks
and slides fingers of light
through the deep green
to touch dock pilings,
catch pools of minnows,
and trace rocks spelling
out my cousin's name
J I L L.
On this day, however,
the lake is dark grey,
the clouds low,
and the snow thick
on the road, and what
I want to say to you
Be full of hope.
Find your way
like a ray
for my students
through tall grass,
your fancy tickled.
blowsy grain heads
knock your knees.
calico cat paces
in your wake.
barn swallows dip low,
soar to clouds,
lift under your arms,
and you touch blue,
tangle with oak branches,
wear birds' nests like crowns.
even in the rain.
for the june
you will grow
like a sunflower,
already you genuflect
in golden air,
ready to bloom.
love in all elements.
surround your roots
with rich loam.
stand strong in topaz glory.