Poetry Corner: October 2018

Early in my tenure at Hope Church, I signed up for a class that was being facilitated by Rachelle Oppenhuizen, Randy Smit, and Sharon Arendshorst. It was based on the book The Artist’s Way, and we meet weekly in the garden lounge, summer of 2012. This was my first introduction to both Sharon and Randy, and I know we all have strong and fond memories of the sharing that happened in that space – both finished works, as well as the struggles, and revelations of creative work in process. I came to know Sharon as a gifted poet, before I knew her other many talents. She has an observant poet’s eye, and a way to hit us as readers in the gut with her keen observations. Thanks to Sharon for sharing the fruits of those gifts with us all this month.
~Rhonda (for R&R) 

I began reading and writing poetry in retirement. Poetry invites me to slow down and to pay attention to the world around me, to my inner thoughts and feelings; to explore past experiences; or to let my imagination take wings. I find I often write to new understandings or to surprise endings. I enjoy the process of editing, where I play further with words and sounds and rhythms and pare the poem down to its essence in order to paint a picture or evoke a feeling. The following poem was written this summer, but re-members a moment when I was in Sudan during Sudan’s civil war.

In Southern Sudan 1992

Black flies, swarming in the horrid heat,
circle the Nuer mother, her two daughters,
and young son lying in the sub-Saharan dust of Watt.
Knobby knees stick out of skeletal frames,
bear witness to their flight from war and famine.
The small boy wears only a string of beads.
The orange highlights in his patchy hair glisten in the sun.
He hunches over a gourd of relief corn,
his outsized-head hanging over his protruding belly.
He’s too weak to wave away the flies sucking
moisture from his parched lips and watery eyes.
A bloated fly flies from his lips
to mine as if to wake me with a kiss.

by Sharon Nelson Arendshorst

The following poem (in a very different tone) by early 20th century poet e.e. cummings is one of my favorites.

i thank You God for most this amazing

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

by e.e. cummings

hosted by Randy Smit and Rhonda Edgington