Of Bees and Mountains


Bees and MtnsIMG_0691 (3)

bee in jewelweed









The steady sound of bumblebees
begins sotto voce,
when the morning rays
reach the tall yellow jewelweed
adjacent to my campsite.
As bees go to work in their earthy business,
the volume swiftly rises
to an ecstatic electric hum.
All day long,
there is no ceasing of their sound.

Here on top of the mountain,
their murmur lies on the silence
like floating music,
like a slow sailboat of buzzing,
though the bee sound seems to come
from a lifegiving furnace
at the center of the earth.
They brook no distraction
from their fervent task of sucking nectar.
How the sound stirs me, how
it nourishes my ear,
how it inspires my diligence.
All day I hear the sisters’
backdrop doowop production.

All day I watch
the sun and the mountains play.
When a ridge is alight,
it waves its particular grace
back to the star that illumines it.
I cannot read a book or look away.
I cannot listen to any other music.
I become a hovering angel
soaking up the goodness
of the bodacious bees,
of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains
that seem to lie so still
but are alive, and could easily rise,
and stretch themselves like giants.

Silent butterflies flutter by
while I listen, while I watch.
I don’t care what time or day it is.
I am a god smiling
at suspended mountains.
But no, because of this concert,
this moment, this view,
I choose to be an earthling!
To drink the waves of flowing mountains,
I choose a life of senses.
For the sake of a single ridge
with twilight falling into the cove behind it,
I give up godhood gladly.

When at last the light
takes its measured leave,
the buzz of bees likewise
imperceptibly softens,
until the Maestra
brings both to a close,
And I the blessed listener
am given back
to the lifegiving underpinning
upon which the wild chaos
of natural sounds
has all day rested—
and that rich fabric called silence
sends me and the bees to sleep.

©Susa Silvermarie 2015

diaphanous mtnscampfire view

Artist Outsiders

In Ricki and the Flash, Meryl Streep plays a woman artist who followed her dream and comes face to face with family consequences. Diablo Cody gives her genuine feminist kick to the script, and Streep shines. Streep’s real life daughter plays the daughter with whom Ricki has an opportunity to make amends. Later when Ricki tries to reconcile by attending her son’s wedding, upscale guests treat her as a pariah. For me, the strength of Streep’s performance is how viscerally she communicates, both what it feels like to be an outsider, and, in spite of it, her hardwon courage to stand up for who she is.

I happened to view this film the same day I saw The Prophet, Salma Hayek’s interpretation of Kahlil Gibran’s poetry book of the same name. My two-for-one-dart-across-the-hall trick gave me an interesting perspective on the two movies. Mustafa, the central character of The Prophet, is also an outsider–on three counts, in fact; by being in exile, by being a poet, and by being jailed for inciting freedom.

Ricki and Mustafa are both artists as well, one a poet and one a musician. In a sense, an artist must be an outsider by definition, a person who steps back enough from the inside norm, from the cozy acceptable, to be able to write or paint or compose about it. To create is to risk, to step back–and then to step forward, way forward, making oneself completely vulnerable to the public’s praise or censure. Mustafa risks his life, Ricki risks being her naked musician self in front of her grown children and their snob crowd. In the end, they both give everything they have gladly. Ah, what good company I feel myself to be in today— artist outsiders, my favorite kind of folks.


The Prophet, the Movie

I am a poet, once more lifted up to my calling— by a movie! A movie with Poetry at its heart –what hope enters me, to witness this rare phenomenon in the contemporary world. Kahlil Gibran’s poetry is portrayed in the film, The Prophet, as a treasured gift, even as an heroic character itself. I am grateful to have lived long enough to have some last vestiges of my youthful cynicism swept away, in the revelation of love and oneness shown in this simple yet complex story.

Adding a central story frame to one of the most popular collections of poetry ever published, in the movie the exiled poet, Mustafa, is both followed and assisted by a working class single mother and her mute troublemaking daughter. When Mustafa’s death is seen through by the child, the veil becomes transparent to the dreaming self within each viewer as well. In her brilliant directorial debut, Salma Hayek takes a cluster approach by putting various directors in charge of the eight poem segments of the story. Hayek says, “We wanted to make a film about freedom and unity and everybody connecting together. That’s why we picked animators who were so different from each other, from different parts of the world, with different belief systems, different ages, different styles. Every single animator who worked on one of the poems had complete creative freedom.”

That a woman Director made this film of Kahlil Gibran’s work her labor of love, makes an interesting parallel with another woman who silently supported Gibran. Mary Haskell financed Gibran’s artistic development, editing his English works and significantly affecting his writing.

Haskell was an educated, strong-willed and independent woman and an active champion of women’s liberation. Mary persuaded Gibran to refrain from translating his Arabic works to English and concentrate instead on writing in English directly. Mary’s collaboration and editing of his various English works polished Gibran’s work, most of which first underwent Mary’s editing before going to the publishers. She would spend hours with Gibran, going over his wording, correcting his mistakes and suggesting new ideas to his writings. She even attempted learning Arabic to gain a better grasp of Gibran’s language and his thoughts…The significance of Mary’s relationship with Gibran is revealed through her diaries, in which she recorded Gibran’s artistic development, their personal and intellectual conversations and his innermost thoughts for over seventeen years. (http://leb.net/gibran/)

 Gibran himself summarized The Prophet to Mary Haskell, saying: “The whole Prophet is saying one thing: ‘you are far, far greater than you know — and all is well.”

As for me, experiencing The Prophet the movie helps me dissolve final remnants of all manner of ‘protective’ negative thinking from my past. I am reminded that what has sometimes seemed to give me security in the world is actually a constriction of my Source self. Being moved by this unusual film to cease living small, I affirm and claim my true nature, my true size. I had recently been asking to be reminded of my purpose this lifetime— Granted! I am a poet, once more lifted up to my calling.

Next post up: How Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep is like The Prophet. (Can you guess?)

The Women Singing

The women singing
covered me with a quilt of harmony.
The Swannanoa River
skipped shallow over rocks,
bopping a fairy rhythm.
The ground under the oak tree
graciously took my weight–
Gladly I gave myself away.
On this bed of contentment,
I rested from thoughts,
from oughts, from plannings.

The women singing their cherished songs
penetrated the shield of my skin.
The women singing
came into my body like rainbow air
carried by my blood
to the edges of my skin.
The women singing
turned me into a shimmer of water.
Dissolved into earth like a rain of light,
I lay in the afternoon grass,
and I was nowhere else.

©Susa Silvermarie 2015

Susa and Annelinde blessing the Swannanoa River
Susa and Annelinde blessing the Swannanoa River

The poem’s backstory is that the call went out from Annelinde Metzner, Choir Director Extraordinaire:

“Re: our yearly concert, Blessings on the River: I have the Friends Meeting House in Black Mountain reserved for the afternoon of August 22nd. I am not up to giving a full-fledged concert, so let’s call this a party! Past and present members of Sahara Peace Choir, and your friends and relatives, choose a Sahara song or two which you would like to have fun singing. I’ve got lots of copies, and can bring my keyboard. Part of the afternoon will be to go down to the beautiful Swannanoa River and cast popcorn on the waters, to bless and envision pure and abundant water everywhere.”

And the call was answered by some 25 of us this past Saturday. We sang our hearts out for hours, we shared the abundance of healthy food, and we blessed each other and the waters with much love.  After the water blessing, I chose to lie down outside, to experience the blending of the voices as another blessing. No one wanted to go home, so the women sang some more, and we ended the afternoon in an exuberant dance!