Gathering by Louise Gallagher Gathering, the circle draws us near candlelight flickering on precious faces held so dear sharing stories of our days laughing and teasing one another as only those whose stories have been woven through the warp and weft of this family tapestry can because we know there is no distance too far that cannot be bridged by two hearts beating together and weaving stories full of memory and love of life shared within the circle. As we thread our stories together, laughter, memories and love rises and we raise a glass in silent honouring of all the hearts who lost their beat in those days, not yet past but slowly now, slipping away, when we could not gather with family and friends because only the distance between us could keep us safe. We are gathering now drawing near stretching our arms around one another, curving into bodies touching, heart to heart and savouring these times where we can feel them beat in time as we gather and share laughter, love and memories of times past and loved ones lost and feeling grateful for those who made it through to be here now, gathering, the circle drawing us near, holding us safe from where so many have gone leaving behind only memories to light the empty spaces left behind.
The Wild Places by Louise Gallagher Some may call it a wilderness a vast unexplored terrain thick with brambles and vines interwoven into a thick impenetrable net of lost dreams and disappointments of life’s hurts and wounds, scars and scares holding you back from breathing freely in the light of each new dawn breaking free of night. Some may call it a wilderness I call it my heart a wild and mystical place where vast unexplored terrain rich with open spaces yearning to be discovered with dreams calling to be awoken call me to cast off life’s hurts and wounds and disappointments to jettison the scary stories I tell myself of how I will never do enough deserve better be worthy. In this wild place of my heart beating wild and free untethered to the stories I tell myself about how I will never be enough I am enough I am all I ever dreamed of I have all I ever hoped for I am all of me worthy of living with the wilds of my heart breaking and breathing, breaking and breathing free.
Airport Hustle by Louise Gallagher The world is on the move masked faces eyes watching smiles frowns furrowed brows checking… Where’s my ticket? Wallet? Hand sanitizer? Suitcases rolling wheels turning clicketty clack clicketty clack people walking people standing milling about beneath glass ceilings soaring high pouring light upon bustling crowds gathered around touch screen kiosks checking in printing out baggage tags and boarding passes people on the move conveyor belts rolling clicketty clack clicketty clack carrying baggage to distant ports clicketty clack clicketty clack in the hope it will arrive at the end of the journey in the same shape it began. Long lines snaking through security barriers laptops tested carry-on scanned passing through to the other side leaving behind going towards new horizons home turf everywhere busy busier than its been through an invisible microbe’s demands the world limit where we go and who we see. The world is on the move faces masked eyes watching people moving wheels turning clicketty clack clicketty clack airport humming with life and people travelling holding on to the hope that when they reach their destination they will be home free of an invisible travelling companion.
I am home again. My heart full. Memory overflowing with joy.
See you soon!
The Best You Can Do. by Louise Gallagher You ask me to believe you are doing your best even when your best is not true for another. And I do believe you are doing your best. And I do wonder, can you believe that in doing your best you are limited by your belief your best is true for others? What if your best could be better? What if you stopped believing you know what is best for others? Would you then choose to believe what is true for another is best for them even if it’s not true for you? Would you then choose to believe their truth is the best way to create something better than what you believe is the best you can do?
This poem came to me this morning as I sat at my desk watching the river flow past.
Earlier, my daughter and I and our pups had walked at a park near their house and while walking along a trail through the woods came upon a large encampment.
It wasn’t there just a few days ago when we walked the same path, but now, it is well ensconced and easily visible. A bright blue tarp is draped across trees providing both shelter and privacy to the occupants. The smell of food cooking on an open fire permeates the air.
I understand the desire to build such an encampment, particularly if someone has no place to call home.
But there are challenges and dangers.
Community residents might not look favourably upon such an encampment and might decide to take matters into their own hands. Or, might call upon the City and insist something be done. In the past, this has sometimes resulted in City Parks staff dismantling and removing the encampment without showing much concern for the belongings or needs of the campers.
And, an open fire in the dense woods where this encampment is situated is problematic.
We are fortunate in Calgary to have the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) and the Encampment Team through Alpha House Society, an agency serving vulnerable, at risk Calgarians. Their focus is to interact with individuals where they’re at, and to support them in addressing their needs. The Encampment Team, in partnership with City-ByLaw, supports ‘rough sleepers’ to help them address their safety, well-being and housing needs.
For Calgarians, the benefit of these teams is that it gives everyone an opportunity to reach out and support someone in distress or in need of housing supports, knowing the response will be compassionate and humane.
I have phoned the Encampment team to alert them of the situation. I know that their response will honour the individuals involved and provide them support in a way that reflects their humanity and their needs and their rights.
If you have concern for someone on the street in Calgary who is intoxicated or in distress, please call the DOAP Team first. The number is: 403.998.7388
If you have a concern about an Encampment – call the Encampment Team. Their number is: 403.805.7388
It can be hard sometimes to know what the most humane response is. The DOAP and Encampment Teams are the right response.
And… if like me you need to give voice to what you experience, witness, hear and see, write a poem, speak up, volunteer…
And support the agencies doing the work on the front lines. They need our help to do the important work they do supporting vulnerable people in our communities.
When Life Hit Hard by Louise Gallagher When life hit hard she stumbled and fell hard She got back up and when life tripped her up again she fell not so hard this time but getting up was harder. Life kept happening and she kept falling until the falling down was easier than the getting up until the staying down was safer than trying to find a way to stop falling . She no longer cries out for help when she falls She no longer reaches out for help to get back up Trapped between the fall and getting up she lies silent dreaming of a hand reaching out to help her get back up.
There is something magical about walking along the river in the early evening of a warm Spring day.
Birds twitter in trees, the soft trill of some unknown (to me) species. The chattering of the chickadees mixing with the gossiping of squirrels. Ducks quacking from the middle of the river where they float lazily by while overhead, geese fly low, honking and calling out to one another.
Leaves rustle on trees as if, released from the tightness of their buds, they have much to share about winter days gone by. Grasses turn green, eyeing one another as they whisper amongst themselves the secrets they’ve dug up from deep within their roots.
Fairy dancers spinning tales of magic on sun-dappled water. A fisherman casting his line out where he stands, thigh deep, in the running waters. A fish jumps just out of the water, splashes down as if to say to the erstwhile fisherman, “Catch me if you can!”.
Stories woven out of air, spun upon a gentle breeze catching a whiff of something exotic simmering on the fire where a family gathers to share time spent laughing and playing and eating by the river.
And I walk along the river’s edge and Beaumont chases the ball and stops to sniff some unknown scent and then he lets the ball fall into the water and he follows it with a splash into the river and I sit on the bank and watch and smile and listen and savour the pure delight of being alive in this moment right now.
This is spring in the city. My viewpoint focused to this moment in time where I sit and watch the world float by. No destination. No To Do list calling. No ‘have to’s’ waiting.
Just being. Here. Now.
This is all there is.
This post is in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt: Viewpoint
Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.
Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021. Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. This needs to be a safe and fun space for all. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post. Link your blog to mine with a pingback. To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTPS:// address of my post) and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of the URL of your post in the comments of the current week’s prompt. Responses posted prior to the next Thursday prompt release can be included in the Roundup. Let’s be creative and have fun! -Eugi https://amanpan.com/2021/05/13/eugis-weekly-prompt-viewpoint-may-13-2021/
The painting I’ve used to illustrate this poem is from my She Persisted Series. When I wrote this poem yesterday, I considered going into the studio and creating a painting to go with the words (but after six hours of cleaning the garage, I was too tired! – Not sure why I thought it would only take a couple of hours but hey! I’m always the optimist.). I still may do that but this painting, which is No. 37 in the series, felt ‘right’.
I AM NOT BROKEN by Louise Gallagher I am not broken though I do have cracks I am not cracked though I do have wounds I am not wounded though I do have scars I am not scarred though I do have cuts I am not My breaks Or cracks Or wounds Or scars I am not my cuts. I am beautiful. Whole. Full of incomparable broken places revealing cracks healing wounds bursting into wisdom scars strengthening cuts that cut deep to forge beauty from the ashes of the places that have shaped me. I am not broken. I am. Beautiful. Brave. Bold. I am woman. I am me.
I hadn’t intended to write two poems yesterday morning but… having spent much of my life learning to heed the muse’s urgings, I could not ignore her call to write this one out.
And so… I did.
Late spring snow
velvet purple petals
eager green grasses
out of winter moist soil
And the seasons turn
and the sun shines
and Mother Nature
as my heart
out of the ground.
As I sit at my desk this morning I watch two robins chase each other through the trees. An opportunistic squirrel, taking advantage of what I assume to be their amorous intentions, raids the birdfeeder while chickadees hop along the fence, tweeting and twittering. I think they’re telling the squirrel to get lost.
A man in an inflatable raft drifts into view on the river. He drifts with the current, a fishing line trailing behind him as he uses one oar to gently guide him along. He passes in front of my window, under the bridge and out of sight. I imagine him full of hope.
And the trees stand still. Yesterday’s breezes gone. Buds are appearing along their branches, tiny shoots of hope leafing out in possibility.
High above, the blue sky is dotted with islands of fluffy white clouds that lay seemingly motionless, like a warm woolly blanket covering the earth below.
And I awaken.
There is much to be done today. I am in spring cleaning mode.
The deck. The storage area in the back of our basement. Both done.
Today, after my prerequisite morning walk with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, I tackle the granddaddy of all cleaning chores. The garage. There are closets and cupboards that also need my ministrations but they can wait for a rainy day. The weather folk have promised a warm, almost hot for this time of year in this northern clime, day. It’s a good day to clean the garage.
Later, after I’ve soaked off the dust and grime from the garage in a leisurely bath, I shall venture into my studio and keep working on pieces for an art show I’m in this June.
I have a lot to do. My body of ‘saleable’ work not yet big enough.
I used to joke that you could always tell when I was writing. My toilet was sparkling!
It was my avoidance tactic.
And I wonder…
Is cleaning out the garage (or scrubbing the toilet for that matter) avoidance or preparation?
I’m choosing to reframe it as ‘brave preparation’.
Creative expression requires presence.
Presence requires full embodiment in the moment.
Embodiment calls for ridding my thinking mind of clutter.
So… I clean and clear and declutter.
It is a brave thing to do.
To create I must dare to release myself from thinking mind directives and allow myself to flow, unguided, along the river of creativity that courses through my veins and the air around me. I must allow myself to be carried on the current, like the fisherman in his raft. Trolling for nothing but a little nibble of an idea to seed itself in the fertile soils of my imagination.
I am cleaning out the garage this morning.
I am stepping into the beauty of brave creativity.
Several years ago, I volunteered teaching personal development classes at an adult emergency homeless shelter where I worked. One of the processes I used was to invite attendees to think about someone in the world they admired, and then to name the things about that person they most admired. The person could be a famous ‘real-life’ or fictional figure, past or present. Or, someone in their life.
One day, a young man who had been staying at the shelter since being released from prison 6 months previously, shared how the only person he could think of who he admired was his grandfather. “He always treated me nice,” he said. Not like his mother whom, he said, constantly repeated to him what she’d said the day he was born. “This one’s born to be bad.”
At the age of 24, his six months at the shelter were the longest stretch of time since turning 18 that he had not spent in jail. He was determined to keep his stretch going. I want to prove her wrong, he told the class. I want to be a better man.
As part of the exercise, I invited the attendees to write a letter to themselves saying all the positive things they wanted/needed to hear this person they admired say to them. There was no expectation of sharing what they’d written, I told the class. Just that they write out what words they most wanted/needed to hear about how wonderful, kind, intelligent, amazing they were. No negativity, I told him. These are the words that celebrate you. That inspire and applaud you.
The class wrote their letters and when finished, the young man whose mother had predicated he’d turn out bad asked if he could read the letter out loud to everyone. When I asked the class if they wanted to hear it, they all said yes.
When the young man was finished reading his letter out loud, there were a lot of moist eyes in the room, including mine.
This poem is written in honour of that young man and his courageous assertion that he was not going to be his mother’s predictions. That he would do whatever it takes to break the cycle, both of her abuse and his history of getting into trouble. And, it’s written to honour the thousands upon thousands of men and women who enter a shelter’s doors, who like that young come, arrive carrying the burden of a lifetime of being told they are good for nothing, they do not belong, they are not loveable or worthy or wanted.
Words matter. Let us think about our words. Let us use our words to create a better world for everyone.
A Gift of Life By Louise Gallagher The first time she saw his face wrinkled and wet with the vestiges of its journey through the birth canal visible upon his skin, she closed her eyes. Tight. “You’ll be good for nothing,” she whispered to her newborn son as if she could divine his future by the marks her body had imprinted upon his skin through a past she could never face. And everyday, as he grew from toddler to teen to man she reminded him of his future adding the back of her hand across his face, for good measure, she told him with a laugh as she lifted a grimy glass of gin to her lips. She taught him things no child should ever learn gave him a story he did not deserve of a desperate future where he would always be good for nothing. It was a harsh and brutal story no man could carry without defending himself against a past that had branded him at birth and kept him living his 24 years as good for nothing. Twenty-four days out of his last incarceration he declared, Enough. Enough of living out a past he’d been born into and was always told was his only path to becoming a man. Enough of being the kind of man everyone called good for nothing. On that day he took his life into his own hands but not before willing his heart and lungs and other organs to give life to another. At least that way, he whispered with his final breath I will be good for something. When she heard the news of his demise his mother laughed and lifted her gin, her fifth or was it sixth of that day, Good riddance, she said to the empty room in which she sat on a threadbare couch surrounded by discarded bottles and dirty dishes. I always said you’d be good for nothing. And still, his heart beats on a gift of life creating a world of something better for someone.