Seasonal light

Yesterday was watered down in rain but the sun peeked out this morning. It’s fun being out and about in a drizzle if you find Rhododendrons along the path. This time I managed to photograph almost all the varieties there are, but the Plant Identification App I used has been unable to explicitly identify the species or cultivar. In any case, they vary from Rhododendron simsii, R. ferrugineum or Alpine rose, R. indicum, R. calendulaceum or flame azaleas and are a riot of colours.

Simply some Haiku today, I couldn’t manage an epic 😄 Here is a great resource for a glossary of Haiku [1]. For an exploration of Senryu, I found this quarterly journal of Japanese short form poetry, very useful [2].

Rhododendrons this season
Clouds eclipsed by Sun.
Rhododendrons are simply,
light hidden in hue.
Bright flowery boughs
illustrate a fragrant love
on dark moonlit nights.
If this be colour
of chastity, then I must
promptly turn flower.
Alpine rose outshone
Bathsheba in seducing
King David perhaps ...
Flowers simply are
method to manoeuvre time
to hours of hue.
Flayed passions bleeding.
Desire steers affections,
Springtime transgressions.

Resources:

[1]Haiku Glossary ~@https://haikucommentary.wordpress.com/haiku-glossary/

[2] Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry ~http://simplyhaiku.haikuhut.com/SHv3n3/features/anita_virgil_senryu.html

The steps to inoculation

Vaccination brought to mind, strangely, thoughts on ambidexterity. When one arm feels a bit leaden after a jab, how does one go about doing with the other, that which seems impossible. As per research, being born ambidextrous can be disadvantageous for cognitive functioning, especially for arithmetic, memory retrieval, and logical reasoning, besides it has been associated with difficulties in language too. Yet, it isn’t clear if training towards ambidexterity would also cause the same issues as being born ambidextrous does [1]

On a positive note, it is quite possible to train ones non dominant hand to become more proficient, as in a concert pianist skilled with both hands, but whose mastery is complementary rather than competitive [2]. Some random thoughts at a vaccination and a poem thereafter …

You are one step closer, say stickers in red,
on a floor burning it's way to needles.

Unpeopled lines criss cross, one to medication
another to a woman in a white lab coat

against a wall, papered to impress or assure ,
etched in beakers, pipettes, bunsen

burners in blue. Here, swabs, syringes
and two arms to choose from.

"Which do you prefer", she asks, seated
at my left and I look to my right

at my BCG scar. Suddenly, this
seems painfully sore. "Left", I say,

besides, "you are closer", I think.
My right arm needs to lift the dutch oven

and to write, brush my teeth, chop onions
for biryani and ouch, there aren't any tears

only a needle I felt, like her unsmiling or resigned
face. She must feel tired poking dozens

of people for no fault of their own
so I wished her a great day and all that,

then took my place on a seat among
people moping over their big bright

phones, for my fifteen minutes of pain
or not, as I am distracted easily and this

is a pharmacy. Here I am in the section for adult diapers
with a vantage view of incontinence. Que sorte!

Read further: [1]~https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/03/can-you-boost-your-brain-power-by-making-yourself-ambidextrous

[2]~https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-training-to-become-ambidextrous-improve-brain-function/

Pale beneath a zesty rind

Breakfast stories …

Food satisfies and yet, there’s a kind of hunger that permeates the spirit that is insatiable. When I first watched Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton, sing ‘Satisfied’, with Angelica Schuyler, I felt he was making a statement on the path to Boddichitta or the awakened mind. A dissatisfied mind is known to be constantly groping for meaning or creating a path, in a state arising, ironically out of dissatisfaction, according to Buddhist thought.

A verse of the song 'Satisfied' is as follows:

You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied

I'm sure I don't know what you mean, you forget yourself

You're like me, I'm never satisfied

Is that right?

I've never been satisfied

Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Hamilton spends the rest of the play driven by his dissatisfaction. I remembered this at morning tea and I felt this should compel me to write something profound and philosophical but couldn’t quite get past breakfast. So here’s a poem on lemons and avocados. I think, the tart flavour of a lemon helps awaken the palate and the creamy texture of an avocado, smoothens the day.

Lemons stained in sun
Each sun that wafts in with dawn 
stains the lemons yellow,
and leaves them pale beneath
their zesty rind for life.

Sever the citrus in sorrow
and it drips sour,
in a spark that sets you alive.

Slice morning into emerald slivers.
What green of meadows
to contemplate breakfast !

I'm famished for poems
and I string words on bread
to satiate a soul hunger.
Slices of morning

A Room with a View

A room with a view

Does the bird know to build a nest in blossoms? I found this on my walk days earlier and it struck me as Virginia Woolf’s, ‘A room of one’s own’, but this isn’t a study; it is actually a boudoir turned bedroom, refurbished to turn into a nursery. Those birds will get creative in there. As an aside, who is to confirm that it takes wealth to scout the best view? I wondered about the title of this poem and wrote one initially, in line with it being ‘A room of one’s own’ and then changed it subsequently into ‘A room with a view’ as I spent unearthly hours before dawn reading Woolf’s classic essay.

If the criticism of Woolf’s essay by Alice Walker [1] is anything to go by, one would imagine that it takes privilege and a safe space to be a writer while she juxtaposed it against the exclusions suffered by women of colour. I find, upon closer scrutiny that Woolf and Walker are on the same page when identifying what it actually takes to be the sort of writer, they imagine a woman writer should be, in chapter four [2] of the book where Woolf quotes

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

Chapter four, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Blossom 
says the wind
and exclamations of winter gather into
a nesting soliloquy.
The sky drapes a curtain
of night
and I can hear
the murmurs of dreams.
Star spangled banners
are the cape
of nationhood but here,
whispers soar on wings
of moonshine
and sleepy buds will blush at an intoxicating dawn.
A room with a view
is no basis for spring
yet on the seventh day
it rained blossoms,
a wondrous thing.

I enjoyed Woolf’s essay and many of the aspects colour timbre in the contemporary even if some of her illustrations are of literary figures from over 400 years. Her flow of thought is as rambunctious as the confluence of rivers and yet, still, soothing like a placid lake. Needless to say, my early morning view was tinted in metaphor and the poem came out the way it did, for if I were to quote Woolf further, in chapter five, she so eloquently suggests the balance of interrelated yet opposing principles even if she genders them.

…it is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly…And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilized. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, I thought, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans float calmly down the river.

Chapter five, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

I had so much to learn from this essay, not least, the brilliance of a mind unencumbered by the straitjacket of her times, even as much as she paints it into picture and despises it, she does not shy away from naming it. Her peroration was perhaps even more inspiring in that, it will find a place to nest in any human heart that seeks to capture life in writing, despite the prison house of language, despite the schooling of thought, in spite of the ambitious desire for audience and the inordinate thirst for a purposeful relevance.

“When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves”.

Concluding remarks, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Notes:

[1]Alice Walker on Woolf’s Essay ~https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Room_of_One%27s_Own (retrieved on 23/apr/2021)

[2]A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (This essay is based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnharn and the Odtaa at Girton in October 1928. The papers were too long to be read in full, and have since been altered and expanded) ~http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200791h.html (retrieved on 23/apr/2021)

Avian Ambition ~ Cross into the Blue

On a recent trip to Raritan Bay, we had the Feathered Air Force welcome us to a light ocean spray and a limitless horizon.

Cross into the blue as you aim high~ Air Force in remiges
Reaching for the stratosphere in feathered flight / the plumes of ambition / the stuff of downy dreams in my pillow  / A breezy morning drive by a bay / and  townsfolk haven't remembered  to store the skeletons of halloween / Our notes tether to the railing in claws of a circumspect laugh / bracing the wind like it could fall off / knowing little it can soar / lilting awkwardly, then lifting the spirits to levitate like birds / spanning across the universe of quill dipped in ink / leaving words in wingtips / The force are lined up in defence of land they think they possess / until they fly into a limitless sky //
Powered Wingtips ~ Avian Airforce

These birds were hanging on for dear life in a significant breeze. It looked so odd yet amusing, considering they couldn’t really fall, given they could fly.

Spring survives in racemes of yellow

There’s a holly like plant that has naturalized near my home. On my walk, I was delighted to see racemes [1] of yellow flowers that will thereafter turn into clusters of blue-black tart berries of the Oregon barberry. The Oregon Grape Holly or Mahonia aquifolium is from the family Berberidaceae, has leaves that look like Holly and is the state flower of Oregon. This shade garden ornamental that I could finally name, is so beautiful, used now as a substitute for Goldenseal as the leaves, bark, and root contain berberine, a yellow alkaloid that is the same antimicrobial compound found in there too. Its use in medicine by Native Americans in the treatment of arthritis, jaundice, fever and other ailments has been documented as well. Foragers use it to create excellent jellies. It’s literally in my backyard and I never knew … so here it is, set like pectin in a poem.

This poem is dedicated to the beautiful Oregon Grape Holly.

Mahonia aquifolium
Evergreen, the winter never laid a blemish on her waxy leaves. Is this the eternal of that which survives the rain, the sun, the waxwings, the raccoons, the storms, the kind mercenary from the landscapers in his brown overalls clicking his alligator shears, the petite woman who struck down a holly-alike limb for a sacrificial feast of gratitude ... If feelings ever gelled in pectin then it would be an antiquarian delight, for my Jam Bible has no such recipe. Perhaps I should write one, for they could find it stored in a canopic jar under the sands of time some day the sun rises in the future, like victuals of an earlier age, eternity assimilated in the glaze of green and a yellow of delicate racemes, onyx berries. In Oregon, the barberry is a survivor so they honoured her in their pantheon of Spring goddesses. The birds tell me it is Spring here too. Summer will soon cluster in survival, in patient berries, some tart, some sweet.

I find evergreen to be a poetic synonym for resilience. In the temporal, the evergreen will perish but live an eternity in its lifetime, or perhaps, the Oregon Grape Holly is simply poetic in her waxy leaves.

[1] Definitions:

Raceme ~ a flower cluster with the separate flowers attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem. The flowers at the base of the central stem develop first. (Oxford Dictionary)

Botanical definition ~ A raceme (/reɪˈsiːm/ or /rəˈsiːm/) or racemoid is an unbranched, indeterminate type of inflorescence bearing pedicellate flowers (flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels) along its axis. In botany, an axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. (Wikipedia)