Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Friday, March 25, 2016

HOLY WATER

HOLY WATER

SUZANNE CLEARY


In January of this year I had the good fortune to meet poet Suzanne Cleary, who teaches in the low residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Converse College.   I had known of Suzanne's work earlier, but being a Visiting Writer during this winter's residency gave me the opportunity to get to know her personally, if only for a little while.  Her warmth, her intelligence, and her obvious engagement with the students in the MFA program impressed me. And, of course, her poetry.  A couple of weeks after my visit, she sent me a signed copy of her latest book, Beauty Mark,  from BkMk Press.

Dorianne Laux, of  the Creative Writing department  at NC State, has  described Suzanne's work  as reflecting "a keen and sensitive mind, her images gleaned from the tangible world. " This is undeniably true, so trying to select only one poem to feature on this blog has been difficult.   Nevertheless, onsidering that today is Good Friday, with Easter Sunday a mere hours away, no poem has resonated as strongly for me right now as the one titled Holy Water.  "God," she declares,  through her grandmother's small vial of  holy water, has been transformed into "something close, and ordinary,/ and simple, and here."  The concluding descriptives overflow, like  water itself, spilling into the all-important "here."  As Richard Wilbur once wrote, "Love  calls us to the things of this world."  And isn't "God" nothing less than love?   On this holy weekend, I hope we can find that love in the smallest, most everyday things,  "a little pocket of heaven" in a hairbrush resting  on the dressing table, a stray sock, the smell of clean towels, the first stroke of light on the bedroom wall come Easter morning.


HOLY WATER


At Easter every year
the priest poured a small vial of it
for each family in the parish

my grandmother pouring hers
into a silvery blue font
inside her bedroom door

a little pocket of Heaven
into which she dipped her hand
each time she entered the room

touching just her fingertips
to the ordinary water
blessed by the priest

and surely blessed also
by my grandmother
as she took the water

to her forehead and to her heart
and then to each shoulder
of her plaid housedress

then pressed her fingertips
to her mouth
for a quick kiss

never stopping, never breaking her stride
as she balanced a pile of folded towels
or swept my grandfather's slippers

to their place beside the bed,
or gave me the fancy hairbrush
she kept on top of the bureau

my grandmother never wondering, it seemed,
what miracle had transpired
to make the water holy

perhaps her wonder taken entirely
by the powdery smell of the towels
or the clean scent of my hair

but that would be to doubt
the capacity of my grandmother
for wonder, for love,

for love and wonder are the same thing,
what the priest felt, I believe,
as he held his hands above the water

and felt the transformation
from the tips of his fingers
and all down his arms

as the water changed God
into something close, and ordinary,
and simple, and here.


Suzanne Cleary,  from Beauty Mark, BkMk Press, 2013

Visit Suzanne's website at suzanneclearypoet.com

1 comment:

Sally Buckner said...

A marvelous poem...dare I call it "holy"?