Sunday, September 29, 2019

My Double Heart: Poetry of Attachment & Freedom

My Home Heart
photo by RPod

Prior to leaving on big adventures abroad, I find myself deeply appreciating "home". 

Sea of Light & Grasses
photo by RPod
The small details of my familiar environment, that often escape me amid the daily grind, tend to come vividly to life a few days prior to departure. I go through a mini-grieving process of leaving all that I love so deeply. I make sure I tend to each precious thing, and I am always relieved to return, no matter how long I am away. 

I embrace this cognitive dissonance: of both loving my home and loving to venture far, far away, by holding both things to be true. I will come back new. And the same. And I am glad for all of it. 

New Moon Before Departure 
     (for K- with love:  thank you for the detachment)

Dark Moon. a Praying 
Mantis eyes the Milky Way.
Juniper Wind:  Shhh.

-Renee Podunovich, 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Shelter of Awe: Ancient Places / Modern Poetry

Step House, Mesa Verde National Park, USA
I am so glad that I took the day off yesterday and treated myself to a writing workshop offered by Mancos, CO artist Linda Rose, who is currently doing an artist residency at Mesa Verde National Park. I live close to the park and take out of town visitors there on occasion. This was an opportunity to spend extended time in one of the more remote sites in the park and I felt called to let myself have a mini-retreat midweek and be open to the adventure. 

Attention to Beauty & Detail
photo by R. Podunovich
A small group of us hiked to Step House and had the spot to ourselves. We spent about 2 hours in silence, "listening" and responding in words. It was the most peaceful day I have had in such a long time. Our silence within the silence created a profound inner settling for me, an internal spaciousness out of which words I hadn't anticipated arose, slowly, languidly, with ease and surprise. 

I did write a complete poem there and am fond of it. Our park ranger and guide was very knowledgable about the site and also had a Zen-ish quality, encouraging us to engage with our senses, to let the mystery of the place speak to us, to listen in a deeper manner. On the hike out, he said to one participant, "At some point you quit trying to figure it out and just let yourself be in awe." I loved hearing that and his sentiments gave me the last lines of the poem. 

Grinding Stones at Rest
photo by R. Podunovich


I don’t know if I know
how to listen to silences so old,
quietude contained within rock
crafted into brick, held in a mortar
of mud and pebbles, bound
in ancient spring water and clay.

            Minds speculate:
            what must have been, what still is,
the living traditions we struggle to maintain,
how we find and lose meaning,
place and displace our humanness,
forget our belonging on the earth, strive
then and now to survive. 

Thunder in the cradle of the canyon.
A few drops of rain land on my cheeks
and on high desert dust.
            I let cool wind brush my hair,
            caress my brow, let my head
            rest in the laps of ancient women
who made comfort out of a landscape,
out of their call to nurture life.

I don’t want to know
anything but this stillness,
this moment away from the entire world,

            this gap in time.

I could settle here, let exhausted bones
and my burning, broken-down heart
relax into stasis next to grinding stones
unused now for hundreds of years—
they offer just the hint of the effort it takes
to be well and thrive in this life,
            to bear witness to change,
            to know ends will come,
            stopping points.

Invisibility invites each one of us
            into its grace, as graceful 
as alcoves of stone in rainstorms,
inside the shelter of awe.

-Renee Podunovich, 2019