THAT NIGHT — 11/23/63: a Different Mother’s Day

the hospital was full that night

of mothers come to term

too soon

mourning the young president

 

a nurse brought masks for tears

scribbled nothing

in her chart

 

six contractions —

Catherine in my arms

 

less time

than it had taken him to die

and certainly less pain

 

(Rochester, Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, the world into which I had conceived and born my daughters, altered for all time!)

NOT ‘ROSES ARE RED’ — current poem

I know, I know.  Poets are supposed to be writing about wine and roses, the arrival of spring, zephyrs, and so forth.

My Muse isn’t the least BIT interested — this is her truth this ‘cruellest month’…  Bear with me…

 

CALL IT BLASPHEMY

 

listen, God

I’ll trade You

I’ll take those three hours, any day!

 

forget this sentence of eight entire decades

even the scourging – what was that

an hour or so?

 

when you have a cruel mother

you are afraid everywhere

even in utero

 

o.k., so there was the Via Dolorosa

mine the VIE Dolorosa

and nobody helped carry the heavy wood burdens

 

no kind person wiped tears from my face

on that foreign balcony above a sea

when I finally realized that both daughters

 

were now the property of a cult

–over thirty years ago, Lord,

longer than they were IN my life

 

ah, You say, but there was the Agony in the Garden

indeed, every seed and bulb I planted

was the attempted burial of agony

 

“Will you not watch one hour with Me?”

I have been watching eight decades, Lord

waiting for faith like a mustard seed

belief in just touching the hem of Your garment

 

believing in mercy

 

Listen, God

I’ll trade

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

April 12, 2018

 

 

 

 

“IN JUST SPRING…” etc.

Waterfall Swirls, Pidcock CreekJPG

Pidcock Creek Swirls, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, in just-spring

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am still searching for ‘just spring’!

More apt this puzzling year  than e.e. cummings’ is either Eliot’s “April is the cruellest month” or Whitman’s dirge for our lost Lincoln, “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom…”  “Wasteland”!, indeed…  grief beyond explanation or justification, beyond forgetting…

I do have a couple of meagre, wind-whipped hyacinths struggling to unfurl.  Of course, just as I discover them, two frisky deer gallop merrily through my back yard.  So far, they have not noticed the withered hyacinths nor the gelid daffodils.

Let’s give e.e. a chance, just the same:

[in Just-]

in Just- 
spring          when the world is mud- 
luscious the little 
lame balloonman 
whistles          far          and wee 
and eddieandbill come 
running from marbles and 
piracies and it’s 
spring 
when the world is puddle-wonderful 
etc,
I  don’t know.  The old cummings magic doesn’t seem to be working this time for me.
How about you?
Where do YOU turn
for spring?
brave skunk cabbage March
EXOTHERMIC SKUNK CABBAGE, BOWMAN’S, which can melt ice in order to emerge…

“CLEARING” – Poem, Day After Storm

Short-eared owl at Pole Farm by Brenda Jones

Short-eared Owl wingdrop

 

CLEARING

it is evening after storm

–the one entitled “Nor’easter Four”–

I drive with excessive caution

between fields devoted to farms

passing, first, the owl-wood

then harriers’ hunting grounds

 

on my left, hefty cows graze

as though any winter’s day

dark shapes contrasting with silos

gleaming with increasing sunset

 

the ruddy barn to my right

could be bonfire itself

constructed and ignited

by Thor and his henchmen

countering skies the hue

of antique pewter

 

perhaps tonight

short-eared owls will prowl

again, just as returned sun

sinks

 

“Nor’easter Four” having been agent

controlling travel

for short-ears and snowies

destined for the Arctic

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

sunset harrier Pole Farm Brenda Jones

Sunset Harrier, Pole Farm, by Brenda Jones

“Nor’easter Four” — poem

1 A snow clearing 2011

 

Nor’easter Four

 

what I do not understand about “nor’easters”

is that every single one this month

has poured in like a rain of arrows

in some major battle for survival in our storied west

every single flake arriving

from the SOUTHWEST

 

as though there are two storms

comprised of fickle flakes

sometimes more than half

being the soft lazy wide ones

–nearly the size of dimes

and brighter

 

then the white deluge changes to dots

tiny as sand, as salt

as fog, or dust itself

 

the larger often seem confused

as though asking

–as with WWII posters –

“Is this trip necessary?”

 

reversing trajectories

inexplicably, determinedly

changing directions constantly

sometimes even rising

 

but fine flakes remain no-nonsense

–every so often taking over

filling every pane

sometimes, almost invisible

showing their heftier relatives

how to create

storm

 

1 a snow branch burden 2011

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

MARCH 2018

“CONFLUENCE” – Poem on Rivers, (for once, not the Delaware)

 

Written some years ago, this poem resurrects a winter trip to Pere Marquette State Park with my sister, Marilyn, to southern Illinois.  We stayed in Pere Marquette Lodge, which echoes Yellowstone’s and Yosemite’s.  It is sited at the point where three rivers (Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi) course as one, –keeping the waters open, blessing the birds    The rangers at Pere Marquette State Park told us at our dawn confluence (of naturalists), “Every black dot is an eagle.”

 

CONFLUENCE

 

this wild connection

proves turbulent as two rivers

 

–Illinois, Missouri –

coursing, writhing

between blonde flanks

of tower-rocks

that funneled Pere Marquette

in his frail bark

smack into the Mississippi

 

here eagles cry and joust

for winter fish

–all smaller tributaries

marble-hard

releasing no nourishment

 

two tumultuous rivers

crest, fling spray

scour their own depths

 

til scale-silvered life

meets fate

in gilded beaks and talons

 

–two voluminous rivers roiling

until fish take wing

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

“TO BUILD A FIRE”

That was a favorite short story in my schooldays, for this person who (apart from Hem) is not that fond of short stories.  In this run of gelid days, learning to make fire as did the Apaches, with Tom Brown, Tracker, who had been taught by his friend’s grandfather, Stalking Wolf, of the Oklahoma Apaches, comes sharply back to memory.

It took me any number of days to achieve this in 1983.  Every break we had from day and night tracking lectures and practices, I went off in a corner and worked with that stout stick and the woodblock into which it had to fit so perfectly.

I thought no one knew I was doing this.  I thought everyone else had already made fire.  I was not going home from Tracker School without having achieved this major skill.  Boy Scouts of ten years of age had managed it in less than a half hour…  I was then in my forties, being not at all handy with that heavy, unwieldy, essential Buck knife.

When the spark finally glowed, there was a great cheer.  Tom and all his Trackers had been standing behind me in a circle, one with a strong hand and arm coming to my aid to keep the key elements in contact in the last crucial seconds.  I admit tears…

O, yes.  After that, many people went off into corners to continue learning to make fire…

 

TO BUILD A FIRE

[for Tom Brown, Tracker,

Tracker School,  Summer 1983]

craft

with your big Buck knife

a stout stick

then work the pale woodblock

removing anything extra

 

pare

a smooth deep cone

which must exactly match

the stick’s new girth

 

kneel

upon needles and pine duff

— a hand-sized clutch

of some plant’s inner softness

near at hand

 

roll

the smoothed pine

between determined hands

faster, faster!

pay no attention

to your trembling knees

 

watch

for first white smoke

but do not stop

 

press on

until

the block glows red

 

quickly!

surround

your fiery gem

with plant fluff

careful

not to breathe too hard

 

make a whistle of your mouth

using will and skill

exhale the long breaths

waiting all these years

only for this fire

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

August 28/September 3,2004

 

WHY I RUN AWAY TO ‘THE PINES’

 

EXCURSION TO THE BARRENS

 

I like to watch old farms wake up

ground fog furling within the turned furrows

as dew-drenched tendrils of some new crop

lift toward dawn

 

three solid horses bumble

along the split-rail fence

one rusting tractor pulsing

at the field’s hem

 

just over the horizon

the invisible ocean

paints white wisps

all along the Pinelands’

blank blue canvas

as gulls intensely circle

this tractor driver’s

frayed straw hat

 

from rotund ex-school buses

workers spill

long green rows suddenly peppered

by their vivid headgear

as they bend and bend again

to sever Jersey’s bright asparagus

 

some of which I’ll buy

just up ahead

at the unattended farm stand

slipping folded dollars

into the ‘Honor Box’

 

before driving so reluctantly

away from this region called ‘Barren’

where people and harvests

still move to seasons and tides

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

May 30, 2005/July 19, 2006

Princeton Alumni Weekly on Allegra Lovejoy and D&R Greenway’s Capital City Farm

Capital City Farm Allegra and Derrick

U.S.1 Cover Story on Allegra and the Farm:  https://capitalcityfarm.org/2017/07/21/us-1-capital-city-goes-jersey-fresh-green/

use this to see splendid pictures of this miraculous farm manager and her loyal crew of helpers, employees and volunteers…    cfe 

 

IN case any of you wonder why I continue to work at this advanced age at a non-profit dedicated to preserving scarce New Jersey land, here is but one reason.  

Years ago, Princeton Alumni Weekly wrote me, after I’d sent in the poem on Catherine’s graduation, “We love your poem, ‘Hands’ and would like to publish it on the first year anniversary of this ceremony.”  They paid me $100 for the poem, plus seemingly unlimited copies of the issue.  When I read from my first book, Gatherings, on the QEII, in the autumn of 1987, ‘Hands’ was the favorite work of that roomful of listeners and purchasers.

Now, Princeton Alumni Weekly superbly evokes the spirit of our wondrous Allegra in her management and inspirational role at D&R Greenway’s Capital City Farm.  Read on…   Marvel.   And support your local land trust!

To Trenton’s postindustrial cityscape comes 2 acres of urban farm…

Some of Allegra Lovejoy ’14’s  fondest childhood memories are of trips to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn, N.Y. Twenty years later, Lovejoy finds herself on the other side of the farm stand as the manager at Capital City Farm, an urban farm in Trenton, N.J.

Located less than a mile from the highway (Route 1) in East Trenton — one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods — Capital City Farm was an overgrown lot before community activists heard about plans to turn it into a junkyard for vehicles. The activists contacted D&R Greenway Land Trust — an organization dedicated to preserving natural areas in New Jersey — which, with other local groups, raised funds to officially preserve the property as an open space. In late 2015, Lovejoy joined D&R as a project fellow and a farm-and-volunteer coordinator to help ready the lot for agriculture and chart its future. The following spring, she was promoted to manager, responsible for transforming the neglected property into a functioning 2-acre farm.

Lovejoy was no stranger to farming, thanks to her foray into community gardening the year before with The Food Project in Boston. That job introduced her to all aspects of farm management and even required her to design and build an irrigation system.

“There are [so] many challenging aspects to farming, including site planning; water engineering; and fertility, pest and disease, and labor management,” Lovejoy says. “I had to learn all of those on the job. It made for a challenging year.”

At Capital City Farm, Lovejoy has made community involvement a priority. She and her staff of two set up shop at farmers markets in Trenton twice a week during the summer and donate about half of the farm’s produce to a nearby food pantry and to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. The farm also sells its harvest to local restaurants.

“We’ve chosen to keep the food in the city as a part of our mission,” Lovejoy says. “We’re not here trying to take resources from Trenton. We want to keep it all here.”

“We grow food in solidarity and support of the low-income communities that surround us and are open to any means to get that food into their kitchens.”

— Allegra Lovejoy ’14

After two growing seasons, the former abandoned lot has been completely transformed. In the summer, an acre of wildflowers bursting with zinnias, Queen Anne’s lace, and black-eyed Susans can be seen by passersby on the farm’s south side; a greenhouse brimming with green and red tomatoes alongside the farm’s equipment sits farther back from the street; and rows of radishes, beets, and greens fill out the farm’s other acre.

Lovejoy, a Woodrow Wilson School major, became interested in urban farming while writing a paper on the effects of climate change in Bangladesh.

“It was so striking to learn that globally, there’s a major trend of civil wars being preceded by drought and famines,” Lovejoy said. “I wanted to get firsthand experience of working with people who are doing community-based work with agriculture and reconnecting to the land.”

Lovejoy will be doing just that when she heads east at the end of this year to teach sustainability practices at a farming community and retreat center at the foothills of India’s Sahyadhri Mountains. Afterward, she’ll return to New Jersey to start work as a program coordinator for the state’s Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Lovejoy says that while the Trenton farm relies on nonprofit funding and sales of its harvest to operate, staff sometimes give away produce to poor and homeless people in the area: “We want people to eat,” she says. “We grow food in solidarity and support of the low-income communities that surround us and are open to any means to get that food into their kitchens.” Both members of her staff are Trenton residents; one was raised across the street from the farm lot.

“For people growing up in an entirely man-made environment, developing a connection to nature is no small thing,” she says. “That connection has been very transformative for me, and I’ve seen its impact on others — we set up and manage the farm with that intention.”

STONE CIRCLES — POEM

 

 

 

Sourlands Rocks 08 08

Rock as Smiling Dolphin Sourlands 08 08SOURLANDS ROCKS OFF GREENWOOD AVENUE TRAIL

(For you — newest poem, read in the Open Reading following Princeton’s Cool Women’s memorable performance Monday, at Princeton Public Library.  This poem was inspired by reading Jim Amon’s, naturalist, memories of Sourlands hikes  in the newsletter of the Sourland Conservancy.  It will appear in their spring issue.) 

STONE CIRCLES

 

it’s about the rocks

towering

megalithic, actually

 

clustering

on either side

of this Sourland Mountain trail

 

turning in at the blue blaze

there is change

in the air itself

 

those who purloined these sentinels

seem not to have reached

this deeply into sanctuary

 

leaving sunlight and oven birds

I step into sacred sites

feel our brother Lenape

 

noiselessly entering

focused on the keystone

where the chief presided

 

councils were held here

decisions determined

smoke rising from pipes

 

transitions were planned here

from hunting to gathering

then back once again to the hunt

 

a 21st-century pilgrim

I bow to these predecessors

apologizing for all our

depredations

 

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

November 13, 2017