Reading & Writing a Life

Carla Pineda's blog

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“Not simply visiting this world”:Sunset & the Owl

“Not simply visiting this world” is a line from Mary Oliver’s poem When Death Comes.  This last line of this poem resonated deep the morning I read it.  I want to stay awake.  I want to know what I want to do with “my one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver) and how “to live the only life I have”.  (again, Mary Oliver)

Mary Oliver’s poetry inspires me, moves me, rattles my nerves somedays.  Her words vibrate a life energy, let me see things in ways otherwise unseen.  I am still wondering what drew me out to take a picture of the sunset the other evening.  I can see the edge of that time of day out the top of the kitchen window most evenings.  I just note it, go back to the stove or the sink and the sun sets.

But, this evening, something/someone moved me to grab the camera/phone and take several shots. Then and only then, almost as an afterthought, my eyes caught the tree branch and something more.  My first impression…a black garbage bag had blown into the spiny branches, still winter weather bare.

And, then, I saw her (I’ve decided she was a she) with a capital “S” saw her.  Was that really an owl?  Her head turned a slight turn and there were her two little ears, distinct as the sunset was orange and pink.  It was sunset and even though the sky was vivid colors the graying of twilight almost hid her.  She sat and sat, quiet and still, only once lifting herself to the next branch and then still again.

“Do not simply visit this world”….There are messengers, in places, and from voices we miss, right in front of us.  These voices are often quiet,  even silent, not loud, in your face, distracting voices of chaos or distortion.

Visit the world, awake and aware, of these different messengers (voices)….the sunset, the owl, the silence, the moon….

What do they have to say to you?  Who else speaks to you?

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Ekprastic Poetry

Ekprastic poetry…a new term for me.  An ekprastic poem is simply a poem written in response to a visual work of art.  A few weeks ago my women’s writing group went on a “field trip” for our regular monthly writing group.  We went to the Radius Building, a downtown gallery/office space here in San Antonio where a textile art show was hanging.  Because we were there in the evening we had the space all to ourselves and were able to spend quiet, reflective time with each of the 12 artists’ masterpieces.  An extra bonus was  meeting with  the teacher of these women who talked with us about her students, the process they go through in her classes, and her thoughts on some of their pieces.  Then  each of us wandered through the space, reflected on each of the pieces until we settled in with the one that spoke to us. Quiet, reflective time led to writing, writing to sharing, sharing to a deeper appreciation for the art and for our own words.

I marvel at the way creativity builds on creativity.  One person creates, another responds from their own creative center  , and no telling what will be revealed.

Upon Viewing Continuum 3:(fabric art by Joy Lavrencik)

My heart feeling movement  The dancing broom swirling over floor cloth paper   Black swirls curved energy a deep dance pushing energy into a  room into me

My eye drawing in   A golden sphere of light circling out

I am riding the broom painting the cloth

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day.  This morning I was wandering in my church bookstore which is a small, quaint space thoughtfully stocked with great books, cards, and gifts.  I picked up a card with a heart on it that said, “Fall in love. Stay in love.  It will decide everything.”  The quote was attributed to Pedro Arrupe, S. J. (1907-1991), born in the Basque country of Spain.  On the inside is the entire poem from which the quote comes.  It touched me in its depth,  certitude and simplicity…no waffling or uncertainty of the power of this thing we call love.  Here is the poem for Valentine’s:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Happy Valentine’s.  May you be blessed by this mystery named Love.














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my first poetry anthology

I read  in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” that on January 29, 1845 Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” was published for the first time in the New York Evening Mirror.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak, and weary”

it begins and I am remembering the first time I read the poem myself or at least came to begin to know it.  Minnie and Grandfather gave me my first poetry anthology when I was ten or eleven.  In the front of it are written my name, address and phone number with the line “if lost please return”.  The anthology is “One Hundred and One Famous Poems”, (with a prose supplement),leather bound, ribbon marker, very grown up looking.  I knew this was a book I was to keep and treasure and I have. 

I pulled it off my bookshelf a minute ago and have it here with me now.   “The Raven” by Poe and poems  by Kimler,  Kipling, Holmes, Longfellow, Wordsworth, Fields, Milton, Browning and others line its pages.  I hear other beginning lines as I fan through the pages…

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree”, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear”, “The gingham dog and the calico cat”, “When earth’s last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried”.

I do not have these poems memorized by a long shot but  I realize this is more than just about a memory.  It is a re/membering of my grandparents, lovers of the written word and this gift of a book of poetry to their young granddaughter who is ever so grateful for their attentiveness to nurture reading and writing that continues to this day. I think I’ll keep this book on my writing table for a bit and reweave more memories.  Anyone else have a book like this on their shelves?