Category Archives: Poetry

A Potter’s House

A potter’s house,
…an earthy place
…clay and water in the air.

A place where sweat is mixed with earth
where hand and eye and wheel are one,
   …and touch, the sense that forms the lump,
…the lump that turns and returns,
as it must.
Notice the hands
that form the pot,
look at them now, and
the centered self…
For pressure
from hands,
move the clay,
and gradually pull out the gift inside.

A potter sees the earth
with artist eyes,
attends the earth
within one’s hands,
loves the earth
and the gifts it gives.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 talks about a potter and I’ve always looked at that Scripture as telling us that a potter can do whatever they want with a pot.  They are in control of the pot.  Maybe that is what it is telling us.  But, when I was writing this, I thought about the story of Adam, and God forming him from the earth.  I thought of my own short experiences with using a potter’s wheel, and of watching others use a wheel, what it must feel like to be on a wheel and to turn and return to the same space only from a shifting spot, till center is found.  I thought about the attention it takes, the work it takes to move and center the clay- getting it to the place it needs to be.  I thought about hands working clay, hands covered in clay…Jesus’ hands.  And in my mind I wandered with a potter and watched him look at earth, and I thought of God, and how much he loves his earth.

Tea With a Brother

The intimacy of sitting in little chairs,
with your brother
at a little table set for two.
Having a little tea or cocoa,
in little tiny cups.
Imagining, 
…imagining what it is like
to be another,
to be you at a different time.

Here, sitting with your brother
with just a taste
of orange, 
and just a taste of apple,
and just a taste 
of an older life.
Pretending
…and being real,
being both silly
and  grown up.

Then looking out the window,
seeing the horizon in the distance,
the edge that is yet to be explored.
Sitting there with  your  older self,
tucked safely deep inside.
This communion, always with you
at a table set for two.
You are living now, as you will be living then.
Though, your view is sheltered,
this is who you are.

The courage it will take to leave,
But, the delight in coming back…
to this shelter,
to this tea,
to this brother, and
to this your centered self.

This poem came from seeing a picture of two grandsons having “tea”, a small snack to provide some nourishment but also to occupy them for a “little” while. It is a beautiful picture of two brothers having fun…the older looking out the window that he faced, past the younger. While the younger seemed to be chatting and engrossed in the setting.

The Roar

The roar, a prayer, from somewhere deep
A prayer of grief
that keening makes,
…because of pain that mourning shapes. 
A moan at first, there are no words,
then wrenching out to final roar. 

The roar it comes from somewhere real
Do not defy, do not pretend:
This place, this desert, so destitute.
A rocky valley, a swirling eddy, …
a place where others seldom enter .
But it is the
cry for others,
and how tragic if not shared.
So roar your prayer, and some may see,
this place with empathy.

To listen to the roar
is to listen to a prayer,
look  down the depth of pain,
look down that  well with them,
…then sob and wail.
For from the bottom of that well
their honest roar it came.

How can the body hold,
such grief, such anger or despair?
It must not, else it fall apart.
Let it roar and be a prayer. 
Oh, Lord, this roar,
is our only prayer.
It is our holy prayer.

So for now
find that place where you can roar
and let the roar be your honest  prayer,
your primal prayer…
…your only prayer.
Then take a breath…
and say, 
            Amen.

In Psalm 73, the psalmist says, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant: I was a brute beast before you.” (verses 21 & 22)  Sometimes our prayers are groans or sighs.  And sometimes they reach to the center of our core and are expressed in roars, from that place of deep grief, frustration, anger or utter despair.  Seldom do we give each other or ourselves permission to express that sort of emotion, and that is tragic.  So it is stuffed and I wonder if it leaks out of us in other ways…unhealthy ways. 

Knitters

Tension transferred
from body to the yarn, 
as heartbeat paces
to the rhythm of needles,
knitting a rosary of sorts,
bead for stitch,   
   …by stitch,
knit one,purl one.
Allowing the mind
to weave its way gently,
through the skein 
of thoughts that come
…in the evenings.
Unraveling the day.
Unwinding.
Knit one,
…purl one,
…yarn over.
Settling.
Integrating,
   Stitch by stitch
making a garment,
…something to wear,
   …that will cover
      shoulders or head, hands or feet.
Yarn over, increase, the language of faith.
Knit two together, the language of unity.
Knit one, purl one,
a fingered prayer that covers a life.

Mary Herbert   2/2021

This poem was written after a discussion with my sister.  I have no idea how knitting became a part of that time, but we talked about what we have knitted, that we liked knitting with quality yarn and that my daughter had renewed my interest in knitting.  I mentioned that I had observed women knitting in a train station and they seemed so relaxed and that I’d noticed that just watching them knit was relaxing.  Then she began wondering what happened when knitters got “in the zone”.  It made me wonder as well.

Sacred Moment

Six and standing silent,
there beside my bed,
watching me sleep,
willing me to wake,
wanting me to see.

Startled by presence,
seeing him, I smile.
…Can I snuggle or
do I sneak back 
to sleep alone…
the question in the air.

I lift the covers like
the wing of a hen
and slowly gather
these pajamas close in.
And as his breathing slows
I wander in my mind
and wonder where we’ll go,
and wonder if he will lead me,
and where
we go
from here.

1/23/21

We went up to visit my daughter at the end of 2020.  We’d had recovered from Covid, and wanted to be around family.  One morning I woke to my grandson standing silently next to my bed with his “snuggly” in hand.  As I lifted the covers I had a sense of the sacredness of that moment.  As I have reflected back on the moment I had the desire to crawl under a divine wing and just be.  I thought about how the Scriptures say a “child shall lead them” and realized this child had led me to this sacred desire to draw in close to the divine and it made me think about how a child’s life changes a parent’s and grandparent’s life.  I was aware of the deep love I have for this child, for all my grandchildren, for my children.  They have each changed my life and led me to different places within myself.