Reflections

Lemon yellow
Dusky pink
A space of breathing sky

We watch and trace
The furling flecks of
Music soaring high

Trills and bells
Of a robin
Sitting beneath a bower

With me
Within a yew tree
Renewed by nature’s power

A squirrel nibbles
From its nut
And sees my peeping stare

Transfixed with
Joy and beauty
And simply being there

By Miranda Batki-Braun

 girl sitting in tree covered in blossoms

Gratitude List

Let us give thanks for
sun etched cypress
lifting needled limbs
above white sage and driftwood,
low-tide exposed beach.

Walk in mindfulness
along gentle trail
beside wrinkled ocean,
incoming surf.
Pet passing dogs.
Dispense baked, tasty treats.

Meditate upon phalanx
of swooping pelicans,
golden-eyed heron,
trash-talking jays,
paranoid blackbirds.

Sit in silence
within a cathedral
of wind ruffled redwoods.
Feel an inchoate higher power
resurrect the soul, heal your heart.
Bless this bright day.

By Jennifer Lagier

Cypress Tree along California Beach


The author, Jennifer LagierJennifer Lagier has published ten books and in literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Forthcoming books: Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle), Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018).Click here to visit her website. Photo by the author.

Waterbearer

Honeybees gather,
cluster at the end of a garden hose,
buzz along edges of wet spill.
as I water mom’s flowers.

They are without jobs,
bored and unemployed
now that almond orchard
blooming season is over.

I am out of my element,
paying another’s bills,
tending a yard not mine
while I comfort my dying mother.

Like me, agitated drones have
been reassigned to unfamiliar tasks,
unsettled by abrupt change of mission,
normal routines disrupted.

By Jennifer Lagier

Be on pink flower


The author, Jennifer LagierJennifer Lagier has published ten books and in literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Forthcoming books: Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle), Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018).Click here to visit her website. Photo by the author.

A Rewarding Escape

woman walking on forest trailMy footsteps are silent as I walk along the trail, softened by the damp leaves after the previous night’s rain. Like a creative child, leaves paint the ground with bright colors, scattered colors, no structure. Like a watchful mother, tall trees with thin trunks align the sides and arch over the trail, forming a roof of light green.

As I enter the trails of Thompson Park, nature beckons me with whispers. Her presence grows louder as I wander deeper into the forest. I am guided by a path winding between the trees, an uneven path with varying elevations that never fail to deceive me. As I walk carefully around puddles and step gingerly over twigs, I breath in the earthy aroma, enhanced by the light rain. An addicting sweetness. I hear a gentle breeze through the sudden rustling of leaves; they float like feathers before softly touching the ground.

Slow down. Observe. Listen. Slow down.

To my left, there is an oak tree. The tree appears ancient with a thick trunk, rugged and gnarled like the wrinkles on the hands of an elderly woman. The oak tree stores wisdom from experiencing numerous years of the forest’s ecological development. How interesting! Despite having no voice, the tree tells stories of the forest’s past through the pattern of the tree rings. Nature has her own way of communicating, but it is up to us to understand her language. I walk to the oak tree and feel its trunk, tracing my fingers along its ridges. Rough and uneven, but enduring. A few leaves still cling to the tree, fighting against the coaxing wind. In just a few months, the leaves will lose the battle.

I stand here observing and pondering the tree, unaware of the passing of time. Hiking at Thompson Park clears my mind of stress and worries, leaving a soothing feeling of Clarity. Of course, I will eventually leave and return to a life dominated by schedules and deadlines. But right now, I decide to forget everything.

I truly value these special moments; leaving the brisk pace of everyday to enjoy relaxation in the wilderness brings feelings of comfort and empowerment. Nature provides a chance for me to escape the routine structure of life and immerse in a world free of distractions, free of trivial matters. Free to let my body and mind wander.

I slow down and focus on the present.

Suburban Journal: The Dead Bird

We had just arrived home from Oklahoma after visiting my parents for the weekend. As we got ready for the new work week, my thoughts went back to the visit and seeing my grandma for what might have been the last time. She was living in the nursing home near my parents’ house, was 90 years old, and was dying. My Mom and uncle had made the decision to take her off the machines and let her die in peace, something which my grandma had wanted for a long time. Now back home in Fort Worth, I could only periodically call my parents and ask on my grandma’s status as every hour left me wondering if she were alive or dead. As we went about our chores to get ready for the week, I felt numb and tired from the emotional turmoil of the weekend. As I prepared my satchel before I went to tutor students at the university, my wife and twin sons went outside to hang clothes to dry.

“Wade, come quick,” said my wife Jeab as I my sons cried out in astonishment. As I went out into the back yard, my mind reflecting on my grandmother who was dying two hours away, I wondered what was wrong.

“It’s a dead bird,” she said, pointing at a still body lying near the back porch. For a moment, I just stared at the dead bird, looking at it as if it was the first time I had ever seen something dead. Getting a plastic bag, I carefully picked it up with a paper towel and peered at it for a moment. As my children asked questions about why the bird was not flying, I looked into its eyes, which reflected like glass. The bird was colored a dark brown with an off-white under plumage, and for a moment I imagined the bird was just sleeping, taking a rest from a long flight. But I knew I was just dreaming, and quickly I placed the dead bird in the plastic bag, tied it up, and went and put it in the garbage can. Going back into the house, I tried my best to answer my kids’ questions on what happened to the bird and if it would be all right.

“The bird is just sleeping. It needs to rest,” my wife and I said, not ready to explain the concept of death to our toddlers just yet.

Looking at my children, I thought about the dead bird and my grandmother. Just a day ago, my sons had hugged and kissed her for what was probably the last time in their young lives. They had no idea they were actually saying goodbye to a person they would vaguely remember from their childhood years later. But the bird brought that reality closer to home as I tried to emotionally accept my grandmother’s impending death. All I could do was wait and see, and try to let the process of grief to run its course. Because letting go of the person who I was closest to in my childhood was not something I could accept overnight. And I thought the bird was an omen of what was going to come in the next couple of days. I just wish it were so simple to let go, but I knew it wouldn’t be.

father and son silhouettes at sunset


This is an article in my Subdivision Journal series. I am trying to use mindfulness to observe nature in my neighborhood. Other articles in the series:

A Budding Tree

An Encounter With a Falcon

The Carrying of Sounds
The View from My Window


Author PhotoCarl Wade Thompson is a poet, essayist, and the graduate writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. He has published poetry and memoir essays in The Mayo Review, The Concho River Review, One in Four, Anak Sastra, The Galway Review, The Blue Collar Review, Piker Press, The Eunoia Review, Blue Minaret, Nebo Literary Magazine, Alphelion Literary Webzine, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. His poems explore the link between the urban and the rural.

Photo by jes2ufoto