It's been a busy week -- and brrrr, COLD. I know I am not alone in this, and certainly not experiencing the worst of it (way down here in the south), but my face has very nearly frozen off on our afternoon walks by the lake! As must as it hurts (to have your face very nearly frozen off), it's also quite alive-making, invigorating, and strangely inspiring. Know what I mean?
So today I have a look at a new book of poems TRAVELING THE BLUE ROAD: Poems of the Sea, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Bob Hansman & Jovan Hansman (a father-son team), and brought to us by Seagrass Press. It's filled with poems by a league of poetic luminaries and takes readers on a series of (difficult) sea journeys from Columbus's voyage through the current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. This is not a dolphins-leaping-for-joy kind of book. Instead it illuminates the darkness of the sea, its power, and the cruel/heartbreaking ways humans have experienced it.
I love this quote from Lee's introduction: "Meticulously crafted poems stir us, shake us, cause us to think, wander, ponder, imagining what might have been, bringing to life imagery only poets can convey via the power of words."
Now there's something to aspire to!
Here are two poems I'd like to share:
by Naomi Shihab Nye
If you are the child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can't swim.
My father couldn't swim either. He swam through
sorrow, though, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated - a story, a food or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don't dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love for
a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a very long time.
And if we can reach out a hand, we better.
by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Seas seas seas seas seas seas seas seas
Seas seas sweeping seas whispering seas
seas seas violating seas massive seas unknown seas
seas seas smooth seas unfathomable seas titan seas
seas seas blue seas warning seas swooping seas
seas seas clinging seas breathing seas
seas seas seas seas seas seas seas seas
Aren't those wonderful? I love the first for its relevance and the way it reminds us of us of our connectedness to things that may be happening far away, but are part of us, too. And the second for its music and truth. I love when poets use sound like this. Beautiful!
The Ocean Opens Its Arms
by Irene Latham
Come to me, oh hungry ones,
Come to me, explorers.
Come and tip your toes in surf,
Let me paint your skin with salt,
adorn your hair with kelp --
Let me show you living shipwrecks
and riotous fields of reef.
Come to me, oh bravest ones.
Dive past your fear and listen:
Let me show you a universe
*all photos taken on our Mediterranean cruise summer 2017 -- the blue road has many faces, doesn't it?