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Experiencing ‘Other’

12 Dec

I meditate a lot. At least an hour a day. It’s really been ramping up lately too – the call to meditate is loud now, as opposed to a quieter time when it seemed more like a choice. For me, meditating is listening deeply. I do not necessarily quiet my thoughts or use a breathing technique. I just show up, and usually ‘IT’ shows up as well. I usually experience a quiet state of relaxation and often will get impressions, mainly in words or ideas that I write down if I need to. Not a lot of color, not a lot of detail. The calm I experience walks with me and lingers behind me in indescribable ways. (I think this feeling-state is what St. Patrick was describing – using the words that made sense of it to him – a feeling of presence surrounding you anyway you look at it.)

I meditate mainly because I think it helps. For me locally, and for the world in general. Basically I figure that if I’m in a feeling state of internal kindness and warmth, I am also emoting that vibration out into our collective breathing space, making it a little easier for someone else, including myself.

Today, I tried something new.

Background: In previous classes and groups, we have discussed postures and their effect on ourselves, demonstrated it with Vanessa’s horses, and intended a class structured around ancient power postures. No wonder this book caught my eye at Half Price. Got it Sunday, started reading it last night. Had my first encounter today.

The Book: The Ecstatic Experience, Healing Postures for Spirit Journeys

Authors Belinda Gore and (Felicitas Goodman) open a door to ‘Other’, believing that we as humans are hardwired to connect with it. (Mystics, shamans, and ancient peoples practiced this same living, totally available technology) Ritual postures create a ritual bodyspace. An amazing, ‘no brainer’ (as in no thinking) – all feeling, smelling, touching,tasting, intuition, body, senses, sensual -based feminine/body-oriented) totally experiential way to engage ‘Other’. Yum. Seriously.


Here is what ‘happened.’  wrote down my impressions after a 15 min experience:

My tribe. Men. Glorious dancers – red body paint – shoulders

                                                          chest, face

                                               with white stripes on face,

                                                          under eyes

dancing. Around me.

Looking at me.

Wanting me to recognize them –

My little brother – the drum- also my son,

     dancing, hooting, strutting head thrown back howling

in wolf fur.

       I’m out of shape, losing form – healing me

      They are healing me

    removing my disguises

      it will take time they say

     Sitting there absorbing in this posture.

Blessing me, the hot sun warm, the rattle

     the drumming of the feet, the boots – moccasins

     with beads red, white some blue. Fringe.

  Good boots. I had boots like this. I am one of them.

They are my tribe. They are re-cognizing me thru all

          my disguises – and they are willing me to re-member

them. They Keep looking at me, so surprised to see me

show up like this. One really keeps interrupting his dance

(they have drums) to peer at me, as if I were barely recognizable

But once they recognized me they were laughing – little brother, son

     knew it was me straight away though. They’re laughing delighted

Change the World?

4 Dec

Can we change the world? Or is it our perspective that needs changing? I created this presentation to try to clarify for myself how my external world and internal world are elegantly fused and insanely intertwined. How change in ‘my’ world affects change in the ‘outside’ world…

As we change our mind, practice a higher vibration, fall in love with our intimate beautiful selves, I believe that the world will reflect our attitude right back to us. All things change when we do. 
I’ve used images and words to help shift conscious awareness from local to universal and back again. Let me know what you think. 
I’ve also included the meditation to be read at Slide 9 ( yep – old school- but what do you call it if not a ‘slide’?!) click the link at the very end for the meditation.

Please click the link below to watch my Change the World presentation:

https://www.canva.com/design/DADKNKM00T0/view

This was our discussion last night at class – a slide show on changing the world.

Whew…three weeks since our last Monday night class. Snow days, Chicago film screenings, lots of happenings! 

Great to be together in the same space again  : ) 

Much love,

janet

It’s ok. Everything is fine.

18 Nov

Here’s a story Andy Goodman told me about a friend of his:

Tom was a psychologist. He was fascinated with why people did what they did. He found people doing weird things everywhere, and he didn’t hesitate to ask them what they were doing and why. He was also a little disheartened with how impatient people were with each other and had been recently focusing on caring and honoring others in his practice.

On his way home one day, he stopped at the grocery store toget something for dinner.  As he entered the store, he heard the shrill crying of an upset child. He smiled. Determined to be open and accepting, he took a cart and headed towards aisle seven. As he opened a carton of eggs, the screaming child rounded the corner, sitting miserably in her mother’s cart.  As the mother continued by him, he heard her saying, “It’s ok Jennifer. Everything is fine. We’re just going to get a loaf of bread, some milk and a few other things and then we’re going to go home.”

This did nothing to pacify the child who was still howling.  As she turned the corner, he heard from the next aisle, “It’s ok Jennifer. Everything is fine. We’re just going to get a loaf of bread, some milk and a few other things and then we’re going to go home.”

Amazed, Tom started after them. She was being so patient. As he pulled into the aisle, an elderly couple was blocking his way. He waited as they moved, but the mother and her child were gone. Following the cries, Tom quickly moved down the next aisle. He was parallel to them, and could hear over the aisle, in between the sobs, “It’s ok Jennifer. Everything is fine. We’re just going to get a loaf of bread, some milk and a few other things and then we’re going to go home.”

He turned around and went around the back way, hoping to meet them in the next aisle. He saw them far down the crowded aisle entering the checkout. By the time he made his way to the front of the store they were already heading out the door.  He left his cart and hurried outside towards the howling child.

“Excuse me,” Tom said. “I just wanted to congratulate you on the incredible patience you have with Jennifer. It’s truly amazing.”

The woman looked puzzled and said “I’m Jennifer.”

This story melted me. I can sooooo identify! Some days it’s all I can do to keep from muttering to myself that it’s going to be ok. You know? Then I’m that crazy lady talking to herself in Aisle 4…

 

Monday Night Circle. Or Cycle

30 Oct

The Life Cycle 12 x 12

Exploring Being / Discussion Notes. Whee!

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new cycle-(a circle caught in the act of breaking its circumference to go on a journey.) A new learning session!

I think the biggest thing that came up was the way we humans entertain concepts rather than having a practical, bodily experience of our world. In so many ways we hold ourselves back from the world, as if afraid to dig in and get ourselves a little dirty. In terms of the lunar cycle, which was our discussion topic last night, it becomes apparent that we are very distant from the moon; we just don’t relate to it the way we did 10,000 years ago. Or even 200 years ago. Nor should we. Where I live, outside Chicago, our perception of the world has changed and most of us are no longer even remotely immersed in the physical world. We take our waking and sleeping cues from alarms and the end of TV shows, we don’t hunt our food, we camp out under the stars occasionally, for fun, and see the Milky Way if we’re very lucky. The Moon is a reality when it is full and bright, but most of the time, it remains a concept, an abstract idea that has little if any relevance to our daily life.

What if we revisited our ancient curiosity and wonder of this cycle, not through the eyes of our distant ancestors, but from our own modern vantage point?

What if we could use the Lunar Cycle as a metaphor? As a way of understanding and connecting to the rhythms and cycles of our physical bodies? This seems to be the junction where our modern mental world hits hard against the physical existence of our ancestors. Every bit as creative as we are, they innovated, achieved, and conceptualized, seamlessly integrated within a very present and real physical world. To me, judging by the artwork, artifacts and stone monuments left they behind, they may have had an immense sense of wonder, awe and meaning as well.

It’s easy and not fair to project one’s modern state of consciousness back onto the past, assuming similar attitudes and conditions, or idealizing or romanticizing what we can’t possibly know. So I’m going to leave it at that, while noting that I too have an immense sense of awe wonder and meaning in the face of the physical world, bordering and crossing far over into the spiritual. This I think I may have in common with a human being gazing up at the moon once upon a very, very long time ago.

For me it isn’t a conceptual, or an abstract idea, but a bodily feeling. It’s hard to put in words, as are all peak experiences or moments when we are ‘in the zone’, in ‘flow’. We are in a brain space of images, not language, ‘It was like this’ we say, falling unconsciously into the poetical, metaphorical images of myth. An embodied state of awareness arises, when I am keenly conscious of my delicious connection with, to and of the earth. It’s an experience of my bodymind, balancing the lifeless abstract provided by my mind alone. It is fulfilling, enlivening, and expanding. I am connected. This exactly, is the sore spot. Is it possible to feel connected to a world we view as out-of-control, off-kilter, disaster ridden? Is it really possible to maintain a sense balance, let alone cultivate a sense of meaning? Could following an inward focused cycle be more beneficial than following the current outer chaos?

If we take the lunar cycle as metaphor, we can discover a deeper sense of rhythm and pattern – both are deeply craved by our brain. A need of belonging, pattern recognition and our own circadian rhythms have been with us since our birth and a disruption of any of these cycles causes distress. A cyclical pattern gives us repetition, the chance to consciously begin again, the familiar patterns and signs along the way are oddly comforting.

A cycle in its oldest sense is not necessarily bound. The circle often, rather unexpectedly, opens out into a spiral, allowing for evolution, transformation and growth. This is magic – when into our old familiar ways of doing things, there suddenly appears another option, and we find our self striking out into what has all the markings of adventure.

This is the marvel of the cycle. In familiarizing yourself with a cycle (menstrual, circadian, agricultural, liturgical, lunar) you immerse yourself in the nature; the essence of the thing, and realize that here is a land, fluent unto itself.

The repetition in anticipation, the comfort in sameness inevitably give way to that auspicious moment when a dormant seed suddenly takes root. Sure, this happens every day, cycle observer or not. But when you are immersed in a cycle, paying attention to the rythm, the moment when a potential manifests into reality is easily recognized and celebrated. It’s heightened awareness. You’re on the prowl for a difference; an infinitesimal sniff of change in the air. That first sliver of crescent moon can prompt us, if we’re aware, to wonder what this particular cycle will bring. What are the possibilities ahead of us in the coming 29.5 days? Are we using conscious awareness of how we affect what happens to us- or not? Are we moving towards joy?

If we have been watching our fertility cycle and suddenly find that a seed has sprouted and at the end of this particular cycle, there will be a change; a baby – well? We start consciously caring for our self, becoming more inner focused. Metaphorically too, this seed of change, an intention- has more chance of sprouting and coming full-term if we likewise care for ourselves. With our attention- therefore energy- sacrificed on external events, how do we cultivate the inner awareness where all real change is made? How do we grow a world, let alone healthy children and adults, animals; a life, our life? Where are we expecting our blinkered, straight, goal and achievement-oriented path to lead us? Always relentlessly onward, into the light, forward, progress at all costs. Yet seeds typically sprout in the dark. And this brings us full cycle.

The second two weeks of the lunar cycle tells us after all our running around, to rest, to re-connect, to nurture ourselves. Clearly not an invitation from the linear, driven path our culture is on. A hell of a lot of good has come from our days in the sun. But basking in the reflective light of the silvery moon has a lot going for it. It allows a breathing space, a restoring in-breath balancing the out-breath of action and accomplishment, the opportunity to weigh up our situation, take stock and release what no longer is needed. Self-care. A two-week period in the moons’ monthly journey for reflection and re-connection.

Yep. Tell your boss that. I know. I get it. It’s not practical. But for our little Monday Night Circle, it’s 5 minutes a day. Attention to the cycle for 30 days, 5 minutes a day. 5 minutes of focus just on yourself, for yourself. A little bit of paying attention to your rhythms, your needs. Nothing extravagant. No big promises. Paying attention has its own way of creating small but significant change. And the changes that are created out of care, understanding and a certain quality of attention have a way of being very satisfying. The hard work is in the discipline required to make and take the time, doing the attending. What emerges depends on the kind of seed you plant, the tending and pruning you’re willing to do. We have to dig down deep and allow ourselves to climb out of our heads and spend a little time with the earth, connected to our bodies and their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Since we all have had the experience of the planting cycle, we can feel the soil in our hands, have eaten the fruits of the harvest, and are intimate with it, I added the life cycle of a flower to my Lunar Cycle. Planting and harvesting are not abstract ideas, but a reality that produces tangible fruit. Sometimes looking at a concept in a different way makes it suddenly something we can incorporate; embody; feel. That is my wish here for you. The dance of the lunar cycle as the celestial partner to the earthly plant cycle that we already know through our hands and heart. It’s about creating an opening, an opportunity for awareness, involvement.

This sense of awe and wonder manifests in us, much as Dante saw love as the mover of the planets and stars. As we tend to ourselves and practice experiencing the cycle of the moon as a visual metaphor for a new possibility, a new way of understanding our life – we may find ourselves overflowing with the meaning, awe and wonder of exquisitely small moments, observed and celebrated.

class ideas

26 Oct

Ahhh! Haven’t posted for AGES….

But, life has been percolating away as always, just undocumented.

I’ve been teaching an amazing variety of students, and classes. Exploring ways and methods of communicating and understanding.

For art instruction, I’ve settled on colored pencil and drawing techniques ’cause they are my absolute favorite to do therefore to some degree, to teach.

I teach  Colored Pencil I (beginners) and  Colored Pencil II (advanced) from 1 – 4 on Fridays. Since most of the students stay for both classes, my husband Rob asked if that makes all the students ‘average’. Which makes me laugh – then I wonder- if anyone of us stands up during class,  are we automatically above average? We discussed this in class last week and laughed our asses off as usual. The average age is 65 – so we share a lot of stories from vastly different paths and journeys. I love it. I love the dynamics of ‘group’ – the participation and delight that emerges. Also sad stuff, like death, sickness and other challenges that we encompass in our little accidental art family.

I’m also teaching Chakra classes, Celtic Art and this semester, trying out:

Exploring Being  
Explore meditation, consciousness and being. An open discussion class of self discovery.  Meditative coloring available.  –Inst. Janet Balboa
MON 5:30-7pm  Age 18 & up (this IS what’s on the site- but the actual time is 7-8:30)

That’s the official description right off the school’s website! How about that for just diving in and trusting! I’ll tell you how it goes. I’m so excited about it, I have so much ‘stuff’ and this is forcing me to unwrap it and get it written down in an easily explainable format. And I love the trust of my students who are signing up for God-knows-what.

Some class topics: The Moon Cycle: moon board final

I’ve had this idea in my head for ages, and posted this moon graphic on Instagram last year some time. Not a following of the Moon as such, but a resonance with a cycle- something we forget in our hard-pressed linear existence. there is comfort in repeat-ability, in a turning, a re-volving that is predictable, knowable. Using a cycle to evolve rather than being stuck in countless repetition- rather like bad habits, outworn beliefs…a cycle gives us a platform for change, which ultimately is growth. and that dark part of the moon cycle…used to be called The Shaman’s Rest…a bit of wisdom there right? Maybe resting, reflecting, re-orienting would calm our frazzled nerves and give our body a much needed chance to just BE instead of BEing driven relentlessly. I digress…

So there’s going to be a lot of meat here, and discussion. Other stuff I want to do: Burkhard Heim, how he established the placement of archetypes and the God dimension- fascinated by this. A expansive discussion. mentally challenging. and best of all, no conclusions, just creating an opening.

Meditation – not so much a new technique, but a different method for relating to the outcome- approaching meditation as an interval in eternity- accessible from the present moment.

The Feminine. Where, exactly is the Mother? Is it the Goddess returning? has she left? Are we to be content with the concept that ‘Father’ as Jesus uses it- also includes Mother? The beyond-duality concept of the creative principle? Is this a moot point? These kind of discussions.

Then there’s a weird little ‘story’ that has caught my interest and imagination that runs through the playing cards and therefore the minor arcana of the Tarot. Not using these cards for divination, but for a teaching/ reflection, which I’m guessing was the original purpose, Albigensian in origin or not. Exploring and opening this up a little- why has the protector of woman, the fight for my ladies honor, the holder of ‘woman as ideal’ rather than ‘woman as object’ (much like Mary, but highly individualized, think Dante’s Beatrice…) the Knight – gone missing from our playing cards… the when is interesting in itself.

So. That is where I find myself right now. Creating openings, holding space and excited to see who and what show up. I’ll be posting my class notes and teachings here too. So I also welcome you to the labyrinth of our meanderings.

Bon voyage!!!

The Three Hares

25 Apr

may that which is unified and whole

find its expression in you

 

may all things coming in and out of being

be encouraged by your presence

 

may you be a source of blessing

for all that is unfolding and awakening around you

 

may you find yourself as the center of a vast circle of light

recognizing no distance or barrier

 

may the eternal dance resonate in your holy body

as your voice fills the longing of the universe

 

~janet balboa 

 

 

A blessing for the stranger

22 Apr

The first step in awakening to your inner life and to the depth and promise of your solitude would be to consider yourself for a little while as a stranger to your own deepest depths.

To decide to view yourself as a complete stranger, someone who has just stepped ashore in your life is a liberating exercise.

This meditation helps to break the numbing stranglehold of complacency and familiarity.

Gradually, you begin to sense the mystery and magic of yourself.

You realize that you are not the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessings and possibilities you could neither invent nor earn.

~JOHN O’DONOHUE

 

Dali!

20 Apr

When The Muse takes over. It is on Her terms for sure. Needed to do a portrait for Creative Arts Art Show. Who better than Dali!?
Didn’t anticipate staying up until midnight to get this painted. It’s acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12. I haven’t painted for years. And yet…here he is.

For me, Dali is a great example of living into the Soul, those daring and beautiful and fully expressed humans who place the seriousness of the Soul over any personal agenda. I think in handing over the reins, they agree to life as an adventure, as a calling – and they, (as a personality) try to stay out of the way. Which is a paradox in itself…

They know the game involves saying ‘yes’, it really is the first rule of Life, as well as of improv.  Ask any comedian, saying yes allows the show to go on, saying ‘no’ in an improv performance-  watch the action fizzle out.

My message from Dali, as I spent time with him over the evening, was to be braver. To listen to my heart, my Muse, the Soul, that very often has an entirely different agenda than I do. And what’s wrong with that? Don’t I long for newness, the experience of being alive? Something that challenges and excited me? Hell yah. C,mon, who doesn’t want to be a daring and beautiful and fully expressed human?
Damn those torpedoes already

I’ve put Phillipe Halsman’s original title from the photograph he took of Dali, and popped it on my print with a funky retro font.  If you’d like a signed print (Dali is no longer signing) I will be happy to sign and mail it to you. $25 shipping included. It’s 11×14 on heavy stock.
Send me your address and I can send you over an invoice. janet@janetbalboa.com

Look Ma! I’m Famous!

22 Mar

Just published in a Chicago Magazine! Cool beans.

Meet Janet Balboa in North West Chicago

VOYAGECHICAGO STAFF

 

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janet Balboa.

Janet, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I was seven, I watched my mom wallpaper my room. She covered the walls with lovely little Laura Ashley roses. Within days I had filled in quite a lot of the spaces between the delicate pink roses with dark green lily pads and bright green frogs. My mom was devastated. I felt like mini Michelangelo. What do you do with that?

I drew everywhere, on everything. My mom and grandma constantly read to me and my younger brother, filling our childhood with Raggedy Ann and Andy, fairy tales, stories of ancient forests, knights, ladies and adventure. It was incredibly rich fodder for our imaginations. My dad had a workshop in our basement- we spent hours building model trains, WWII planes, dollhouse furniture – I still have the scar in my thigh where the Exacto knife I dropped embedded itself ($100 if you don’t tell your mother…). I bought my first set of Prisma color pencils with that money.

My dad’s passionate attempt to save an ancient oak stand from developers meant that I spent a great deal of time wandering around in forest preserves as a kid. The profound stillness and the seasonal rhythms of the forest floor filled me with a deep sense of wonder. I sensed my belonging and inclusion in everything around me.

My work today is an expression of my seeing that every life, all life, reveals the interconnectedness, beauty and mystery that is the ground of our being. We all belong to each other and to our beautiful planet. This implies a sense of responsibility and caring for each other and our Earth. My heart and hands communicate this inherent community through the bright colors of markers and colored pencils.

Has it been a smooth road?
As a kid I just knew what I loved. I didn’t feel a need to be anything other than who I was, but I was acutely aware that I didn’t fit in at all. I was not a ‘normal’ kid. All I wanted was my solitude and some pencils. I didn’t know what to do with myself – being ‘an artist’ wasn’t seen as a viable career path. You know, get a real job, all that pressure… I wandered around for many years trying to figure out ‘what I should be when I grew up’. It took me a long, long time to accept that all I had to do was keep walking and my path would just keep unfolding.

It’s funny how life works these things out, as I look back, I was in exactly the right place at the right time to acquire the skillset I needed for the life I have now. I studied in Kansas City, lived in England, traveled, raised wonderful kids, learned to cook, sailed, suffered many dark nights of the Soul, got famous with a line of greeting cards, was told I would be the next Mary Englebreit. Years of worry, disillusionment, accomplishments, failure, success – coalesced suddenly and became the shape of my current life.

Was my life smooth? No- but if it had been without difficulty, I doubt I would have grown as much or have opened to so many different perspectives. I have a lot of compassion for my younger students, I see them struggling to become themselves in a society that judges them harshly. They too realize that they just don’t fit in in the same way other kids do. It’s tough. Sometimes they just get sucked under. I think any positive form of self-expression can help pull them through. When you have a craft, something that is yours, it can sustain you. I know a lot of artists and poets who will readily admit that their talent has become their blessing instead of a curse. The trick is to realize that your belonging, your worth, wells up from within, and how you choose to express that becomes your unique gift to the world.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Janet Balboa story. Tell us more about the business.
I work in colored pencil and markers. I start with a sketch where I try to express what I hold in my imagination. Most pictures work themselves out along the way. Isn’t that why it’s called ‘art ‘work’? It is work to pull it down; to bring something imagined into reality.

In my current work in progress, Mary Magdalene, I initially envisioned her with a very busy Celtic knot background. As I work on her, and she becomes more real to me, I find the background disappearing completely. It’s become irrelevant. So, there is this conversation, this back and forth that happens when I create. I call this presence The Muse; the soul that playfully participates with me.

I see this with my students as well. The relationship that develops when you are creating work, whether a painting or a cathedral, is always teamwork. You, the creator, show up with a skillset, and ideally, you also create an environment, an attitude, where The Muse can’t help but be present. Your job is to show up at the drawing board. Her job is to inspire you. When this relationship is cultivated, something can happen.

I’m really invested with helping others realize this dynamic flow where life can suddenly become art. I work with Andreas Mannal from Wisdom Point, teaching workshops and seminars designed to reveal the unique masterpiece that each one of us is creating through the ups and downs of our daily life. We are working with what we call the Soul Navigator. It is a beautiful tool for understanding and relating to the Sacred, opening a space for allowing, connecting, and exploring the capacities we have as human beings. We’ve done several workshops already and I’m amazed by the sea changes that are happening in my life as well as those who have attended. In our hearts, we all know that we have everything we need inside us. It’s all about what you put your attention on.

Is everything forever rosy? No. But paying attention to the presence of the Soul opens out a space where things aren’t so crowded together. The sense of overwhelm is gone because there is room to breathe, time to heal and more clarity than panic. Life becomes a meaningful work in progress.

There is nothing more beautiful than looking into the eyes of another person and seeing light and life there. Too often the windows to our Soul appear dull because we have lost sight of our own beauty. When the vision of our true self is restored, we can begin to consciously create a masterpiece; the work of our lifetime.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

Traditionally it has been the artists and poets who have helped society reveal its highest truths and its most devastating lows. We need the clear vision provided by those who have cultivated their creative imagination. Can we see a world vision that honors cooperation, relationship and the sacredness of all life? As in each individual life, so it is for humanity. There are no wasted steps, no wasted moments. Everything matters. Everything is connected. For me it took some personal tragedies to see this, and the perspective that comes with getting older. It really is all about love. I love myself deeply, and that allows me to love others deeply. It’s hard learning to love yourself. To care for yourself. Love is the thread that weaves us into the tapestry of life. Without it, we have those lifeless eyes. With it, we become essentially, deliciously ourselves. I think our future depends on each one of us taking responsibility for our thoughts words and actions. We are all creators. If we create with love, well, I think the world would be lovely.

Contact Info:

 

Mary: work in progress

22 Feb

Monet refuses the operation

26 Sep

Doctor, you say there are no halos 

around the streetlights in Paris 

and what I see is an aberration 

caused by old age, an affliction. 

I tell you it has taken me all my life 

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, 

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see, 

to learn that the line I called the horizon 

does not exist and sky and water, 

so long apart, are the same state of being. 

Fifty-four years before I could see 

Rouen cathedral is built 

of parallel shafts of sun, 

and now you want to restore 

my youthful errors:  fixed 

notions of top and bottom,  

the illusion of three-dimensional space,  

wisteria separate  

from the bridge it covers.  

What can I say to convince you  

the houses of Parliament dissolve  

night after night to become  

the fluid dream of the Thames? 

I will not return to a universe  

of objects that don’t know each other,   

as if islands were not the lost children  

of one great continent. The world  

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,  

becomes water, lilies on water,  

above and below water,  

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow 

and white and cerulean lamps,  

small fists passing sunlight  

so quickly to one another 

that it would take long, streaming hair 

inside my brush to catch it. 

To paint the speed of light! 

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,  

burn to mix with air  

and change our bones, skin, clothes   

to gases. Doctor,  

if only you could see  

how heaven pulls earth into its arms  

and how infinitely the heart expands  

to claim this world, blue vapor without end. 

Lisel Mueller  

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