Wishes for the good traveler.

April 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

For a venturing soul I love very dearly,
and all the others who journey alongside.

If each day is a step within
a journey, long and true:
Then, as you go,
good traveler,
I wish these things for you:

A wishing well at every stop,
at every stall and stay,
to hold your cheer,
to stave despair
and parchedness away.

A precipice to venture up;
a trail to test your mettle;
a thousand thorns
to make you strong
and flowers to make you gentle.

A vision of your noblest self
to haunt your dreamer’s heart,
that you might strive,
against the throng,
to set yourself apart.

And outlooks grand to ground you –
that, from a bright plateau,
you recognize
how far you’ve come,
how far you yet can go.

May birdsong bless your wanderings
through desert, fjord, and vale;
may every path
deliver you
to welcome and a tale.

May Earth on her round table spread,
in her abundant manner,
all vibrant, rare
and wholesome fare:
nectar, spice, and manna.

I hope each day above your head
God paints a splendid sky;
a backdrop brave
to vivify
your worn and searching eye.

May sunlight bathe and kiss your skin
and trumpet you along;
and when the stars
bedeck the sky,
may you imbibe their song.

And if, in some uncertain hour,
a tremor fills your soul–
a darkened shroud
puts confidence
and calm past your control,

I hope you find your faith in God;
that, pouring from above,
you feel the peace
that emanates
from His enduring love.

And as around this world you weave
a web of your goodwill,
I hope you find
yourself enmeshed
in something worthier still;

That your untiring spirit draws
dear friends to share your burden;
and a happy step
in sync with yours –
Love’s sweet grace and guerdon.

So kindle hope within your heart,
its pure, undying ember.
Do right, fear not.
Be chivalrous.
And if you can, remember:

If you will reach, wherever you are,
as our two paths unfold,
my well is deep
enough for two;
my hand is yours to hold.

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Talisman

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Keep it in your mind and heart,
whatever else besieges you,
that I love you.

Grand Tour, Take Two: Potsdam

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Three years ago I went with my mom and sisters to the annual library booksale in South Dartmouth. Each summer, we make the rounds at local antique malls, vintage stalls, and yard sales seeking treasures.

Well, that day, amidst the pillars of used paperbacks I found a small basket labeled “old postcards”. I peered inside, expecting to see the cartoonish fonts and garish colors of the 1960s- but instead I found a stack of antique photographs (cartes des visites!!, the 19th-century enthusiast inside me whispered in glee). I snatched up the whole set and tried to mute my delight as I bartered with the man behind the counter. They were supposed to be 3-for-a-dollar but he made me a Yankee deal and sold the lot of forty for $10.

Between the landmarks depicted on the fronts and the faded inscriptions on the backs, it became clear that the pictures were someone’s mementoes from a trip around Europe in 1867. Many of the locations were familiar, but some were less obvious, or from kingdoms long since dissolved and nationalized. I set to work identifying locations and mapping out the cards. How fun it would be, I thought, to retrace this Grand Tour and see what the passage of 150 years has done to each place.

I managed to place all but one card, which showed a windmill but offered no other place markers. The writing on the back was illegible. Google kept directing me to Holland. I resigned myself to not knowing. Then, two years later, I recognized the mill in a friend’s photo-set from an open-air museum of historical windmill replicas in Germany (who knew?). He helped me solve the mystery and complete the map.

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This is what the Historic Mill of Sanssouci looks like in 2013. So here begins a Grand Tour, Take Two.

Practical Impracticality

April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

As I debated whether or not to strip my iPhone of its (unwieldily, cracked, and somewhat superfluous) case for a run, I thought, “well, perhaps I’ll need to press something on the way.”

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I’m prescient.

Battle Cry for an Age of Alienation

April 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

A scene from my campus today:

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Things you don’t see: behind the Black Hawk is a perfect cherry tree and a clover patch which grows mostly four-and-five-leaf clovers. At sunset, this field floods with red-gold light.

The sky over Dartmouth is my panacea. It’s chilling and very, very sad to think that someone else walked here contemplating the destruction of people and places we love.

It goes to show that you never know who you’re dealing or what they’re dealing with – but whatever anyone deals with, I believe the only universal remedy is love and solidarity. Anti-terrorism isn’t comprised of SWAT teams and helicopters, it’s made of little actions that tear down some division, patch over some divide with love and understanding.

So then, let this be our response in the face of terror: to reach out others. Listen, and let someone know they’re heard. Smile at a stranger. Offer your heart up as a punching bag – it aches sometimes to espouse solidarity in this vast, rough world of ours, but it’s better than the alternative of alienation.

It doesn’t have to be big – just spread love with abandon. Be an anti-terrorist every day.

A Question of Fate

April 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

She prayed for a sign: she said,
“Be explicit with me, Heaven.
White flowers if for hope,
red flowers for a stop.”

But she wandered off the path that day
wherever she glimpsed
snowdrops or daisies
or lilies of the valley;

and she veered away
from the strange veiled women
who wandered the streets
surprising passers-by
by handing them red roses.

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Nasturtium

April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I woke up this morning feeling sick about the bombing in Boston. I guess you know where your heart calls home when you aren’t there in a crisis. I thought about little Martin Richard and I thought of the pavement in front of Copley Square painted in blood and I thought of how the John Hancock tower reflects the clouds and the blue sky and I just cried.

I went out to clear my head and walked by a store selling discounted flower boxes. I’ve wanted to plant a balcony-garden since I arrived here but never found the moment. On the rack beside the display I found a single pack of Nasturtium seeds.

Nasturtium have been symbolic of Boston to me since I first visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum ten years ago. There, in Spring, in the inner courtyard, strands of the bright orange flowers drape from the balconies like delicate beaded curtains. The courtyard adjoins the hall in which Sargent’s magnificent El Jaleo sounds out through time. (Sargent was a good friend to the city and painted a magnificent mural in the vaulted staircase of the Boston Public Library — where the first of the two bombs detonated yesterday.)

I bought two Blumenkästen and a bag of potting soil. At Wittenbergplatz, on the way home, shelves and tables full of flowers brightened the morning market. I learned after I bought a few starters that pansies stand for remembrance and dianthus for undying love. Nasturtium are for patriotism.

Flowers are for hope and a future that blooms beautifully.

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