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Now available from Lulu Press,
JANE BEAL’s new poetry collection:

TRANSFIGURATION

BEAL-Transfiguration-Cvr2016r

“Jane’s perspective, from being an international midwife and a talented writer, gives rise to the absolutely beautiful poems contained in this little book. She incorporates sweetly the people she has served in her birth practice and travels. She also teaches us some midwifery along the way! Jane’s great faith in our Lord adds so much to this labor-of-love volume. I highly recommend this book. It should be in the possession of all midwives and mothers.”

Jan Tritten
Editor of Midwifery Today
Author of Birth Wisdom, Vol. 1 & 2

“Birth is sacred experience: a time when the formless takes form.  In Jane Beal’s new book, Transfiguration: A Midwife’s Birth Poems, we are taken through beautiful poetic form, closer to the spirit of birth. We feel both joy and grief. But who are we to question the ways of the spirit? As much as we try to understand birth, its mystery remains a miracle – and that is what draws us into Transfiguration.”

Cathy Daub
President of BirthWorks International
Author of Birthing in the Spirit

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I recently made a journey of a thousand miles from Chicago to Denver. Here I am in the West! Colorado is big-sky-beautiful country. I love the light. The light here is extraordinary.

In honor of this momentous change, I wanted to post a poem by Mary Crow, a former poet laureate of the state of Colorado, a poet who pays attention to light — and many other things. In addition to being a poet, Mary Crow is a teacher and translator. Her poem below translates the light.

“The Morning of Morning”

Why let it matter so much?: the morning’s morningness,
early dark modulating into light
and the tall thin spruces jabbing their black outlines at dawn,
light touching the slope’s outcroppings of rock and yellow grass,
as I sit curled under blankets in the world
after the world Descartes shattered,
a monstrous fracture
like the creek’s water surging through broken ice.

A silent wind bounces spruce branches
in that motion that sets molecules vibrating latitude by latitude
to crack the absolute
of feeling, of knowing what I know, of knowing who I am,
while down the road the town wakes to hammer and saw—
a sound that says to some, if you don’t grow you’re dead—
and then farther down the elk and deer gather
at a farmer’s fence for his handout of hay.

Late January: just outside Rocky Mountain National Park:
a high branch of ponderosa offers a rosette
of needles blackgreen and splayed as in a Japanese scroll painting,
which is beautiful if I focus there and not on the sprawl I’m part of
in this rented condo where I don’t want to live since I, too, need
more rooms to haul my coffee to, more bookshelves for books
I haven’t time to read—bird chatter!—I shouldn’t make one more resolution
I can’t keep to spend more time with friends.

But it’s morning and morning’s my time of day
as spring’s my season; more light, I say.
I do regret some things I’ve done and if I could,
I’d do things differently: start sooner, say, look deeper.
One flake of snow drifts down slantwise,
a lovely interruption to my tirade—
as each aspen is to the larger groves of taller firs—
and brings me back to what’s happening here.

Mary Crow
first published in Ploughshares

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao-Tzu (604-531 BC)

 

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When I was recently in Colorado, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Dave Matthews, the singer, song-writer and musician who fronts the Dave Matthews Band. One of the things I couldn’t help thinking of him, as I do of all courageous artists, is that he hasn’t wasted his gift. Because he has sacrificed and pursued music, his lyrics and his songs play inside of our souls — songs like the wondrous rhapsody “Satellite,” the intimate love song “Crash into Me,” and “Ants Marching,” an energetic and musically powerful critique of relational awkwardness in a capitolistic culture … and the dreams of childhood that we remember despite the regiment of our days.

The lyrics to this song, “Ants Marching,” do something important, something poetry does: invite us to understand ourselves and, maybe, change.

He wakes up in the morning
Does his teeth bite to eat and he’s rolling
Never changes a thing
The week ends, the week begins

She thinks — we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking
But we never say a thing
These crimes between us grow deeper

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quiter time
Lights down, you up and die

Goes to visit his mommy
She feeds him well — his concerns
He forgets them
And remembers being small
Playing under the table and dreaming

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die

Driving in on this highway
All these cars and upon the sidewalk
People in every direction
No words exchanged
No time to exchange

When all the little ants are marching
Red and black antennas waving
They all do it the same
They all do it the same way

Candyman teasing the thoughts of a
Sweet tooth, tortured by the weight loss
Programs cutting the corners
Loose end, loose end, cut, cut
On the fence, could not to offend
Cut, cut, cut, cut

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die

Dave Matthews
Under the Table and Dreaming (1994)

In just a few months, I will move to the great Rocky Mountain state of Colorado to begin teaching creative writing at Colorado Christian University. For me, this is very much about “taking chances,” but there’s a possibility that I could — like anyone could — get swept up in a (work) pattern that never changes. When I hear “Ants Marching,” with its carpe diem emphasis, it reminds me not to let that happen. I want remain fully alive and present to the beauty of the created world.

All of us can.

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