Posts Tagged ‘” Jane Beal’

My new collection of poems
about birding and the spiritual life:


hard-copy * read online


We went to the water
to see the Pelican –

the one, they say, who stabs her breast
and feeds her young with blood (like Christ),

but there was no bird like that
on the little islands by the pier.

There were Western Gulls instead,
crying out like Alcyone for Ceys,

flying over us like the ragged mists
of dreams we dream at dawn

and, waking, find
have told us the truth.

We were standing close together, just above
the water, like the Light Princess and her Prince,

when I noticed the cliff swallows
darting over the waves, under the pier

where they have hidden their nests
and are feeding the future

with a constant love
that never fails.



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



“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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Mockingbird in Love

by Jane Beal

now appears in Chantwood Magazine 2 (May 2016)

(page 43!)

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“You are about to begin the adventure of the Unicorn”

Hildegard von Bingen

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Thy Will

by Hillary Scott


The Midwife’s Riddle

Q: what breaks the little girl’s heart?
A: the father who abandons her

Q: what breaks the woman’s heart?
A: the man who betrays her love

Q: what breaks the mother’s heart?
A: the baby who dies

Are any of these things God’s will?
I doubt it.


Eph. 5:15-21


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by Jane Beal

in now available in

Kikwetu: A Journal of East African Literature


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My God, I am so tired.

But what was cut away from me
is growing back.

Give me strength in my blindness.

If I push down these pillars,
the roof will come down on my enemies.

O Lord, this is my last act of worship.



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Light on the water, deep water,
shimmering on the surface –

and the light goes down
into the well of love.

Everything is illuminated.

The hidden treasures, the lost seashells,
the songs water-creatures sing,

the ripple effect of your skipping stone
sinking down to the sand.

Everything is illuminated.

Do you know what water-lilies
look like from underneath?

Do you know how to breathe
in deep places?

Everything is illuminated.

Touch the roots of flowers
that float on the water.

See what can be seen.
Hear me.


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Selkie Finds the Sea

is now available in the journal,

Journey of the Heart: Women’s Spiritual Poetry.

couple at sea

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Selkie Takes her Turn

by Jane Beal

now available at Forgotten


“Selkie” by Awreon

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Part of being human is wanting more than one thing at the same time. Sometimes the two things we want conflict with one another. Take eating and sleeping, for instance, our most basic bodily needs. Have you ever been so tired that all you wanted to do was sleep? So tired you could hardly get out of bed? But you were hungry, too?

As a midwife, this happens to me after a very long labor and birth. As an international traveler, it happens to me when the journey is long, and the jet-lag is severe. I usually force myself to get up, eat something small, and then go back to bed. Sleep at that time feels so good, and food tastes so good, too, because I am really hungry. There is a proverb that says, “To the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

The conflict between eating and sleeping is easily resolved, just a simple matter of doing one first and then the other. It’s a matter of timing. One thing waits on another, and the desire for both is fulfilled. Delay is minimal, thank God, because we need both sleep and nourishment to live.

It’s important to understand the role of Time in the fulfillment of our desires, especially our deepest desires — the ones that go beyond eating and sleeping — the ones that are in the heart.

When Jesus was going to the Cross, he stopped to pray in a garden. He knew he was going to suffer, and he didn’t want to suffer the agony of torture and death. So he prayed to God, the Father, and he said:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Jesus prayed, just as he had taught his disciples to pray, that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. He wanted two things at the same time, two things that were in conflict with one another: to avoid suffering and pain and, at the same time, to go through it in order to accomplish God’s will — the atonement for sin, the redemption of humanity, so that the whole world would be reconciled to God and experience salvation.

For those who put their trust in Jesus, maturing in faith means surrendering our conflicting desires — our desire to have two opposing things at the same time — to God’s will and God’s timing.

To desire God’s will above all other desires is to become like Jesus.


Look into this cup:
what do you see?
It’s the image of suffering
that saved you and me.

The Light in this wine,
never ages or fades,
but lives as a sign,
beautiful in eternity.


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Do you feel unknown?
I want to know you.
Do you feel unloved?
I love you,
and I want to love you more.

I won’t kick down the door.
I’ll ask for the key.
If you leave the door open,
I can come in
where you are.

I have a flame
cupped in-between my two hands,
and it is bright,
and very warm.
It’s only fire.

Don’t be afraid.

See? When I open my fingers,
the shadows play
on the walls,
and we remember
what it is like to be children.

I want to share
my light with you.
I want your hands
to be warm.
My heart says

yes to your heart,
yes to a mystery,
yes to your songs,
yes to your eyes,
yes to whatever may come.


Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs. The early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength, and each one appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84: 5-7

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Oh río
de las cosas,
no se dirá
que sólo
los peces,
o las plantas de selva y de pradera,
que no sólo
lo que salta, sube, sobrevive, suspira.
No es verdad:
muchas cosas
me lo dijeron todo.
No sólo me tocaron
o las tocó mi mano,
sino que acompañaron
de tal modo
mi existencia
que conmigo existentes
que vivieron conmigo media vida
y morirán conmigo media muerte.

Pablo Neruda
Odas a las Cosas /
Odes to Common Things

(O irrevocable
of things,
no one will say
that I loved
the fish,
or the plants of the rainforest and the field,
that I only
that which leaps, rises, survives, sighs.
It’s not true:
many things
tell me it all.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touch them,
but they accompanied
my existence
in such a way
that they lived with me
and they were, for me, so alive
that they lived with me half my life
and they will die with me half my death.)

trans. Jane Beal

DSC02736 - Version 2


by Jane Beal

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something, heart in, struggling
to out get

eyes yours, were mine,
this see


bridge over

sailing, dream, fear, memory


neversomeday, whytry, singing
show you, show me

what i mean




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The clocks have all been set back.
We play with counting hours —
flipping the hourglass,
watching the salt sink
from heaven to earth.

All this time — I can’t
hold it in my hands,
even though my hands are open
and longing for

If you even whispered,
near my ear,
I would hear your words
echoing in my heart,
but why now, silence?

Time opens so slowly,
like a flower, but not
one caught on time-lapse film,
not so that we would notice
a bud become a bloom.

So much more than what we see,
so much more than what we hear:
one touch, a thousand years,
another touch, a whole day,
a third and a fourth, eternity.

My prayers are minutes.
My prayers are songs.
I wish like a woman standing
beside a well, watching
pennies disappear in the water.

First, my face is reflected there,
then yours. It is afternoon.
The bees are making honey.
The birds are singing in the trees.
Night will reveal the stars.

Jane Beal

The Milky Way over Herbert Lake, Banff, Alberta, near Lake Louise. Mount Temple is glacier-clad peak at left. A single exposure of 40 seconds at f/2.8 with 16-35mm lens and Canon 5D MkII at ISO 1600. No Moon, and taken in late twilight.

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Moving Away

now available in

 Convergence – Fall 2015 Issue

Joan_Carroll_ Kudin_DreamingofNewHeights-2

Dreaming of New Heights

by Joan Carroll Kudin

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“Pomona’s Garden”

“Echo Finds her Body”

by Jane Beal


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9m BEAL-NewCrops-2015

“Other pilgrims pace restlessly through this book: Jane Beal finds poetry when she visits landmarks in Rome, but her most striking entry in New Crops from Old Fields consists solely of questions Muslims and Jews asked her in the Holy Land. The poem is a remarkable distillation of the sort of grace and charity a pilgrimage should foster: a diminution of the self, and the generosity of letting others speak. Throughout her poetry, Beal makes the medieval personal—a fox on the roadside reminds her of the Reynard of fable, and she writes in the voices of Caedmon and Dante—and her destination is the answer to an intimate question: ‘What shape does the shadow of my life form / when I take my stand in the light of God?'”

~ Jeff Sypeck, “We’ll find the speck of truth in each riddle …” (review of New Crops)

“Jane Beal captures the essence of the simultaneous distinction between, and union of, being a medievalist and a poet: “As a medievalist, I must translate older forms of English, French, and Latin . . . into modern English. As a lyric poet, I must translate emotion and the memory of experience from my heart to my reader. In both cases, translation is a key that opens new doors” (5). As both medieval scholars and poets, we are compelled to ‘carry across’ past times, memory, place, emotion, and experience to others. Beal’s poetry crosses over from the medieval languages and literary allusions that propel each piece to the more tangible and familiar human emotions that permeate her poetry and her medieval sources. Beal’s travels in the holy land are encapsulated in a poem made up entirely of questions—“Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “Have you been to Bethlehem?” “When will you return to Israel?”—not only relating her memories of moments of experience but also the reality of the collision of the ancient, the medieval, and the modern worlds, of the ordinary and the extraordinary that we encounter as we search for our truths. In one poem, her Speaker encounters a “far-walking pilgrim,” a “shadow-walker.” This elicits a reflection and a question: “What shape does the shadow of my life form / when I take my stand in the light of God?” A devout faith seems to resonate from and to guide her poetry as it did the poets of the medieval world whose work informs Beal’s own.”

~ Julie A. Chappell, Review in Medievally Speaking

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Now available from Wipf and Stock,

JANE BEAL’s new poetry collection:

 Rising: Poems for America


“Poetry is memorable language, according to W. H. Auden. Rising is a work of such vividness that I kept thinking about the poems long after I closed the book. Jane Beal is a strong poet with a sharp eye for landscape, a deep sense of history, and an intimate way of writing her language that is never less than bracing. I admire her work, and I hope that readers make their way toward this fine collection.”

—Jay Parini,
author of The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems

“Jane Beal’s poems draw deeply upon the energies of earth and sky, bearing witness to the ways the life force manifests in birds nesting and flying, in women giving birth, in rivers and wind and song. Reaching across time and continental boundaries, they take the reader to quiet places of encounter with self and others and God. This is a collection to be entered and navigated slowly, accepting its invitation to slow down, see into others’ stories and take stock of one’s own longing for sacred gifts.”

—Marilyn McEntyre,
author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies

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If I had died today,
that would have been it –
no more sunset skies,
no more birdwatching,
no more being

a midwife at the birth
of a beautiful baby,
no more writing
poems or stories or songs,
no more telling
the ones that I love
that I love them.

I get that.

If I had died today,
my last memories
would have been surprisingly good,
if fairly ordinary:

reading in the morning,
and praying (of course –
who doesn’t pray?),
walking, going to work,
talking with the teachers’ union rep,
joining the union,
hurrying through the grocery store –

and that’s one thing
I would have liked
to do differently:

Why was I rushing?
Why was it more important
for me to go first
instead of letting the other
woman go ahead?
I smiled apologetically
at her later, but still.

If I had died today,
I might have been comforted
by the knowledge that I
helped my students:

I wrote a letter of recommendation
for one who wants to serve
with Teach for America, and later,
sat talking with several of them,
one after another,
in conferences about their research papers,
helping them develop their ideas

about how history affects geography,
and what it means
to understand,
in a complex way,
cause and effect,
short-term and long-term:
the evil that people do,
the redemption that sometimes comes.

Really. That’s what we
were talking about.

If I had died today,
it could have happened
at least three different ways
because after teaching

I start my drive home
the usual way,
and I am in the left-hand turn lane
sitting at a red-light
getting ready to merge
onto I-80 East
when I hear sirens.

I look in my rear-view mirror,
and I see seven or eight cop cars
with their red lights whirring and flashing
coming up over the hill behind me
and down my way

so I flip on my right blinker
telling those around me
that, hey, remember, we’re supposed
to get over to the side of the road,
when the cops are coming,
but they all seem to be
weirdly frozen,
and I can’t go anywhere from here,
my light is red,
I can’t enter the intersection –

really, I can’t get away,
I’m a sitting duck,
which is awkward
when you’re human
(or even when you’re a duck).

If I had died today …

That’s when the car
the cops are chasing
reaches my lane,
and when the driver can’t go forward,
because we’re in his way,
he decides to pull into
the lane of oncoming traffic
right next to me
in order to try to get on the freeway
and, to stop him, the cop in pursuit
slams into the back of his car.

Just slams him.

That car, dark with tinted windows,
does a 180 right next to me,
and suddenly stops,
just a few feet
from me,
but I’m not hit –
it’s a miracle.

If I had died today …

The cops jump out
with their guns pulled
and point them directly at the dark vehicle
angry and shouting,
“Get out of the car!
Get out of the car!”

as they come closer,
one cop in the lead,
his gun almost touching
the driver’s side window
and a German shepherd
is right behind him.

I’m watching this,
but I’m trying to get down in my own car,
trying to duck,
because I don’t want to be shot –
my God, I don’t want to be shot
by the cops or the driver in that car
who might come out
shooting, God knows, it happens –

If I had died today …

I can’t get very far down,
and I want the light to turn green,
and I think, maybe they’ve frozen
the lights, and I’m never going to be able
to get out of here

and that’s when another cop
starts running toward the scene
from the opposite direction,
and he is holding his gun out
and pointing it straight at me,
straight into my driver’s side window 

and I hold up my hands to my face, palms out,
and I begin frantically waving at him
to say, no, don’t shoot, I’m not the suspect! 

And I wonder:
didn’t the dispatcher tell you
what the suspect’s car looks like?
I’m in a white Toyota Corolla!
It doesn’t look a thing like that dark car right next to me! 

Meanwhile, the other cops start shouting,
“Crossfire! Crossfire!”
to warn the cop that if he shoots,
he’s in danger
of injuring them.

And I am thinking to myself
that I don’t want to be shot,
and I don’t want to see any cops
accidentally shoot each other,
and I don’t actually want the cops
to shoot the driver in the car, either,
I don’t want to see that –

and I’m a midwife and a teacher,
and my purpose is to save life,
not to take it, and I don’t want to die,
not today, not right now,
because there are so many things
I still want to do before I die,
Jesus have mercy

And the light turns green.

It turns green, and I think to myself,
I am under no obligation to stay here
and watch anyone get shot,
and I turn onto the freeway,
and I drive straight to the church
where I pray with the secretary
and call the police department
to tell them that I am a witness,
this is what I saw …

If I had died today,
that would have been it:
no more sunset skies,
no more birdwatching,
no more being –

I get that.

But I didn’t die today.
I lived.

Jane Beal








“I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the maker of the heaven and earth …
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth  
and forevermore.”

~ from Psalm 121

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Summer Water-Song


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Wisdom is a wild bird, once caged, now free.
Wisdom is an owl that sees in the dark. 

Wisdom is a dancing girl
who reads late at night. 

Wisdom is a runner,
fleet-of-foot on the sand.

Wisdom makes fear a servant
and takes counsel with Joy. 

Wisdom walks with God
and makes necessary sacrifices. 

Wisdom does not give up.

Wisdom builds with a hammer and chisel.
Wisdom waters and weeds, digs and dungs. 

Wisdom refines with fire
and sings with a clear voice.

Wisdom nurses the young
with milk from her own breast. 

Wisdom kisses the foreheads of her children—
and where her lips have touched them, 

a star shines out

Jane Beal



“We walk by faith and not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.”
Romans 10:17



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for the Year


by Jane Beal

a collection of poems about birding and the spiritual life
in Uganda, California and the Philippine Islands

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