Passing Down the Love

Behind my house a wood spans,
just over the fence a few feet away,
beyond the poet’s wife’s garden
of climbing roses and pots of joy,
past the fold-up chair that waits
beside a gate to the Great Mother.

Under sunlit tendrils of trailing
ivy that sparkle and spin with joy,
I set up my chair by Maple Elder
where everything spirals with life,
even dead things as my mother,
I realise, has jumped the gate too.

Surrounded by autumn’s jewels
I bless the bountiful Great Mother,
holding close each of Her seasons
in the wake of my mother’s passing,
from bud to leaf, bloom to flame,
blazing a slow trail to her rebirth.

Standing beneath this noble tree
of rich and vibrant falling leaves,
I feel my mother drawing near
in air that smells of damp moss,
startled as a black feather lands
on the writing chair she sits upon.

As quick as a fox this wild poet
climbs up onto her mother’s lap,
as the woods fill up with stories,
ones she thought she knew already
in the dark places inside herself,
yet there are always surprises here.

For in truth, a poet is no match
when a mother returns to love her,
one who instructs her daughter
to never return to the underworld,
rather scatter seeds of kindness
above to help pass down the love.

 

© Deborah Gregory 2021
Image Credit: “Enigma of Generations II”
by the phenomenal artist Michael Cheval

28 thoughts on “Passing Down the Love

    1. Aww, thanks Luisa for your simply wonderful comment! Magickal things happen in magickal woods don’t they! Blessings always, Deborah.

  1. This is beautiful Deborah; you have taken me on a journey through garden and woodland scenes painted so vividly by your words – I am there! And yes, I have to agree, this is your Mother swapping places and taking your place below so that you can express your poetic creativity to the full in this life. Through your wonderfully woven words you are scattering seeds of kindness, staying above and passing down the love in your own unique way. Bravo – I love it and the accompanying image! Much love, Sophia.

    1. Oh, many thanks Sophia for your truly beautiful response to my new poem! Living on the edge of a wood in one direction and a few minutes’ drive from the beach in the other, feels almost shamanic at times, for home I realise, is a real “in-between” place. I guess death is the underworld, the place my mother resides now, although I like to think of her here still, especially in the woods.

      From knee high I adored my mother and loved her creativity. She wrote many songs and several poems during her life. I remember one day taking a Christmas song my parents had written together to school and handing the lyrics and music to a teacher who played their song on the piano. I thought my heart would burst with joy! A treasured memory! Love and light, Deborah.

      1. How wonderful that you’ve inherited your mother’s love of poetry – in must be in the genes! And such a memory to cherish of your parents joint creation being played at school.

        1. I read a lot of books too but I guess nowhere near the volume my mother read during her lifetime. On my last visit to see her she sang a few verses of that old Christmas song to me from her hospital bed. Tis another beautiful memory. x

  2. Deborah, this is beautiful!!! As quick as a fox I jumped the fence and found myself in autumn woods where a poet sat upon her mother’s lap and the woods became full of stories. All the best, Anna.

    1. Aww, thank you so much foxy Anna for your beautiful reply! Yes, the woods are a wonderful place to be in autumn, except today, as it’s incredibly windy out with heavy rain flowing down the windows as I type. Blessings always, Deborah.

      1. telling our stories
        by Lucille Clifton

        the fox came every evening to my door
        asking for nothing. my fear
        trapped me inside, hoping to dismiss her
        but she sat till morning, waiting.

        at dawn we would, each of us,
        rise from our haunches, look through the glass
        then walk away.

        did she gather her village around her
        and sing of the hairless moon face,
        the trembling snout, the ignorant eyes?

        child, i tell you now it was not
        the animal blood i was hiding from,
        it was the poet in her, the poet and
        the terrible stories she could tell.

        1. Now there’s a sorceress of words! Lucille says so much with so few words. I think it’s my favourite fox poem ever! Thank you for sharing this Anna. It’s a stunning poem, best read aloud. Those last two lines, wow, lots of *poetic swooning* going on here! x

  3. One can feel the changing of the season in this melodious myth. A new orientation and way of being with others. It also reveals your deep rooted love, and your practical nature for remaining above. xoxo

    1. Thank you so much Jason for sharing your insights on my poem. Indeed, I think it does herald a new way of being in the world for me or moving towards one because there’s a “swapping of something” going on here at the mid-point of this poet’s 2nd Saturn Return. Blessings always, Deborah.

      1. Also with Mercury in retrograde it’s a good idea to re-view things. Allow me to assist you in this way:

        Re: Journey of Love: Poetry of the Tarot

        I can personally relate with your introduction to the Tarot; however, I was in my 20’s during my first encounter. Revelatory sums it up rather well!

        Even your second phase with the Tarot has much in common with mine. Let’s just say my new age partner opened my mind to other aspects of divination that helped me to break the strictures of the predominate culture.

        You also mentioned that your hands would buzz as you touched the cards. My goodness you are a romantic at heart. What a powerful visual you planted in my mind.

        In regards to your first 3 card spread (3 of Swords, Tower and Star) one can immediately see that you were in for a crude awakening eh! But one that would allow for healing and recovery no doubt.

        Perhaps in some way I am now your ‘Call of the Hierophant’, that affable reminder to maintain the golden mean and regularly refresh our beautiful bold beliefs.

        Love & light, keep it real, keep it right.

        1. Oh, many thanks Jason for reviewing my Tarot essay. Once I’ve finished working on my new Animus Diet book, I hope to get back to posting more essay style posts. Re astrology, apart from a few basics I’m pretty clueless, however, I do recognise myself slowing down this past week, not knowing if this is a seasonal shift or just ageing … although slowing down to reflect and review a situation does resonate.

          The Tarot has been such treasure in my life, much like the day I discovered Jung and the Jungians, and the healing joy of studying one’s dreams. The buzzing with cards still happens but not always. Hmm, that first spread did pretty much sum up the last twenty years of my life, with thankfully the beautiful, luminous “Star” in the outcome position … an auspicious sign I’m hoping! Love and light, Deborah.

  4. You rewrite the ancient Greek myths time and again Deborah. Brilliant. Beautiful. A mother’s sacrifice for her daughter – not in life but in death? The idea of ‘trading places’ comes to mind.

    1. Tis true, I enjoy rewriting myths! However, until my friend shared the idea of “trading places” I hadn’t considered this before but must admit I was struck by my mother’s insistence (during active imagination) that I should not return to the underworld. More to muse upon I guess! Perhaps a new poem will emerge? In the meantime, thank you so much Bookworm for the gift of your wonderful comment! Love and light, Deborah.

  5. In echo of those who’ve gone before, I say, ‘Beautiful, Deborah.’ Such wonderful images. Love your mother jumping over the gate – What a way for you to remember her. And what a sense of vigour, power and wisdom you present to me. And, as always, a visual that carries the spirit of your poem effectively.

    1. Thank you so much Cath for your beautiful reply! My mother loved walking, especially taking her dogs for long walks in the countryside where she lived. It’s funny because as a sulky teenager I hated those long walks yet today walking and hiking mountains are my favourite pastimes, alongside sitting in nature and looking out, as far as I can look in. Re the image, I’ve written more in my other replies about Cheval’s art which you may enjoy. Missing your wonderful posts, any chance of you writing soon? Love and light, Deborah.

  6. It’s Poetry full of love, my dear Deborah.
    From bud to leave, bloom to flame
    Blazing a slow trail to her rebirth. Lovely!
    That’s also a beautiful tribute to your mother. She might, like Persephone, stays with Hades, but she will hold your poem on her laps. Blessing.

    1. Aww, thank you so much my lovely friend Aladin for your beautiful reply! Hmm, perhaps it’s my mother who is offering to take my place below and this is why she has instructed me never to return to Hades. Wow, I hadn’t thought of that, so huge thanks for this pearl of wisdom. Hope your trip up north goes well for you today! Love and light, Deborah.

  7. Oh my, oh my, oh my. I’m walking with you through the garden and over the fence. I feel the Forest Mother and my heart jumps to walking in the forest this afternoon with a friend. I told her I had to pause and kiss the stones of Vic’s cairn before hugging the Red Oak Elder he nurtures with his ashes. There are stones there for sitting, but I’d rather do that alone and the dogs wanted to move on.

    Mama Nature, guiding us into the world of the dead and connecting us to the lineage of the Mothers. I love the way you are asked to stay above to share the jewels since this is the best for me as your reader. I love the black feather sign and the stories filling the poet, stories I hope to hear someday. I love that you feel Mother Love in this place now. I haven’t found my birth mother in the forest, but maybe I haven’t looked. Thank you again, dear poet from across the sea, for spreading your seeds. With deep gratitude for our Tree Elders and your poetry.

    1. Thank you so much dear Elaine for walking, hand-in-hand with me, through the Great Mother’s beautiful, healing woods and for helping me recognise my own ancestral line of mothers and daughters. In my mind’s eye, I can see you kissing Vic’s ancient cairn stones and hugging your beloved Red Oak Elder, there in the blessed clearing of your own forest.

      My own puzzle or enigma, as Michael Cheval may say, is that in active imagination my mother instructed me not to return to the underworld but to stay above, but as I wrote in Susan’s reply, if life is both “dark and bright” why am I being instructed to stay above? Hmm, all that time down the rabbit hole comes to mind and my own waning since the full moon.

      Lots to muse upon! Believe me, when a single black feather landed on my writing chair, I nearly jumped out of my skin but once I’d calmed down, out came my notebook and pen! Yes, with deep, deep gratitude to our Tree Elders, love and light, Deborah.

      1. The black feather! What a demand to pay attention to the message. You’ve spent a lot of time below (and seem to retreat to what you call the rabbit hole easily–if I can say that without ever having met you in body), so maybe you’re being instructed to share your gifts and poems more freely with the world? Since life changes, Dream Mother may give new instructions later. I know you’ll keep listening. (I’m flying blind since the Monarchs left, awaiting instructions.)

        1. Thank you so much Elaine for the depth and richness of your reply here! Re the black feather, I know! I was like, is this a bad omen or what?! Today, thankfully, the feather feels more like a ‘flying blind’ visit from a shaman as I wrote this in an in-between place too. Hmm, it feels natural to dig a hole and cosy on down as an introvert but perhaps you’re right and it’s time to find more balance with my extraversion. I had a dream many, many years ago which told me I would be an “apprentice of sorts” until I was sixty and then I would find my true voice. Perhaps I’m moving towards this now.

  8. So lovely Deborah, filled with light and love, entwined with all the beauty of Mother Nature, Gaia and a mother’s love – in death there is life. There’s also a sprightliness, a mercurial agility of liveliness in this beautiful ode of passing down a mother’s love. The artwork says much as well in its beauty. Thank you so much … in love and light, and love. Susan

    1. Aww, thank you so much Susan for you’re the warm, generous gift of your wise reading and beautiful reply! Yes, in death I believe there is life, for love is stronger than death is it not?! As I sat in the wood last week I thought about my mother’s own journey from “bud to bloom, fade to flame” and how autumn was part of her journey too, as it is mine here in the autumn of my verses.

      “Passing Down the Love” is vital, not only for myself and my ancestors, but for future generations too. I must admit I was shocked in active imagination to hear her say, like Demeter to Persephone, that I was never to return to Hades, because to me life “is” dark and bright, instead it seems to be that my task at the moment is to “scatter seeds of kindness” above. Love and light always, Deborah.

  9. This is beautiful, Deborah. It’s so delightful to see the imaginative reveries that nature inspires in you. You seem to enter the images and create a whole new world there. Have you ever read Gaston Bachelard’s the poetics of space? He spent hours doing the exact same things and built a whole new system of philosophy about it, not to mention being an inspiration for a couple of generations of poets. I’m reading a book about him now called Gaston Bachelard: An elemental Reverie of the World’s Stuff. It’s about all the poetic associations related to the four elements of fire, water, air and earth. I think you’d enjoy it. Much love, Jeanie

    1. Thank you so much Jeanie for your beautiful, poetic reply. Both book recommendations have been duly noted and added to this poet’s, ever-growing, late autumn birthday book list! I looked up Gaston Bachelard on Wikipedia to find out a little more about the man and have fallen in love with these quotes so I know I’ll be in for a real treat:

      “I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” and then this “Rilke wrote: ‘These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.” Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

      As you know, I’m hugely inspired by Michael Cheval and enjoy pulling meaning from each of his paintings. Cheval says one of the greatest joys he experiences in creating art is starting a “game” with the viewer, where they must solve the riddle of the painting’s hidden meaning. The titles serve as clues, but the rest is left up to the viewer to decipher.

      Even though he enjoys this game, he does have his own meanings and with the painting I chose to illustrate my poem “Enigma of Generations”, Michael is exploring the question of “nature versus nurture” drawing upon his Russian heritage and uses the martyoshka doll concept. In his own words:

      “A man is a nature’s child, her essential part. All processes, occurring in nature, happen with man as well. From birth to death—bloom, maturity, fading. And again there is birth, possibly in a different appearance. Do former generations remain in consecutive ones? Do children repeat their parents? The model of ‘matryoshka’ best illustrates this concept.”

      And so, all of these poetics spaces and black feather reveries fed into this poem which started last week, when one day I jumped (carefully!) over my garden gate and entered the “Great Mother’s Woods” as I call them, where I met my mother, in all four elements, including the fire of autumn, for the first time since her passing. Love and light, Deborah.

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