Friday, April 20, 2012

Bamboozle your feet with humble dusts of coriander

It's my turn to add to the Progressive Poem launched by Irene on April 1, a prospect which is both thrilling and threatening.  To Lori, who wrote the last line and passed the poem to me, claiming to be out of her league, I say "Nay!"  You followed on Amy's line by choosing to employ that workhorse of poetic technique, repetition, and you made it graceful by returning to wine (which had not been partnered so closely with waltzes yet) and dreams.  Lovely.

I must admit I've had a powerful urge to add chocolate to the mix of wine and spices, waltzes and dreams.  Is it just me, or does anyone else see chunks of chocolate all lined up and ready to be chomped in our ProgPo badge???

But I resisted the chocolate, because the circle of our beautiful and mysterious poem seems to be turning back toward its beginning (and this is Line 20, after all.)  We who invited a wanderer in silver slippers to sit for a spell have offered comfort and nourishment, and now it's time for that wanderer to join the dance, for the music to quicken and for joy to overtake sorrow.

I feel also like the poem is ready for a little grounding in the concrete, and yet who would want to disturb the gently wafting spirituality in the air?  So I've tried to ease us towards a livelier pace without breaking the mood--which is why, I explained to my 13-year-old, the word "bamboozled" could not be included in Line 20, despite her energetic and cogent arguments.  I have suggested that she and Ruth's daughter, of "Suddenly, Ninjas!", should get together for their own partner poem project.

Now that I have completed my overthinking ritual, here's the poem.

If you are reading this
you must be hungry
Kick off your silver slippers
Come sit with us a spell

A hanky, here, now dry your tears
And fill your glass with wine
Now, pour. The parchment has secrets
Smells of a Moroccan market spill out.

You have come to the right place, just breathe in.
Honey, mint, cinnamon, sorrow. Now, breathe out
last week's dreams. Take a wish from the jar.
Inside, deep inside, is the answer...

Unfold it, and let us riddle it together,

...Strains of a waltz. How do frozen fingers play?
How do fennel, ginger, saffron blend in the tagine?
Like broken strangers bound by time, they sisterdance...
their veils of sorrow encircle, embrace.

Feed your heart with waltzes and spices.
Feed your soul with wine and dreams.
Humble dust of coriander scents your feet, coaxing
One of my well-read daughter's critiques was about my use of the word "humble."  How can coriander be humble, she asked, and if you're trying to be more concrete, isn't personifying a spice taking you in the wrong direction?  I realized that she understood the meaning of humble only in relation to a person's station or modesty.  I explained that humble can also describe a thing, meaning plain and simple, unpretentious, and as I explained, I remembered how I learned "humble" long ago, and it made me smile.
Charlotte: HUMBLE? Humble has two meanings. It means NOT PROUD and it means LOW TO THE GROUND. That's Wilbur all over. He's not proud and he is near the ground.
Then I got concerned, because my UU daughter seems to have missed her opportunity to learn something about humble from a certain humble stable in Bethlehem.

A final note:  I adore coriander, the dried and ground seeds of the plant we commonly call cilantro, and if our wanderer has any digestive discomfort after the delicious tagine, a little coriander tea should help.

On to you, Myra--I hope my humble addition gives you something to run with!  Poetry Friday is hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.  See you there...


  1. Dear Heidi - I am not sure which I appreciate more, your lovely line with that oh so evocative "coaxing" at the end or all the commentary! Wonderful. Love also that you are talking with your daughter about it. :) I think the pressure increases as the poem becomes what it is... which is probably true of any poem! Now there's all this RESPONSIBILITY to what has come before. You met the challenge with grace and beauty. Thanks for playing!

  2. This is a delicious post, and not just because of the coriander (which I can smell, mmmm). Thanks for the insight into the way your mind works when you're writing a poem. I think I've enjoyed that every bit as much as the poem itself, as all the poets have put their own personalities into it. We definitely need to introduce our daughters to each other. They'd get along famously.

    I've been trying to post this comment for a while, in between getting ready for the day, going to a meeting, etc. Now I'm in my classroom and trying again on my slow Haiti internet. If I've posted it multiple times by mistake, please just publish one! Thanks!

  3. Hooray for coriander--and for concrete language. "Coaxing" is a great verb, as well. Wonderful line, Heidi!

  4. I too, like the "coaxing" at the end! What a gift for the next person!

  5. Heidi - I just adore reading your words. "Humble dust..." and the feet, and the way you lead into the coaxing. Such an invitation with a beautiful herb too. Whenever I leave your blog, I always have so much to think about. You are wise, and I wish we could go for coffee...and chocolate chunks! Thank you for this one... a.

  6. Heidi-I, like Irene, enjoyed reading the conversation with your daughter and your thoughts through this process of what words to add & why, along with the connections, like in Charlotte's Web. It definitely turns the poem toward some action, but guess we'll see what Myra thinks! Thank you.

  7. I drink chamomile tea in the evening (which makes me officially old) but I've never tried coriander tea -- I'll have to try making it.

    I love reading the poem as it progresses -- the unexpected twists and turns are delightful.

  8. I, too, am delighted with the line, and enjoyed peeking into your "overthinking ritual." Especially as it led back to Charlotte's Web. So interesting to hear what your committee thought, and hope the ninjas do write their own poem!

  9. Oh, how I loved all your commentary!

    And what a great way to end the line, a little prod to the next poet, a little more mystery...

  10. I want to write, like Charlotte, "Brilliant"! Love the new line, and the backstory. (And I'm sure your daughter will come up with her own brilliant way to shape "bamboozled" into something, too!) Looking forward to sharing chocolate in Honesdale?

  11. You added more than just a line to the poem. I enjoyed reading the back and forth between you and your daughter. Very nice addition.

  12. Awesome, Heidi. I keep coming back to the sensory lines, and how beautifully they balance with the more thought-focused lines.

  13. Just the love the way you've invited the next poet to fly off the cliff into who-knows-what with the word "coaxing" and no end-stop. Great line.

  14. What Laura just said...and I also just love the way you ended the line with a "juicy" verb...just what the next poet needs!

  15. Great addition, Heidi! I love coriander too!!

  16. I am loving this poem. Yes, I too saw chocolate in the picture! But coriander rolls off the tongue so well.

    What about a parallel progressive poem, written by daughters or nephews or students or neighbor's kids. "Suddenly, Ninjas!" is such a great opening line, and I'd love to hear the next one with bamboozled.

  17. Oooh! The poem is getting so lovely! I love that you posted your process as well as the line. Can't wait to add to it!

  18. Thanks, everyone, for your appreciation! I'm very glad that no one said, "But isn't your line just a bit too LONG?"

    :) Very eager to see what comes next!

  19. Love it. For all the same reasons everyone else does -- because I can feel it, smell it, taste it, and because you left us hanging a bit...anticipate it!

    (I have gotten more coriander from my bolting cilantro than I have EVER gotten in cilantro itself...)

  20. Just re-read. Love this SO much:

    "Now that I have completed my overthinking ritual..."


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!