Sunday, June 18, 2017

Daddy in the garden

Daddy and me in our Elmhurst backyard

The tiny garden plot, beyond the clothes lines,
‘way in the back behind our brick row house,
growing up in Queens;
that warm smile he kept just simmering,
his delight in the rows of multicolored lettuce;
the long wait for tomato’s fruiting,
pinching and shaping the plants along the way;
I was drawn to my Daddy like a magnet
and the soft earth between his hands,
both of us getting that zing of delight
as he showed me how to drop seeds in the ground 

one by one,
and cover them up with my little fingers.
We might find a fat worm!
I’d watch it expand and contract along my palm,
the worm striving for release,
me caught up in wonder.
On chubby toddler legs, I’d stand mesmerized
by the tightly-closed buds of peonies,
watching the ants, symbiotic,
traversing the globes ‘round and ‘round,
held in that open and welcoming space
of Daddy’s warm-hearted smile.

Annelinde Metzner
June 17, 2017

Admiring the beautiful vegetables in the Black Mountain Community Garden, I could suddenly hear my father's exclamations of delight, the brilliant colors, the flowers. I had to honor this aspect of our relationship for Father's Day, a mutual adoration of the Earth.

Black Mountain Community Garden veggies


My son Peter with carrots!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Homage to Water

Rattler Ford

Water will flow to you, lucky blessed Human
      straight down the mountain, clear, crisp,
      almost white with coldness on a July day.
      You can drink this!
Water will flow for you, fortunate one,
      over rocks worn beautiful with the
      eternal wearing-away,
      the rush and gurgle, the pounding of water
      unending, abundant, all-powerful.
      You can bathe in this!
Water will run through your arteries and veins,
      dear blessed one,
      making all your body sacred, connected,
      healed in itself, and in each other.
      You live because of this!
Here we are, Human, on our blue-green Water Planet,
      spinning through the galaxy, evolving over eons,
      because of Water, Water!
Touch Her to your forehead, your most sacred places,
      blessed one.
Greed must not come near Her!
Never attempt to control Her!
In every blade, in every vein,
 in every rock and stone, we share Her.
Do homage to our most beautiful, singing Mother,

Annelinde Metzner
July 31, 2011

Price Lake

The Atlantic

Mountain Light Sanctuary

Delaware River, New York

Friday, May 26, 2017


Photo by Ruth Rosauer

I can’t translate this!  I can’t write it!
It’s spring, my eyes dilate with an ongoing delight,
no end, no end!  Ah me!
Still in April bare grey trees remind me that this is no dream,
this everyday, this every new day-
The cherry blossoms, first to bloom,
then scattering in breeze, reminding of snow,
and now today, lush and greener by the hour,
intent on producing sweet red fruit.
Every day, every day, no end!
The hummer’s return, a long, long drink,
fitting for one returned from Guatemala!
Welcome, wee warrioress!  Battle on!
And then, ecoutez!  Welcome the wood thrush,
her deep multilayered melody guiding me back.
Welcome thrush!  Welcome me!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it.
My eyes dilate, hummers buzz, 

and the chickadee not two feet from me,
cocking and cocking the wee head, 

seeming to want my finger for a perch.
A bluebird, shy as Spring’s first new,
and cardinals, and goldfinch!  A riot of color!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it!
Along the banks of the river, red bud, 

misnamed in her purple gown,
paints filagrees in the forest canopy, 

here there and everywhere,
suspended in a perfect ballet, sucking my breath away.
The new dogwood, still clinging to green,
not yet ready for the full openness of total white.
I can’t translate, I can’t write.
Pale yellows and greens creep tenderly up the mountain,

a turkey buzzard gliding on the thermal winds.
A great peace relaxes me all along my spine,
up to my tippy-top. 

My eyes dilate, for the everyday of this,
it won’t go away, tomorrow and tomorrow, 

hooray and hooray,
here’s my world come back again, 

this day, this day, this very day.
Annelinde Metzner
April 21, 2005

    I had a wonderful surprise yesterday- in the mail were my brand new copies of "These Trees," a book of photographs by the talented Ruth Rosauer, which includes the above poem and photo, on page 73!
    There are twenty poets represented in the book, and many pages of Ruth's gorgeous photos and commentary, plus identifications of the trees.
     Copies of the book are available at Ruth's website,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sara La Kali

Sara in her chapel

Sara la Kali                                                     

On May twenty-fourth, your feast day,
Romani people in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
pilgrimage to be with You, 
dark Daughter, Sara la Kali.
Immersed in the mystery of the candle-lit chapel,
the people come and come and come,
men in black leather, long-haired women,
ordinary people moved by Your being.
Mournful, passionate with Your love,
a woman’s voice, low, sings with longing for You.
Sara la Kali, You arose here from the sea,
fresh from the womb of the Goddess and God,
carrier of the sang real, holy blood and grail.
They arrive in a hush to kiss Your cheek.
Layer upon layer they dress You in finery,
promises of blessings to all of us in need.
And then on this day, You come out into the world!
Men in black on fine white horses,
colorful flags held high in Your honor,
wade far out into the raging waters,
awaiting Your passage back to the sea.
Sara!   If we had known of You,
Sara, passion of the two great beings,
Sara, love child, Magdala and Yeshua,
where would we be today, our Kali,
our Kali of Europa, born to us all,
and in the white and rushing waters,
swept away.

Annelinde Metzner
June 14, 2012

Today is the feast day of Saint Sara, beloved by all Gypsies, especially in this place where Mary Magdalene was said to have come ashore after escaping from the Holy Land across the Mediterranean.  Feel how every year, the waters roil up when Sara la Kali is brought to the sea.  I view Sara as the daughter of Jesus and Mary.  Some say there is a long lineage there, the "Sang Real," the Sangraal, or to paraphrase, the Holy Grail.

Experience the Feast day of Saint Sara, May of 2008, here. 

Worshipping Sara by the sea

Friday, May 19, 2017

For my Grandmothers

Grossmutter and my uncle Alfred

Grossmutter Comes Flying                                                       

A wind that could tear off shingles
whips over the ridge all night,
leaving a sky clean and blue as an Alpine lake.
The last few leaves cling low to the maple trees,
the newly bare tree tops scraping the sky.
The sound of an ax chopping wood comes up the hollow.
My uncle’s spirit is chopping wood, a chore that’s never done.
The ancient and everyday repetitions of labor-
splitting firewood, canning fruit, 
patching clothes, knitting hats-
the ancestors nudge us, saying “listen to the wind!”,
reminding us to keep moving, prepare for winter.
No tender admonitions here!

Grossmutter comes flying over the trees in a vision,
braving vast expanses of the sea,
four children, one just a baby, wrapped in her skirts,
my father pushing out from her embrace
to gaze beyond the ship’s deck to the New World.
“Fly!”, she says to me. “What holds you back?
None of us know what that first step will bring.
It is your Grossmutter in the spirit world
and I tell you-
the world changes shape with every step you take.
Just go!”

A russet maple leaf
lets go, and spins out of sight.
Nana appears.
She has thrown off her rose-colored apron 
and put down her wooden spoon.
She is twenty-five, pin curled and all brand new, 
eyes opened wide.
“Granddaughter, yes, go!  With each step, 
the world rearranges itself before you,
a Rubik’s Cube, a house of mirrors.
Take that step!  As we live and breathe,
other souls live and breathe too,
and arrange their lives to respond to you.
Step into the dance! The music you call,
and the next, and the next under your gaze will fall.”

At this she spit-polishes her new red shoes,
steps on board the trolley car,
smiles wide at the driver,
and spins off into the skies.

Annelinde Metzner 
October 28, 2009     

     This week was the birthdays of both my grandmothers, Louise and Sophie, May 15 and 16.  I've meditated on what they were like in their youths, and both gave me advice.  A strong immigrant family, depending on our love for each other to tough it out together, and their advice is, "keep going!"

Nana, my Mom, and brother Richard
At Sophie’s Grave                                            

At your grave, Sophie Katerina,
my bare feet planted in the grass
where your small body lay turning,
wild thyme purple, pungent at stone’s edge-
I run my finger inside the “T” of our name.
Rough, mottled, unpolished marble,
pocked and weather-worn, hiding nothing,
I too stand like the stone,
feet planted, hands open,
nothing to hide, absolutely nothing.
These ancestors have seen it all-
my subtleties of behavior, my quirks like their own,
my choices, my desires, my impulses known and unknown.
”Go on”, I hear her say, 
”Go on, all I’ve done is to stand behind you,
singing girl, speaking girl,
we’ve come this far, now go on.”
I stand silent as if all had been said,
as if I were ready for the next thing,
as if my head rested on her knees,
her tender rough hands in my hair.

Annelinde Metzner      
July 1994 

Myself in the old farm kitchen

The Farm Kitchen

Cups and cups hang from hooks,
plates of every color and design in the cupboard,
enough for a field full of neighbors some hungry noon.
Rafters and ceiling a greasy black
even now that the big wood stove is gone,
flavored of pancakes and kuchen,
Sunday chickens and potato soup.
A ladle and a dishpan over the sink
where the cold, clear water gleams to the taste.
On the table, flour, salt and sugar flow,
foods that keep and stretch
and fill the belly to last all day.
Mice scurry across the floor
and hop up on the big table
to gawk at the evening game-players,
forgetting themselves momentarily
and then startling to the squeals.
Foot baths on the step, warm and sensual,
makes you feel clean all over!
In the morning, the aroma of coffee,
and a child’s dreamy inheritance
of the never-empty pot,
abundant evermore.

Annelinde Metzner
Catskill farm
July 13, 1992

Mom Erna and myself, about 1958

Friday, May 12, 2017

The sky in May

I know there are stars,
     galaxies, worlds,
     nebula, planets and moons,
but in this sky, this green, green day,
     there is only wonder.
Only the unknown in this all-embracing blue,
Gazing at Her blueness, I hear Her tales,
     Her ancient wisdom, Her deep knowledge,
     but in a language I do not know.
I am a child at Grandmother’s knee.
Here is the air, filling us with breath,
     everywhere, like the water we swim in,
and yet in the sky of May,
     even as we feel Her
     in the tender winds upon our skin,
there is a magic, an enchantment,
     oh! that our very home, the air,
     is so beyond our ken.

Annelinde Metzner
May 24, 2014

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Tulip Tree Flower

The marvelous flowering tree!
     the Tulip Poplar,
     liriodendron tulipifera,
     tall denizen of the forest,
     wide shiny leaves so full,
     riotous with movement and green,
and here on each branch, a tulip flower!
Imagine!  A flower orange and green,
     three sepals separate from it all,
     and the flower tropical with lushness,
     orange base a watercolor
     whirling into the bright green corolla.
This is the tulip-tree flower,
     magnificent being,
     and adding to the wonder,
     in late Spring,
     She casts Herself off in a flourish
     to land in perfect beauty at my feet.

Annelinde Metzner
May 24, 2014



Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sun in the Gorge

Wake Robin trillium

The sun comes up in Hickory Nut Gorge
slant-wise, long-reaching,
on this Spring morning.
Each leaf lights up in Her own way,
all colors of yellow, butterscotch, chartreuse,
palest green to brown.
We are awakening!
Our Mother the Sun, Saule,
peeps over the lake from the East,
Her smile radiant,
Her blonde hair glistening and sparkling all around.
The tree branch glistens white.
And now the river, white caps lit up,
rushing, roaring, energy unceasing,
and lit white in Her roiling froth
as the Rocky Broad tumbles, rushes, roars
over boulders, twists and turns.
Rain clouds part with great drama.
The Sun!  It’s morning!
Petals fall in the gentle breeze.
I breathe.
Begin again anew.

Annelinde Metzner
Hickory Nut Gorge
April 20, 2015

Hickory Nut Falls in Spring

Lakey Mountain horses

Wake Robins

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Have Sworn to Protect Her

"Healing" giclee by Autumn Skye Morrison

I have sworn to protect Her!           
Miracle blue-green jewel of all the worlds,
ancient blue mountains, vast golden deserts,
hummingbirds in the jewelweed,
black bear in the raspberries.
I speak for Her!
I howl for Her!        
I howl, “Beware!”
to you who remove Her sacred mountaintops
torturing her body to get at Her coal.
I howl, “Beware!”
to you who go deep within her mineral layers,
scraping away at her core
for your own gain.
But no one gains by this.  She feeds us all.
I have sworn to protect Her,           
this day that She needs us,
when even Her vast blue-green oceans, teeming with life,
are tainted with blood, the black oil of power and greed.
This is the day, this is the hour.
She, long-silent, awaits our voice.
The signs of Her anger are everywhere:
desert, flood, tornado, wildfire, earthquake, typhoon, tsunami.
I howl for Her!             
I love my Earth as my own body!
I have sworn to protect Her!

Annelinde Metzner
July 31, 2011

As I turned the page to "December 2015" in the We'Moon wall calendar, I came upon an excerpt from my poem above, with fabulous art by Autumn Skye Morrison.  You can see her wonderful giclee, "Healing," as well as other art pieces at her website here. 

     I send out my poem once more as a prayer, to add to so many others, for divine wisdom to come through.  Prayers especially for those traveling to the Climate March in Washington DC to speak out on behalf of Her and all of us.  May we all protect our Earth, our beloved Home!!   May we love Her more and more each day!!

Delaware River, Margaretville, New York

Sacred mound, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Praise House

Praise House on St. Helena's Island, South Carolina

Blessed with a tour of the Gullah homeland,
St. Helena’s Island, where freed slaves
were given each ten acres upon emancipation,
we wander with Robert Middleton, our guide.
He names each place:
“This is Frogmore, this is Scott, this is Land’s End,”
as we pass from one wide-open community to another.
The Gullah people love color,
and the old frame houses, even the trailers,
are painted yellow, pink and blue.
“Everybody here is one family.”
Robert, on his ten acres,
gave a homeplace to each of his children.
“I can holler to ‘em from my front yard.”
Down a long oak-lined road we ride to its end,
where Robert says, “and here’s the Atlantic.”
People come to walk on the stony beach,
and swim when the tide goes out.
“They’d bring the slaves here in a boat,
and just unload ‘em,” he says.
All that grows here is African:
the okra, the tomatoes, the fruit.
When the white owners “skedaddled,” after the war,
land was left to the weary slaves,
and freedom, the first in the nation.
At the Penn School, two white women came
to live up on a little dirt road,
and brought reading and writing, forbidden in enslavement,
for children so eager
they’d walk six miles to school in the rain.
“We teach the young people not to sell their land,” 
says Robert,
a legacy of Penn School’s wisdom.
Gazing into the deep, lush woods lining the roads, I ask,
“Did you ever heal with herbs here?”
“Used to,” says Robert, “we had all we needed.
Didn’t need no doctors.
Life-everlasting tea with lemon,
sassafras, pine gum, elderberry and garlic.
My grandma cured a snakebite with frog blood!
Just stuffed it right in there,
and bound it up good.”
The last stop on our tour,
the white clapboard Praise House,
the last one, preserved by the side of the road.
Every community had one.
“We’d go there to solve our problems,” says Robert,
“trouble with the young ‘uns, money disputes, conflicts.
We’d go to the Praise House so as not to call the law.”
I peer in the window of the tiny house,
a pulpit and four wooden pews.
“Robert, was there praise here too?”
“Sunday nights, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he says,
when it was too far to walk to church.”

Step it, step it, step it down.  Remember me.
Step it, step it, step it down.  Remember me.
(a ring play of the Gullah children.)

Sing, shout, circle and step.
The praise house.

Annelinde Metzner
St. Helena's Island, South Carolina

    I met Robert Middleton at Penn Center on St. Helena's Island, South Carolina.  This is a place rich in history, where a school was created for local Gullah children, which was forbidden during slavery times.  It became a center of the Civil Rights movement and is now devoted to the history and culture of the island.  I am very honored that my chapbook, This Most Huge Yes, including this poem, is going to be offered at their bookstore. 
      I ended this poem with a song, in italics, which I learned as a music teacher, part of the musical legacy of the Sea Islands.

Robert Middleton, with Sue Ann Metzner

"Here's the Atlantic"

Live oak tree with Spanish moss

Penn Center

Friday, March 31, 2017

Erna's Ark

Mom, Peter and me, her 81st birthday, 1994

Erna’s Ark
Eulogy for Erna Metzner by Linda Metzner,  her daughter
October 21,  2001

     Three times while looking at Mom’s things I came upon the image of Noah’s Ark.  I had bought her a bright colored pants set with the animals marching merrily across her chest.  I remembered a family project, creating Noah’s Ark for my niece Amy thirty years ago,  Dad building and painting the big wooden ark,  myself cutting out and stitching the animals, and Mom providing endless admiration.  And here was a little brooch in her cardboard jewelry box,  gold-colored animals marching merrily into the big-hulled boat.
       Suddenly I knew the theme of Mom’s eulogy.  I was always surprised, occasionally embarrassed,   and often lifted into a spiritual dimension in the most mundane circumstances with my mother.  Maybe there was an impression left in her by that long, scary boat ride all alone when, as a child, the wee Erna departed her German home and grandparents to rejoin her mother in Philadelphia:  that first flight into the unknown that caused Mom never again to set foot on another ship after once reaching land.  To Mom,  we are all boarding Noah’s boat,  and God wants all the species.
       Everyone,  therefore,  becomes kin.  The handyman hanging up her pictures;  the phlebotomist collecting her blood;  the apple seller at the Farmer’s Market;  the mailman;  the shopkeepers;  the office workers.  Mom would, in a minute,  know their names,  their children’s names,  their thoughts of the moment, and, most importantly,  their loving smiles.  At age eighty-seven,  she would get to know a man in the doctor’s waiting room by telling him how good-looking he was.  Thus the source of  some embarrassment for Mom’s caretakers!
       A vivid memory of her, two hours before her passing:  she is looking up into the dark-skinned face of my nurse friend Gwen,  who is trying desperately to draw blood from Mom’s thin old veins.  Mom looks into Gwen’s face,  ten inches from her own,  and says, “You are so beautiful.”          
       I remember Mom decorating my stroller with green crepe paper and pushing me all over Elmhurst, Queens, in the church parade.  I remember how her stepdad,  Dandy,  taught me to bow and say “Salaam”,  which he learned from the Muslims in his childhood in Guyana.  I remember when Dad told me how he’d gone deer hunting side by side with a black man he had met in the field.  I remember trying to reach my brothers in Mom’s last hours,  and she telling the nurses,  “My children are all big shots.”  “You’re not at all proud,  are you?”,  said the nurse,  smiling.
        I remember Mom taking the only airplane trip of her life,  because airplanes were akin to that big, scary boat that had borne her so long ago to America.  She sat between my son Peter and me,  squeezing our hands ‘til you could see the marks,  just so she could be at the bas mitzvah of her granddaughter Emily.  Her first and only airplane flight,  at age seventy-nine!
        She made me aware of the creative and healing power of generosity.  I don’t know  how many times she said to me,  “For you, anything.”  The money they would slip to me to further my education. The immense pride as we all graduated,  one by one.  The yearning expressed in Daddy’s memory of how the doors of college were closed to his capable mind because of the poverty of his family.  I remember the power of his phrase to me, “You’re going to be a scientist!”,  which translated to this young woman of the fifties, “You can be anything you want to be.”  And Mom’s way of expressing pride:  “Daddy will burst his buttons.”
        The briefest of events can affect one so strongly.  I remember leaving groceries in the back seat of a car and asking Mom, “Should we lock up?”  She said, “No. If someone steals our food it’s because they’re hungry.” I had the privilege and the culinary delight of accompanying Mom and Dad as they carried a full course hot meal to Dad’s brother with his three kids,  fallen on hard times.  The smells in that car were intoxicating.  I think the word “generosity” to me secretly means “pork chops and gravy.” 
        And cooking with Mom was phenomenal.  When was there not a pflaumekuchen in the oven,  a chicken to be plucked, a soup stirring in the pot?  She could have written an encyclopedia entitled “Comfort Food.”  And I’m sure that my penchant for music, dance and ceremonies of every description was born in her delight for baby showers, weddings, graduation parties, get-togethers filled with family and friends stretching from the backyard to the basement and out to the garage.
         “Holaderia,  holadio,  holaderia,  holadio!” Our favorite beer-drinking songs rang through the air.   
        Mom’s parents,  my grandparents Nana and Dandy, lived with us all their lives.  I can only now begin to guess the amount of care and responsibility Mom had in their well-being to the very end.  I can only remember how utterly respected and important they were in every aspect of the household,  and the big warm lap Nana had ever ready for me to curl into at every need.  Here’s where I learned the commandment with the most direct influence upon my life:  honor thy father and thy mother, yes, that thy days may be long upon the Earth.
        How this one small life with the gigantic spirit could draw so much of the very best from all she knew. How she inspired devotion in people who knew her only minutes. How she made something “click” in people that said, “We are all human, we all love, we all need love, we all have the same needs.”  I thank my Goddess for letting her educate me again, at the tail end of her life,  when I was capable of seeing the broader import in all the tiny daily occurrences.  
        We are as funny,  as tall,  as short,  as lumpy,  as beautiful as all the creatures in the ark.  We are all going to float together on this big boat,  and God wants us all,  every single one.  All species, all minds, all religions, all colors.
        I know you can hear this,  Mama.
        I love you so much,  and I thank you.

Annelinde Metzner
October 21, 2001

Seldom do I publish prose in the pages of this blog, but these words I wrote for my mom on her passing in 2001 seem strong and tearfully relevant for our times today.

Mom, Tante Martha and Tante Elsie, about 1933

Mom and me, musician for the clowns, about 1995

"Mom the Bomb," by Lake Susan, Montreat, two months before her passing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Frozen Lake

The lake is frozen over!
Embedded in her surface,
branches and fallen sticks,
heads-up like ancient monsters.
Walking, walking,
I exclaim over the green softness
of the laurel leaves in the icy cold.
What a world!
I raise my head and call
to the wood thrush,
to her deep song, canto hondo,
which she carries with her across the world.
“Come back!  Come back! 
I await your beauty!”
I bend to the ground,
entreating the first purple of Spring,
the many petaled Dwarf Iris,
little ancient one of the forest,
embedded on the lake’s bank.
I await you!  Sleep until you’re ready,
‘til the new buds burst forth from the dogwoods,
‘til the bear cubs tumble wide-eyed from their den,
‘til Spring warms and thaws our hearts again.

Annelinde Metzner
Hidden Lake
January 26, 2013

It's March of 2017, almost Spring, but snow is expected this weekend.  The hints of Spring are all around.