Saturday, January 28, 2017

I save the world by loving Her

I save the world by loving Her.
April in Sandy Mush, the new green apple leaves,
so soft, each flutters a different way at the slightest breeze;
the butterfly, fresh out of the cocoon,
careening downhill, already a crackerjack
at navigating with her iridescent wings;
the blackberry blossoms, full of themselves,
wide open to the hungry and meticulous bees.
The air is filled with buzzing things, 

delirious with the sun’s warmth.
Even a cloud floating high seems to smile with delight.
It is true, I know, 

someone crouches somewhere in a room,
cut off from the world,
fervently praying that the next gunshot, 

the knock at the door,
does not come his way.
I know somewhere, 

a mother walks miles for a jug of water
diverted from her village to sluice the mines.
I know the world will end, or so they say.
But Gaia exhorts me, 

“Look at me!  Take notice!
For you I have perched these roses on their stems,
for you I bring the striped grasshopper to set beside you,
and the wild turkey walks, stately, through the woods.
Are you listening yet?   For you, four wide-eyed deer
come to gaze at your body while you sleep.”
I cannot ignore her, I cannot turn away.
It is my job to love Her, and She is vast,
and long, and wide, and huge;
I save the world by loving Her, 

and in this way, She saves me.

Annelinde Metzner 

April 13, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2017


Glass rosette from 16th Street Baptist Church, Alabama


(“We Have Seen,” from the poem by Natasha Tretheway)

I put down my fork, pancakes all eaten,
at Denny’s that early September morning.
A few moments to gaze at Smithsonian Magazine,
brought along to fill my time
waiting for breakfast to arrive.
“We Have Seen,” says her poem, Natasha Tretheway,
printed white upon black on the pages
beside the twisted glass rosette preserved from 1963.
Her poem: the debris, the shattered wrecks,
the firetruck moving away;
the martyred girls, four girls!
Babies, waiting for Sunday school to begin.
Their faces and Jesus’, mangled beyond recognition.
How Frederick Douglas pushed himself into the public eye,
knowing that photography, in 1873, must show us the truth,
ready or not.
I gaze across my plate at Denny’s,
reaching for my coffee,
eyes filling with tears.
Those four little girls...
I gaze around and wonder: will I weep right here?
Is it at last the time
to let the tears brim over?

Annelinde Metzner
September 6, 2016

The photos in September's Smithsonian Magazine are of objects on display at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.  I was moved to tears by the photo above of one of the only pieces of stained glass left after the bombing of 16th Street Baptist, a gathering place of the Civil Rights Movement, in 1963. This is the church where four little girls were killed as they waited for Sunday school to begin.

Frederic Douglas ambrotype, 1855-1865

Shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria in 1897

Monday, January 2, 2017

Elsie's Garden

Tante Elsie in her gardening hat

Drove up to Elsie’s garden, my head in the radio,
counting measures and checking musical forms.
I raise my eyes just to park and...
Jolted into Eden, an ecstasy of brilliant color, 

like a cold slap. I’m awakened.
These Irises (the eyes?) are a queen’s purple, 

a ransom of gold,
fringed, bearded, double ruffled about their delicate mouths,
waiting lush as Sheba.
Lemon yellow bearded coral, glacier white fringed,
with a calligraphy of magenta.
Rust-red and egg-yolk yellow.
I gain my breath, and big tears, here at Elsie’s garden.
Tante, at ninety-two, fosters this ecstasy of color,
and scent of peony, double, triple, magenta, snow!
Knowing I must go knock and enter at the door,
I breathe deep, remembering, 

remembering the grace of my DNA,
the colors, the purple, saying “This is me,”
coming off the highway.  

“This is also me”, my old Tante in her garden,
pulling a true miracle of flowers from the unsuspecting soil,
back in the dirt where we belong.
This is me. I weep, I love, I remember.

Annelinde Metzner

April 2006

Feeling gratitude for my Tante Elsie, who nurtured so much life in me by living to the fullest herself.