Tag Archives: poetry

The Fireflies

by Laura Parker Roerden

Last night
the stars
made our
hayfield
into a bed.

Twinkling
and turning
from light
to dark,

and back
again
to
light

in the dark
tangle
of knotted
weeds

and swords
of grass,

sometimes in
synchrony,

but often
as chaos.

The perfect
flat disk
of a full moon

spilled

shadow

everywhere,

but
still
was

not enough

light
for
this
moment,

this

time.

The stars
took
pity and
in their
infinite
wisdom

soaked
the land
with seeking
pulses,

lights

reaching
out to find
others
with which
to join

—as bee
finds flower;

light singing
as land
no doubt
remembering

once
upon a time
of freedom,

but bearing
scars
too long
unacknowledged.

Something
beckoned me
closer

to listen
as I’ve

now
and again

have
noticed

truth
reveals itself

most
deeply
in the
most

disquieting
of ways,

as when
up

becomes
down.

Each
pull of discomfort

is a sundial
pointed
true north

telling
us

the time,
to heal,

is now long
past midnight.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

 

A Good Friday

by Laura Parker Roerden

I wrote a poem:
it isn’t much.

It’s small
like a bird,

but it has hands
that reluctantly

open, palms up
to receive

shadow from
starlight

where monsters
writhe and

transform
into angels

through ancient
story and song.

I put the poem
in a simple box
and buried it;

marked it
with a large
stone.

Time can
change
such a thing.

In frost
it heaved,

but still
settled
by summer

when longer
light

kissed it
greedily,

consumed
it, like food

for hope
until
it
was
no
longer
there,

but had become
a generous bed
for a seed

dropped
from the heavens,

watered by regret,

a stalk of evening
primrose,

like a bolt of light,

strong enough
to hold an oriole
or finch seeking

nourishment.

Don’t miss another post: including #FridayPoems and From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

 

All the Many Flowers

by Laura Parker Roerden

A flower is
not just
a flower.

It’s an invitation
to dance,

to fall into
a time
and a tempo
not of
your own

wherein lies
the meaning

of being
made of
soil and sun,

tapped
lightly

in place

by

fingers

of rain.

Don’t miss another post: including #FridayPoems and From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

A Lonely Walk

by Laura Parker Roerden

Image by Cornelia Gatz from Pixabay.

On a fine
companioned afternoon,
one never
has to notice

the stars shining
side by side
or a single blade of grass
hunched over others,

now safe
as if
the wind

had thrown its weight,
a thumb on a scale
tipped for mercy.

But in a stretch
when lonely
walks away with
the kitchen knife

bent on things

one can

only imagine

it takes a certain
courage to see
the fingers
of the trees

entwined with
cloud and sky;

the sun slipping
assuredly away

quietly, a final breath
held with all the colors

you’ve ever held,

even briefly,

in your soul,

tiny pearls knotted
on a string, worthy of
a wedding or even

a funeral.

If you dare to,
you might just,

—on a day like that—

remember how
much you held hope

in the eyes of others,
your hands

unclenching,

to an
open palm

and your heart
perched for
flight

like

a bird.

Don’t miss another post: including #FridayPoems and From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

 

 

The Open Door

by Laura Parker Roerden

There’s something

available to us
that sits beside hope,

like an open door.

Children know
about it.

You sometimes
see them walk towards it.

Often they carry it

and place it on our laps,
looking up at us with

eyes flung
wide open.

“Here,”
they seem

to offer.

“Take this.”

I’ve once or twice
grabbed for it;
but that never

has worked.

It has no interest
in your worth
or intention even.

It simply arrives
quiet as sunrise,
yet never as fleeting.

Like a window-less
sky it changes and
moves on unseen currents

with force,
grace and
ample forgivness

teaching us

that rain is no worse
than sunshine; and

simple stones
as valuable as jewels.

Don’t miss another post: including Friday Poems and From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

 

 

 

 

 

A Barred Owl

by Laura Parker Roerden

Several nights this week I have lain in bed
listening to the call and response of three barred owls
outlining each cardinal direction—save for the south—

which is oddly missing in the chorus, as if the baritones
had boarded a bus for Times Square for some dancing
and Christmas lights, while a deadly serious conversation

was happening between the sopranos, altos and tenors.
I do not know why they are calling with such urgency,
but something about it feels like a warning or lit with longing;

there is a sense that something of great value is slipping
away. Yet each evening, as the thick coat of darkness is applied
to the wide open sky, erasing shades of apricot and purple,

I too often rise in dream or prayer,

trying to unwind

the tangled mess

that is living
and seeking

safer shores.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the board of Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

 

The Ways of Water

by Laura Parker Roerden

As a child, we had a hand pump
over an artesian well
by a white, double-decker chicken barn.

It was the only water
for hundreds of birds
growing on that land.

The pump required
several hard thrusts
of the handle to raise the water

like spirit, to the surface.

Then each long,
resistance laden
pull of its arm brought up

a triumph of water;
a river

spilling
into a galvanized bucket

spraying
foam and mist
in confusing and thrilling planes

that felt like rafting on whitewater.

Everything in the dim eastern
light would turn
silver and metallic,
reflective and animated

like balls of mercury
jump around a bathroom floor
when you drop
a thermometer.

The pump had long ago
been painted dark green,
but it had weathered

with flecks of peeling paint
gathered on the creaky boards capping
the well below;

the patterns held my imagination
while I pumped
the water,

drawing in the cold
air, with each long pull.

“Learn the ways of water,”
I was told

one morning

and I listened,

plunging my hand into the icy
bucket, as if the winter air was finally
ready to explain itself to me,

as if the every day
need of water

carried a promise
I had not yet

understood.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.

 

Cold Poem

by Laura Parker Roerden

When life crowds you with the call of too many mean words,
words that line the very highway you are walking,

words that tumble along ghost town prairies as dangerous tumbleweeds gathering seeds, spreading like wildfire
and threatening to crowd out truth,

try to find the center of the pendulum,
though it swings out of control,
though it threatens to rip apart the fulcrum with every swing.

The center is not a place or ideology,
but the essence of the very moment
you are in, even as it weeps with the s
oft acknowledgement of wounds.

This morning, I turned on the spigot
of clean, cold water in the barn
to fill an empty bucket. The sound of purity spilled unbridled,

while I gave hay to the sheep first, then llamas, then goats. Navigating the barn, the sound sparkled like glass marbles,

clinking and

climbing

a ladder of notes,
higher,
then higher

still while the bucket filled. I stayed tethered
to the sound as if navigating a canyon,
or the head of a river, or womb.

I knew the pail was full when the sound
slightly muffled, so I dropped the hay
and ran to the valve, turning it

deftly and decidedly to off. And then I saw it:

a tiny field mouse,
floating dead on the surface.

It had been trapped in the empty bucket.
My carelessness had left it gasping
while I hummed to the music; the water

–poised to give life, as well as take it away–
the voice of the fulcrum itself.

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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.

A Coming Hurricane

by Laura Parker Roerden

I read today that a flock of seagulls was once trapped in the eye of a hurricane.
The birds had sought refuge in the false calm of fair skies, but didn’t realize they
now flew through a tunnel of destruction, all ways out blocked by certain devastation.

Birds that sense plummeting pressure from an oncoming storm either fly aloft
on waves of wind or hunker down, feet gripped onto lower branches or huddled
together in brush. They risk being blown off course and face the errant bolt

of lavender lightening from the differential of opposing forces sparking a fire.
The winds, which are now stirring, reveal the trees’ lonely bones as perches;
and harbors of strength among the lowest rungs; yet also invites us to rise.

No, hope is not a destination, but instead a way of entering into dialogue
with possibility like a leaf trembled and blown finds its way to the ground.

At Jo-Erl Farm

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.

 

A Small Poem

by Laura Parker Roerden

Small things sometimes call us home, like the two birds I saw
circling the hay field this morning on my way back from
farm chores. Their shrill vibrating whistle, a half warning, half invitation
stunned me awake from a deep dream—even though

I should have been sufficiently awake from an hour of shoveling
manure. Why would two seagulls have come so far inland? I wondered,
as I mentally calculate whether the recent hurricane
or an errant trash heap had thrown the birds off course.

Then I saw the unmistakable thick body and spiraling flight of
predators:  a grey morning sky backlit like a metallic robe
about to hit the ground in full favor of nakedness, no pretense.
The birds were not seagulls, but red-tailed hawks.

I hadn’t noticed that our free-range hens were already
scattered outside like balls on a pool table hit particularly well
by a skilled opening break. The roosters were on high alert and
had surrounded the hens, several of which were on a

chaotic sprint towards the low lying platform my father had built
as a roost, but we now used for a refuge and cover outside
for moments just like this, for times when hawks were double-
or triple-teaming the hens. The hawks have lost interest

in the hens, for now. But suddenly the hayfield has come alive,
shaking in the wind with vulnerability. A small toad or mole: now the sole subject
of the hawks’intention. I start to draw closer, but my boots on the newly paved road
are too loud. The trite intrusion draws my attention to a small rivulet of

water from last night’s rain along the side and I think just how insufficient
a surface asphalt is, as rain can no longer follow a true path to the sea
and how so often our way is bridled by obstacles of our own making. The sun,
still hidden beneath a grey cloud cover, shimmers as if stretched

across our skies in shredded ribbons. So I take off my
muck boots and wait, while the heavy strain against the birds’ wings
appears to hold them aloft and the hawks soar ever freer
in the stark fact that existence is connected to these moments.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.