Sunday Things: Happy Easter 2013!

I was taught from a young age, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, that the symbols and practices that are specific to Easter are of pagan origin. This was presented as a bad thing reeking of false gods and satanic influence: sinister bunnies furred in demonic profligacy hopping down the broad and spacious road to destruction, eggs, symbols of reproduction, colorfully displaying unbridled concupiscence wrapped up in their delicate shells, the name Easter a sly wink of Anglicization performed upon the name of the Babylonian goddess of love and pleasure/reproduction and sex, Ishtar.

It’s true. These symbols and the very name Easter do have pagan origins. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. And of course there is always scholarly debate

But what I have come to understand is that pagan symbols are an ancient well that we go to, bucket in hand and that the water is not tainted, not poisonous, but sweet. There are beautiful acknowledgments of the sacredness of life and of the beauty of rebirth in those (now candy hued) eggs and in those bunnies (with fluffy tails). Now when someone asks me, “Did you know that the symbols associated with Easter are pagan in origin?” I say, “Yes! Isn’t that a beautiful tribute to the beliefs of those who came before us?” It is an homage to the themes that connect us all: the cycle of life and death/rebirth and decay with, in this case, the emphasis on renaissance, revival, and resurrection.

And also, I really like bunny ears

Like a Thief In the Night Or Like a Second Coming

By Annette Marie Hyder

Love has sly feet
and sticky fingers
has wings
and sometimes uses them
is a chameleon
a charmer
a fatal disarmer
with ropes of pearls
to scale the highest walls
and a burglar’s toolkit to die for.

Love can come trumpeted on a cloud
or in the shadow of a secret smile.
Love might be wearing silks that flow like water
and satins that sing like nightingales
or a monk’s brown robes might cloak Love’s form,
sash-tied with steely gray.
Like a prick of the spindle or on Icarus wings —
Love swoons and pounces
laughs and cries
metamorphosizes like a butterfly.

Love is all these things
and love is more
but love is not just for a chosen few,
not only for me and not only for you.
Love is not the privilege of any one group
nor its exclusive purview.
Love belongs to everyone.
Please help support equal marital rights for all.
Thank you.

Be a part of history

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments TODAY on Prop. 8 and tomorrow on DOMA.

We need as many Americans as possible to show their support for equality.

Sign HRC’s Majority Opinion petition and help make these discriminatory laws history.

The beauty of old women

Image courtesy of One Million Vaginas

The Beauty of Old Women
By Annette Marie Hyder

Her hair is white gold
beaten and refined —
it, like she, has been beaten with years
limned with laughter and refined with tears.
Her skin is a marvel of fragile paper
with all the words of her life so far
writ in whispers
light as butterflies
but strong enough
to carry the river’s stones
loud enough, if you can ken,
to shake you to your bones.

Happy first day of spring 2013!

It’s the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and Minnesota welcomed it this morning with 7 °F and blankets of snow on the ground. However, it is a scintillating sunshiny day!

flower beds
By Annette Marie Hyder

sunshine, like buttercups and daffodils,
riffles in the cold breeze atop the beds of snow.

Snowball trees, glory trees, and hat-and-bag trees

Things you may not know about some of the indigenous trees of Minnesota

It occurs to me that if you don’t live here in Minnesota you might not be aware of some of the trees that are unique to this part of the world. Here are a few indigenous varieties that you may never have heard of:

Snowball Trees

You don’t have to shape snowballs by hand here in Minnesota. They grow on the snowball trees already formed and ready to throw. These snowball trees are home to a protected population of baseball-bat-tailed squirrels which knock the balls from the trees as they scamper up and down them throughout the winter months. This makes protective winter headgear an even more serious consideration for Minnesotans that live near and/or around snowball trees (not to mention the mischief that people themselves find it easy to engage in when in a forest of these).

Glory Trees

On mornings when the sun seems slow to rise, it is because the glory trees have been preemptively absorbing the shine and using it to adorn themselves with. These trees grow where there are city lights nearby for them to feel competitive with. You will often see them vying directly with neon lights, sodium vapor lamps and photovoltaic-powered LED luminaires.

Hat-and-bag Trees

These trees are found growing wild in places where fashion has found a home. Once a hat-and-bag tree is established it quickly takes over the thoughts and feelings of the arboriculturist lucky enough to have this tree in their care. The blossoms on this tree proliferate riotously. It is closely related to the better known shoe tree.

Come Spring

By Annette Marie Hyder

The air is filled with tiny white umbrellas
spinning as they fall
and interspersed between them
are raindrops cold and shaped like tears.
They coat the tips of trees in chrysalides
beneath the falling snow.
Such glass cocoons will bud with leaves
which unfurl their wings like butterflies
to flutter in the breeze,
come spring.

Sunday Things: Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2013!

St. Paddy’s Day Snow
By Annette Marie Hyder
(while it was still dark and shy snowflakes kissed my window)

The snowflakes grow thick
on the sky’s dark hillsides
look like white shamrocks tumbling
on the banshee wind.

There’s good luck to be caught
with every ice clover
that brushes your cheek
and there’s this:

if you press those shamrocks
betwixt your and your true love’s lips
it’s just as good if not better
than giving the Blarney a kiss.

You want more of my St. Patrick’s day poetry? Well, OK. And top of the mornin’ to ya!
Reel, 2012
Irish, 2011
At the end of the rainbow, 2011 (This one’s not really a St. Patrick’s Day poem but the tone of it suits.)

One last thing

The Book of Kells is now free to view online! Here is a direct link to Trinity College Dublin’s digital collection wherein may be viewed the famous Book of Kells: DRIS Trinity College Library Dublin

Persephone Sleeping

By Annette Marie Hyder

Persephone sleeps.
It is that time of year when she is as much in limbo
as the frozen trees and lakes and silenced katydids.
She has dropped her scepter mid-flourish and swooned
to cushions made ready for her annual foray
into the long corridor that is a dream
that connects winter to the spring.

Her pomegranate lipstick
(a personal choice to flaunt and celebrate her scars)
curves along her lips in a soft smile
(ah pomegranate, whose tiny seeds were sown like dragon’s teeth
with, not warriors, but the whirlwind  for her to reap).
Her lids are curtains drawn to shield the dream
of spring that all the flowers dream concomitantly too.

Her heavy lashes, an equal mix of wool and silk, are tie-down sashes
that hold her eyelids to her cheeks.
She is left to use her pale hands to trail along the narrow walls
which are bas-reliefed with roots and painted drear.
She walks up the long corridor, a greater Eurydice but blind,
gaining substance as she goes, ghosting from one realm to this other.

Her yearly reemergence is, and perhaps I am the first to tell you this,
a long sleepwalk out of hell, a lucid dream as well
one in which she knows she will awaken
on a bed of flowers beneath open skies
that draw her gaze to trace infinity.

She knows she has not left her other self behind.
She cannot. She carries the seeds of death sewn cunningly
in her hair. Braided with maypole ribbons and set to take flight
into the air — on the first zephyr breeze that comes along.
But those seeds also have within them every brief splash and splurge of color
every petal yet unfurled. Such is the weight of life and death she carries in her curls
as she lies sleeping, chthonic/kore Persephone.