Gratitude

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It’s easy to forget how privileged we are in the United States and especially in southern Louisiana. Unless you enjoy living off the grid and that is your privilege as well, then you don’t have to travel past your nearest indoor faucet for water.  You can have a back yard garden for vegetables and herbs and raise your own livestock for meat if you so choose. My parents lived in the marshes of lower Bayou Lafourche. They grew vegetables and fruit trees, fished, trawled and trapped for most of their food. The grocery store was 20 miles away and there they bought dairy, spices, seasonings, hardware, clothing and cleaning supplies. Of course, they had modern conveniences like cars, a television, washer and dryer and even a dishwasher. They once talked about getting some chickens but realized that the wildlife and insects would make life for chickens intolerable and they wouldn’t know what to do with them if a hurricane came.  My life in Lafayette isn’t so rustic but I enjoy the abundance of good food, good friends and great entertainment. Acadiana is rich in cultural diversity and the arts.  Now, just because I have an almost idyllic life here doesn’t mean I can’t see the suffering of others. It is true that we have room to grow and become better at many social issues. The disparagement between the poor and the wealthy is our most pressing challenge, in my opinion. Education, health care, job opportunities paying a living wage could be available for every citizen. When my parents went to the two-room school in Cut Off, Louisiana in the 30’s they studied the three R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic. My father went all the way to the eighth grade, my mother only to the fourth. While that schooling was free, they couldn’t continue with a formal education because they were both needed to help provide for their large families. Even if we find a way to equalize salaries and benefits, and fix the tax code, we would still be faced with a drug addiction epidemic and a mental health crisis. In the 30’s and 40’s drug cartels weren’t yet invading our cadie. Mental illness was part of  the social challenges then. Never spoken about, the mentally ill were sent to live in sanatariums. We’ve come a long way in the treatment of mental illness but the stigma still lingers that alienates the sufferers from society. Because this illness is misunderstood and misrepresented, we have a long way to go to provide proper mental healthcare. When I contemplate the beauty and abundance of my homeland and country, I see infinite potentiality. We will conquer these challenges if we contribute to collective, collaborative, and creative solutions. The personal challenge is to be grateful for life in all its juicy fecundity and apply all my features (that never were bugs) my life skills can offer. I practice by listing all that I am thankful for and remembering all the opportunities I have been given to thrive. I begin with my grandparents.

…an excerpt from “Cutting the Clouds”

First and Always

Thank you maternal grandmother for birthing the daughter who would become my precious mother, who at the time of her birth carried the egg that was the potential of me.

Thank you paternal grandmother for birthing the son who would donate his sperm to the cause making that potential a reality and for contributing to the loving father he became.

Thank you mother for my life, for nurturing me and challenging me to be more than I thought I could be. Thank you father for the lessons of humility and self worth. Thank you both for my sister and for her beauty and brilliance that helped me to shine in my own way and for my brother whose gentle wisdom taught me the importance of kindness. Thank you for the sister I never knew who taught me about the power to heal. By her life and by her death, I learned perseverance. Thank you sister for my beautiful niece, today a friend and scholar, who gifted us all with the next generation: that brilliantly clear, redheaded baby boy. Thank you family for all the times you challenged and encouraged me. Thank you ancestors, unknown and uncounted. The wisdom you came to in your lifetimes is surely part of my soul’s journey now.

Thank you, all you angels, both human and otherwise, who scolded me when I needed scolding, who taught me when I needed teaching, who lifted me up when I needed to be held, who nudged me along toward greater integrity.

Thank you my husband, heart of my heart, for your loving that surpasses understanding. Thank you my two sons for your continuing love and support and for crediting me on occasion for gifting you with life and lessons that you cherish. Thank you for the daughters I never had by choosing such exquisite wives.

Thank you Jade and James for generously sharing with me the newest addition to the community of heroines, awakening in me my Garden of Eden. While you are not children of my womb, you are without a doubt children of my heart.

Thank you friends who walk beside me helping me to contain so much love. I trust you know who you are.

Thanks to all of you who have allowed me to be a part of your healing and for those who sought me as their mentor. I have been honored and blessed by your trust in me.

Thank you Great and Wondrous Spirit for gifting me with so much love and support. Your gentleness is awe-inspiring and sometimes overwhelming.

© 2017 Bessie Adams Senette

 

Change

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

 Change

The earth is stretching out of her shell,

Cracking open to let the light in,

Wielding fire and oceans of suffering

Held deep below tectonic plates,

Gathering all our transgressions into

One projectile aimed at heaven.

 

When its fire falls back to crackling skin

Brandishing a mighty cleansing sword,

Will we run in fear or welcome its destruction?

 

The wings come first into the breech.

She will fly but who or what will steer the flight,

A dark angel? Or a saint?

Who will be the architects of a new design,

And who will be the builders,

Dreamers? Or survivalists?

 

For thousands upon thousands

We have destroyed and rebuilt

Never before or even now

Understanding

How much is lost or

What could be gained.

 

© 2017 Bessie Adams Senette

 

 

 

One

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“We dodged a bullet,” someone said. Is that even possible? Hearts connect and suffering is universal. Escape is illusory. Even if we numb ourselves; avoid the horrific television images, even that is deceptive. Our coastal homes have been ravaged once again and the recovery will be long and grueling. Pray, yes. Help where you can, yes. But remember there is no safety and we are all in this together. We cannot separate ourselves from the suffering of others unless we forget that we are all made from the same spirit. And even if we forget, the spirit that moves through us all never will.

Tangible

The sirens have surfaced again from deep waters.

They don’t care about our beauty or our sex.

They want our firstborn and our ancient ones.

Death is all they crave.

They steal our memories for fuel.

There is no safe place to hide.

Waiting until the cruel waters subside,

 

When calmer winds

Return their hideous screeching,

Disguised as seductive longing,

To the ocean depths

Joining new souls to

Those through centuries of kidnapping are

Stirred to the surface once again.

 

We remember and then forget.

So fragile is life

So tangible is death.

 

© 2017 Bessie Adams Senette

Inside My Shell

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Baby on the Beach by L. Clarkson Circa 1870

#1

Inside my shell I am still a little girl

Hiding from the boogeyman

Hoping the sound of the sea doesn’t wake him.

 

Today—the shell against my ear

There is no sound

The sea isn’t singing

Its swishing song.

 

Another song fills the well

Familiar and haunting

From the center of the spiral

A low, rumbling, wail.

 

Still a little girl

Afraid of the boogeyman

Hoping the sea

Won’t wake her.

 

#2

The shell I choose

Could be the nautilus

I spiral down into its center

Revealing only a tiny sliver of me or maybe

Shut tight as a clam

Filtering the brine of you

Are you real?

Are you safe?

Perhaps, opened wide

As Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”

Revealing the pearl within

It all depends on you.

 

#3

Holding a bright pink, plastic bucket,

She skips along the water’s edge

Looking for seashells,

Finding dead fish and crabs

Baking in the summer sun.

She stares at their death

As though she understands

The sands’ murderous burning.

 

This beach was littered with seashells once

Sand dollars half buried

Could be lifted whole

Before the Grand Isle shore

Was littered with oil derricks

And foreign fishermen.

 

Now the beautiful shells are gone

Replaced by dead fish and tar balls

She still skips along

Empty, bright pink, bucket and all.

© 2017 Bessie Adams Senette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby on the Beach by

  1. Clarkson Circa 1870

 

Chosen

lc_featureThe poet chooses nothing. We live in the spotlight of no one. We exists to weave words into consciousness. We were born with the capacity to stand on the head of a pin believing that the brisk winds of change will only help to grow our wings when we fall. Whether we crash into the cauldron of darkness or soar to newer heights is not our concern. Words choose us not the other way around. Today I choose wings lifting me to the higher consciousness of common human decency but, if I fall instead into the dark void, I trust that I will still find inspiration to guide me back to my longing for love.

For Leonard Cohen

“You want it darker

We kill the flame”

The knight of darkness

Has left his castle

To return to his king

On the battlefield

Where words, bleeding

Pleading, send us all into the abyss.

Leaving behind his pen and paper

He sketches a new image

of himself as his wings catch

The morning sun.

All he had to give, he gave —

Nothing more, nothing less.

Do not wear your mourning clothes

You wordsmiths.

Take up his pen and paper

And carry on.

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette

 

Changing and Unchanging

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“The people in town talk about the unseasonable weather as if they and only they can.”* As if the world of humanity hasn’t been pillaging and polluting their cadie for centuries. Planet earth groans with the weight of our species. Cracking open treacherous, rain-filled vortices, spewing toxic gases from the underworld as though begging for our attention. The tears of Gaia overflowing riverbanks, melting glaciers raising water levels to destructive depths, all the while we wade deeper into denial.

When hurricanes devastate our neighborhoods we pay attention for a little while then soon fall asleep while others around the globe awaken to their own disasters.

Are any disasters truly natural ones or do we contribute to them all? What cataclysm will it take to awaken us all to authentic empathy for our precious earthly home, its people, its creatures? History does not bear witness to the probability of that awakening but perhaps future avatars will prevail. My hope rest in them.

*Debra Bailey- writing prompt 10-5-16

Mothers Pray, What Else Can They Do?

The color green

Forms a core of strength in cruciform

At the bridge of her nose

She holds her infant

Gently in the crux of her arm

Swaddled there sleeping

 

Praying for a boy child

Born into a world of hate

Troubled

She reaches for heaven’s gate

 

Calling down

Ancestors, angels, and grace

To remember him now in this

Space of peaceful bliss

 

To walk with him

When what it means to be him

Awakens to what others think he is

 

Swirling violet ribbons into her love prayer

As they answer her desperate call

The ancients, spectral wisp,

Gather around, above and below

Dispelling doubt and tantalizing hope

 

She knows to teach him how to stand

Means watching him fall

Watching him break

Watching him forget

 

This moment

“This placement in faith.”

after Dennis Paul Williams’ “Placement in Faith” from “The Road to Indigo”

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette