Lament: bowed heads

(Collage, April 2020)

It started with a bit of whimsy
red rock earth where I first met desert,
animals and exquisite birds stopping by
with an ancient Mayan adding voice.

Burnt matches standing vigil,
matches that light my morning candle,
their presence stirring sadness in me
heads bowed…

a trail of tears over the ages,
lament for cut-up desecrated land,
a border wall 60 miles south,
this global pandemic,
people suffering.

We light candles to remember,
to not forget someone or something,
this virus burning through the world,
the ongoing suffering of nature without voice.
It is not just one thing.

Shucking peas on a July day…

Outside beyond our farmhouse front porch
under the shade of tall walnut trees
I hear the plunk of round green peas
falling into the Tupperware bowls on our laps
making their own percussion music
as our fingers rhythmically
pop the smooth green pods open
and discard the shells, whop, plop
my mother and I sit in lawn chairs
shucking the morning’s harvest of peas.

I can’t remember the specifics
of our talking, chatting,
a mix of conversation and silence
and oh yes my mother hummed
as I often do without knowing
oh so revealing if we had
some recorded snippets
from decades ago.

I imagine we talked
about common daily things
but it’s a stretch to remember.

The tone was peaceful and calm
with the sound of horse and buggy
rolling by, neighbors driving into town perhaps.

I wish she could have shared her wisdom
under this shade tree, just slipped it in
growing out of simplicity, pain, family,
but some words of hers were hidden away
like that white cotton handkerchief most
Mennonite women tuck in their bras
bringing out when needed
to wipe a sweaty brow
or comfort a crying child.

I listen between the lines
to hear her gentle wisdom
hearing it in the silences too.

Midnight wake-ups

I stumble to the front porch
slowly opening the heavy screen door
hoping to dampen the noise as it open
and settle onto the rattan loveseat in the cool dark quiet. 

I am enveloped in the huge space of quiet dark universe
with starlight and moonlight shining on the ground
the open desert landscape stretching out wildly
in what we call a front yard. 

In the distance the hoot of an owl
followed again by long silence stillness
broken later by the far piercing cry of a coyote
to the south, a minute later another one joins in
and I listen to that mesmerizing chorus
then all is quiet again, this stillness,
and I hear the call of the owl.


I sat today with an older woman
age 85 recounting her sadnesses
her head leaning forward
shoulders heavy
barely any pauses
in her litany.

As our hour goes on
I ask if she’d like some conversation
“yes but first I need to tell you more…”
perhaps that’s what is needed,
to speak, to be heard
and so I listen.

As the hour is ending my mind wanders
glimpsing a memory of my friend Norie
crawling under the table in the hospital
to hold our friend’s feet during a time of darkness
the needed medicine for that day and other days
I wonder… and ask the woman if I may touch her feet.
She is startled and says yes.

I drop to the floor and place a hand around each ankle
holding her feet silently, my head bowed.
She goes silent and then I hear her sob
“no one has touched me for years”
we hold this silent pause.

The hour is over.

Pamela Dintaman, 2017
Reverie… paying attention to what pops up, mind wandering,
an important part of the process of listening.
Credit to August Cwik’s workshop Nov 2019 for this understanding of reverie…
Sometimes we are diverted to or distracted by something else during a session,
but we can realize it IS connected to the conversation.
Images, thoughts, feelings, books, myths, flotsam and jetsam–
that pop up can be the compass to the work
and the things we sometimes ignore in ourselves,
in a conversation, in a therapy session.
It is actually when we get into theory
that we are farthest away from experiencing,
it is a form of distancing–rather than
entering into that space of healing.
“Let the imagination be the eyes of the heart.”