Going Willingly: Poets offer permission

Permission Slips 2

This is the place where I write alone for an hour.
This is the place where the creaking floor quiets and I let go of needing to do or make or plan or arrange.
This is the place where I recall this:

“Please help me remember
that what I make
can be of use
and that the time I spend creating my work
is as precious as the time I spend
giving to others.”

~Jan Phillips

Whatever the case of this day, whatever transpires, this time of writing will be more useful to me than any preparations I can lay out now. This time will be every bit more laced with pleasure if I take in the music of the goldfinches and the parading clouds over the ridge and recollect that Janet is sending her first girl off to college.

“…she is going willingly. I send her willingly.” says Alicia Ostriker here.

I am in the stew of days with family and friends, in the stew of the many manys that stay in my mind as I float on in a green river and dive in to clouds, balance potato shaped rocks in the falls and let the water erase all my barnacled concerns about this child or that day or that school supply list or this proposal and just let the river carry me. I let my thighs release again and again and my shoulders spread in the water. A brown dragonfly, large, it looks like it would tip over one of my cairns if it graced one with its weight, this large dragonfly hovers over me as I slowly turn in the water. The ridge of my thumbs bones, the top of my collarbones and the tips of my toes are all that stay above water as I float. The orb of my face rises and falls with my breath as do my breasts, which my husband believes, are why I float so well. Buoys.

My breasts have been buoys for a boy and a girl and every kid I have nestled.

But they don’t make me able to float like this, so easy, listening to my breath, watching that dragonfly circle above me. I floated like this long before my breasts filled my double D cups. This past summer in a pond, a set of copulating dragonflies landed on my middle finger, an oasis of pink skin in the clear water. Then they skated over to my right eyebrow and carried on their romance. I was as still as I could hold myself in the currentless pond, suspended under a hot July sky. They needed a respite and all that was not submerged provided.

What kind of oasis am I to my growing children who no longer consider my breasts a place to return to? What kind of woman floats in a river, letting insects land on her high parts, considering her future in the grand scheme of things, the only sound her breath and flight of goldfinches?

I am not sure.
But I am going willingly in to this future, rinsed free by the river and letting myself be shelter to whoever arrives.

This is the place in time where I pause before tomorrow, 9-08-14. This is the place where I more than pause, but I come to a halt and look around. The clouds are ponying across the sky, creating caps for the Copper Beech up on the ridge, that I keep company with every morning early. The pears left by the red squirrels are ripening from bitter rock hardness in to something delicious. I can hear my husband fooling around with bicycles in the driveway. I can hear my guests rousing to find almond croissant and tea for themselves. I hear cars beginning to pass on the street. I can hear someone’s wind chimes needing to be quieted. The crickets are singing. A runner in lavender shorts lopes by with her ponytail airborne.


Spruce Lake Dragonfly by Suzi Banks Baum

This is the place where I say, tomorrow is my birthday and dragonflies just happen to be carrying this news that halting, however briefly, will give me a moment, no matter what the situation, to breath, deeper to deeply. Ceasing the steady pull, like those relentless wind chimes, to make noise, make a difference, have an impact, steer the ship, these are the that impulses clutter my day. As it has all summer, Louise Erdrich’s poem, Advice to Myself, calls me to action.

Leave the dishes…..let them be done by someone else, or at least do them later, when the time comes to wash your hands. Double the fun.

Don’t patch the cup….let all those broken parts go, don’t try to hold on to every single moment because the sheer volume will make savoring them impossible. And all of those broken cups become material for Karen’s shard mosaics.

Don’t read anything except what destroys the insulation between yourself and your experience….I read poems and prayers in the morning, I read parts of many books that scour me clean and set me on my path. I don’t read a lot of other stuff like magazines and noisy emails, at least early in the day when my own first thoughts take shape like those cloud ponies. May this post serve to destroy that insulation that silences your fullest self….may it destroy those many manys that keep you from saying yes to whatever it is that calls you. For me, that means endless emails and free newspapers selling used mattresses and magazines that advertise lifestyles that I will never accomplish.



Permissions Slips 5

Today, on this day before my birthday, I will leave the dishes and write here. I will toss the broken pieces in to a paper sack to deliver to Karen. And I will surrender this habit of too much input.

There is nothing between me and the dragonfly on my eyebrow. There is nothing between the soft gaze of my daughter in early morning making her day known to me. There is nothing between these words and my heart except the time it takes to type. There is nothing between me and my blessings sent to you.

Leave the dishes.

Love what lands.

Happy day before my birthday.





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Showing 10 comments
  • Terri Bocklund

    Gosh you do gorgeous things with words. You are like, like, um, WORD CHEESECAKE.

  • Terri Bocklund

    And happy day before your birthday too.

  • Stephanee Howell

    Oh how I needed this today….Happy Happy You Day & Harvest Supermoon….Tender Knowings…..

  • Joelle

    Happy day heaven on earth

  • Tania Pryputniewicz

    Beautiful Suzi, love the graphics, the message, and most of all you, the writer and mother and artist moving through time, sharing your words and heart with us. Happy (day before) Birthday!!!!!!! Blessed to be part of the witness ring!

  • CindyRicksgers

    Happy day before your birthday! Thank you for these wonderful, necessary thoughts…this made my day!

  • Elizabeth Aquino

    I’ve read this post several times over the last few days, Suzi. I just love it. Despite the differences in our life “situations,” I found much solace and wise reminder in it. So, thank you!

  • pippa @storyofmum

    Beautiful words, beautiful woman xx

  • ValPas

    Happy Birthday, Suzi Banks Baum! Sorry we didn’t make contact yesterday, but there will be other days, some year.

  • jennifergandinle

    It was the day before your birthday, yet you gave us this gift.
    I am so thankful that your delicious double Ds grace this earth in this moment, and every other piece of you, too.
    Happy happy birthday, glorious one.