Sharing the Journey, Week 13

Slow with EVERYTHING this week, including late with this post…but continuing in the right direction. I’ve been able to start taking a few small steps with the injured foot this week, for which I’m deeply grateful. It’s still much too shape-distorted and twisted to put into a proper shoe, but even to be able to put it on the floor and have it hold a little weight is something to be deeply grateful for at the moment after a week off of it completely.

I’d mentioned an upcoming two-part issue of very short poems (less than 30 words) at Right Hand Pointing. Here’s the link to the first part of RHP 121 — part II will be available mid-April. Don’t miss these amazing short poems!

At the end of last year, film-maker Marie Craven used my poem “Peace Prayer” as the basis for an exquisite poetry-film. It’s always an honor and a treat to collaborate with Marie, and to see my poems from a different perspective through her lens…she brings them to life in ways that surprise and delight. This week she posted some process notes for three recent films, as well as other recent activities. The post includes “Peace Prayer” along with two other films. Enjoy!

This week, I also received a copy of Until We Are Level Again, the latest collection from poet, editor, educator, and friend José Angel Araguz. For years I’ve read and re-read his poem “Gloves” which appears as the first poem in this collection. And I’ve wanted for years to somehow respond to this poem with a poem. When the book arrived, which was during my rather unscheduled holiday sitting on the sofa this week, I spent a long time staring at the cover (painting by artist Ani Schreiber), then turned to the first poem in the collection, and read “Gloves” again. Then I fell asleep, and dreamed I finally entered the poem in a new way, and from there traveled through many other poems of José’s that I have read, and when I woke up, I tried to chronicle that journey. You can read “Gloves” online here: And here is what I put to paper after dreaming through the poem. The first word in each line of the following piece, and the lines that are capitalized at the end, come from the first four lines of “Gloves”…

Variation on the Theme of “Gloves”

for, and with lines from, “Gloves” by Jose Angel Araguz
I wanted to leave my body temporarily, so I
MADE a prayer for my skin to unzip, let me climb
UP out of it, as if following a rope up out of
A cave, then walked slowly backward through the
STORY you have told me in your poems. I went to see
FOR myself the statue of Selena, to a back room to inhale, for
MYSELF, the fragrance in a coat, to stand at a window
ONCE myself on Clifton Avenue in Cincinnati,

THAT I might continue the wordless letters sent,
EACH place from your poems, I gathered textures, sought a
GLOVE you wore and left behind you there.
I gathered each of these, carefully, in the order they were
LOST or were outgrown and left behind. I

WAS long in doing this. When I’d gathered all I could, I was
SENT back to my body, climbed back down inside, in-
TO a room within me, cleared it completely, emptied the cave in
MY rib cage, made space to assemble packages for your
FATHER. Each of these offerings once protected your hands
IN whatever place you were in. Each place was its own kind of
PRISON. I ache for him to see how you’ve been working free.

– Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 29-March-2018

One other poem drafted this week, a gift for a friend who is an aspiring poet who asked for a poem for his birthday, and mentioned poetry is an area of struggle for him. This is what came as a response and offering:

Gift for a younger brother, Mahmoud Abubakar, on his birthday.
Difficulties. What do they
mean? When you say:
I have difficulties
with poetry. When I say:
I have difficulties
with walking. What do
we mean? Is difficulty
not another way
of naming, another
way of saying we
are experiencing
longing? Younger
brother, as you enter
this new year of life,
take a moment, sit
here with me, let us hear
a story, kasa kunne.
When our mothers
carried us in their
bellies, think you their
feet did not swell
with bearing our weight?
Think you their backs
did not ache? And most
surely, when they bore
us into breathing air,
did not our bodies
fight them, even when
we were too small to
know it, did not we
tear them open,
pain them in the many
hours of their labour,
leave them weak
and bleeding? And
from then, our own
stories begin. Do you
remember the first
moment ever when
you were an infant,
helpless, hungry,
crying out without
words about the aching
gnawing in your
belly? Me, I don’t
remember my own
first such difficulties,
but am sure the both
of us were screaming
when we were hungry.
And what about
the first time ever
trying walking? Do
you remember how
far away the ground
seemed when you
first tried to stand?
Or how hard it was
when you fell back
down and bit your
lip and skinned
your knee to bleeding?
Me neither, but I
assure you, younger
brother…you and also
me, we experienced
such difficulties.
We are human.
By definition, these
things happen. But
when you see an
infant taking steps,
struggling and falling,
do you ever think:
Look at that one!
She’s so clumsy! He
will sure be crawling
in the dirt well into
his twenties! She will
never learn to walk
properly or gracefully!
He will never manage
to keep from falling
to his knees! No?
But why not? Why
do we not so judge
the babies when
we see them in such
distress, so clumsy,
screaming, frustrated
by their difficulties?
Is it not because
we trust the living
process? Do we not
automatically expect,
in their case, grace?
That they will, in time,
be growing, will learn
to stand, will learn
to balance, even
the miracle of walking,
running, dancing?
And do we not trust
also that their screams
of longing will grow
less frequent as they
learn to speak? That
they will find the ways
with words they need
to express their
difficulties? So you,
your difficulties you
have with poetry,
at your age, and on
today, your birthday.
And me, the difficulties
I am having again
with walking and falling
as I am approaching
fifty years of living…
you and me, have we
not each lived long
enough, and seen
enough of grace
to at least begin
to trust the process,
trust the One who
“knows what is hidden
in time past and time
future”…does that One
not say “you will
climb from stage
to stage”? Difficulty,
my friend, is merely
this: our longing
for things to happen
on our own schedules,
in time with our own
impatience. We have
had a glimpse
of something greater.
But remember: already
the One has promised
to assist us. Already
the One is running
towards us.
Amin thuma amin.
-Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 29-March-2018

Stay blessed!

P.S. Thank all of you who’ve reached out this past week and a half with warm thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement. I am grateful for your kindness.


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