“I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.” A Life Immersed in Poetry: Myra Schneider, Celebrating Over 50 Years as Poet and Writer
What a delight today to bring you four of Myra Schneider’s poems from her tenth collection, Lifting the Sky. I believe I’ve read nearly all of Myra’s collections. I’ve reviewed a number of them. I am never disappointed. She soothes and inspires with layers of color and texture and keen and compassionate observations of nature, people and the human condition. I’ve also read and reviewed Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Material (written with John Killick) and Writing My Way Through Cancer. These too I would recommend without reservation. Yes! I am an enthusiastic fan.
You can visit Myra HERE and you can purchase her books directly from her. Myra’s Amazon U.S. Page HERE. Myra’s Amazon U.K. Page HERE. Some of Myra’s books are also available through Anne Stewart’s poetry p f, another recommendation, by the way. Lifting the Sky is available on Kindle.
THE TUBULAR BELLS
were a surprise. At first I thought
they were icicles in a frozen waterfall
but they seemed to be fluid as honey
dropping from a comb. Then I noticed
the kitchen table and washing machine
were edgeless, melting away
and I wondered if they’d been magicked
by the instrument, its gold that was so unlike
the sleekness of a Pharaoh’s death mask,
the solidity of Cellini’s over-elaborate
salt cellar or the jewel-studded crown
worn by Holy Roman Emperors –
such symbols of pomp, self-importance.
The bells summoned buttercups, lilies,
their stamens tipped with orange powder,
the different ochres of fallen leaves
For moments I believed they were healing
the wounded world but they disappeared.
Hopeless, I stood by the January window
until I saw dusk was rivering the sky
with saffron and lemon, took heart.
– Myra Schneider
lift my hooves for gallop,
rise as my white wings open.
Wind rushes into my pricked ears.
Excitement whinnies from my mouth,
ripples through my flanks, drives me
towards a place that’s always cloudless.
Below me are snow-spattered peaks,
valleys where rivers wander, where trees
are laden with oranges, small suns
which pay homage to the sphere above.
Below me are huge cities with domes,
spires and innumerable buildings,
the tallest invade the blue of sky.
I miss nothing: the glassy stare
of cars stampeding like maddened cattle,
humans fleeing from burning towns,
forests felled like mighty armies,
the sea hurling itself in fury
at the land, barren fields thirsting
for water, skeletons of starved creatures.
I choose a verdant slope when I land,
hoof its milky grass and a spring
bubbles up from earth that’s rich
with squirming worms. Then I rejoice
for I am the breath in and the breath out,
I am the quickening which comes unbidden
to the mind, blossoms into words
that tug the heart, I am sounds which bell
the air and enthral the ear, shapes
and colours which come together
to sing. I counter hatred, destruction.
I will not be stamped out.
– Myra Schneider
multiple in shape and mood, I can’t resist you
as slip of an eel with tips longing to touch
and kiss, as a silent circle of self queening
the measureless iris-blue that’s only
an optical illusion, as an orange sun hung
low in the sky to herald cornucopia,
as Salome in swirling veils, a saviour who throws
light on dangerous passageways. Oh moon,
ferrier of calm to those enduring pain
in tousled beds, lean over the homeless
lying in sweaty tents, search out the terrified
who’ve fled to the mountains where they ward off
cold at night by huddling in crevices to sleep,
bring them your silvergold bracelets of hope.
– Myra Schneider
LIFTING THE SKY
Plant yourself in the quiet on a familiar floor
or on an uncut summer lawn
and, thinking of seabirds, stretch out your arms,
let them ascend through the unresisting air.
With palms facing upwards, travel your hands
till your fingertips almost meet,
then release your breath, begin to separate yourself
from the weight of all that lies on you.
Allow your mind to open to this moment and your arms
to rise as they lift the palpable blue
high above the crown of your head.
Your wings will fold away
but raise them slowly to the blue again, maybe
a lightness like liquid amber will flow through you.
– Myra Schneider
Lifting the Sky: an exercise in qigong the Chinese practice of breathing, movement and meditation.