First of all, I'm not a poet. I haven't fancied myself one since my sophomore year at Morehead State when I realized I needed more words on a page to convey the thoughts in my head than poetry allowed. From that time on, if I wrote a poem, I have mostly hoarded them away for myself to pass on to my daughters someday. I want them to have little bits of their mama's heart. I never share them with others. However, last week I had an amazing experience with fellow writers at the Appalachian Writers' Workshop in Hindman, Kentucky. I was so inspired, encouraged, and supported during the week that I used a whole ink pen worth of ink and worked up a raw spot on my finger. I am convicted to live the writer's life once again. My heart was filled to the brim, and I'd like to share a poem I wrote during the week, just because. (Ether in this poem refers to a fifth element not the chemical anesthetic.) Following the poem are some pictures from my week.
When Once Alive
Awake. Feel alive.
Remembered that being human is dynamic
with the reading of your words
the sound of your breath
Touch of your lips in a single moment forcefully rousing and sweet.
A mnemonic for the essence of my spirit.
Rush over the rock - the fall
just behind catch the mist
under and inside brings you to your knees.
Wind bending trees
scattering vultures across the sky like scraps of paper.
Miles become real distance
All the hurry forward and beyond creates a pull back.
Sleep. Sleep is familiar.
Known as skin on the back of hands.
Smell damp earth.
Take it up and in.
Make it part of every cell.
Scent my skin.
The decay of past moments bring a new life.
Grow. Let grow.
Ground dampen my ground.
Journeying and alive.
Fighting sleep with every breath in
Raging through lead.
Refine get gold.
Fire in the eyes.
Fire in the belly.
Sparks can ignite earth destined dry leaves.
With the remaining flicker comes
I have to stay awake.
Overdone. Over matched.
I want to be drawn up into the ether
like the crow lifts to the sky.
The ether will allow sleep
where awareness becomes arbitrary.
Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, weightlifter, yoga and movement instructor, chakra reader, and Reiki practitioner.