About Angels and About Trees


Where do angels fly in the firmament,

and how many can dance on the head of a pin?

Well, I don’t care about that pin dance,

what I know is that they rest, sometimes,

in the tops of the trees

and you can see them, or almost see them,

or, anyway, think: what a wonderful idea.

I have lost as you and others have possibly lost a

beloved one, and wonder, where are they now?

The trees, anyway, are miraculous, full of

angels (ideas); even empty they are a

good place to look, to put the heart at rest—all those

leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly ready to be

the resting place of strange, winged creatures

that we, in this world, have loved.

Mary Oliver. From Evidence: Poems, Beacon Press.

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

– Ellen Bass

In Memory of Kathryn Hardy

“A really nice Woman lives at the end of your street

Her name is Kathryn

You should meet her”

She will look you in the eyesSmile and say

Welcome, come into my house

I will be your friend

She will serve you tea and biscuits

She will engage you

She will ask you what you have read lately

She will tell you what she is reading

Her mind continually connects new dots

She will expand your potential

She will want to know

What you see between the dots

Or whether there any to be seen

If you are a young person

She will want to know your thoughts

She will want you to believe you matter

She knows that you matter everyday

She is patient and persistent until you know too

She will start her seeds in small containers in winter

To be ready for spring planting

She shares her harvest each year

We all reap what she is able to grow

She will walk a hundred miles

Write a thousand letters

Make many bowls of soup

To change the world and

To help one soul suffer less

She is the sun in a galaxy

Family and friends do not orbit too far from her

Yet she is glad to see you circle wide if need be

Ready with tea when you arrive back from your journey

Did I mention?

Forgive me if I have not

“There is a really nice Woman who lives at the end or your street

Her name is Kathryn

You should meet her”

-Ira Baumgarten                                                                        

Men Aging


Boats rock back and forth in the harbor

Masts ropes clang single notes

Gulls guard the gateway

Men sit on benches

Ocean spray washes their boots

Joints ache

Shells are picked up

Examined and discarded

Like old regrets

If only, I knew then …

They laugh at their foolishness

Coffee is hot and bitter

Sailors say: Short Sips Sooths Souls!

Silent toasts are made to loved ones

To remnants of courage

To patches of passion remembered

To kindness shared

A low flying gull breaks the silence

Morning ferry arrives

Ira Baumgarten – 1/14/13