As Days Get Longer …
Maggie Chula (margaretchula.com) who has been a Holly House resident twice, is well known for her haiku, but not exclusively. Here is an evocative poem she wrote after walking the labyrinth one warm day last summer.
WEEDING THE LABYRINTH
June. The air smells of rotting logs, wet and fecund
like beginnings and endings, with nothing between.
Buttercups have taken hold on the loamy path,
narrowing the trail of the labyrinth with their runners.
It’s hard to pull up buttercups, their cheerful innocence
and shiny petals that smell of sunshine.
The tap roots of dandelions are entrenched, like grass
that has crossed over from lawn to weed.
I bend to my task, now digging out plantain
with my fingernails — sole of the foot in Latin
and pearlwort with splayed stems, a mandala
encompassing the world.
Hidden in the forest, a woodpecker drills holes
into a dead tree trunk where insects have taken refuge.
I gather pine cones shuttled onto the path by wind, toss
them outside the labyrinth beneath their mother tree.
This is the work of poets and gardeners:
clearing the path for others
moving steadily, but circuitously
toward the center
but weeds in our hands.
Maggie lived for many years in Japan, and it has influenced much of her work. Her picture shows her reading from one of her books, “What remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps”, a really beautiful but sad book pairing Maggie’s poetry with quilts, designed by Cathy Ericson.