Circle soap

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , , |

A plain looking thing
fat disk
of oil and lye
forced to sit and cure

something permanent
it may not have chosen
for itself

but holding it
between my palms
feels right
subtle thing

under warm water
bumpy rotation
awkward lather
it becomes ethereal.

by Brooke

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The Trimurti: A Birthing Poem

Posted on February 11, 2010. Filed under: Changes, death, Friendship, Mormon Life, Mormon women, motherhood, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , |

My new little one.

by Alisa

Twelve days ago, I gave birth to my first baby. As I labored in the hospital, I was aware that I would be missing my dear oldest friend’s great big birthday bash that night. Diagnosed eight months ago with neuro-endocrine cancer, my friend recently learned she probably has less than six months to live. Deciding not to wait for her birthday later on in the year, a huge party was organized in her honor.

While I am overflowing with joy at the birth of my son, and the birth of my motherhood, I hardly know how to begin to say goodbye to someone who has always been there with me, through nursery, primary, junior high and high school, boyfriends, weddings, and more. I am struck by how seemingly polar opposites can hit our lives at the same time.

The Trimurti

I wore a necklace throughout my pregnancy
A trinity charm, swirled into one
Creator, Sustainer, and Purger

For all three sometimes come at once
As they often do at a birth, I suppose.
I crouch upward—breathing, pushing, exhaling
With all I have and more, then sink back,
Eyes shut, catching my breath
All of the moment in my heart.

I smile then—truly
Because I know nothing but love and intensity
For this baby boy

While I lay there
Another birthday is celebrated—
Really, it isn’t exactly her birthday
But if you had less than six months
You’d celebrate early too

Thirty years, her last milestone.
Shiva, do you know you take a mother of five babes?
What do you want to purge? I dare not ask why.

The Creator smiled on us that day twenty years ago
She and I sat over our cross-stitch, two merry misses
When Mother called from two houses down
To witness a birth
My calico calm, near serene, purred her kitten into life
With her hypnotic humming

And I, struggling to do things right
Hastened to tie the thin, red thread around the chord,
When he began to chirp, hardly a mew.

The Sustainer is come to stop time.
I never watch the ticking clock
And open my eyes with ecstatic surprise,
When they place his wet, slippery body on my chest.
And the weather is so mild

February forgot its season
At my back door a crocus pushes its tender leaves upward
Childhood is not unlike motherhood: tenderly aware of only now

Motherhood is not unlike the yoke
Of rainbow connections and pulsing sensations
I love, I feel, I know, I heal
As we vibrate to the lullaby
I sing in the key of present tense

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My first winter in a long time

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , |

by Brooke

Moving from Southern CA to New England is like moving from a virtually weatherless bubble to the real world. So I think about weather constantly. And maybe everyone else here does too, but I’m not used to thinking about weather constantly. So it feels like an obsession to me. And when I obsess about things, I tend to write poems about them.

Winter Weather Poem

It is winter
I wear hat, coat, boots everywhere
when it snows I am amazed
when it rains I am amazed
if anything falls from the sky

I am amazed
as I explain to my son why it happens
and the whole time I think is this really what happens and why?
I keep thinking this as I explain the cold of winter
the sun and its distance
the tilt of the planet

And I am amazed
as we wheel across space
on a giant sphere orbiting a gianter sphere
and my brain gets lost in the hugeness
and so I try to think small
coat, hat, boots
as we walk the block to school

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Trees (as in all of them)

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: photo, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , |

by Brooke

Tree fixation

I am doing research.
It involves fidgeting with a camera
and sometimes a pencil.
Also, it requires strict observance
of any and all surroundings.

But I must be willing to do some
mind wandering embroidery,
some imagining where I might push the needle
with black thread or gray on linen, stitch by
stitch the shape
of the trees

(from my postcard poems)

While this may sound like I can do without the leaves, I must emphasize that I am as fixated on leaves as I am on trees. Both are one thing and then they are separate things. To me, the changes in trees throughout the seasons will never be anything but fascinating and joyful, and fall-to-winter is one of those stages that I am appreciating now. A few of my tree photos are up on flickr (don’t expect awesome, mostly these are my reference photos 🙂 ). So, what have you recently been compelled to recreate in some form (writing, song, images, sculpture, stories, etc.) or another?

p.s. Also, please feel free to give feedback on my poem. I am always open to revision. Does it seem like there is something missing?

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The question of evil poem

Posted on June 16, 2009. Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Brooke

Palm, originally uploaded by brookewill.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Palm Trees

Take this one: transplanted as an adult,
chosen to landscape the grounds of the church.
It must have been a good palm tree.
Done something right
made good decisions—
its life plan set in front of it
promises of being fulfilled.
By all appearances, a good tree.

Perhaps it felt dissonance
in the expectations
at some point—
with the wind blowing sea breezes and
scents stirring a kind of memory
(if a tree has a memory)—
realization set in: it didn’t want
this prescribed pattern of being
fixed and final.
And so it could not perform anymore.
It hit like a raindrop,
suddenly but without much notice
not enough to make a splash.

The gradual deterioration
illness setting in—
Driving past we could tell it wasn’t flourishing
anymore, (had it ever been?)
Now weak enough
to die.

Every other tree remained green, able
to focus
having retained
the ability to photosynthesize
in this garden.

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Posted on April 19, 2009. Filed under: Poetry, women | Tags: , |

Woman’s Sphere

Tell me what is woman’s sphere?
What path was she designed to tread?
What may she hope? What must she fear?
What may she do and what must dare
To win her daily dole of bread?


Is she but fit to sweep and sew,
To spread her master’s table well,
To go and come, to come and go,
On one unvaried round, and grow
In nothing good if nothing ill?

Has she no mind to cultivate?
No heart for fatherland to glow?
No int’rest in the future fate
Of sons and daughters, that her state
Is almost slavery, vile and low?


As plants untended droop and fade,
And weeds choke out most precious seed,
So woman’s mind, a desert made
By long suppression, needs the aid
Of cultivation broad and deep.


Let woman’s sphere, then, not be small;
Her powers developed, not confined,
Her intellect, will, body, all
Emancipated from the thrall
Which far too long has round them twined.

Whatever she can well perform,
Whatever she aspires to do,
Whate’er expands, protects from harm
Or give her life an ample form
Is well, O man, thrice well for you.

When your mind’s culture is complete,
Your nature polished and refined,
For mate in life ’tis surely meet
You have a soul, not simply sweet,
But strong and noble, heart and mind.

No shadow, charming toy nor slave
Can ever be companion true;
To fit her for her duties grave,
More light and room must woman have–
To walk side by side with you.

~Lu Dalton

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Posted on April 5, 2009. Filed under: Mormon women, Poetry | Tags: , , , |

dsc_0040-12Mormon women have a rich, if under-appreciated history as poets.  The art of poetry has been a way for Mormon women to express their deepest feelings; the joys and struggles of the everyday, the complexities of womanhood and their spirituality and quest for the divine.  Each poem is an invocation, a supplication for understanding and connection.

We at the Exponent wish to honor Mormon women by giving voice to their heartfelt invocations.  Every other Sunday we will be exploring the poetry of Mormon women, both from the past and the present, whether sacred or mundane.  If you have a poem you wish to share, please consider submitting it to us at ExponentblogATgmailDOTcom.  We hope you enjoy these poems as much as we do.

Perhaps the only way to begin is with a poem so monumental in Mormon women’s poetry, experience and theology.

Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother

 O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence,
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood,
Was I nurtured near thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth,
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth.
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, “You’re a stranger here.”
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,
Through thy Spirit from on high;
But until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single?
No; the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

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Posted on August 28, 2008. Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , |

The mirror cracked my eye;  If looking glasses are dark,  then why should I look?

Give me the roses back,  and I will seek truth elsewhere;  And why should I acquire knowledge that hurts?

Scripture and philosophy blurred my vision,  and I weary in sifting;  Then why should I stare?

I long for simplicity,  and ache for blissful ignorance,  or peaceful acceptance.

My image has changed,  or is it my perception?  Is it the mirror or my eye?


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A Poem: Curve

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: announcements | Tags: , |

Originally uploaded by Hi, I’m G

Our dear Deborah’s father passed away unexpectedly last week, and she and her husband are dealing with another unexpected family illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

Wherever I look these days
something is leaving.
The wispy ash grass, its green
lost to the sun, sinks back to earth;
maples open handfuls of yellow and rust,
toss their farewell under bushes,
across sidewalks still shiny
from dew withdrawing its shawl.
On a limb a nest breaks apart,
disappears at the touch time makes
on the way from one loss to another.

Now words are clusters of dry weeds
without nourishment or sense,
their sounds mimic melodies once
known, forgotten like baby’s babble,
pleasure’s inflection outgrown,
worn by the world’s seasons.
At night starlight leaves little
of its dim past in a sky slowly
weathering black. Even in
my dreams since your death,
I meet myself running away.

–Annette Allen, from Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated
Photo by G, uploaded from Exponent’s Flickr group

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Archive Fever

Posted on September 21, 2007. Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I’m sure that everyone experiences symptoms of OCD, or else has at some point in their life. I mean, I don’t know a lot about mental illnesses, but I feel the restless leg, the compulsion to check every unread email, and distinct and desperate desires to have things done, checked off, put away, etc. (and neatly).

And I must’ve learned some willingness to let go of things along the way, because my floors have to get pretty bad before I’ll sweep, let alone mop. But there are also those moments when I begin to panic because I can’t remember something I wanted to write down: something to add to the shopping list or how my son said “Jerpity” instead of “Jupiter” the other day. It’s that compulsion to record every little thing my husband likes to call my “archive fever” (he was Derrida’s student at UCI), which I suppose makes sense because I am going into the field of Library Science. But to make things even worse, I panic that what I write won’t really capture what I wanted to.

In general, I’ve been a bit reluctant to do much writing lately. And when I do write, I stay pretty safe, don’t get very personal, and avoid difficult topics. But mostly, it seems like all I do is read. Which isn’t bad to do, I suppose, but I feel a lack of balance, and the beginnings of that panic. Being at the Exponent II Retreat last week has inspired me to write–to start finding out what I have to say about things and not devote all my time to solely taking things in. One of my favorite things about the retreat had to be the many opportunities for women to share stories, and that has made me want to find the words for my own again.

To honor my decision (which is one I come back to repeatedly), I have dug out this poem about writing. And maybe it’s not complete, but here is what I have. Whether or not it is finished, I’m sure there will be others. Maybe a series of Archive Fever poems. It’s time to put aside the fears and make that syrup.

Sometimes When You are Afraid

Sometimes when you are afraid that writing something down
Will not fully preserve it,
You do something engaging
That helps you forget the fear and keep from crying
Like practicing the knots you learned at camp
Or flossing your teeth—

And when the fear is waned
You try anyway
To keep whatever it was you wanted to keep
By putting a pot on the burner
Adding sugar and water
And making it into a long, light syrup.


{Image from}

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