NASA is preparing a poster commemorating the first 13 women astronauts who graduated from its program, including the first woman who was a shuttle pilot - women who looked up at the sky, and saw stars, and desired them - saw them, perhaps, with the same dreaming eyes that I have always lifted up to them.
I just got an email requesting permission to use a fragment of one of my poems on that poster
I'm not sure to what purpose the poster will be put, but I feel certain that at least part of it is educational - and the thought that some girl-child's eyes will be filled with the same stars that have always stirred my own spirit, and that my words might have helped to put them there, makes me feel... oh, I don't even know how it makes me feel. It's indescribable. For a writer, I'm awfully incoherent right now. I just feel like someone has poured all those stars into my cupped hands, and let me hold them all, just for a moment - and then gave me leave to pour them all into the expectantly cupped palms of the child at my feet, the generation to come.
I feel... grateful.
Memories of Dreams
There are times that I wake
with the scent of fresh bread
and the wildflower honey
of my grandfather’s bees
lingering in the bedroom
the dream has only recently fled.
There are times I fall asleep
to remembered lullabies;
there are times when in the darkness
a lost and golden sun rises remembered
dazzling my dreaming eyes.
There is a river that cradles
the place that bore me,
its waters part of my blood.
My river flows through dreams,
old, slow, grave,
with horror-storied whirlpools
pointed out to me on half-legendary
childhood walks along the willowed banks.
It carries ghosts and shadows;
sometimes they leave strange footprints
in the heavy, chocolate-coloured mud
smelling of death - rotting leaves, river ooze, torn insect wings, fish scales -
from the quiescent, paint-peeling, gentle, ancient old-man tugs
bobbing by the quays.
There are places
I will never find again, where some veil between worlds
was rent; I remember walking
in secluded mystical clearings where pale marsh lilies
and a wild white rose grew amongst the river reeds,
where all the dreams I call mine were born,
and where the tales that crowd my mind
were blown gently upon me
by fairy breath,
like dandelion seeds.
I can see it now, the sun on the river,
turning it to stately gold -
an ageing emperor,
its music full of lingering grandeur,
hiding vast, ponderous catfish in murky depths,
and secrets and griefs trusted to its silence
taken like treasure
to the sea.
I sleep again.
There are times that I wake
with the willows that trail graceful fingertips in the river of my childhood
gently brushing my face
like unquiet ghosts.
There are times that my memories are vast,
my knowledge greater by far
than what could be confined
in a single mind.
I dream the dreams and the memories of my race -
and I dip my grail into the waters of that old river
and raise it brimming with wine -
in a dream that is memory,
in memory of dream.
(that last verse, in italics, is what they wnat to use)
Originally published on www.swans.com