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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas cards’

John Gibson, artist

John Gibson, artist

My parents went on a trip to Austria in March of 2004. On the train from Salzburg to Innsbruck, they took a photograph of this scene. My father did this pointillist drawing for his first in a series of Christmas cards. It proved to be one of the hardest to write about. The experience for them was magical, but when I think of this area of the world “Sound of Music” comes to mind. “The hills are alive…” and escaping Nazis. This scene is unblemished, yet the history scarred. Here is my attempt to capture this dichotomy.

Outside Salzburg
May we all find peace, joy, and hope in Christ’s love.

From the train, snow-covered hills beckon
outside Salzburg. The whistle echoes.
Trees stand tall and barren.
Weary travelers stare in wonder.

Somewhere in the distance,
a child is torn from his mother’s arms,
a beggar reaches out with empty hands,
Somewhere, a woman grieves for her lost lover.

But here– on the road to Innsbruck–
a church glistens on the smooth,
unblemished snow, calling out
Let
there
be
peace.

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Artwork by John Gibson, 2011

Artwork by John Gibson, 2011

When I was growing up, I would watch my father draw. He loves to draw trees. And somehow, he sees more about trees than I see. I think an artist must see more than we see. He makes the trees come alive on the page.

As I work on my poetry project about my father’s art, I remember growing up in Mississippi on the banks of Purple Creek, playing in the woods, building forts and pretending to live in the wild frontier like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I remember hiking with a friend and choosing “our” own tree.

So I was thinking all these things, trees in art, growing up in Mississippi, and working on the craft of poetry when I came across a blues poem by Etheridge Knight that inspired a rhythm in me.

A Poem for Myself
I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
walked barefoot through the mud…

This is my favorite poem that I have written so far. Sometimes you work on a poem over and over, and sometimes they just come. This one came, and I am grateful to my Creator for giving it to me.

Dance of the Trees
Look at trees, think of God who comes to bring love.
I watch you watching trees.
I watch you watching those trees
outside your window in the loft.
If you could walk on the roof,
If you could walk out on that roof and touch them,
You could feel their hearts beating,
their hearts beating out the rhythm of the wind.
I watch you drawing the trees.
I watch you drawing those trees
in perfect chiaroscuro, shading just so
Just so they come alive and dance.
The trees dance in the moonlight
when you draw them.
When you draw them, God’s hand moves.
God’s hand is moving.

Matt is hosting Poetry Friday today.

Matt is hosting Poetry Friday today.

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Carol is hosting Poetry Friday today.  Check it out.

Carol is hosting Poetry Friday today. Check it out.

Art work by John Gibson, 2006

Art work by John Gibson, 2006

Last week on Poetry Friday, Laura Purdi Salas wrote a triolet about icicles. Her poem inspired me to try the triolet form. I am working on writing poems to my father’s Christmas cards. Here is a triolet for his 2006 card. The epigraph is his greeting inside the card.

Listen

Listen for the music of angels

Songs of heaven come to you
in mourning tunes of doves.
An angel plays her trumpet; true
Songs of heaven come to you.
From towers, hear a cathedral tune
echo like a hymn one loves.
Songs of heaven come to you
in mourning tunes of doves.

—Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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