Poetry from the porch #7

Soot

Today, I feel loss. It sneaked into this house, my house, despite my defenses.

Adopted from a shelter, a petite, black cat lived in the house for years.

The thing is, she only had three good legs. She dragged the fourth, along with her tail which swept the floors-back and forth – leading a path for us to follow. Hit by a car, and left by the side of the road, she came to us circuitously.

We called her Soot.

Her sweet nature craved love. Her meow, barely audible, could never quite muster the attention she demanded. Yet, she could claw her way up any chair, sofa or bed with those strong and muscular front legs and then, curl herself into the softest, smallest ball and purr as loudly as any big tom prowling through our streets.

Who knew then – oh, more than a decade ago and several cats later -that she would leave me with a broken heart?

Today I long, with such an ache, for her presence.

Poetry from the porch #6

In the time of COVID-19: peacefulness

Everything in its place. Order, my prerequisite for peace. Vacuuming before I enjoyed the house. Always. Wiping down the kitchen counters before I baked. Always. Lining up my students before they entered the library. A must.

Peacefulness is messy, now. Bird shit on the stone walkway as the bluejay screeches her joy. Dusty paw prints across the studio desk before the cat curls up on the lap.

Peacefulness comes quietly across soft pine floors. Boots heavy with purpose. A hand holding mine. His fingernails caked with car grease. Morning blankets and sheets askew as the bed is left unmade.


This Summer I am fortunate to be one of several in a writing Group, Project Write Now. One hour during each week we write, read, share, comment, and support each other’s work.

#BlackLivesMatter

a new friend and A poem

In 1992 I wrote this verse for a new friend. We met as colleagues, and being both teachers and artists, had much in common. In her generous spirit she gave me a lovely bracelet – one with a jade stone. Soon after, driving home, I hit it against the steering wheel and it broke in two. I felt devastated.

To honor her kindness I wrote this short verse and created a calligraphy piece for her, and an artist’s book for me. The brief friendship faded as some do over time, yet the bracelet remains with me to this day.

On this #BlackOutTuesday I am reflecting on racism in my lifetime; my values and actions, both past and present. I am asking myself, “How can I be a better person? A better friend?”

Artist’s book with bracelet closure
The Gift

My new friend gave to me a gift today.
As she tied it around my wrist I saw
Her brown tones against my olive;
Her long, tapered fingers moving with
Grace, trying the threads.

I felt myself a girl, again when 
I had discovered something no one else knew of -
or cared to know.

That she is a Black woman;
I, a white one.

We are mothers, wives, and women.
We hold our babies to our breasts;
We hold our men, encircling them with
Arms and legs.

We hold our pain.

And we bleed. We bleed for the
Pain of each other and
the world.                                                
for Terry B.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

There are many organizations advocating for social justice both national and international. Here, a few a listed:

What drives the art?

Patience and creativity

Returning to life as an artist is a challenge after twenty years immersed in a left-brain career as a librarian – organizing, cataloging and instructional designing.  Nothing demonstrates this more than the past two months working on a seemingly simple artist’s book.

Prior to my life as a librarian, I was a working artist for twenty years with roots in calligraphy. This form is the foundation for everything I learned about art subsequently. Knowing the quality of work of which I am capable by looking back through the boxes and folders of my art projects, and then, looking at my current work, left me sorely demoralized. This is true, even with calligraphy, my first love.

So, I turn to writing prose and bookmaking, additional loves in the artistic life. My intention (please note this noun!) to create an artist’s book with my prose at the central point is a turning point. Designing the format and attempting to carry out the all the skills needed, demonstrates how far I have meandered my previous life. Nothing was meeting my standards. This went on for more than a month. Over and over, re-thinking, re-designing, re-hashing imagery…until, one morning, I collected all the debris and threw it into an envelope to shelve.

What was I doing wrong? Why wasn’t this working? I was on my third attempt with this “simple book.”

May I suggest that you read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

 

Cover art

Finally, after re-reading one chapter of the above title, it hit me. I was working with the left-brain. Intention. In my process to create, it was all linear – get from Point A to my Point B .

So, I cleared everything off my desk. Created a big open space. And played. Ran my hands over the handmade papers until I found those that felt right. Moved around the pieces of photographs like a jigsaw puzzle until they fell into place visually.

Continuing along this path for the next two weeks, the book I had never imagined began to form. Yes, there were times I was afraid to “be intentional” not wanting to subvert a new beginning. Each decision, intuitive or deliberate, was met with patience. I put the work aside and came back to it another day; played with it for an hour and then, went for a walk.

To continue to encourage my ability to create step-by-step, piece-by-piece with respect and composure is my task for this season – this month as we enter into the time of hunkering down for winter. If I can allow myself this time, spring will be a joy.


AS I AGE: free verse

As I age, I would like to sit across from my mother at the kitchen table, the one with the red and white enamel top the table where she rolled out her dough for Christmas baking, year after year; where she set our hot meals before us every day – except Sunday.

I would like to talk with her, mother to daughter, about our families, our marriages, and her grandsons. I would like to know my enigmatic father, her spouse, through her eyes and with her heart. To hear tales of my sisters as toddler, her girls. These sisters I love and who were born years before me.

There is so much I ache to know, but mostly it is this: to have my mother close by me again with her smile and scowl in equal measures, the sound of her voice surrounding me. Simply to be in her presence; to share our lives as women do.

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Poetry from the porch #5

MY SONS

My sons were both born in the season I cherish.

Nature’s rhythms begin to slow.

Irish sweaters, worn in so many places, are pulled out to air. Thrown carelessly, but with love, over the old chestnut banister.

It is the time to pull in and hunker down, anticipating winter’s gift of solitude.

Oh yes, late blooms still remain on the shrubbery’s branches, where pale reds and violets preen themselves.

Outer foliage dies. But roots, deep down, refresh themselves.

This is the season where what was once nimble, even spirited in spring, allows itself a graceful decline. Where new life is nurtured within the strength of what was once young.

My sons, I remember holding you in my arms while the gentle, autumn light blankets us.

My sons, it is a good season for birth. 


When the boys were young, the beach trips were during the autumn months.

© 2019 Tina Hudak Dedicated to Sam & jack

Lewes

summer hydrangea

A Late Summer poem revisited

I

Along a narrow beach road there is a white house

weathered with blue shutters where one is missing.

The clapboard is grey, the color of wet sand.

The sky is big above this place.

Light, light is everywhere

reflected by the bay that stretches before her front door.

This house is surrounded by scrub pines, wild grasses;

swaying blues and greens across a muted landscape.

The porch wraps itself around the house an apron of comfort to wipe off

the debris of city life.

Through the screen is a silhouette of long ago.

A bulbous vase sitting atop a wicker table

overflows

with flowers, drying hydrangeas of pale blues

and violets; some are a faded scarlet.

Blinding sunflowers beg kisses.

II

I am a woman of substance

living in this place, in this house.

I have a ruddy complexion and

sand between my toes.

I love the sound of the sea winds banging

against the shutters.

III

Every summer I paint the shutters a

robin’s egg

blue.


For many summers my family spent time in Lewes, Delaware. It was always a magical time. The house I speak of has, long ago, been torn down to build condominiums for the next generation. We never returned after that last summer with the house.


Lewes, Tina Hudak © 1988 Dedicated to my sisters

Poetry from the porch #4

Small struggles

I

The lines do not come with ease. My hand forces the paper to lay down at odd angles. Every minor effort is met with resistance.

Repetitive images and motions, one after another. Again and again. And another. Persistence is the curse.

Distracted thoughts, but with eyes steady. The thin, silver blade slices through layer upon layer. Yet the plethora of pieces find no rest. No home.

There is no angle. No paper. No place for these lines. Not yesterday. Not today. Will tomorrow be the same?

II

Outside my open window the redbud branches arch effortlessly from the trunk. So too, the leaves from the branches. And so on. Here, all is aligned accordingly. The songbird bestows her blessing with song. All is as it is intended.

III

To live with ease. To grow with grace. To be elemental.


The Eastern Redbud is prolific in the area where I live. In spring, when the purple buds are in bloom, before the leaves emerge, they are breathtaking.