I guess this is what I am doing in the way of poetry lately: a Mother Tree. Visual, 3D poetry--a small branch anchored in a vase with glass pebbles, hung with ornaments from her life: earrings, baby bracelets, a nostalgic love pin nestling in the tree as if K-I-S-S-I-N-G. There are two tiny skulls to represent her parents, who lived with my parents for a time in their old age. So did my dad's grandfather, at one point. My folks were very generous people, also taking in a high school student, whose parents moved his senior year, and a young man from Mali. They are living now in a retirement community, in independent living but with lots of home health care, and I am slowly but surely clearing out the family home while it is for sale. Lots of laundering, donating, recycling, redistributing, and rearranging. I feel like my mom!
There is a silver chain with an apple on it, from when my mom retired from teaching, and a silver gavel, probably from her years with the local teachers' union. My brother's blue baby bracelet hangs near the latter.
My sister and I have pink baby bracelets, and near them I have hung one of my own earrings, a favorite, the mate lost, pink stones, one in the shape of a heart.
There is a found earring (like a found poem!), a sort of mask, chosen for the Mother Tree because of her work in the theatre. Her mother's hospital bracelet, or her own (?), hangs around the vase itself.
I loved making my Mother Tree. I did it instead of church last Sunday morning. It was a way to relieve stress, honor my mom, and felt spiritual, to be sure. It was a way to rest, after all the cleaning. It was a way to take things from tiny boxes and let them live again. I thank Connie Shannon for the inspiration. She made a "tiny beautiful things" tree this past spring when Heartland Theatre was doing the play Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the Cheryl Strayed book. It became part of a library display for the production, and then library workers loved it so much it became part of ongoing displays all through the summer!
Here is my Mother Tree where it lives now, on a stand at the top of the stairs, with a stack of books, under a painting by my husband. He knocked it over this morning, coming out of the bedroom, but I was able to restore it (and slightly reposition it, to avoid this in the future!). It's fragile but able to be rehung or added to, as needed. There might be more mateless earrings to come....
"You must change your life," said Rilke. So that's what I keep doing. I've been an encyclopedia editor, a poetry editor, an actor and director, a library clerk, and an assistant professor of English. Now I'm a freelancer, work part time in a library, blog "eight days a week," study the random, tend perennials, and listen to birdsong.