Several years ago I was reading Martin Shaw's book A Branch from the Lightening Tree. I came across this passage about 'Community and Reclaiming Time.' Shaw writes that we can "reach back" to a community of ancestry. This is the expanded sense of ancestry, not simply bloodlines. He then asks how we can pretend we are not being fed when:

we are connected to the legacy of Emily Dickinson, Taliesin, Patti Smith, Delius, Mirabai, Black Elk, Wolfram Van Eschenbach, and John Coltrane. (61)

I got to Patti Smith's name and stopped. Who is Patti Smith? Somehow I had never heard of her. So I went and bought her newest album Banga on itunes and listened to it for several hours. Holy Shit! Finally I turned off the album and turned on the radio. It was some public radio storytelling show. The woman narrating had half of my attention until she got to her life motto: "What would Patti Smith do?" O.K. I'm listening now. Two hours after the show was over I checked my facebook messages. One of my dear friends from high school had sent me a message: "I've got extra tickets to the Patti Smith show in Chicago if you would like to go." O.K. now I'm REALLY listening.

I don't think any of this is 'woo woo.' My poetry teacher Francis Quinn says this is just paying attention. William Stafford talks about the golden thread. I felt like Martin's writing opened my to pay attention to this thread on this day. How delightful where it summoned me. This is how I feel about those teachers, who, upon looking up from the thread I was following, I found myself in their presence.


Orphan wisdom

To Stephen, Natalie, Daniel, the Bonnchere and all that held space.

francis Quinn

Ruth Eichler and Kay Ferry