Joy Willow


Noticing Five Things

I’ve noticed
                   That if I notice
At least five unique sights, sounds, or smells
On my morning walks,
                                      Then I know I am present;
On this splendid fleeting day
                                               I am available
Rather than caught up
By thoughts or concerns:

Today I counted
Twenty-two goldfinches
              Flying        one by one      into the top branches;

Blooming bits of yellow   blazed
Newly erupted on stalks of roadside mullein;

Under each oak tree in the pasture
A cluster of cattle
With tiny newborns,
The field dotted with a half dozen
Nursery classrooms;

The grasses that benefit from irrigation
               Stand out       against those that don’t
With a dark Hooker’s Green
Ranging    wide     across     the     field,
As if painted with a strong gesture
               And a fat brush;

A musky fragrance like wet weeds
        Blends with strong manure
And suddenly I am a child tramping along the edges
OfPennsylvania farmlands.

I notice
            I have stopped counting.


Joy Willow

Aiming always for mindfulness in ordinary activities, I have been 'cooking soup' over many decades of contemplative practice. A soup begun with the hearty broth of Quaker silence and the meat of Christianity, the vegetables of Soto Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, and spices from Sufi poetic tradition.

Still simmering, the flavors are blending nicely!  For me, creativity and spirituality are not different. Both help us deal with impermanence, see our true nature, and have a more tender relationship to the world.

Joy Willow's three loves are poetry, painting, and piano improvisation. Study in music and English literature led to a passion for teaching, first in the academic sphere, now privately and in workshop settings. Her writing includes a chapbook, "TRAILMARKERS", a full collection of poetry, "SOMA SONG" (Word Project Press, 2013), a second collection in the final stages, and publication in several anthologies and magazines. Joy lives in the Sierra foothills of Northern California in Mother Lode country, and breathes with the woodland oaks and spirits of ancient tribal dwellers.

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