As a young child, I recall
receiving an Atlantic Whelk Shell.
“Put it up to your ear,” I was told.
And I heard the roar of the sea.
My eyes lit up with excitement
and my love of the ocean began
or perhaps it was rekindled.
Who’s to know?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * **
Today, I mudlark on seashores
building a treasure trove of magical, mollusk shells,
the ocean’s generous gifts
found strewn on the sand when tides recede.
Waves wash over the powdery beach,
I’m lulled by the ocean’s heartbeat.
I inhale its fishy scent,
taste saltiness on my tongue
Screeches and squawks of sea birds grow,
perhaps warning me away,
as they come to dine
on a fresh feast of mussels, whelks, cockles and more.
Gulls, terns, oystercatchers,
sanderlings and their kin,
race for those delectable delicacies
delivered by the briny deep.
They skitter along the beach
taking flight if I draw too near.
My focus is not on them,
but on what they leave behind.
from Conchs to Clams and Coquinas
each a vacant, discarded home,
distinct in size and shape.
Like hand-crafted sculptures
their fine detailed swirls and ridges,
spirals and open cups of iridescence,
all formed by departed occupants
still seem to pulse with life.
Individual marks and shading,
colours covering the spectrum –
from foam white to squid ink black,
ultramarine to pearlescent pink.
What is their allure –
drawing me to dig my toes into the warm sand,
scanning the beach for my next prize?
Is it simply the ebb and flow
within me –
a biological response
to the moon and the tides?
Am I reconnecting with my life in the womb
where I began my human journey,
free floating my first nine months
in a tiny fetal sea?
Could it be my reptilian brain,
driving this keepsake obsession,
recalling our primordial origins,
our primeval departure from the sea?
I buy bijouterie
created from shells,
wear them as totems
to the ocean, our distant past.
Like a loved one’s ashes
I save them as ancestral relics,
the scent of the sea lingering
in shell-filled jars and bowls.
At home amid my treasures
I hear surf breaking on the shore
gulls calling overhead –
the sea in me restored.
© Wendie Donabie 2022
For the past couple of years, I’ve been writing art-related articles for an online summer-focused magazine. Here’s a link to the latest issue to introduce you to MuskokaStyle, a magazine bringing the best of life and leisure in one of Ontario’s premier vacation areas – Muskoka! You can read my essay on how I started out simply wanting to paint and write, and ended up running a small art gallery in my home. Hope you enjoy this issue. Simply click on the HOME button below to visit the website for the magazine.
You can subscribe to receive the magazine delivered directly to your INBOX.
A place as seen by a woman in love
Fluid as mercury, yet hard as steel
Powerful as the birth of a new star deep in the heavens
Thunderous as a herd of stampeding horses.
Dazzling as it played dodge ball with rays of sun.
Mesmerizing, drawing her into its welcoming embrace.
Pure as liquid crystal, and cool as a mountain spring.
With each breath she leaned closer, wishing to fall into its wonder.
What had changed for her in the place so often visited?
Was this not simply a waterfall?
No, not this day.
For love had invaded her being – heart, mind and soul.
No longer could she view the world in concrete terms.
Life now reeled with poetry.
Metaphor flung itself over the precipice and dove into the gorge below.
Simile cascaded over the rocks and dripped from foliage along the water’s path.
Today’s challenge: write a poem that reproduces a phrase with the first words of each line. Perhaps you could write a poem in which the first words of each line, read together, reproduce a treasured line of poetry? You could even try using a newspaper headline or something from a magazine article.
I chose, Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary – Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
Once a raven, black as coal
upon a moonlit eve,
a minute before
midnight came to my window ledge.
Dreary, listless days he’d passed
while mourning his lost mate.
I watched him grieve in solitude,
pondered his woeful state.
Weak, his will to live now spent
and naught that I could do, he closed his
weary eyes and whispered, never more, never more.
Wendie Donabie 2022
Photo credit: Tom Mossholder
Today’s challenge was to write a Nonet. A nonet is a nine-line poem. In the nonet form, each line contains specific, descending syllable counts. The first line contains nine syllables, the second line contains eight, the third line contains seven, and so on.
Day #9 Nonet
Sleep-filled eyes gaze at the blazing sun
flashing hot hues ‘tween earth and sky.
Brilliant colours transform,
to a muted rainbow,
as the golden orb
Wendie Donabie 2022
Photo credit: Nicole Avagliano
Today we were challenged to write a poem . . . in the form of a poetry prompt. If that sounds silly, well, maybe it is! But it’s not without precedent. The poet Mathias Svalina has been writing surrealist prompt-poems for quite a while, posting them to Instagram.
- Two hikers seek shelter from a storm
- Find a deserted house in the desert
- Inside there is only an out-of-place Chinese Cabinet with a key in the lock
- Curiosity drives them to open it
- A strangely clad man exits the cabinet
- He speaks in a language they don’t understand
- The storm rages outside
- Now write a poem by choosing 10 words from these lines, adding your favourite colour, lucky number, the names of your father and mother, an exotic cocktail, and a random item from today’s news.
A Glosa to Robert Frost’s STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
A Glosa or Glose is literally a poem that glosses, or explains, or in some way responds to another poem. The idea is to take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza.
From the first stanza of Frost’s poem, here is
Homage to Frost: A Snowy Evening
I’m headed out into the snow
A moonless night, as home I go.
Firs and pines all laden white;
whose woods these are, I think I know.
I muse this land belongs to Joe –
a man I’ve never cared to know.
He’s never seen from year to year.
His house is in the village though.
Alone at night, I have no fear
that he might suddenly appear.
He’ll be abed in his home now
He will not see me stopping here.
I’ll linger midst what trees here grow,
as feathery flakes blow to and fro.
He’ll never know I paused tonight
to watch his woods fill up with snow.
In Pursuit of Weird Words
I spent far too long
searching for words,
ones weird or slightly off.
Wabbit I was
by the end of it all
I’d even developed a cough
The words acted as
my sneezes heard near and far.
I cannot go on
This must come to an end
This exercise, so bizarre.
This silly verse was written in response to today’s prompt from NaPoWrMo 2022.
Wabbit – Scottish for exhausted or slightly unwell
Stenutator – something that causes sneezing
NaPoWrMo2022 Day #1
Inspired by this quote by John Muir:
“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!”
Tall and silent, towering over me
branches spread wide
with your forest companion’s
like lovers holding hands.
Your roots journey out
beyond your canopy,
cross my path,
then dive beneath the surface
meeting with others traveling there.
Here in nature’s cathedral
you live together in harmony,
all species fulfilling their calling
without our interference.
Painting: Contentment, Chinese Ink on watercolour paper, 11 x14 inches, Framed. Copyright Wendie Donabie
People of the Sunflower (Acrylic on Canvas, 16 x 20 inches, unframed)
Recently, my friend and fellow artist, Janice Feist, created a powerful painting imaging the vicious attack on Ukraine and auctioned it to raise money to support the Ukrainian people.
Inspired by her, my painting, People of the Sunflower, depicts fields of sunflowers in the Ukraine stretching to a horizon darkened by the invasion of Russian troops. The colours also stand for the national flag, the wide blue skies of the nation and the golden fields of wheat. However, for the painting, the yellow also stands for the sunflower (their National flower) and the brave people themselves holding firm to protect their homeland. At the treeline, around the midline of the painting, I painted a thin red area marking the Russian troops trying to crush the Ukrainian resistance.
At this time of darkness and loss for the people of Ukraine, I wanted to create an image of light and hope. I auctioned this painting on social media to the highest bid with the funds raised going to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. Bidding closed on Tuesday, March 15 at 12:00 noon EDT with PEOPLE OF THE SUNFLOWER going to the highest bid of $700 Cdn .
People of the Sunflower (Populus Helianthus)
Brave faces turn to the sun
stand strong, unmoved
Seeds of loyalty and pride
planted in their hearts
draw them together
Roots hold firm
in rich, fertile soil
defying all adversaries
This is the soul of Ukraine
This is the power of its people
This is their fight for freedom
~ Wendie Donabie 2022