Ways we held the sky


You wrote me a letter about things
we lose in forgetfulness pockets, but hold.
Like back when I laid
in the tall summer grass,
praying mantis on my eyelashes
holding up blue sky.

And when grandma sheered the sheep,
soft wool on her lap buried all troubles,
mixed with soot and lard stains of her apron.
That eye of the patient sheep
held the cloudy day sky.

Or when we took grandpa
on his last journey,
and the sandy road,
which all summer was scarred
by our bicycle tires,
now flooded smooth in February melt,
water four feet deep and rising.
Little boats carried us all,
peace by peace,
over to the hill of pines and graves
and we held the teary sky on our ores.

And when we rang the bells of Cathedrals
in cities across Europe,
ascending spiral staircases, dizzy,
from search of unseen rainbows,
plotting escapes, mapping adventures,
stuffing the sky in between travel
books and sandwiches half-eaten
at the hitchhiked roadsides,
holding the starry sky in our backpacks.

Now, I find us sitting,
fire flickering on the metal
knitting sticks and our tongues.
Sometimes we talk of our
rough hands, rough from holding so much.
We talk about sugar scrubs.
Ladies say use much oil and sugar,
The fancied kind, Turbinado, Coconut, imported,
then the slough comes off, and we head
outside into the fresh falling snow,
gleaming like freshborn children:
This is how it feels to hold the sky on our faces!



Photo by R. Cicenas of my childhood farm



About BeeHappee

Where have all the bees gone? Where have all the flowers gone? https://beehappeenow.wordpress.com
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41 Responses to Ways we held the sky

  1. noblethemes says:

    Very warm and so gently enticing; beautiful . . . simply beautiful

  2. DM says:

    That barn has a thatched roof! I enjoy reading this one! You can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl..right? šŸ˜‰

    • BeeHappee says:

      Yes, indeed. I have no clue why they made hallucinogenic drugs illegal, because I think those smells of horse poop, and the fresh turned dirt, the puddles of the spring, and taste of the sun on the fruit is just so much more addictive. Once you taste it, you can never go back to subways and x-marts. šŸ™‚ Thatched roofs, yes, used to be quite common. We loved it, we would pull out straws from the lower layers, and they were perfect golden straws. I have to ask my uncle if the roof is still functional.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I enjoyed the mention of the rough hands. It brought my mother back in a flash.She always worried about my hands, with a class consciousness I didn’t recognize until I was well into adulthood. The truth is, too much time with sandpaper makes long, lovely fingernails impossible. Sun does its damage, and at least one finger is permanently canted now, from holding a brush for hours every day. Still, the soft, unmarked hands some people have raise my own sort of prejudice. I look at them and think, “Haven’t these people done anything?”

    A side note: regular sugar works as well as the fancy varieties.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Ah, yes, I love the hands with character. Sometimes they speak more than the faces. We raked that hay you see in the photo with wooden rakes every day, as a kid I had nice steady callouses. Now I do not get as much hand work, so they get pretty wimpy, a bit of gardening and I get blisters..
      Yes, I am sure any sugar will work. Someone mentioned Turbinado maybe for exfoliating power. Truthfully, I cannot even remember what a ‘regular’ sugar is, since we had not bought or consumed any in years.
      I am going to get some nice 60F sun, Linda, and then will have energy to read your ghost stories, which I am so behind on. šŸ™‚

  4. Eddy Gilmore says:

    I never get tired of seeing photos of your childhood farm. A green roof no less! And look at that hay harvested in the old manner we see in Van Gogh paintings and others from the 19th century. LOVE! It’s hard to understand how all that hay could be stored through winter… Anyhow, the poem is pretty great too. You know, a book of poems and these photographs from another world might be super cool…

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you, Eddy! So the roof would literary have a green hue sometimes from much rain. On top left corner of this roof was a huge white stork’s nest to which the couple of the storks would return every spring and raise their young.
      The wagon with tall sides is a hay wagon, probably made by my grandpa himself, or my great grandpa, wheels included. Hay would be picked up with pitchforks, thrown into the wagon, we kids press it down by running on it, when full, bring it to the barn and unload, same process. All hay was just packed lose like that in the barn, we would run and jump on it to compact. Somehow it kept through the winter, no chemicals or anything added as far as I know. Since most summer days were rainy, drying it was tricky. Yes, we would stack it in stacks like the European paintings.
      I am the last person in the family who does not have a printed book, even my little one made and order a book of his own, so I better catch up. šŸ™‚ But I do like your idea of the photographs… Keeping my fingers crossed to get over there this year and pull up some photos and memories. My uncle took some great photos back then when he was the only one with the photo camera in the family.

      • Eddy Gilmore says:

        My gosh, a huge white stork’s nest on the roof! So much fodder. Awesome…

        • BeeHappee says:

          The hay was for 2 cows and a few sheep. Sometimes a horse. Not a lot of cattle, perhaps lose hay looks like more since it is not packed in bales. The stuff that was kept outside the building, under that roof on the right was straw from wheat or rye, not hay.
          Here are a couple photos of a stork that we found injured and me as a kid feeding the stork some chunks of bacon. Springtime return of migratory storks is a big thing in Lithuania and signals spring.
          Injured Stork

          • Scott says:

            Saw a few storks at the zoo yesterday and thought of your posts and stork memories šŸ™‚

          • BeeHappee says:

            We don’t really have storks in Illinois (or even at our largest zoo – there are only herons and ibis). Wood Stork is listed as the only stork in IL, but it is endangered and I had never seen one. I often confuse storks, cranes, herons, ibis, etc. Sandhill cranes fly through here, I am looking forward to hearing their sound again. Storks are mute though, they make not a sound. The ones in Lithuanian are white European storks. They live in 6 foot wide nests they construct, to which they return year after year, some nests have been used for hundreds of years in Europe. Some land owners add a wagon wheel on their chimney or some place high up to encoure storks to nest on their site. They migrate long distances and eat only meat. They live high up on rooftops and trees. The wingspans are really impressive. They are as much of a symbol of Lithuania as Bald Eagle is of USA. Yesterday at nature center we watched live feed from Cedar Rapids IA of an Eagle’s nest, saw them coming and going, it was neat.

          • Scott says:

            It wasn’t a white stork, or a very big one, can’t remember the species. They had a few storks and a few ibis’ in the same enclosure. (I only knew by the sign… šŸ™‚
            Didn’t know they’re mute! They click their bills like mad though. We watch Winged Migration regularly and I saw some storks on it…
            There are two injured Bald Eagles at the zoo. Flightless and one has eye troubles I think… Really sad looking creatures, but I suppose it’s good they’re cared for at the zoo.

          • BeeHappee says:

            Hey, Scott, off stork topic, but I saw you on Chris’ blog commenting on tapping the trees. They started tapping this week around here. I saw this posted on a group I follow, you can tap maples, birches, walnuts, you should have tons on your property, get those kids to work: http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2013/03/how-to-tap-a-maple-tree.html

          • Scott says:

            Yeah, most trees have sap, but only a few have sap that you actually want to drink. Most of the trees around here already have buds set, so it’s way too late to tap. It changes the flavor of the sap. Trees are confused about what season it is… Been a nuts winter.

          • BeeHappee says:

            Wow, buds. . Yeah, you guys ahead of us. We had a day full of blowing snow yesterday. Walked in the woods, got completely covered in wet snow and frozen. Yes, you can definitely drink birch and walnut sap. I heard of sycamore even.

  5. Hariod Brawn says:

    Exquisite work Kristina, for which many thanks, and congratulations to you.

  6. Great poem! I especially like the last lines! šŸ™‚

  7. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    This is beautiful KristinaBeeHappee. I love this. I love how you put words together and make me feel like I have been to the farm and watched your grandma with the sheep and been there with you as a kid holding up the sky. Just lovely.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you, Mary. šŸ™‚ There was also a swing you would have liked and a tree house in the old willow tree. And of course some of the best foods that only grandmas can make.
      I do feel like I never left. Some memories are so solid deep inside us to spring us to complete peace.

      • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

        Oh boy! A swing and a tree house? I will be there! Just need to go back in time a bit. I never had grandparents. It’s nice getting to know yours.

  8. What a beautiful melody of memories echoed through time passed down to the now of moments treasured.. Wonderful Kristina.. xxx ā¤

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you, Sue. Yes, the beautiful flow of time, this time of year reminds me of grandpa passing away, and at the same time fills me with so much much joy to know how much they had given me and how much alive him and grandma are in all they have touched.
      Best to you and your little and big ones. Kristina

  9. Zambian Lady says:

    I just love stories about Lithuania when you were growing up. They are so similar to my own childhood in some ways because we were so close to mother earth. Your lines about rough hands remind me of my mother’s hand which are rough from working in the field, but how I love those hands. They cook me my favourite dishes when I visit. Ah, rough hands.

  10. smilecalm says:

    beautifully nostalgic
    telling of the heart šŸ™‚

  11. Scott says:

    Great memories, I love how you weave them together. Nice job, very colorful and emotional.

  12. Michael says:

    I love the material you use, Kristina– the farm, the wagon roads, the snow melt and the sheep shearing– but I love the way you write even more. The way you shift from what is earthy and near, to what is even closer in the human experience, almost hidden. The moments of sky-tasting that nestle in between the contents of our lives, never to depart, and resound in our silences forever. We become like old books with notes tucked in between all the pages. Those notes are glimpses of wholeness we carry. They’re the insertion of something deeper and hand-written into the volume. Without them, it’s just an empty story. I thought this was beautifully lyrical.


    • BeeHappee says:

      Michael, you nailed it. I have nothing at all to add to your comment, you really got it where I was going with this. Thank you for your beautiful words.Your comment is a book in itself.
      Much gratitute,

  13. I enjoy all the thoughts and comments even more than the original post… šŸ˜‰

    • BeeHappee says:

      Cool. Thanks for stopping by, Ron. I think I like comments the best too. Maybe that is why I post, to solicit some good ideas from good folks. šŸ™‚

      • I just took a closer look at the initial picture, because there was something about it, jet could not pinpoint it exactly.
        Now I know; it looks as if it could be 100 years old. Except for the clothes on you kids… That ties it to our modern times. It is this contrast or maybe even almost a paradox that caught me.

        • BeeHappee says:

          Based on kids ages, I date that photo to 1987. Yes, the structures look more like 1887. I believe they were built in 1950s or so. We used to joke, that time has stopped. When I return and walk on the cracked sidewalks of my home town, it still feels like time has stopped and not much has changed since 1970s in some smaller towns. It’s beautiful in that way, when you get overtired of all this rush for progress .
          What I liked about the photo is the angles of the roofs. As if they were, in their crooked ways, holding up the sky.

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