I attended a poetry session in Cumberland and met a delightful group of poets. The abbey is an old church that has been rededicated to the arts. It provided a cozy and artistic environment for the evening of poetry. There were approximately twenty poets and poetry lovers in attendance.The first hour was an open mike session. In the second hour, Ed Varney gave a reading from his life-time collection of poems. It was like a walk-through of the past fifty years in an unique story-like style of poetry. 

     I have chosen two poems from the open mike session that emphasized life in the Comox Valley area. The first one was published in last weeks newsletter.  Hopefully you will get a taste of the style and lives of these poets and make a point of dropping in for their next meeting. I highly recommend that you make this your poetry home if you live in the area, and if not, drop in and spend an evening with this warm and welcoming group of poets.

Poem,  “Hope Afloat” –  For the local “Hope Afloat” dragon boat team members, both past and present – from Sharon Urdahl.

Hope Afloat

Golden sun fills the eye of the dragon.
Sleepy team members try to find balance in the rocking
boats belly, scramble to sit on the cold plank seats;
with feet firmly anchored on slippery wooden ribs,
women and boat finally settle.

Securing rope untied, “Hope Afloat” is eased from the dock
on calm water, team tension is released—
Leaning forward, backs and arms a graceful reaching arc,
the women become silent, listen for tiller to set course,
drummer to call the stroke.

Tempo set, steady rhythmic paddles plunge deep,
pull smooth, thick water past the surging boat.
Their ever-watchful tiller guides them away from shore,
past granite breakers, out to open water. The drumming
heartbeat of “Hope Afloat” carried on warming air.

Paddles cut currents, leave small whirlpools on sparkling surface
to catch droplets, free-falling from dripping wooden edges.
Overhead, in a cloudless azure sky, eagles slowly circle—
Haloed by bright sun, the graceful silhouettes wing-glide, play
on uneven wind currents, shrill calls drawing all eyes upward.
Like the dragon boat team beneath, they have no compass—
but follow an inner knowing, in a predestined forward flight.

As if on cue, strong, measured wing-strokes, pull them into close
formation as they fly toward the distant Beaufort Mountains.
Hearts lifted by the sight, and with paddles raised high,
the women of “Hope Afloat” sing their team song—
a salute to the passing winged travelers.

Tiller on course, drummer again drumming,
team goal…the far horizon.
Each woman on a solo journey with breast cancer,
immersed in her own deep, fluid thoughts, yet all
are moving forward together on life’s uncharted waters.
Personal fears of the unknown slowly dissolving, forgotten
for the moment, by paddling in the team spirit of “Hope Afloat”.