The Bones We Once Belonged To: The Lyrical World of JudIth Ansara

"Tell me a story," I ask, curled beneath a quilt on this cool summer day, and the poet opens her mouth and speaks to me of startled birds, and lavender seas, and of the thin brown legs of the becak driver who pedals her through the streets of Java on a wheeled cart he does not own. How much money do you make, she asks, and Aatif answers....

                          oh not enough, not enough he says smiling
                          most goes to the mullah who owns the cart

 She tells me, this poet, that when she and her family decide to buy Aatif his own becak...

               how his tiny toothless mother
                          smiled and bowed smiled and bowed

She tells me how, once he understands, the whole world breaks open, ear to ear. I imagine his smile. I imagine the toothless mother, smiling and bowing.

Smiling Old Woman Portrait, Java Indonesia, Adam Cohn
Curled beneath a quilt, on this cool summer day in Colorado, 9000 miles from Java, this story comes from across the ocean, travels as fast as any tweet, faster than any bit of bad news, any piece of gossip, and slides effortlessly into the crevices of my heart, where my own mother lives, though she died with all her teeth still intact, and she could not bow or smile in those last moments. Yet like the woman's in Java, hers was a grateful heart.

Is it any wonder that we, those of us with five minutes to spare, love poetry?

Poet Judith Ansara brings to us in the five sections that make up her collection, The Bones We Once Belonged To, an invitation to "Walkabout" with her, to look at "Just This," to examine layers of "Lineage," to feel our own intimate "Arc of Desire," to stand in that "Liminal" place between life and death.

                we are walking in the garden
      holding hands at dusk

           when god shows herself
as a shaft of light

I ask you again, is it any wonder that we, those of use with five minutes to spare, love poetry?

NOTES: Judith Ansara co-leads international leadership trainings working with students from more than 20 countries. Judith has a strong passion for supporting women and girls into their power and leadership.

To purchase a copy of The Bones We Once Belonged To, click here. To learn more about Judith Ansara and her "commitment to foster a conscious, just and sustainable world," click here.

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