art ~ spirit ~ transformation
e*lix*ir

e*lix*ir   #13
Centenary Issue 2021
Poetry
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Editorial

Sacred Stories: Beyond Joy and Pain

Events

Global Poetry Reading Honors ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Writing Life

The Fountain and the Thirsty One by Mahvash Sabet

Poetry

Christine Anne Pratt
Elegy with Mourning Dove and Red-Tailed Hawk by Sandra Lynn Hutchison
Dana Paxson

Essays

An Opening in the Curtain by Martha Washington

Interviews

Encountering Beauty: An Interview with Painter and Photographer Chris Page by Christine Anne Pratt

Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

The Wound is Where the Light Enters: A Meditation on the Suffering of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

Artist Profile

Interview with Mahvash Sabet by Raha Sabet Sarvestany
Persian Poems by Mahvash Sabet

Art

Chris Page

Voices of Iran

Thy Court of Holiness by Mahsa Foroughian
The Silence of Being Heard by Nazanin Eslami
The All-Highest Paradise by Melika Rezvani

State of the Art

Books for Children by Allison Grover Khoury

Looking Back on Books

Pearls of Bounty and Light of the World
Agnes Parsons’ Diary by Richard Hollinger
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Perfect Exemplar by Dariush Lami


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Ann Sheppard

CHRISTINE ANNE PRATT *

Birds of Paradise

We always want to go home
to some familiar yet distant land
where hills rise rocky and lean
with the lush valleys
hidden in mist

where snow-fed streams pitch forth
from alpine heights

and the cloud-swept sky
arching over it all a bountiful
upturned bowl, a blue cathedral.

Then again,
we might find haven
in a temple in India, lotus-shaped,
surrounded by reflecting pools of light
in a land dry and hot

or near a mosque, a pinnacle of prayer
spinning out in echoing cries
over a stone city — a city of rose gardens,
nightingales and charitable works.

Isn’t this the way?

The heart traveling through rough terrain
makes its slow ascent

like the bar-headed geese
who barely clear the Himalayas
every snow-clad spring.

These wandering birds
venture forth in all weathers
through all lands until, at last,
they find their way home.


Red-Tailed Hawk

Initiate of air
balances on a wind
neither of the east nor west

wing-walking, then gliding on updrafts
trailing a red cloth behind.

Every morning, he woke me, whistled
from a nearby tree on his shrill flute
insisting I unfetter myself

rise above this hallowed earth,
its captive denizens

sail on a rose-scented stream,
dark wings dipping,

inscribing in calligraphic arcs,
the breath of God.

I hiked through the forest from the notch
bypassing Swamp Trail and Rattlesnake Knob
to the overlook on Mt. Norwottuck,

where they appear, one by one, circling
in wide gyrations, masters of air.

Counting hawks, I breathe in a long breath
counting hawks, I breathe out a long breath,

I ride waves, jump to new thermals,
spiraling higher and higher.

What would it take, I wonder, to leap
into that wild blue welkin,
red tail flashing?


Conservation Land

In late November, I spread out for acres,
brown sedge and grasses mowed down.

Home to bluebirds in airy boxes
built by the conservators of hope,

where field mice, juicy and sweet,
sustain the hawk and surgical owl

and wood ducks find refuge on
their way to warmer weather.

Now windbreaks crossing these
flat fields are dry and brittle.

A deer path winds by the river.

Fox runs the perimeter by white pine
and a fir family old enough to remember

when people sweated corn from the ground,
smoked trout on the banks of my waters.

On this late afternoon,
I am big enough to hold both earth and sky—

now bannered in amethyst, copper and rose
now naked and undisguised—ever-changing.

Who am I to beg the pilgrims walking here
to pause, give up thought and wonder—

is there another rhythm?


At Brookfield Farm

Before the trees take off like rockets,
a stillness gathers.

Wild aster converses with bees and goldenrod;
thistle lets loose its seed.

Crimson fingers stained by raspberries
dig up globs of potatoes, thin-skinned, dirt clinging

while a child naps in the bean patch
to the cicada’s symphony.

Picking beans is hard work.
We hunch over rows of lacey leaves.

Easier, they say, to pick blindfolded, feel
their slender bodies clump together like keys.

Earlier, we unlatched the summer shed door
carried empty baskets into the fields

and were met by a dozen piglets
rooting for love.

The truth is I opened a door in late September
and walked out

expecting nothing.


Scattering Angels

(for Nina)

When she chants
something stirs the air
and the little fish that lives
in my heart leaps out of its element.

Wild birds rise in a black cloud
from the fields of Indiana,
their myriad voices one
as they unspool
themselves in a
dark line
across
the sky.

From the
Himalayas
to the swelling
grasslands of Africa,
new springs bubble up,
ancient roots are moistened
hunger is forgotten, stones sing.

Spruces in the forests of Siberia stand taller,
the ash quivers, five-fingered maples
shout out with zeal,

And, from their empyrean thrones,
her Persian ancestors, anointed
by the blood of the martyrs
and saints, peer through
the thinning veil like
a convocation
of eagles,

And a shiver
ripples like a pebble
across the pond of forgetfulness
embossed with red and golden leaves
atop a mirrored sky,

then my own voice breaks to the surface
and the world settles.

*Reprinted from Issue #1 of e*lix*ir*.



Christine Anne Pratt
Artist Statement:   My goal is to uplift and inspire through my creativity, to touch the hearts of readers and generate transformation. In the artistic process, I find I am navigating the tension between contemporary ideals and ideas of poetry and listening to my own voice, between personal experience and a world-embracing vision. I am working on how to convey certain messages without sounding didactic, how to de-emphasize the self yet be relevant to readers, how to write spiritually-inspired poetry without sounding idealistic or sentimental. The Bahá’í Writings help me keep perspective and clarify the message.