swamp-maple.jpg!Large
How to Stay Grounded in Times of Flux
by Cristina M. R. Norcross

Do not cling to clouds,
but rather notice the billowing outlines.
Notice the shades of opal-like white
morphing into hues of heather gray
or charcoal, misty smoke.
See the blue behind the sky’s pillows
and know that this promise exists for you, too.

When the snow melts to rivulets
on the sidewalk,
and the earth thaws
to a softening green bed,
be barefoot in the yard,
let roots reach beneath your feet
to the very center of soil.
Let the trees know you are listening.

Walk in the sun as much as you can,
so that your hair is light-soaked
and your cheeks are kissed
by rays of canary yellow.
Just the movement of following
the sun’s progress
connects you to every other living thing
seeking oxygen,
a community of breath.

Green yourself like a leaf,
drinking in droplets of water,
slowing yourself down
to the minute pace of growth.
Your stillness becomes
part of the landscape,
so that even the wind thinks that
you are tied to the earth
by invisible strings,
inextricably connected
by a force greater than human ambition.
You have left that nonsense behind
in favor of branches and birdsong.
When a storm comes,
you are grounded.

PAINTING: Swamp maple (4:30) by Alex Katz (1968).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the pandemic, going for walks became part of my daily practice. While our local YMCA was closed, and even after it reopened, going for walks in nature became my preferred form of exercise to feel grounded in mind, body, and spirit. I read about a grounding exercise where you name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste (like what you had for breakfast). I modified this grounding exercise by being very aware of my surroundings on my walks. It made me feel so much more connected to the present moment to notice the varying shapes of the leaves on the side of the road, or the different sounds of the birds, or the vibrant colors of my neighbors’ flowers. In the winter, noticing and taking a photo of the details of snowflakes was not only grounding, but it distracted me from the minus-six temperatures we were having one week. The end result of all of this grounding and bundling up to take daily walks, rain or shine, was that I was able to return to my house feeling refreshed and ready for whatever came next, even if it was just doing a curbside pick-up of groceries. Often, my daily walks inspire and infuse my writing that day. You could say that my grounding walks have become yoga stretches and warm-ups for poetry!

norcross1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cristina M. R. Norcross lives in Wisconsin and is the author of eight poetry collections. She is the founding editor of Blue Heron Review.  Her latest book is Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Her forthcoming chapbook, The Sound of a Collective Pulse, will be published by Kelsay Books (Fall 2021). Cristina’s work has been published in Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Poetry Hall, Right Hand Pointing, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others. Her writing also appears in numerous print anthologies. She has helped organize community art and poetry projects, has led workshops, and has also hosted many open mic readings. She is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day.  Visit her at cristinanorcross.com.