The Poems of Clea Roberts

The poetry of Clea Roberts has been a source of great inspiration since attending a Wordfest session, Into the Quiet, this year.  Every poem is an elegant string of words, sparse but potent.  I am left, after reading, with a sense of wonderment about this world of ours.

Because of the immediacy of social media, I have been able to access other people’s travel, adventure and world exploration over months and years…Nepal, Venice, Spain, Croatia, Haida Gwaii.  I get the sense of how vast our life experiences can be…to eat seafood in Japan, observe the art of the masters in far off galleries, stand at the top of the Empire State building.  I enjoy all of this very much.  It all comes into my home, while I sit in my pajamas at the keyboard, with my cup of coffee on the desk, to my right.

However, nothing moves me more than these poems.  Because somewhere in these images, lies the remembrance of camping with my parents, the smell of woodfires burning, the soft conversations as neighbours drift off to sleep.  The childhood listening.

It was some years ago that I spent time observing this schematic, the scale of the universe.  I realized even before encountering this illustration that just as there are so many more places to explore beyond our own communities, there are a multitude of places to visit in our own intimate surroundings, and to go deeper still, there are internal landscapes to explore.  The universe offers so many compelling and endless possibilities for discovery that it is an easy thing to become fascinated with the world that lives even on the petals of a flower.

The poems of Clea Roberts take me to that beautiful intimate place of connection in a much smaller place, full of limitless possibilities.

In the meantime, for two weeks, I have been observing a single Horned Grebe on a pond, hoping to capture just one focused photograph.  I have watched muskrats frantically building winter homes in the cattails on the north side of the fence while bulldozers plow and reshape former dwellings.  I see miracles every evening as the sun begins to set.


One poem to share this morning…from Auguries by Clea Roberts

If Suddenly My Dreams Are Premonitions

There is music or
there is snow falling
on the white-tailed deer.

They strip the ash berries
with precise, needful tugs.

There is music or
there is the gliding silence
between their hoofbeats
as the wind changes.

An introduction is made.
A small part of me
goes with them.


Love Notes

P1150418 P1150419 P1150420My cousin, Margy, received Love Note #11.

I sent off the last two Love Notes two days ago, apart from the one that I have kept for myself.

P1150403 P1150406 P1150408 P1150409 P1150411 P1150413 P1150414I painted the series in 2004.  It’s difficult to believe that already ten years have passed.  Their story follows.

Love Notes

A Series of 12 Paintings



In 2004, I took up running along the ridge and down on to the lower trail along the Bow River.  I had stopped to take a break at a random point.  It was shady.  I was completely alone, and to the right of me, the river flowed a blue green.  I bent to tighten my laces, when at my toe, I saw a single rose.  Bewildered, I picked it up and held it in my hand, looking.  I spoke out loud at that time and said, “If this is some sort of a sign, Lord, thank you.”

I had lost at love again.  It had become a ritual with me in my life.  This time I was stumped and struggling to get back on track.  The rose was a gift for me, a gift of healing.

Just next to the path and under some trees, I found a bench.  I decided to sit and rest there for a time.  I didn’t notice them at first, but there, hung by ribbon from the trees, were eleven roses.  I gasped.  All of a sudden, I felt that the space, the landscape and the river were more sacred.  Something had happened at this location or someone special/an event had been remembered.  I sat quietly for the longest time.  Instead of continuing on a run, I turned for home, the rose still in my cupped hand.

I decided to paint a dozen roses…nostalgia, memory, love, symbols…

Eleven people have now received a Love Note…I have kept the one.  The process: I flipped the paintings over in a grid of twelve and I wrote out my own love note, left to right, from top to bottom.  Writing had, over the years, become an essential practice for me...this, along with exploring the visual world…objects…landscape…faces.

four by three

One to TwelveThe painting at the top left was titled Love Note #1, all the way to Love Note #12 in the bottom right.  If you received a Love Note, it was because something in you lit a spark in me.  This was a very random, but time-impacted process.  It would take an amazing moment in the gyre of life to bring the owners all together so that they might read the complete note on the back, something that connects all of you!

The original rose that I found at my toe remains in my studio, a reminder of the lessons taught in my favourite book, Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  If you received a Love Note, I would love to hear from you…and hear about the moment when you received a painting gift from me.  I would enjoy reading your love note to me.

P1150422 P1150423 As time passes, I lose friends.  I hold onto their memory in words and images.

P1150426 P1150427 P1150428

Cat by J R R Tolkien: Starring My Peanut Meister

P1100785 P1100786 P1100788The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.

The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard,[note 1] dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps on his meat
where woods loom in gloom–
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet,
he does not forget.

Soft Edges

My precious Peanut-the-cat and I think about companionship…I think about the notion of company.  I remember that at this time of year I would always think of a poem I wanted to share during my first english class.  Usually the poem I chose was written by Stanley Kunitz.  I think that his words are transformative.  I found this poem and others here.

When I read this poem…and then listen to it…I can not help but think of my Mom & Dad.  It is with gratitude that I am able to skype with them every evening.  I love you both.

from Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz
(W. W. Norton, 1995)

Touch Me

by Stanley Kunitz
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
_________and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

Morning At the Bird Feeder


There’s a light in the valley
There’s a heart all alone
And the door is always open

Go away from your window
Pull the shades way down low
And in a whisper words are spoken

Higher and higher
Taking you there
You’ve got to fly
You’ve got to care

When the feelings gone
And you can’t go on
When things ain’t right
You wanna stay all night

Looking for someone
Who will always be strong
And who will not let you hide

You need your defender
For right or for wrong
You know the path is deep and wide

When the feelings gone
And you can’t go on
When things ain’t right
Don’t give up the fight


thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings

Where Words Lead Us

Have You Prayed?

I had to post this poem by Li-Young Lee, words I retrieved from The Poetry Foundation website.  It is a moment in one poet’s life that moves me, deeply.

Quite surprisingly, only moments after listening to this recitation and  just before heading to bed, I received both chills and tears, as a result of a letter passed to me via facebook…something written by a former student.  And it is simply so exquisite that it got me thinking immediately about how words hold such huge power and equally as much, poetry compells in us, a response of memory.  With very few words, we can be transported to a place and time.  It’s quite astounding.

I don’t think she’d mind me sharing this letter.

Ms. Moors,

I came across the poem ‘Carry You In My Heart’ by E.E. Cummings this summer Monday evening and had a vague recollection that I had certainly read this beautiful passage once before, but couldn’t quite remember when or where.

After a few moments of contemplation I realized that it was in Grade 9 that you made each of us attempt a delivery of the poem individually in front of the class! I laugh now at this memory thinking of how miserable our attempts would have been, but have never been more appreciative of the ability to read such a touching piece of literature.

I have such fond memories of our classes together; creating the art displays and your attempt to break my habit of writing in all upper case letters…. Thank you for such wonderful memories. I find that as I go through University with professors who could give two hoots about who you are or where you are going, I appreciate so much more the efforts and dedication teachers like yourselves gave to us students at the time. For this I would like to say thank you. Five years later I find myself having a chuckle once in a while about my time spent at Cardinal Newman and deeply appreciating my Grade 7 and 9 teacher who believed in me so much more than I believed in myself.

I am off to Ethiopia, Africa this Friday to build houses for families in the village of Debre Birhan. I smile at the thought of building our ‘garden’ in the front of the drop off zone, and appreciate now that even the smallest effort can make such a difference in this world.

I hope all is well with you and your children! Have a wonderful summer.

“I carry you in my heart.”

And I will carry you in my heart, dear student of mine.  Be safe.  May your work be a sign for others of God’s love for the world.

I carry your heart with me

by e.e.cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                    i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I Wrote Some Poetry Today

Because I am retired, it is easy to relish a day and to get in touch with everything inside that is natural.  For the first while, there was an invasive sense of guilt that would pour over me.  I worked hard for my entire life and so for awhile it seemed completely unnatural to NOT feel anxiety.  I’m glad that has changed. 

I wrote two pieces of poetry this morning.  I’m writing a series of works based on my mother’s journey with alzheimer’s disease.  I often thought this summer, “What if Mom could consciously describe ‘inside her head’ what her observations are of this experience.”  I’m trying to give my mother a large voice, in my poems.  I’m thinking it’s a tad arrogant to do this because it supposes things that ‘are’ OR ‘aren’t’ OR ‘are likely not’ OR ‘are invented’ from my own observations as daughter-writer, not from the authentic experience of being ‘inside’ my mother’s head.  Long-story-short, today I wrote two poems.  This was over coffee, after bird-watching and before dog-walking.

And then, I headed for the hills.  It has been a spectacular autumn!  Perhaps, we had two afternoons of rain and the rest of the days have been filled with sunshine and golden leaves.  What a restful and meaningful season for me!  The leaves, just the past two days have turned from golden to brown and now they crunch underfoot.  Tomorrow, the weatherman reports that we will move into a cold spell.  Autumn changes.  The hoses are stored in the shed now and the water turned off to the outside.  The bikes, tuned up in anticipation of spring, are stored away.

Max and Walking For Miles

This is what I love about living here.  I was thinking about the landscape that most speaks to my heart and this is it.  I can not help but think of my grandfather, John Moors, when I am in a space like this…with the smell of autumn and a bright dappled sky.

Oh, Captain!

Blue and Gold


When we returned home, I got into reading a book, inscribed “To Jacqueline, All my best, Chris Czajkowski”.  It is titled Diary of a Wilderness Dweller.  What an exceptional thing this diary is!  I went on to visit the Nuk Tessli photo blog, with interest in one day making this a wilderness hiking trip for myself.  In the past, I would not have enjoyed this opportunity to dream and relax with a book on a Wednesday afternoon.  Oh, I feel such gratitude!

A Year of Possibility

This year is a year of possibility and wonder!  Now, out I retire to the studio where I will coat the refurbished chair with varathane so that I can move onto the dresser.  I’d like the furniture to be finished before the snow flies and out of the studio so that I can attack the next cribbed panel.

The Beauty in Ordinary Days

He Must be 16 Yrs Old By Now!

Watching Peanut-the-cat ‘watching’ birds, while sipping my first cup of coffee, is an experience that can not be overrated.  I love these mornings of autumn where everything seems to take on texture, more than any other time of year.  My autumn is filled with ‘ordinary’ days and I feel like I’m made new because of it.

Sparrows Polish Off Yesterday's Feed

On one of my off-leash experiences with Max, I completely relaxed into autumn and wrote.

It is an

I haven’t been a 
of the earth before.
I am the ground,
a bed of yellow leaves,

I watch the
golden bedazzled
flecks of leaves


from the outermost branches
of hundred year old trees

and gently,


they come and cover me until
I decide to roll over and
write this poem on an envelope.

Blue sky dappled with bits of cloud;
sun spiked rays, 
like those sharp arms of light
in child-made drawings.
There, up in the corner.

I remember asking,
“Does the sun shine like that?” (What a stupid question!)

Look in the eyes said, “Yes.”

And today I learned it is so,
as sun rays reached around
and through tree arms,
lighting up the dance.

I am witness, this year,
to an event of extreme importance.

Delicious Morning