Shortly after I started Greenwoman Magazine last year, the wonderful and helpful Carol Ciavonne told me about poet Lois Beebe Hayna. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know about her (she is a former Colorado Springs’ poet laureate). Poetry is my weak area, the only literary form that I kick myself for not knowing more about. This was great–here was a chance to learn! I read all of Hayna’s books and was enchanted. What turned me on most was her connection to nature. I wrote her, asking if we might publish something in Greenwoman and she gave me permission to publish anything I pleased, anytime. No payment necessary.
Her generosity astonished me. Other things would astonish me as well. That she is now nearly 100 years old (born in 1913) and that she did not publish her first book of poetry until age 70 (Book of Charms, 1983). Here’s a few wise words about art and about her late start in life.
Later last year I discovered this amazing interview as well and I’d like to share it today, along with one of her wonderful poems.
From Lois Beebe Hayna’s Northern Gothic.
Having Come So FarAlways in spring we gather stones. Heaved up by frost stones drag at the plow, strike sparks from hoes. We glean them as we gleaned last spring and every spring before, piling them into cairns before we plant. I never understand why stones work up, when, heavy as they are, they ought to sink. I start to believe they have some kind of slow, reptilian life, struggling for ages up through suffocating clay. Maybe in some deep place they break away– flocks of stones like just-hatched chicks– always new broods of them starting their long, blind climb toward light. Seeds do that, seeds as hard, as seeming-dead as stones. Once buried in earth they climb like the sun was a magnet. Stones don’t put out leaf and vine but light seems to pull them too, and they start their vast subterranean journey. Gathering them, I begin to feel their almost-animate relief at reaching light and air, and I was furious when my sons skipped stones into the river– undoing in one careless afternoon who-knows-how-many centuries of progress.
–Lois Beebe Hayna