I’m not by nature an early riser. As a child I can remember waking, hearing my friends outside playing and pulling the covers up to go back to sleep or to read until lunchtime. Of course, I had to abandon that sloth once I had a job as an adult. Then I would rise early enough to take a shower, eat breakfast, and commute to a job that began at 8 o’clock, or even earlier. After 45 years of doing that, early rising is fairly ingrained in me now.

I never used an alarm clock, but these days I have one in the shape of my cats who wake me each morning sometime between 4:30 and 6 to be fed. I dutifully get up and do that chore while I’m half asleep. I have my most vivid dreams in the morning, so often I am carrying those images around with me when I sit down to write.

There’s a stillness in the morning that I enjoy. I have a severe hearing loss and need to wear aids in both ears all day long in order to function. But it’s more relaxing for me to have them out, so I wait a while before I put them in. It makes that time particularly quiet, a time to contemplate the world around me, to enjoy the view from the window, whether it’s today’s lush green or snow blowing across the field.

I’ve known Sandy Weisman for a number of years as we were both members of a writing critique group called “The Poets Table.” She’s a talented poet and also an artist. I admit to being envious of people who can wear both those hats so successfully. This poem comes from the hand-made limited edition, “A Book of Hours,” which features poems and accompanying artwork.

Sandy said this about the poem: “Matins’ is one of the canonical hours in the Medieval religious books of hours — indicating times during the day for prayer and reflection.  Matins is often thought of as early morning. However, it’s more accurate to say that it was before dawn, and still dark outside. The religious would rise and say their prayers before starting their days.”

Because she had a sense of where she was going with the book, Sandy would set her alarm to wake at different hours and take notes about her thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Eventually she identified a trajectory through the day, with different energy levels and work habits. This formed the structure of her book.

She too was often awakened from dreams. She said, “It was difficult to write at 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning and I often felt unmoored, or fuzzy.  It’s also a time that I have vivid dreams, so waking out of a dream was disorienting. And since so many of my dreams feature people from my own past, I wanted this poem to feel that I was traveling through some strange landscape and time frame.”

Besides working hard as a poet and an artist, Sandy is active in supporting others as well. She has established 26 Split Rock Cove, an artist’s retreat offering workshops in art making and writing, studio space, and a rental apartment for artists and writers looking for a peaceful, nurturing environment.

Additionally, she hosts readings. Visit Sandy Weisman’s website to learn more about her work: sandyweisman.art/.

I’d also like to remind you to visit the Art Mart at Waterfall Arts on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fifteen local writers have banded together to form “Locally Grown Books” where we are selling over 50 different books, calendars, journals, etc. Please support our local writers!

Matins

I begin to dream. My mind as big

as the universe, empty, so easy

to travel unballasted through space.

 

Nothing solid. I pass my younger self sitting

on a window seat, reading mysteries.

 

I pass my mother dying peaceful, finally.

 

I pass my father and all the boys I’ve ever loved,

still boys, pulling me very fast

in a red wagon around the corners on my street.

 

Soft whispers from the universe —

I am inside the hour glass.

Judy Kaber is Belfast’s poet laureate.