Sunday, April 20, 2008


Fasten Seat Belts

It is good to sometimes go, travel alone, find myself in extended solitude that asks me to face an empty hand, a quiet bed, a table for one and no one to pour the tea.

This solitude opens me, jigs my mind, shakes things from the far side of my limbs, gives me permission to think things I may not ordinarily think. In short, though I rarely welcome my leavings at the entrance side, I generally come babbling out the exit experience... reshaped, renewed and full of imaginings.

Going to Calvin was no different.

For the next week, I'll share the journey as I remember it, or as I was careful enough to write down along the way. To start, I'll give you this five-line poem that I found at Chicago O'Hare. It was just there, waiting to express what it feels like when life seems predictable and all wrapped up and figured out... only to be turned on its head, opened and directed towards possibility. The poem is called "Belle Nanon", which has a bit of French history behind it, but which is more simply a kind of pink rose.

"Belle Nanon"

at this late hour,
that I should begin to
blush, surge, open
to young dew.

Later, on the plane, I found another poem, after the woman next to me shut the window shade so I could take a picture of the tray table. I'm sure she was wondering if I was suffering from a lack of lunch. I tried to explain that I wanted the picture to illustrate something I was thinking of writing.

Then the poem, which is not what I was thinking of writing, presented itself. Here it is...


Fasten seatbelt while seated, not while
kneeling yawning chatting spitting kissing
standing or (God forbid) walking to the lavatory.
If you fail to secure yourself and experience
unexpected turbulence, you can always use
your bottom cushion for flotation device.

That's it. Two little appetizer poems. Tomorrow I'll share some that I found when I got to my hotel and walked across the street to eat alone at the Red Sun Buffet.

Tray Table photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Christianne said...

you are so lovely.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

I look forward to reading more about your Calvin experience. And I'm glad you found at least a few moments to be alone, in between so much activity.

It was so good to be with you. It felt much less like a "meeting," and much more like a "getting together," which is interesting, isn't it?

One of these days I'll eat crow on my blog over that "there's no real community in the blogosphere" post. :-)

9:17 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

The world is a better place when more people write poetry. Thanks for posting these.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Very nice.

I wish I found poetry in tray tables. I more often find the evidence of the previous passenger and scowl to myself in a manner more akin to an ill-crafted rant on a message board than poetry. We'll see what I find on the tray tables I encounter in the morning, en route yet again to California, which has a poetry all of its own.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

Oh, my. Your post is so calm and poetic, while mine is giddy and frenetic.

Will the real "contemplative mom" please stand up?

I'm so glad I pestered the good folks at IVP for a description of you and stared at nametags looking for L.L. Barkat.

Wish I'd known llama momma was there. I would have tracked her down, too.

Thanks for your inspiration, insight, ideas,'m trying to think of another word that starts with an "i" about "intelligence."

Because I've always thought, "That L.L. Barkat sure is smart."

You're a treasure. It was a privilege to meet with you.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous a.anjeanette said...

You're back!! Looking forward to hearing about Calvin. That first poem really gets it.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

I love the little "Belle Nanon" verse. Look forward to hearing about your experience.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous heather said...

I love that second poem especially because life--especially the Christian life--and art is not secure. It's scary and risky and topsy-turvy, and there's no room for seatbelts here.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

I came to leave a note that I ordered your book to be sent to a stateside friend and am happily (anxiously!) looking forward to holding your stories.

But here I found these words woven into poems, a necklace I too wanted to retrieve, take with me.

I think I will.

(And then to bump into Ann Kroeker here---and she met you! Ah, you both are blessed.)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I get the second poem, L.L. I need to learn to appreciate poetry better, just never got into it, though Scripture itself is full of poetry, so I certainly have there, the psalms a prime example.

Yes, you did seem quite energized (especially compared to me, I guess!) that Thursday night when Deb and I met you. Glad it worked out for you as you say here.

5:38 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... thank you, dear friend.

Llama... It was a getting together, oh yes. And how fun to meet you right along with Ed, and to hear the two of you talking. It showed me a different side of you.

Mark... so you admit that writing can make the world a better place... is that the beginning of words perhaps being able to save lives? :)

Ann... you're funny. I rather think I was less calm in person! And I LOVED meeting you. Love, love, loved it.

A An... glad you liked the first poem. It's a personal favorite from the conference.

Dianne... and I look forward to sharing!

Heather... I was concerned that the second poem might be too hard to fathom, but I think you've got a good interpretation.

Ann V. ... how sweet. I look forward to perhaps hearing your thoughts about SC. And, hey, come by and get a necklace any time. :)

Ted... energized, yes! Adrenaline can do wonders. :)

2:00 PM  

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