Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry in 2015 and continues to meet.
Originally from Chicago, Lee LeVoy moved to Door County in 1999 with her husband, Hugh. Their dream of living on their 17 acres in Ellison Bay became a reality when jobs opened for both of them, and her career in parish ministry continued in the Green Bay diocese. LeVoy appreciates the beauty of woods and meadow and is grateful to live close to the lake and bay.
Since moving to Ellison Bay, LeVoy has studied poetry with Ellen Kort and Robin Chapman and is a member of the Belles Lettres poetry group. Her poems have been published in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ calendar, Listen: A Seeker’s Resource and Halfway to the North Pole.
LeVoy’s first book of poems, Still Voice, was published in 2017, and her forthcoming poetry book, Sacred Moments: One Couple’s Walk with Parkinson’s, will be published later this year.
What’s your writing routine?
I feel centered in the early morning, when I have the best energy for writing, before the busyness of the day. I have kept a journal consistently for over 40 years, and this has become not only a spiritual practice but the source for many of my poems.
What do most poorly written poems have in common?
Poems that use trite language or too many words.
What do most well-written poems have in common?
Images and language that stir wonder, gratefulness, compassion, hope. Poems that challenge us to change.
Is it important to understand the meaning of the poem, or for the reader to “solve” it?
Accessible language is important. Some poems stretch us, carry the reader to a new dimension.
What book are you reading right now?
Sacred Wilderness by Susan Power, a Native American woman writer. It’s the story of two clan mothers, one contemporary and one traditional.
The Empty Canoe on the painting “Green Light” by Olaf Schneider We found the water lilies floating in still water tucked in a secluded lagoon while rowing our canoe on Europe Lake You guided us steering with strong arms as we slipped into silent wonder light filtering through pine and birch The canoe rests now in quiet water empty too heavy to lift or carry waiting in the light
Boxing at the Y On this November afternoon Bill an instructor for the Parkinson’s class welcomes you helps pull jacket sleeves from your arms teases about SOX embroidered in white on your green wool cap guides you with your walker into the exercise room A broad smile brightens your face when Adam the teacher brings out the black boxing mitts As you slip your hand into the glove something clicks carries you back to the old neighborhood sparring with your older brother Jake Adam faces you wearing a punch pad Bill stands behind holds your gait belt for balance Give it to me the best you can Hit the target one two You pummel the punch pad the sound of leather on leather like a pop pierces the quiet Keep going Hugh straight ahead good! You swing right then hard left with surprising energy and balance transformed in a moment of grace
I am so distant from the hope of myself after Mary Oliver “When I Am among the Trees” Sometimes I lose it running to bring you to therapy running to get groceries unload the car the walker help you in the house heat the chili serve you seated in the blue chair watching the news I fall into the pit of resentment feel anger rising words I regret All I do is wait on you In the early morning I sit in quiet before the busyness Words leap out from a psalm* teach me how to respond Let me keep my ways from offending with my tongue Let me keep a muzzle on my mouth What is the hope of myself as your caregiver? *Ps 39:2
Living with Questions Heavy snow clings to spruce after the February storm We sit in a circle for Parkinson’s support move into quiet space As the therapist plays a CD we close our eyes rest our hands on our lap our feet on the floor The soothing voice of Deepak Chopra guides our meditation offers healing affirmations We reflect on Q questions living with the questions when there are no answers The therapist invites us to share what comes up as we listen I turn to you What questions do you have? How long before it gets worse? What can I count on?