Bellingham Friends Meeting

Bellingham Quakers – The Religious Society of Friends

Poetry by Doris Bye Ferm


   Rio
   
   We are going down to Rio,
   Down to Rio and the sea,
   Where the gulls and clouds are flying
   And the wind’s as free as we;

   
   Where the golden sands are sparkling
   And the white-capped billows roar,
   As they tell their tales of pirates
   On some strange and distant shore.

   
   So we’re going down to Rio,
   Down to Rio and the sea,
   And the white-sailed ship a-waiting
   Is the home of you and me.

   
   Doris Ferm, April 1940
   
    
   
   Bon Hill
   
   I sit within these prison walls
   of brick, so sadly drab and drear,
   And dream of days when ringing calls
   of birds and chipmunks sounded near;

   
   When trees were whisp’ring just to me,
   and cowbells ringing from above,
   With rushing water tumbling down,
   And I was with the things I love.

   
   The dewy lanes in morning’s mist,
   A deer silhouetted against the sky;
   They’re calling; all the woods insist.
   I must go back! I must return!

   
   But prison walls enclose me here;
   False pride and honor bind me in.
   I cannot go, but far and clear
   the pine q des, sighing, call me home.

   
   Doris Ferm, May 1940
   
    
   
   Autumn Bloom
   
   Maybe we shall live again
   To love and learn uncowed
   by doubts and fears, more free
   than this life has allowed.

   
   Yet that grace may not be given;
   This life may be complete –
   So beautiful the earth,
   So blessed my days and sweet.

   
   Yellow flowers in bloom I saw
   One warm November day;
   But frozen in the week,
   Forsythia turned gray.

   
   So would I bloom in autumn,
   And never count the cost,
   To brighten one small spot
   Before December frost.

   
   
   Doris Ferm, 1982

   
    
   
   Oh, Lovely World
   
   Have you not seen the summer garb
   of fields and trees, how green, how green?
   And cypress knees,
   how brown?

   
   The gold of dawn sends off the night,
   With beams that shine, so bright, so bright.
   They glint on stream
   and pond.

   
   Oh, lovely world! I sense the Light
   That gives me sight: How blessed, how blessed,
   my life has seemed
   to me.

   
   Doris Ferm, February 1983
   
    
   
   In Memory: May Taylor Bye
   
   All down the misty years
   I see her sewing in her rocking chair;
   Each stitch binds with courage
   The fabric of her life.

   
   Across the gulf of time
   I hear her laughter, smell the lavender,
   And feel beneath soft cheek
   The undergirding strength.

   
   Still deep within my heart
   I sense her loving undiminished; down
   the generations trace
   the image of her smile.

   
   Doris Ferm, August 1983
   
    
   
   Response to a Mother’s Day Card
   
   Fine as spider silk the strands must be
   When we would send our children down the wind;
   Yet strong, so they can reel themselves back in
   If gusty storms dismay.

   
   Where sun and rain and care do gird the nest
   In strength, the shining lines adorn the air,
   Are anchored fast, and singing send
   From afar the message,
   “All is well.”

   
   Doris Ferm, 1986
   
    
   
   When Spring has Come Again
   
   In every woodland flower I’ll see your face –
   Frowning violets and the spurred ones,
   White trillium, blue bells, star chickweed.

   
   From every birdsong down the valley road
   Your eager voice I’ll hear retelling
   A story ever new to all who hear.

   
   In every child whose wonder and delight
   In Earth – the trees, the stars, the hills –
   Recalls your love of scent and touch and hue,
   Your spirit shines.

   
   Your love gives blessings
   Flung across these valleys and these hills
   To greet another spring with hope renewed.

   
   Doris Ferm, 1992
   
    
   
   Gardener’s Plaintive Doggerel
   
   What is so rare as a day in September?
   Sweat on the brow makes one wish for November.
   Sweat in the armpits is even less nice;
   Let’s go in the house and resort to some ice.

   
   One waters the garden; the rain doesn’t fall,
   And meanwhile one bundles twigs, branches and all
   that’s left from the ice storm, though winter’s long past.
   The weed bushes wait, and keep growing so fast

   
   I’ll never catch up! And euonymous! Woe!
   Despair overtakes me, I’m going so slow!
   I think what I need is a man who can dig,
   Or possibly even a deep-rooting pig!

   
   John spends his leisure with clippers and saw,
   The motorized one, and the logs they do fall
   From his cleverly homemade sawhorse support.
   Lemonade’s needed; I think a full quart.

   
   The years say I’m seventy, he’s sixty-nine,
   And I guess you could say we’re doing just fine.
   But we wonder sometimes, will the golden years come
   When all of this yard work is finally done?

   
   Doris Ferm, September 1994
   
    
   
   Journey
   
   Through all my living,
   How the wilder lives of Earth
   brought forth my joy,
   and taught me how to be
   myself.

   
   And I, slow learner,
   At last have opened up
   to that within that teaches
   how to love, to trust, to care
   for all that breathing, growing, feeding, glowing, is.

   
   And in the coming dark,
   Across the western sky,
   May homeward flights of birds
   Now guide me toward the light.

   
   Doris Ferm, 1993
   
    
   
   Afterward
   
   If I should die, and cease to be
   In this form you’re used to seeing, hearing,
   Lacking arms to hug you then, or voice to sing;
   Yet never doubt that I am with you still,
   Loving you as I have always loved.

   
   What joy that now there is the freedom
   to be at once with each, with all of you
   I love! To share you hopes more closely,
   Spirit into spirit interweaving,
   Growing on together.

   
   How much you each have helped me grow
   and open up to love more fully!
   By the wonder of your love, Earth’s beauty,
   And spirits of those who have gone before,
   and live in me, I am enriched.

   
   So grieve a little while and then go on,
   Remembering that I live through you and
   All that I have loved – trees, flowers,
   waters, birds, and small soft creatures.
   Everywhere you seek me I shall be.

   
   Doris Ferm, May 1995
   
    
   
   What is life?
   
   That spark ignited in the warm, wet dark
   that grows, throbs, moves, and comes at last into the light;
   Struggles to stand, on spindly legs, to run; mews, seeks its
   mother’s breast; squeals, peeps, fans gauzy wings,
   Creeps about the forest floor.
   Matures, ignites another spark perchance, or many;
   Grows old, fades, dies and is no more, save in those it leaves behind.

   
   What is life? I, who treasure mine,
   Must grant to each its own,
   It’s right to be, its place within the tapestry.
   Must own the unity that underlies diversity
   And see for each the fullness of its destiny.

   
   So striving, I reap joy in wonder and delight,
   In promise that my grandchild’s grandchild, too,
   May know the beauty and the oneness found
   In forest, field and mountain stream,
   In lichened rocks and dewy webs at dawn.

   
   What is life? It is the spirit gushing forth, unbounded,
   Stretching tendrils upward, outward, touching,
   Yearning for perfection of its promise;
   Meeting eye to eye and heart to heart with
   cat or dog, cow or deer, with crab and mantis, with child or crone,
   Knitting each to each in that wondrous fabric of Earth’s time.

   
   Doris Ferm, 1997
   
    
   
   To My Son
   
   The wild wet winds of autumn blow
   Your spirit into mine.
   I trace the gusts of birds across the sky
   And farther south the boat upon the river
   And the heron’s widespread wings.

   
   Ash beneath the mirror water
   Moves to roots and upward toward the sun.
   It drifts upon the currents toward the sea,
   Past all the well-loved spots you used to know.

   
   I breathe your body into mine
   To swell the tears that flow,
   and touch your spirit in the wind.
   I miss your hands, your face, your voice,
   The man, the child I loved so long.

   
   Doris Ferm, 1998
   
    
   
   Missing
   
   I go into the cold, dark room
   to pull the drapes against the chill of night.

   
   He used to lie there
   on the sofabed, reading;
   But no one puts the heat on now
   and I don’t need the light.

   
   The houseplants on the windowsill
   stand dimly against the gathering dusk.
   The room is filled with an absence
   that permeates the house.

   
   I return to the warm kitchen
   where Jerem is sniffing the plastic bag
   Into which I have put one of his neckties
   to be given away.

   
   We miss you, Johnny.
   
   Doris Ferm, 2000
   
    
   
   Alaska
   
   Oh, land of towering mountains, snow-crowned
   against the brilliant sunlit sky;
   land of tiny-flower-carpeted rolling tundra
   where the sentinel firs
   have staffed their struggling upward march
   against the clean-cut, icy wind.
   Land of white-spumed mountain torrents
   dashing down the precipitous rock faces,
   tumbling from the glacial lakes
   to the green river that winds through
   the softer hills of the intermountain valley;
   land of those great, iron-pinioned, fierce soaring eagles,
   kings of all the mountain air.
   What would my soul give
   to swing free as they
   above the glacial tarns and valley meadows
   where the elk herds graze?
   What would I give,
   my feet to wander once again,
   along the needled forest slope,
   and smell the odorless, clean air
   off the distant peaks?

   
   Doris Ferm, 2011

To see Doris’s full obituary online, go to: http://www.farewelltributes.com/obits/obituaries.php/obitID/111770.

To sign the online guestbook, go to: http://www.farewelltributes.com/memorials/guestbook/index.php?dID=111770.

To light a virtual candle, go to: http://www.farewelltributes.com/candles/candlespecial.php/dID/111770.

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