by Kim Balke,
We came by ferry to Mayne Island
entering by the narrow gate of Active Pass
with its quick-changing currents, deep waters,
with dear friends, all of us aging,
more aware of aches in body,
minds churning with the waves,
souls deep breathing, belonging, hidden,
sleek as cetaceans.
Two dogs, our companions—
Bonnie at 13, with her own discouragements,
Simon at 4, leash-bound from leaping wildly into waves,
nip at real live snake-seaweed critters.
We returned here
instead of other possibilities—
Europe, an Alaskan cruise
or visiting family and friends back east.
We returned here—
to this scruffy welcome mat to brush off muddy shoes,
to easy-going conversation over this bacon,
this spicy wine,
this Mayne Island corn and tomatoes,
bread from the bakery,
this beachcombing solace,
we reach up and through to the surface,
a puff of mist, a breath from a blowhole.
The excerpt below is taken from the introduction of Driftwood Dreams:
Poetry is a powerful force that resonates from one heart to another, transforming both the writer
and the listener. It helps us slow down and breathe deeply. It encourages us to listen and
notice, and grants us the privilege of passing through the eyes of the poet to their very soul.
That is what I think of as I read Kim Balke’s beautiful collection of poems. It is full of imagery that pulls at our heartstrings, drawing us into her experiences of pain and anxiety, of grief and remembrance, of gratitude and celebration. Her words beckon us to listen, to be healed and cleansed as we drink in the joys and agony of her experience and the struggles of coping with the highs and lows of her recovery.”
About Kim Balke and Driftwood Dreams
I have been doodling and writing for most of my life. When I started to work as an expressive arts therapist, I discovered that mind/heart/sensory experiences came to the forefront of my writing and work with children. This reflective practice of listening to my body has been a source of strength and a place to discover resilience during this time of pandemic and my unique health concerns.
On September 27, 2019 I had an emergency heart transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, BC. This was a pivotal event in my life, which has deepened my gratitude for each day. I am forever thankful to the heart donor and their family.
Thanks to the doctors, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, dieticians, lab technicians, and staff of St. Paul’s, Royal Columbian, Holy Family, Delta Hospitals, and my family doctors, – I am here – alive and able to share this collection of poems with you. My hands were very swollen for about two and a half months and shaky for some time after that. The combined efforts of my care team have made it possible for me to write again!
Some of these poems date as far back as 1998. Most were written at home or while in hospital. Where possible, I have included the date and background information about each poem. Join with me as I wander through life themes including belonging, anxiety, rhythms of return, grief and remembrance, heart postures, gratitude, soul seasons, and celebration.
Thank you, friends, for entering my Driftwood Dreams.
Kim Balke, May 2021
For more of Kim’s work, download a free copy of Colourful Me from our store.
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