Christine Valters Paintner

Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet living in Galway, Ireland and the author of twelve books of nonfiction and two collections of poems: Dreaming of Stones (2019) and The Wisdom of Wild Grace, both from Paraclete Press. Her poems have appeared in several journals in North America, UK, and Ireland including Tales from the Forest, Crannog, Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, impspired, Bangor Journal, Tiferet, Spiritus, Presence, and Anchor. You can find more of her writing and poetry at AbbeyoftheArts.com.

Origins

If I could peer far enough down
a robin’s pulsing throat, would I see
notes piled there waiting to be flung
into freshness of morning?

If I close my eyes and burrow
my face into peony’s petals,
would I discover the source 
of its scent, a sacred offering?

Can I plunge inside 
and find a lifetime of words
spooled tightly inside my heart
ready for a tug?

If I dig beneath the bedrock 
will I find love there, 
solid like iron or does it flow like magma
filling in all of the empty spaces?

I want to be the kind of woman

(after Jenni Fagan)

I want to be the kind of woman 
who milks goats each morning 
and drinks straight from the bucket - 
who isn’t afraid to reach into the hive.

I want to be the kind of woman 
who lies down in winter, 
in the brown mulch of leaves 
and sleeps until spring
who loves the generous folds of her body.

I want to be the kind of woman 
who has found her sealskin,
who would cross oceans to make 
her dead father love her once again.

I want to be the kind of woman 
who can name hyssop, nettle, lady’s mantle
and knows all their healing uses.

I want to be the kind of woman 
who goes out under the night sky 
to chant with owls and wolves,
who falls more in love each day 
with her husband, her little dog, her life.

I want to be the kind of woman
who knows she is daughter of sunlight and mud
who knows that her grandmothers 
are still singing her name.

Dreams

To 
willingly 
descend the long 
dark staircase is an 
act of trust that something 
worthwhile waits for you there 
in the cellar with its cobwebbed boxes
piled high with discarded things, the scent 
of a mouse long dead and naphthalene balls.

Some days you clamber around, eyes not yet adjusted 
to this night territory, so everything you bump startles
you. But some days your pupils widen and you wander 
in amazement, seeing just how much light is contained
in darkness, like stones shimmering in moonlight, 
and rather than return with a pile of them, 

you choose one to carry back up the stairs, 
back into the comfort of your home, 
where this tiny gift splits open 
the foundation. You look out 
where the window once 
was, and instead of 
the brick wall of 
the house next 
door, you 
realize 
you can now see to the horizon. 

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