Please accept this poem.
I wrote it with best intentions
a miracle in making, as all things made in earnest are
when thought finds a willing receptacle.
Instead of tidying the house
I spent days searching for words.
Meaningful words that dribbled
or flew above my head
in the manner of teasing birds
whose waggling feathers I snatched
when I could.
(I did not hurt them. I promise.)
I set it before you now
as the welcome mat to my heart,
my wish for your comfort.
Come in. I love you. Let us share in Grace.
First, you will need a lake:
Preferably one in which you once flapped fish-like, laughter lifting in iridescent bubbles from your lips.
Best results are achieved mid-summer, when days feel like new clothes you are trying on.
You will also need:
An infant whose buoyancy is limitless.
A father with a never-ending capacity for love.
A mother who adores them both.
Dip the baby in the lake —
that baptismal font of past generations whose sloughed-off atoms may yet be felt.
The sun will bless you with its warmth.
Swirl the baby through the water; kiss and love him well. Hold him
with tender hands. Do not let go. Dip and swirl until
laughter lifts in iridescent bubbles from his lips.
Memory is made from molecules like this.
Repeat as often as you like.
Calorie count is negligible.
About the ingredients:
This is my personal recipe. Your infant/s can be any number, any gender; likewise parental combination. You can add a village. Water can be an ocean.
Love and Laughter should NOT be omitted under any circumstance.
On his first morning home from the hospital I listen to the sound of my husband walking, bare feet padding determinedly along the floor. I am reassured by the sound of his footsteps tracing a back and forth route from the laundry room at one end of the house to the kitchen at the other. Instructed to walk a mile every day of his convalescence, he is dedicated to the task. He walks the route several times throughout the day.
After a few days his stride picks up, his heels land stronger, with force enough to rattle the small things cluttering the table and the desktop. A few days more and he graduates to walking the driveway. I cannot hear his footsteps outside. I realize I miss the sound.
Weeks before my husband’s surgery, we began walking. We needed the time together, the closeness, the exercise – all of it to be ready for whatever was to come. Yesterday, the thirteenth day after his surgery, he had the catheter and staples removed. There is still work ahead to get him back to where he was, but I look forward to our renewed walking in the evening again.
Today is our anniversary. Today we have been married for thirty years. It’s impossible to calculate how many miles we’ve accumulated in our walking through all that time. Sometimes, I wonder how we’ve managed such a feat. And then I remember this:
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” ~~ Antoine de Saint-Expuery
And I realize that that is the thing that has gotten us to where we are, that looking outward in the same direction. Here’s to us walking, looking outward together for thirty more.
I was raised Catholic. After decades of soul-searching, my religious beliefs have come to fall in the category of atheist. However, I do believe fervently in treating all living creatures with courtesy and respect. Treat others as you would wish yourself to be treated. I often fall short of that, but I keep trying.
What terrifies me more than the ridiculous buffoon we have as the leader of this country, is where the country is headed morally and in the name of “Christianity.” I’m sharing this today because this guy, Peter, says it so much better than I ever could. It’s long, but definitely worth the read. If you can’t read the entire piece, than this section sums it up nicely:
“So let me see if I have this figured out correctly: God doesn’t give a flying fruitcake if we deprive twenty-million people, most of them poor, of access to health care. Nor is God particularly concerned about how men treat women in the workplace, how people of color are treated in the real estate market, how the hungry and homeless are cared for (or not), but God flips out if we bake a cake for a same sex couple to celebrate their wedding? I have to be honest with you, Frank. I’m just not seeing it. Not in the Bible, not in the realm of rational common sense.”
The stage was set, the performance about to begin. Cupid aimed his arrow at Véronique. She was not a willing participant in this grand guignol. Alas, poor Yorick, wearing a wretched grin — his was not a speaking role, stuck as he was between la dame and the ridiculous Louis, whose eyes rolled relentlessly heavenward. The bit players barely noticeable at the back. All of them waiting for the houselights to dim. As they did every day, except for Sunday when the public attended church to confess the sin of misplaced curiosity.
At the front of the stage, there was no mask to represent comedy. Tragedy was the only play held here.
n.b. My friend Barbara is currently on a Viking River Cruise. She’s been generous in sharing her photos with those of us who are stuck at home. One of the places she visited was Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. There were a couple of museum-y kinds of places with large collections of puppets and marionettes. This evolved from one of the photos she posted. My imagination ran a little wild. I am thinking of making my own strange tableau.
is still the beach,
still the sand,
and the gulls gliding low,
while a piper darts
along the curled edge of water —
too cold for wading,
too cold for swimming,
but for the stalwart few
enrobed in rubber
who persist in their passion
for riding waves.
After days of rain-slashed sodden skies
the sun lures people like me
desperate for a glimpse
of impending spring.
Mostly we sit in our cars
to avoid the brittle wind
leaving it to the dogs in their
fur coats with the owners
who love them enough
to walk with them, hunch-shouldered,
burrowing into their store-bought coats,
all of us looking ahead,
to warmer days.
Today is momentous for many reasons, not the least of which is that the Boy was born on this day twenty-eight years ago. The ensuing years have been filled with magic, joy, an occasional fit of exasperation, and a dollop of mystifying mayhem to keep us on our toes. This is how we learn and grow stronger and better.*
As parents we keep trying to teach our children what we think they need to know to navigate their future. Our children keep learning about these people who claim to be their parents. They keep looking for answers to the questions we couldn’t or didn’t know how to answer. The point is we all hope for more. We strive for better. For safer. For ever more children willing to keep moving the world ahead in a way that safeguards humanity and our planet.
Tomorrow I am taking my commitment to that pig-tailed Boy in the picture (pretending to be his favorite literary character of the moment) to the streets of Boston. So that I can raise my voice with others who wish that tolerance, love, and kindness may one day be the true law of the land.
Reason enough to celebrate, I think. Let’s make some noise.
*Or not. Not all humans feel compelled to heed the lessons inherent in life.
I never met Shannon Lewis Adams, but I woke up this morning thinking about him. I said his name out loud.
On September 11, 2001, he was twenty-five, about the age that my son is now. A baby, still, his real life just beginning — the one his parents had spent years preparing him for. Nurturing him; encouraging him. Loving him.
Fly, little bird, they may have thought then. Go out into the world and see what there is to see.
And Shannon flew. To a lofty building far from home.
I knew his father. We grew up in the same small area in the Adirondack mountains of northern New York. A place where most people are content to spend the whole of their lives. Lewis Adams had a shy sweet smile that traveled his face and was reflected in his eyes. I’ll bet his son Shannon did, too.
Gazing at your infant son as he locks eyes on you, both of you as yet unused to such amazement. The reverence of such a moment. This is what you signed up for. This is what sustains you through long nights of wakefulness and days of wondering whether you’re doing it right–this parenting business–so necessary to keep the world chugging forward into a brighter future for us all.
What a hefty weight a parent bears.
Here. Let me remind you of the connection you made, long ago as it was.
Years ago I sighed suddenly.
A quick, unexpected breath that snagged in my throat
like a small bird tangled in a net.
It kept happening after that.
Occasionally, and out of nowhere.
The sighs audible, gasping; a short stuttering note of surprise.
I have searched for a reason
this should happen. Wondering
what I had done to annoy
my own breath that it would sound
so exasperated with me?
I recently discovered that I hold my breath
when I am concentrating
on some inconsequential task.
While someone is drawing their last
breath I unconsciously hold mine.
A child is born and gulps a first breath
then wails from the surprise of it.
Isn’t that the way breath
is meant to be?
Rolling in and out endlessly
like ocean waves taking us ever further out
until at last, we lose sight
of the distant shore.