Abstract rendering: the inner workings of a joyful heart.
My husband’s words do not flow freely or easily. He is a quiet man. On special occasions like our anniversary or my birthday, he draws flowers and balloons on a folded piece of paper using crayons left over from our son’s childhood. Somewhere in our house, there’s a secret stash of yellow paper he uses to make his cards. He neatly prints his multi-colored words, because his handwriting is nearly illegible. The word love is always there.
He used to buy me cards — big beautiful Hallmark cards that he took time to examine until he found the one that read closest to how he truly felt. I knew that about him. But, like everything else, cards kept getting more expensive, and we decided that we would rather save pennies where we could, and take a trip somewhere instead. Now, we make our cards for one another.
This is my card to him. A rendering of my happy heart, and love because that is the most important word we will ever need.
There are so many things to love about this place; so many reasons not to move —
the feel of grass against the back of my legs, the
damp smell of earth, the leaves overhead
silvered wings of butterflies.
My eyes are slivers peering
at the world through a curtain of flowering stalks
whose buds are beginning to bloom.
He climbed trees not for the thrill
of the effort it took, but for the vantage point
Come here and look —
A whisper of wind licked the skin on
his arms and traveled the nape of his neck
as he sat in a notch near the top of the tree
where he could see
past the confines of his small yard,
past his small town,
to the mountains that encircled them.
Beyond that was a world he tried to imagine,
and time on the wings of birds flying past
promising promising promising
plenty more trees out there,
waiting for him to climb.
~~ For Tom, Tommy, Tomas
Begun on May 6, 2018 to mark twenty years. Still a work in progress.
twenty-seven years ago.
There was sunshine and abundant warmth on that day,
a blessed gift after a solid week of rain.
Our son was a corybantic toddler in need of a playground
and an ice cream cone.
We were all desperate for ice cream,
that harbinger of truly spring when the days open again
to burgeoning possibilities
like green shoots bursting from the sodden ground.
And so, when the phone rang as we were leaving,
I did not answer it;
I answered my heart instead.
Years from now I doubt that
I will remember that it snowed today,
or that my husband brought home pizza
as a consolation for the weather.
To render a day in such focus that you never forget it
requires the prism of an unanswered call
that waits to inform you that your brother is dead.
It casts an image so sharp you can play it back at will:
a heart answered; a brother gone; and still the world spins.
There was also ice cream that day, and laughter.
I remember that. What there was always counts
as much as what there is no more.
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.
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.