A Place of One’s Own

falling

 

There are so many things to like about this place; so many reasons not to move —
the feel of grass licking the backs of my bare legs, the
damp smell of earth, the leaves overhead
like silvered wings of whispering butterflies.
My eyes drawn to slivers peering
at the world through a curtain of flowering stalks
whose buds are just beginning to bloom.

I am a child again looking for sanctuary.

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

 

 

The Boy Who Climbed Trees

He climbed trees not for the thrill
of the effort it took, but for the vantage point
it offered.

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.

 

It didn’t snow on April 6th

April 6, 2018. This is not what spring is supposed to look like.

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.

*For Puck who is always in my heart.

 

In lieu of the card I did not send

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
agonizingly slow,
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.

Family Recipe


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 beach even in winter

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.

 

In Praise of the Quiet Dads

Bob with Jordan shadow

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.

Let me show you how you have loved.

 

p.s.  Sorry about the coffee.

 

Breath

Breath

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.

It’s Spring: A Poem and a Light-hearted Lament

A pretty yellow flower that says heralds spring.

Photo of a pretty yellow flower to herald spring.

Spring has well and truly sprung where I live.  The sun beams beatifically while a bellicose wind is determined to huff and puff the few remaining days of March.  In the background, my husband’s chainsaw gnaws through a pile of downed tree limbs — winter’s detritus.

Today is my husband’s birthday.  (Happy birthday, Bob.)

In a couple of days it will be April, which is National Poetry Month.  I love poetry as much as I love spring.  On spring mornings rife with sun, I often think of Wordsworth. Specifically the following:

My Heart Leaps Up

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

I learned this poem many years ago when I was still the Child.  A few years ago, while thinking on Wordsworth, I jotted down a response to My Heart Leaps Up.

My heart despaired when I beheld
A codger in the dell:
So was it that my life began;
Yet here I am without a plan,
Fast closing in on next-to-dead.
Oh, bugger hell!
And I could wish my days to crawl
Before I have to chuck it all.

I must have been in a funky mood when I wrote that ditty.  In my defense, the too swift passing of time has been an obsession with me since I was about eight, and the only way around it is to poke fun of myself, which is what I am doing here.  (Plus, I do love the word codger.)

So, welcome to another spring; to young men’s (and women’s) fancy; to love and poetry.  Welcome, welcome, welcome all!

Curtains Made of Lace

Grant_DeVolson_Wood_-_American_Gothic

American Gothic by Grant Wood  1930

She didn’t ask for much.  A smile, a touch–a little love and tenderness to shift the close of a dirt and scrabble day.

First year married drifted by on a breeze of hope and expectation.  There was work to be done.  Hard work, but worth the blisters raised as they dug a life out of rough earth; grew the wheat to make the bread they hoped would sustain them.

Second and third years married passed in a flurry of motion building on the first.  More earth to till, more grain, more sweat.  An arch of eyebrow, a sigh.  No babies planted, but years stretched out ahead of them.  There was time yet for that.

The farm grew in acres.  Middling trees marked the borders of all they owned.  She made curtains from her bridal veil and hung them in the window of the room where a child would one day sleep.

Four years swept by, then five, six, seven.  They bought a tractor when she wanted a crib.

The tenth year saw a drought.

It rained through much of the eleventh year.  The silo was replaced.

Year fifteen a barren womb dried up and was removed.  Hope shriveled to a useless thing.

The seventeenth year she set a potted plant out on the front porch and tried to put her  faith in that.

Disappointment etched lines between her brows. She left the curtains hanging in the upstairs room.  The lace had come all the way from France.

It would make a fine shroud–all she wished for now.

 

n.b.  Writing prompt by Visual Verse.  While my friends were dancing, I sat in a corner and came up with this.  Don’t ask me why.  Muses don’t have to have a reason.