No Lexicon

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There exists no lexicon

For the echoes of emptiness here–

Where the azaleas bloom

Purple, pink, and white,

While dusty looking

Lavender sends up

Multiple spikes,

As roses yield up

Open, thirsting mouths

To the sky.

Though the soil here

Nourishes color and green

Growing things,

While life appears

Apparently abundant,

Although neighbors smile and wave,

The soil remains absent of truth, of meaning,

Of love—of a spirit—of a soul.

No lexicon exists for the emptiness

Echoing throughout the soil

In this place.

 

My Mother’s Stories

Image courtesy of Pinterest

I do not care if my daughter

forgets all my empty stories

of blank cityscapes,

of colorless times,

of limping struggles.

 

My daughter must remember–

remember, keep alive

stories of her grandmother,

stories of lineage, of place, of era,

of strength in women, in family,

of struggle containing meaning

like Jacob’s struggle by the river—

stories living in her DNA,

strengthening the helix of her history.

 

She must remember,

pass on to her progeny with pride

in her spirit living, not here in this place,

in this dusty Lonestar state,

but among those mountains

bathed in stained glass colors

at sunrise and sunset,

or smeared gauzy blue at noon,

or at times, shrouded in grieving fog.

 

So many times, I have watched my daughter sleeping,

a toddler she seems still at twenty-three–

I marvel at how that can be–

Her lips parted just a bit, slightly swollen in sleep,

her lashes long, thick, and dark against her cheek,

so like her grandmother’s lashes,

a trait I did not inherit,

her breathing whispers youthful innocence,

her tousled hair that of a child wearied from play–                                                

And I— I believe I see some ghost umbilical cord stretching

from her, leaving the house, and could I travel it,

follow it—I know where it should lead me–

a black cinder block house on stilts somewhere

miles outside Charleston, West Virginia—

so far up into the mountains

that as we drove the one time I saw it

I felt tilted back as if for

a rocket take off to some distant star—

my aunt’s eyes send a flood down the valleys of her face,

my mother gasping at sight of that tall cinder block house,

narrow and black with four small windows in the front,

unfriendly and uninviting it appears to me,

as it stands in the dirt yard

with a single clothesline, tires,

some chickens pecking the dirt around the stilts,

contrasting the lush green mountain top

touching the sky behind it.

My recalcitrant 13-year-old self thinks–

How the fuck does someone build

a cinder block house on stilts like that? 

And black?  Why black? 

This is where the ghost umbilical cord

leaving my daughter leads me,

this place, this link to the earth—

to the spirit within this earth

where her grandmother,

my mother grew,

nurtured by the dirt, the green mountain tops,

the harshness of poverty in harsh times,

coal mines and cave ins, winter fevers,

spring forest escapes from ideas

of death and survival.

 

Where I too am linked,

bound even as I struggled

to free myself for so many years.

Now, at this age, I know it was this spirit, this link,

that poured its strength into me

when I needed it though my youth

scrubbed me of the wisdom to recognize it.

 

My daughter must know her grandmother’s stories,

of how hope lived in an election during the Great Depression,

her great-grandfather forbid even his wife to take a switch

to of one his children on the day of FDR’s election,

of how death can be heard walking the floors of empty rooms

when the family gathers round a dying toddler,

of how potato sack dresses itch,

of how her great-grandfather built the cinder block house

after a snow melt flood washed away the wood house

and nearly killing himself thinking he had lost his family,

of how to hunt rabbits and skin them,

of how squirrel tastes better than possum,

of how to hold your head when you

ask the company store man for credit,

of how grief over the death of twin toddlers

can turn your mother silent

of how your father explains the death of children

kills a mother’s heart,

of how an orange for Christmas is the greatest of all treasure,

of how it is tedious work to darn socks,

of how joyful it feels to go without shoes in the summer,

of how rich and important you can feel

when new shoes arrive in the fall,

of how when a boy asks to escort you home from church,

you better not walk more than six feet in front of your mother,  

of how to watch for your shoeless mother walking home

in the snow from the Post Office in Charleston because

you know she only wears her shoes to church to keep them good,

and how to warm her feet so she doesn’t lose anymore toes—

 

All these stories and more,

my daughter must know

must remember,

breathe and bleed life

in the telling of them to her children

for they are woven, a tapestry,

double helix patterned within us,

our earthen souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Melting

image courtesy of southernexposure.com

Spring threatens to melt into us. 
Summer follows soon enough.

Birds will return, seeking seeds and worms,
Building nests for the young to come.
Will the birds remember the songs they sing?
Songs of summer, songs to mate?

Flowers will emerge, warming their petals 
And leaves under a brilliant sun.
Will they remember how to open
Their blossoms?
Will they remember how to dress themselves
In glorious color?

How can the birds or flowers remember
When the world walks a tightrope
Over the abyss
And sunflowers may never grow again
Tall enough to bow their heavy heads to God?

Masquerade as Spring

Image is my own taken at Houston Arboretum

Leaves half dead brown
half living green dappled
with the gold of hope,
sparkling, dangle from the tree
as if life clutched within
holds a secret 
on this wonderful warm winter
afternoon—
masquerading as a spring day--
joyous—these leaves
reflecting light like crystals
of a fancy chandelier--
yet the leaves,
fragile as they are,
will fall upon the forest floor
with tomorrow’s cold winds
which they cannot withstand
and my heart, like the leaves—
not green enough
to withstand
assaulting winter
but today, today—
chooses to clutch 
at the hope
in this masquerade of spring.

A Cave We Build

Photo by Erika Osberg on Unsplash

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/category/weekend-writing-prompt/

Close the blinds 
against the grey light.
Prepare a cave for the soul 
in cold January
as the wind rages.
Contemplation, prayer
like John of Patmos?
This cave
readied, awaits
the apocalypse
devils wish.

Seven Years of Visits to the Garden

image is my own

Each new year brings 
Now this garden grief
Nourished by regret

Each year, this day, here—
Standing, kneeling, sitting—I
Spend tears, words, wishes

All meaningless now,
In the barren garden grief
Flowers never bloom

Seven years gone now--
Nothing roots, though it has tried,
In the garden grief inside

The Woman Who Remembered the Taste of Apricots

Courtesy of brighterblooms.com

First published in Pinecone Review’s Be Proud With Pride edition


The woman lied to herself.
Said life is not had without hope,
Believing hope resided within her chest
Just under the bones,
As she remembered the taste
Of fresh apricots,
The sweetness of their juices
Bursting in her mouth,
The texture of their pulp
Playing against her tongue—
She remembered—
Fresh apricots 
During the weeks of summer
In the year the earth awoke,
Stretching and yawning,
Turning as if 
To bring sunrises closer
And hold sunsets dear—
That summer the girl,
Holding beating hope,
Emerged from the cracks forming 
In the left side
Of the woman’s chest.
Thus, the woman who lied
About holding onto hope,

Crumpled and died,
Shriveled like the over-ripened apricots
On the ground beneath the tree in your yard.
The girl, holding hope, emerged
Laughing with joy at all the smiling
Universe seemed for once to offer up
In the taste of apricot flesh
And the sweet juice that quenched thirst
After years of waiting want.

The earth tilted back, turning once again,
Withdrawing from sunrise and sunset.
Then the apricots were gone.
Picked, fallen to the ground,
Nibbled by birds and squirrels.
The girl, who held hope, 
Shrank down, curling into a fetal position,
Within the dead woman who lied
About having hope and who
Was now revived, resuscitated,
Like a cannibal feeding off a beaten enemy
Of faith, of pain, of living hope,
By the now shrunken head like girl,
Who had held beating hope 
That could beat no longer
As the revived woman remembered
Always—
The taste, the feel of the flesh of fresh apricots.





When the Familiar Dies

Image courtesy of TheSpruce.com

She walks to the end

of dark uncurling days

at the edge of the earth,

witnesses the new day

split open–

petals soft,

beautiful.

She’d give it to herself

could it be contained,

arranged within some vase,

held within her hands,

that cannot hold

such flowering strength.

She breathes in hope,

taking it deep into her lungs

where oxygen mingles

with blood and becomes one—

a seed took root in the moment

as all things familiar to her die.

 


Questions

Image is my own

Originally written for Sammi Scribbles Weekend Writing Challenge- Using Question in exactly 84 words but I didn’t get back to edit it down until today.

Questions hang in the air
Like heavy coastal fog
On cool autumn mornings

Eternal questions of humanity:
All the whys, the wonderings--
Never answered prayers--
Laying pressed between the
Pages of a book like brown,
Dried flowers—forgotten,
Having lost their sentiment.

Speak the differences
Among roses, weeds, wildflowers—
Inconsequential answers
For inconsequential questions.

Could sense of counting
Out the hours be sliced 
Like blood, blooming meat
To find truth absolute
Like high priestesses of old,
Scry the answer 
In a blood filled bowl?



The Widow Sings

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto.com
The widow colors the sky

The ground, the trees,
The winds with cold and heat
Of all that cannot be spoken,
Of spirits tethered to stone.

You may never know she is there.
She may wear the red nose.
She may laugh with you.
She may hold out her hands to help.
All so you are not overwhelmed by her presence.

She hides within her weeds.
Sometimes she hides within the willows.
She may smell of pomegranates
Or roses at midnight,
The scents betray her presence.

But you will not see her arms and hands
Covered in thorns and trickling with blood,
The tears of her body, dripping away,
Speaking in tongues no one can understand,
As she stands alone.

She sees history through a broken prism
Of her words never strong enough to bind
Love to prayers weighted with magic enough
To fly straight to God’s ear, to be heard,
To be answered, to raise flowers of miracles.

In the end, the widow is left,
Singing colors of grief.
When all the praise singers have left her
In the muddy soil leavings of wicked tongues,
Gone on to daily lives, the day to day,
The widow stands,
Singing colors of grief,
Covered in thorns.