Orchid

Image courtesy of Orchidresourcecenter.com

My militant mind reels,

victorious over sleep,

now warring with the words—

I grapple, attempting to find

the right ones,

the ones I left behind in dreams

or at war with other chores,

so in these early hours,

during a brief cease fire,

I stop

watch the sky

begin to pink

in the east.

I do not want to wish

yet it is easy,

to think

to want

to believe

I have Samson’s strength

to break this encasement

of fear of longing,

this fear of loss.

Others say

nothing ventured

nothing gained —

I used to think that way

before the drought

came and withered

hope away before

any intercession

could be made

and that thing

inside became like

the stalks of an orchid

shedding the petals of spent,

exhausted blossoms,

thin and dry as parchment paper,

falling, drifiting to the floor,

leaving the stalk empty.

I may wish to reach my hand,

twitching with something

resembling longing,

to the eastern horizon,

where I imagine you

warm and dreaming still

but fear cements me still,

fear of longing

fear of loss

for that place inside

cradles no hope

for green stalks

holding buds

yielding blossoms.

 

Plantings

Image courtesy of https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Green-grapes-on-the-vine-with-morning-gl/0F474D245DD85FB8
I tire of seeing memes about having a positive attitude and choosing one’s feelings plastered
social media. It is no surprise our young people are in the midst of a mental health crisis when constantly bombarded with messages telling them, in essence, “The only reason you are sad is because you are making the choice to be sad,” or, (one of my favorites for sabotaging anyone’s self esteem) “You have a choice to make your day wonderful or not.” While such simplistic messages are well meaning, I believe they are sometimes extremely toxic. After all, what if your parent died on that day? Did you make the choice to have a horrible day? What if you go home to a toxic abusive environment? How can you choose to make your day wonderful? So before reposting those wonderful positive messages on social media, let’s all take a step back and think about what we are really saying to someone who may be going through something or in an environment where there is no choice in the matter but to feel what he or she feels. Let’s send messages that say it’s okay to feel what you feel and acknowledge it and to take time to feel it all,so something can be gained from it—a lesson, a positive action taken, whatever it may be, so we know our suffering was not for naught. Hence, this piece.

I gathered my despair,

my tears, my losses, all my grief.

Sat with each,

held them close,

let them dry,

waiting for spring.

 

When the ground warms,

softening, ready for tilling,

I will plant my despair,

sow my tears,

plough rows for my losses,

dig a hole deep enough to hold all my grief.

 

In the turning of time,

from the shrubs of my despair,

I will snip flowers and herbs

for healing others.

From the vines of my tears,

I will pluck the fruits and vegetables

to pile upon the table for all who need.

From the fields of my losses,

I will reap the harvest grain

to store for when a time of need arrives.

Finally, from the tree of all I grieve.

I will pick the sweetest fruit

of memory.

 

 

Tightrope

(Maria Spelterini crossing the Niagara gorge on a tightrope, 1876)
Image courtesy of
i.imgur.com



Since I drove right by it

on my GPS selected route

on my way to dinner

with friends,

I had to stop:



Here now— pulled over, paying reverence,

to time, youth, innocence, tragedy

When we loved each other

in this home we made together.



Here— this moment of reverence paid

unlocks the door of a room

where you are kept

preserved in perfection,

untainted by guilt

by tragedy

by the judgement

I rendered upon you

in my innocent ignorant self-righteousness

and so unleashed our tragedy upon us.



Now— could I travel that twisted high wire of time

back through the forty years

yet keep the wisdom of lessons

learned of forgiveness and judgment—

we would be young lovers

starting out again

and I would gift

you treasures of ancient gods and goddesses—

olive oil, an olive tree to plant,

casks of rose water,

roughly hewn amber, the mythic tears,

in which we could be captured.



I raise my head, turn my eyes to the road ahead,

locking the door to that place

where you are kept

preserved in perfection:

Sitting in the window seat,

your head tilted to the light,

sunlight glistening off your copper color hair,

smile wide as you lift your drawing pad
and pencil,

and begin to sketch,

your thin lovely hand floating
in movement above the page.

There,I leave you once again,

As I drive away.







 

 

 

 

 

Hardened Earth

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

dry, drought ridden earth

riddled with cracks inches wide

forms chasms decades deep

 

layered in dry dust

rising as rain pelts away,

determined to flood

 

chasms, erasing all cracks

but this earth is too hardened

unyielding to any rain,

seeking to soften hard soil

Crumbs

Inspired by this line from Mary Oliver

Feast not too often on meager crumbs of joy,

fallen haphazardly from someone else’s table.
Thinking yourself filled, sated,
you will find yourself crouching, smiling,
lowering your head to be patted by the hand
that cares nothing for you.

Then, when beaten back from the table,
you will scuttle away crouching low,
spirit yielding to fear.
But rise, rise then, standing—
staring eye to eye.
Lift your head and turn,
walk to new horizons.

There, build a table all your own
where you feast wholeheartedly
upon the delightful dishes of joy
you create,
inviting others to share.
Each one partaking in as much joy
as can be held
at your table
where no one
need feast on crumbs.

Our Children

Image courtesy of Slate.com

I wrote this in response to seeing the protests organized by the students who survived the Parkland shooting. I was hopeful that their anger focused in this positive way would bring about some positive change. But today, with 19 elementary school students and 2 adults now dead in Uvalde, Texas, I felt it might be time to revisit this in tribute to the students who have lost their lives in these continual senseless acts of gun violence. We must all say, “No more.”

Innocence, a fairytale idea,
Sacrificed along with safety-
Burned as sweet, bloody incense
On an altar to the Second
Unrestrained, unrestricted
The true worship contained
In this strange amalgam
of green and gold,
Gunpowder, lead, and power
Causing some confusion
In steel tongues touting
The sanctity of life
And rights to any guns in prayers.

Our children, now are
Born in a skin of fear,
And do what we have not—
Stand up and say
No more.

Consequences of Time

Image courtesy of Pexels.com
Consequences of time

Climb and mount
About the throat,
Following the path
Of arteries and veins,
And as if by magic,
Enter into the blood
To provide a dram bit
Of bitter choking poison
To the will of moving blood
That slows and stills
In the knowing.

Tiny One

for our foster dog who was a brave fighter

You wake this morning,

My Tiny One,

Your morning of sun and warmth,

Mine of damp, dense fog.

Yet, I know,

Know you’ve found them all,

The squirrel hunter,

The gentle soft one,

The lion-hearted protector,

And the human,

The human I told of,

Whose pockets contain

Tasty treats,

Who is a warrior, like you,

Tiny One, like you,

Whose body now whole,

No longer wasted at all,

Now strong.

This human can throw the ball

All day long for you,

And you, my Tiny One,

No longer standing on shaking, wobbly,

Wasted legs which seek to betray,

Can chase and chase and chase

That ball all day,

Returning it each time

To the human who

Like you, my Tiny One,

With battles fought and done,

With all the wars won,

Runs, runs free now, Tiny One. 

So now, my Tiny One,

All your battles done,

All your wars won,

Run, run free, Tiny One.

The Friction of Salt

 

woman at sea

Image from Shutterstock

 

Pieces of her broke in the waves,
Searching for wildness
In this place she always went to be alone.
She walked along this shore a thousand times
In the dawn and the dusk
As if they were quantities unknown,
And thus, in them, she could discover some truth,
Some faith, some charity, some hope for herself.
Who knew? It had worked before.
She’d walk toward the town with something—
Some small bit piece replenished.

Besides–
She’d always heard salt was healing,
So she figured she’d rub it in her wounds.
But bloody red and raw
She walks still wounded, broken,
Along the wildness,
Yet not touching it.
Freedom elusive.
She can not find what she lost.
Her wounds chains,
Binding her still
To things she knew illusions.
She waits for the friction of salt
To rub away the chains.
She walks toward the seals in the surf
And on toward the whales in the deep,
Searching for truth or faith or charity
In the wildness of the sea.

 

Nesting Dolls (your last Christmas present 2014)

Broken nesting dolls
Lie in splinters
Emptied of each other.
At their core,
Among the splinters
And dust of months
And years,
There rests
At their center
A small letter
Of seasons and time
And meanings
Within a silver ring.

In the cleaning
Of brokenness,
A small splinter
Works under skin
To be lost
And never found.