parting

…she whispered to him secrets…of the universe and time, of love and eternity. She communed with him and blessed her youngest child. And she cradled him as he parted as she had when he arrived, with gentleness and songs.

©️2020

in the company of jasmine

alone, as thoughts and memories take flight

warmed by the late spring sun, air damp and buzzing with sounds from yesterday’s storms

reflecting on the meaning of these last weeks, and the years before, i am met with sensations that stir my waking soul

layers of sounds…fledglings pestering parents for a morsel, frogs far off…a lone bullfrog and a chorus of tree frogs seeking mates to continue on. the call of an owl in a tree across the pasture. the distant cry of a hawk circling high above

i hear the ripping sounds as a black cow slowly, determinedly tears at the fresh wetted grass…the soft satisfied grunts of a filly rolling in the hayfield

in the company of jasmine, visited with wafts of honeysuckle and wild onions, i close my eyes and breathe deep the life blooming around me

©️ 2020

the barn

there’s an old barn that i pass in my comings and goings. it has stood for many years, weathered silver, sun washed, and critter chewed.

this old barn witnessed feast and famine, marriages, births and deaths. generations labored within her walls and under her roof, while the sound of children’s laughter floated on the breeze.

one morning, i noticed part of the barn had collapsed. perhaps there had been a storm that went unnoticed by most, the old barn stood in silent evidence of the storm’s path. some supporting structure had given way, and now the old girl listed and sagged. yet she stood, as she had been well and strongly built.

over time, she withstood rains and winds… and now and then a bit would slough off. and though she bent to the strength of the storms, she was stronger…as she was still standing.

the other day i passed by, and noticed the old barn had fallen, crumpled, giving way to powers so strong that she was pulled to the earth, where all things return in the end.

that was the day you also gave way to the storms you withstood and defied for years, my boy, my son. you taught us to be strong. you taught us to love without reservation, to give freely without return. and you taught us there is always joy amid sadness.

©️2020

Viral

My grandma used to talk about the Spanish Flu. During that time, the world was in crisis…a war across the sea, sickness and mustard gas threatening husbands and sons at war, the same sickness threatening families here at home. I wonder if not having the internet and 24 hour news was a blessing…

I have a piece of mourning jewelry in remembrance of her sister’s fiancée tucked safely inside Grandma’s sugar bowl on a shelf in my china cabinet. Grandma’s sister eventually married his brother. I always wondered how that made him feel…

Within the box that held old photos, Grandma had a faded, worn photo…the family’s last remembrance of a child in a coffin. Occasionally my mom and I would sort through boxes of photos, sorting out the ones we needed to study and label, if we figured out who they were…and I’d find that photo again. I had no reference, no understanding, for what I held in my hands. Mom explained about vaccines, and what they mean. That this, losing a child to a common illness, is a rare occurrence now. It wasn’t always so rare.

Once, I came upon the photo of a child, maybe three years old. He had died of pneumonia, Mom said. She hadn’t been much older, in 1925. He was their neighbor, and one of Mom’s playmates. She recalled going to visit, he in a coffin on the living room couch, family seated nearby. He was strangely still and silent. Mom didn’t understand at the time. I don’t think anyone understands the loss of a child.

About the same time, a thousand miles away, my dad’s family said goodbye to Lillie, who was also three. She had died from pneumonia, too. There was no treatment then. Diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus ravaged families. Polio killed and crippled, and kept children home, inside, during epidemics and warm summer months.

If you ever wondered why the Velveteen Rabbit was in a pile of clothing and bedding to be burned after an illness, this is why. There was no treatment, no avoidance of disease.

I grew up knowing kids who’d had polio, and walked with braces and crutches. A neighbor had an iron lung stored in their garage. We’d see it when the garage door was open now and then. I never knew who had used it. We had a neighbor who used a wheelchair after recovering from polio. Neighborhood kids would pile into her car, because she could ride through the car wash, a thrill at the time. I remember getting the polio vaccine at the bank one day. Drops of miracle on a sugar cube.

I wonder what my parents and grandparents would say today?

angels

people often describe angels…the ones too good for earthly life, that God wanted back

with wings, and harps, and halos they flutter above the pearly gates, welcoming new arrivals

or those who perch precariously on car bumpers and motorcycle handlebars, guarding teens from certain maiming…

or who spend long nights hovering over babes in cradles, lest a cat smother them…

but I have seen real angels…they are in hospital cafeterias offering to buy coffee or a meal

they cheerfully mop around the feet of exhausted parents, and offer pleasantries as if this is…normal

they smile, and speak to complete strangers, open doors, and hold elevators for weary families

they hover at the bedside of patients for long, thankless hours…i’m sure they hear the unspoken gratitude on silent lips

they entertain children of those waiting for devastating news…hearing of heartbreak or shock, offering a hug, or a tissue, or a listening ear

many angels wear loose clothing, some with colorful patterns… their hair is pulled back above a collection of totems and assorted amulets they wear around their necks

though they differ in appearance and function, they share one thing…they love, unconditionally, unendingly, and without expectation of return

©️2019

words

slowly, as if islands emerging from the fog, the words come

some are welcome…received with anticipation…others are painful, difficult, unpleasant

words of beauty, joy, and promise…words of pain, loss, and tears, all fall onto the page

the spaces between are moments of struggle, fight, and rage…moments of peace, comfort, and acceptance

somehow, i assemble them into a pleasing form…one day a single word appears, the next they tumble from my fingers

read from the page they speak survival, growth, and love

spoken, they pierce hearts, and uplift souls

slowly, the words come

©️2019