A drop of dew
down a stem,
on each tiny hair
to earth’s floor.
Gravity will not
is it so difficult
the robin-egg blue
of the sky?
Seven miles apart
phones in hands
in the flatlands
edging the city
daughter in the forest
of the dunes
to describe evening skies
like the blush of a magnolia
wings of a fluttering monarch
eggs in the nest of a robin
petals of a long-spur violet
spray of assorted marigolds
face of Annabelle’s blossom
gray of the morning fog.
They debate verbs
to describe clouds
as they have done,
a winter sunset
from their vantage points
yet so much the same.
The rumbling, though far in the distance, triggers
a quickening of my heart and I grip the paddle,
remembering when things did not go well,
when I was deceived by the glassy surface of the water
concealing the perils beneath the swift-flowing river;
when I smashed into the boulders, was thrown
into the roaring rapids, swallowed by haystacks
and sent tumbling downstream in the raging waters.
When it comes to love of any kind,
experience matters and memories float like a leaf alongside,
eroding confidence. One can paddle faster than the current,
or slower, but allowing the river control ensures defeat.
These days I dig the blade hard into the water behind me.
There have been times I opted to paddle
the safe waters of an inland lake, reveling
in the stillness as I lazily searched for a sandhill crane,
the checker-board back of a loon, a tundra swan.
But most of the time it is the river that lures me,
and I have eyes only for the fast-flowing waters
and the image of you downstream,
looking for pebbles to polish.
practices of the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and indigenous people. Practices that incorporate the sanctity of water.
Can I integrate some of those rituals across faiths and beliefs into my own spiritual life? Help me deal with loss, life changes associated with aging and illness, this ever-lurking, ever-lingering virus shadowing our lives?
And what about humor? That “strong medicine” that stimulates oxygen flow to organs, relieves stress, improves the immune system, cuts pain, improves one’s mood, and is just plain fun? Can I do a better job noticing that which makes me laugh and incorporate more of those moments into my life?
Beginning in January, I will again be posting monthly. Sometimes prose. Sometimes poetry. But always looking for the robin-egg blue in the sky while doing what I can to make this a more compassionate, healthier planet. I hope you will join me.
Have a healthy and joy-filled holiday season.
A red, green and white Christmas embroidery hangs
year-round in her living room. Long, narrow,
it spells out a word she says occasionally
as we slog through our daily exercise routine;
one written frequently, she tells me, in her journal;
a three-letter word to which I never gave thought
until now, when I am running out of time to learn.
Like the butterfly soaring for the first time
into summer skies, the hooked fish released
to dart again through the river of its home,
my mother lives with joy.
I want the same.
However, I’m my father’s daughter
and worries fuel my sleepless nights;
perfection punctures success, and the suffering
of others shatters any hope for even happiness.
Joy is as elusive as the red fox of the forest.
Outside her bedroom window, we watch
the robin, plump with eggs, flit between fence
and berries. The vines of a parasol plant,
leaves glossy, blossoms red and plentiful,
wander playfully in all directions. The pond
is disappearing, as are her beloved ducks,
but the encroaching cattails provide cover
for the families of serenading wrens
and rambunctious red-winged blackbirds.
So much for which to be grateful, she reminds me.
While I am on sabbatical this year taking writing and poetry classes, I thought I'd step briefly into the public domain to share my poem, Jane Tree Corner.
Earlier this month, Rubin, my sister, Kath, and I travelled to Albuquerque for the Memorial Service for mother’s twin. Mother, almost 95, decided the trip from Michigan to New Mexico in the midst of the spiking coronavirus, could jeopardize her health and ability to live independently. I agreed to videotape the service and the weekend celebration for her—to include interviewing family and friends. I returned home overwhelmed with my uncle’s love of life, laughter and family. I was reminded of the importance of creating magical moments with those we love . . . like the time my uncle and members of his family travelled to Holland to celebrate his 90th birthday with his twin. In the almost-seven years Mother has lived in Holland, that weekend’s visit to Windmill Island is the only time she has seen the windmill turn. Truly, in Mother’s words, “A Magical Moment.”
Miracle of Small Things
It is how we begin every morning;
she in the recliner, me sliding down the bed
to the floor at her feet for our chairside chat.
But this morning, there is heightened excitement
in her voice and a mind as alert as I’ve seen
in many months. It is not the snow-white blossoms
outside her window, the sight of the male mallard
creating circles on the pond, the animated chatter
of the robins, sparrows, and red-winged blackbirds,
the yellow flowers of the mock strawberries
dancing across the green carpet bordering
the beleaguered remnants of the cattails.
But this surprising youthful exuberance
is the result of a decorative tree in a city park
with a bench that will soon be placed nearby.
On the bench, a plaque celebrating a poem,
her poem, and the lives of a pair of twins, intertwined.
Had I known the effect this simple request
would have on my mother, I would have cared more
about their decision and possibly ruined everything.
As it was, I let go and am watching a miracle unfold,
just like the pink buds on the small magnolia tree
we will visit this afternoon.
to my grandmother, who, in 1948, began gathering her seven children once a year to celebrate life as family.
Prior to 2020, the year of the pandemic, the family gathered 71 consecutive years, long after our grandmother passed. It makes sharing memories a fun-filled, meaningful experience.
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