This is My Father’s World

Happy Thanksgiving to the states, happy end of autumn to everyone else. I wonder if this wasn’t the most beautiful autumn ever here in the Great Lakes, or maybe I was just paying more attention.

***

I look around at the multi-coloured trees in wonder. How come this happens every year, yet it is is always a marvel, always a pause in the day? When I first look up and see a tree has started to change, I feel a seed of excitement. It grows as the weeks go by, with each stroll or drive, watching the fields turn golden. Pure gold, the sight of it. I have lived in places with four seasons for 54 autumns. Still, it is always new. You have created this world beautiful, to change and grow in harmony. Autumn is the bridge to winter, yet I feel so alive. When the sun starts to go down and sets the top of the church on fire, I don’t know where to look. I turn slowly in my landscape to take it all in, ever changing with each moment, until the light has gone.

little hitchhiker
stowaway on my shoe
red leaves fell

***

Title from the Christian hymn, This Is My Father’s World
words by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901
music, traditional tune arrange by Franklin L. Sheppard, 1915

View of the church of Saint Paul de Mausole, Vincent van Gogh



It is quiet now.

I cannot hear your stories anymore, how you would repeat the same one over and over once the dimentia had got you. Now you are not here to ask about the parts I have forgotten. How come you told me five times and I cannot remember?
It is quiet now, and I miss your grace, your smiling face, your eyes that inspired trust.
Do not worry, I will keep feeding Frisky while you are gone.

a worn Bible sits
snow falls on the fence posts
her smile on dark days

My tank feels empty

I wrote something this morning. I shared it with you because even though it was rough, I always want to tell you the truth. I wrote it quickly and did not edit it. It wasn’t great, but it was good. There was truth in it. I don’t want to post verbal spewing, but that is where the truth and heart is, the words I write before I have had a chance to muck it up, or chop it into pieces, or make it sound bigger than it is. Hipper than it is. It isn’t ageless literature. This is not Whitman I am writing here. This isn’t Frost. It’s a big heart from a big, bad place. It is a journey from darkness into the light. Not the light they tell you to avoid, but the warmth of peace and contentment no matter where I find myself

It is love, pain, sorrow, tears, regret, longing, sadness, hope, choking, loss, care, love, loathing, vengeance, cost, ringing, silence, deadly, hopeful, chance, wisdom, idiocy, lust, craving, darkness, life, light, craftiness, gratitude, defeat, melancholy, rebuke, aching, anger, revilement, tenderness, grief, crazed wishes, damned mistakes, mercy, grace, want, desire, apathy, music, hate, crashing, thunder, lightning, devastation, obliteration, pain, death, touch, relief, resilience, endurance, thankfulness, and love

puzzle pieces
all we have carried since then
the wishing that brings hard work
unexpected pleasures
birdsong still

Eighteen

I was eighteen years old and I was away from home for the first time. I was living with a family in a nearby affluent neighborhood as a nanny, a housekeeper, and chief cook and bottle-washer. I was only thirty minutes from home but it felt like hundreds more. I saw myself as the next Emily Dickinson, giving credence to being alone way too often. On an evening off, I went to a poetry reading at a college nearby, and took a seat a few rows from the back, second seat in.

I watched his face as he spoke with wild passions, my own eyes excited, my nostrils flaring, basking in the glow of electric poetry. I was an innocent, an ingénue. I had never had a boyfriend. But I was engaging in some serious eye contact with a professor at least twice my age and it was not my imagination that he was staring back, this man in a tan corduroy jacket with patches on the elbows. I wore Bass penny loafers with a cloud of Coty Musk perfume about my hair. When he was finished I clapped lustily and looked at the program to see who was reading next. As they started, someone slipped into the seat next to me. It was him.

Continue reading “Eighteen”

Too bright

This carnival has crawled under my skin. What was once all the colors in the rainbow, loud in my ear and calling to me- now grates on my nerves. How come you can’t be gray? Why doesn’t it rain? Turn down the noise, please, my friend of my old age. Turn down the play to single tones. Stay in my vision. I do not want you to go. But my fear of what you will do next outweighs the laughter, and I would go rather than become paralyzed. I would give you up to save myself. The ship is not sinking, it is merely taking on water. It is scuttling itself to save itself. Is it wrong to want a hero? If I asked you to save me, would you turn away; if I begged you for one more affirmation, would you hold my hand? This carnival has crawled under my skin.

turn off the lights
open the windows wide
one sun, one moon

 

Negotiations

He threatened to stuff socks into my mouth when I felt sorry for myself, and I couldn’t blame him I suppose. I was tired of hearing it as well, each step of our descent I was responsible for. I didn’t mind the verbal sparring. I won most times anyway. But, when it came down to love or not, I was walking over coals, and upon this he called me a martyr.

A compromise took some work, but it was worth it. Still, I am not sharing my chocolate. I do have some principles. In time, we struck a deal–that I wouldn’t talk during Star Trek, and he will stop sneaking up on me when I type.

Each trade-off became enough to live with in light of the whole shebang. The many tenderness’s were the prize for learning how to give before taking.

outside, a bulldog
takes charge of his new yard
the robins scold him

A day of fasting

I thought I had nothing to give. I cried for what I had lost. The trees, the birds, the sky for years were ignored by me in lieu of sitting and doing everything except what I wanted to do. If I went out, it was after the sun had gone down. I would dance, drink, laugh and, again, add to the haze over anything real that I no longer wanted to feel. Inject that anesthesia. Turn on the smoke machine.

In time, a song would come on the radio or the jukebox and I would melt right there where I sat or stood. The words and the music would remind me of a time when someone had cut out a piece of my heart, or, like a cannibal, had chosen a part of me to be his dinner, next to a nice herb and butter risotto and a glass of Prosecco.

Now I wake and no matter how I feel, I open the shade while it is still dark, in order not to miss the rising of the sun.

a day is a gift
your smile, a wrapped package
starve the cannibals

Another peace

A man from our church died on Saturday from cancer. It took about two years or a bit more to conquer him. He was a great man. Not because he was John Wayne type rough-and-tumble, or wealthy, but because he had many friends. I wonder how they will fit all those people into the church at the memorial service, as he was so good to people, and well loved by his family.

I was alone today aside from two phone calls. Days like this make me contemplative. I was thinking about his family and his loss, and I realized that he has no pain anymore. He is in the presence of God and has no more pain. This made me smile. It is not as if we don’t still grieve for the empty place, but it brings comfort to know this. It also made me think about my mother.

I have grieved for her in a mawkish way that she would have hated. The truth is, she has no pain and she is content where she is, and it is time to add that truth in with the rest of the truths–the ones that I hold on to, and by which I justify how long I have not let this grief go. Not let her go. I believe, knowing her as well as I did, that she would be happy to know that I can do that now.

peace in letting go?
the water moves endlessly
this branch is solid

2016

I am listening to Dylan and eating the last of my Thanksgiving apple pie
and how I ate too much of it, since he doesn’t help me eat it, ever–
content with the last of the mashed potatoes and gravy, and his Jell-O and Cool Whip. This was not the Thanksgiving from last year, was it? Though I thanked the Lord for many things, there was a sad thread throughout that was difficult to avoid;

but it was not last year’s holiday no matter how you slice it, 2016 with Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature, well, that took the cake in mid-October, sliding into the North Side boys winning the pennant while we were on vacation alone for the first time since we met–
and wasn’t that sweet standing in rainshowers of leaves while we remembered why we said yes in 1989;

as if it wasn’t enough–November 2016 came in with a bang, the boys making good on their promises and bets (which I never put money on) came up 7 and 11–in a time in my life I had forgotten what baseball meant to me–then, just days later, watching a new president make history sliding into home in the middle of a sleepless night, we were dreaming about representation in a time of resistance–and wasn’t it sweet sharing something we had previously argued about;

not to say that everything was okie-dokey and worthy of praise, but people can see, no matter if they like the prez, or The Cubs, or even the state of my household, it was a banner year for history, a time we will never forget, regardless of beliefs;

and for my house, where we had not smiled for years, it meant laughs and joy and shared dreams–of what we had wanted, what we didn’t have, and what we still want–and eyes meeting in affirmation under Wisconsin blue skies–that the vows were solid and the names were written in stone, no matter what.

history was made
no matter what the cost
birdsong always

Brain matter(s)

Sunset and reflection

It scares me when I find myself forgetting things so young. I wonder how bad it will get before it is over. I like to think it is temporary.  My hold on language that I felt very sure of at 18 and even at 38 feels more tentative now, like I am clinging to a rock cliff. That is why I can’t let go of it, and I constantly look for new expressions and inspiration. Then I find a page with words on it in my handwriting. I don’t remember it. I won’t complain, because I am not blind, and this is not cancer, and I have friends dealing with both of those, much more gracefully than I would. But it frightens me, and so I wanted to tell you.

I appreciate friends who may not understand, but extend kindness when I forget things or ask them to repeat something they have told me twice. At times I see something I have handled as if I am seeing it for the first time. Recently noticing others who are transparent and honest, I felt pulled to say this aloud, when I prefer to hide it. I am sure I am not alone in it.

seeing a sunset
each time you kiss my hand
this fairy tale