PROMISE

Please no box, no steel
to seal me from the earth.
Return me when it is my time
to all I was and wish to be again.
Release me to be born anew,
green and wonderful each Spring –
shoots sprouting from my heart
each part of me blooming.
Promise me.

HEARTS

I did not know when I birthed my son
that he would take my heart with him.
 
At night, desperate for rest
half asleep, barely present
I’d attempt to nurse him.
The choice frustrated us both.
 
One night when he cried, I took
him downstairs to my rocker,
made tea, made us comfortable
and realized he was my life.
 
He grew. I watched my heart
learn to walk, read
navigate friendships, school
and grieve a first love anew.
 
He became a man
who with his spouse created
three children into
whom he placed his heart.
 
Together, powerless but present
remembering our own youth
we watch their spirits grow
as they navigate their lives.
 
We’re participant and spectator both
since we freed our hearts
to beat, break and love
inside our children.
 

NOTICE

A blue jay struts across the porch
to forage in our planters.
The red streak at eye level's a cardinal.
White “ribbons” wrap the trees - plastic prayer flags
to a God, gnome or Goddess unknown.
A cuban lizard pulls one off
the live oak on the corner.
As I leave Johnnie’s Bakery,
an Agama, his head and tail stripe
the color of children’s aspirin,
races ahead of me.
Johnnie’s bread has the taste of hope
hand-made, crusty, fresh.
So too does the air, laced with scent of
gardenia, magnolia and surf.
Beauty confounds the thought of so many dead.
Mourners bereft of goodbye are blind
with grief while fear heightens others'senses.
How can such extremes of bliss and horror
cohabit this planet?
The return of wildlife, clean air and
quiet seas make it clear
this earth can shrug us off
without notice.

GIFTS

My aunt gave me the sea
in a book big as me.   
Curled in a chair, I
wandered tidal pools
despite the Christmas chill
held hermit crabs
and starfish
inhaled salt air.
I walked that book’s pages
with childlike devotion
an eight-year-old explorer
baby beach comber.
 
Robert Frost’s snow drifted
into my 4th grade class and
I listen for his horse’s bells
as I practiced writing
and first used an ink pen.
Line by cursive line
his poetry became mine
along with the smell of ink,
the feel of good paper,
the love of pens.
I began my own poems
in solitude, sweet solitude…

TERROR

Dad dreams we flee the Nazis,
our ‘55 Buick low on gas.
We drive by the sea.
They come with guns.
They come in submarines.
He wakes sweating and terrified.
 
He shares his fear with me.
Nazis enter my dreams
dragging the stench of Dachau.
They come with guns.
They come in submarines.
I wake sweating and terrified.
 
Neo-Nazis march in Charlotte
armed - flags waving,
hatred palpable and near.
In dreams, I hear
the thud of boots
on the night stairs.

GRANDDAUGHTER

She touches me
as if I'm rock or tree
immune to time
and gravity, 
impervious to woe.
The twenty years
we’ve left
(with luck and grace)
invisible to her.
 
In her constant now
our cardinal sings
the mac ‘n cheese is hot.
We walk the stones in her backyard
our sacred spot.
She will have time enough
to seek me
in rocks and trees
when I’m gone.

Today she leans
against my jeans 
and turns me
briefly immortal.
 
 

PERFECT DAYS

These mornings are it, life’s glory
disguised as just another Spring day.
Sunshine, leaving for work in the soft air -
a bit of traffic, not too much – an easy commute.
The sweetness of it, life here and now -
The no big deal, the simple day, the normalcy.
It’s what I yearn for when life turns cruel
     to drive over the bridge into town
     to breathe the smell of the river,
     to ride down Main Street as cherry trees blossom.
Give me a day like that, I think
one with no special thoughts or agonies,
a day to enjoy my habits with nothing amiss.
Sometimes I walk right by them without noticing,
these perfect days, driving down Main Street.

FLYING FREE

To go in a puff of feathers, a glory of days,
Soft as clouds of air
Gone – gone – gone.
There are worse things,
Lying there
Suffering in white sheets – tethered to machines’
Endless beeping – intake and outtake monitors -
The blue of fluorescent lights pulsing about you.
A constant parade of people checking, checking, checking,
Reluctant to let you go in case they might save you.
            ‘For what?’ is the unasked question.
            ‘For what – please?’
It’s late in the day for golf.
Americans fear death like quiet.
            Both are becoming hard to find.
            Shop Rite makes me bless my deafness.
 
Feathers and glory
It isn’t all bad to explode out of life
Rather than wait for some soul to pull the plug or
An electrical storm to do what people fear.
            Please God send a power outage -
            I’m outta here.