Life on a Hill

I imagine life found on a hill with the greens
bursting into movement by a gentle wind.
Children laughing in play,
a mother sitting against a trunk watching what really matters live.
Birds singing, high chirps  of the young still at play,
serious work for growing.
Two boys in a tree, legs dangling, sap on knees, on  fingers,
sticky smiles from suckers.
A blond girl jumping from one branch to another tree, proud.
A girl with dark hair blown back to expose her gentle face,
concentrating on setting  future milkweeds into the sky.
Her soft hands lifting them eagerly as the seeds drifted off.
The mother watched her life pulsing through these miracles.
She smiled as she watched nature guide their minds.
Let the hill be their fort, their house, their need in discovering such secrets to living.
When the children were played out they came and gathered
by their mother’s crossed legs.
She opened a basket,
took out sandwiches and a glass bottle of water to share.
Water dribbled down lips, down necks to the inside of sweaty shirts.
In the setting of the day, the sun slipping beyond the hill
the mother packed the remains of wax paper and the empty
bottle into the basket as she stood.
Together they skipped down to their shelter, to beds, stories,
and soft pillows.
The mother embraced fingers with hugs
from her own wrinkled ones
but from afar not one could tell the difference
as they all raced joyfully down from their play.

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Grampa Leon

Perhaps I would have asked more
if I had known that Grampa Leon was part Native,
part of the nature that he shared with us once.
Hikes up the sheer hill behind his farmhouse
to the woods of his life,
where he turned leaves over to identify their veined life,
and brushed a trunk with fingers worn from chopping  wood
to scrape  bark into our palms  to feel the pulse of an ancient oak.
Ferns he gently pushed over so baby fiddleheads
could grow into our imaginations like instruments playing melodies off the land.
Grampa’s intent look, so foreign to us on his acres, puzzled our innocence
as the music was lost like his heritage.
In his two hands, crafted from work,   he held  part of life to us
and we greeted it as strangers suddenly introduced to a wonder.
And after winding through the trees, the leaves  like  colored rag rugs at our feet,
an ache for a home I never knew, he would take us to his garage
with the yellow rope that held the plastic red swing.
We’d walk with him to the old tree that hung
over the road.  He’d toss one end of the rope around
a bare branch and knot it tight.
One by one we took turns curled about the rope,
and as he swung us out over the dirt road
we sat on the molded moment remembering
what could someday lead us to his past.

 

Recycled Dreams

The foiled paper is now found in the recycle bin

as we live in  the leftover days of the Christmas season.

I watch as my son plays his new games, my husband reads his new book,

and I stare out above their heads to the frozen land beyond our home,

beyond our day to times before.

I watch the sun tint the roof  across the road into pink hued  whips

so cream-like  I have  desire to reach a finger out to taste…

I lean back into my down warmth, snuggle into the cushions

and return to the days when my father worked for the foil.

When I was the one ripping that paper, and dad’s smile

kept me digging into the delights he readily gave.

Oh! The dollhouse he built downstairs behind a closed door

How forbidden to enter I knew he created for me…

One year the last gift hidden beneath an end table-

a cabbage patch kid during the craze,

how I loved that chocolate colored doll that my dad stood in line for…

and super white roller skates for a freshman

going to Skateland to watch her first Michael Jackson video…

This year I delighted in the mad ripping of tinsel colored wraps,

of  my smile  for such delights watching my own children.

I see  dad in their eyes, their smiles, and the way I tilt my own head

to capture the moments in my mind, our sleepy eyes so wide and  awake.

I look back to the pink-hued roof across, the sun is brighter, the day begun.

Today I will remember the dreams of my father that live on.

I  go to pick up a remnant of our Christmas half hidden under our tree.

I brush my finger against the foil-shiny, smooth,

I crush it into my fist in a tribute,

a triumph of yesterday dreams still living on.

 

I love you Dad.

 

Illumination This Day

December 22, 2018

 

The light trails in the sky is a whispered brightness

That promises morning approaches.

I look between the trunks of tall trees,

Their  bare branches stiff, unbent,  brittle in the desperate coldness.

But I linger within my own shelter.

The glass refracts my view and in an instance a rainbow

Could become something in my sight.

 

Such darkness though!  The frozen stalks

Of spring’s trees shivers my soul

As I watch their black bleakness that shadows my mourning.

 

In a time that could be festive I lean to one side to see past

The grey, the sad scene of yesterday

When I held my dad’s limp hand,

When I sang to him for his grandson,

When I had to realize such a loss.

 

 I strive to focus on the sun rising, the delights of this day,

The yesterdays that swelled our hearts

To the tomorrows that could burst into our lives carrying  love.

A sentiment wrapped in Santa’s rustle of paper

and the smiles on my children So much like their Papa’s,

As they rejoice in the Savior’s birth,

and the gifts we celebrate the day.

 

I look once more to the beginning  of today.

The light is brighter,

A reminder that I am still here and my dad is still with my God.

I believe dad  can still light my life with the streaks of his life

Leftover in his descendants.

I go to make use of such illumination.

Natural Order

 

This poem won first place in my first entry into a VT poetry contest this year.   I hope all who also struggle with an illness can find comfort that they are worthy of fighting for, for holding onto, for living through the hardness to hopeful peace.  Peace.

 

Natural Order

I clip the bush out front,

snip branches too long,

the ones that don’t conform to the shape,

the style,

the moment I’m trying to make of the front yard.

The blades zip together, sharp in their cuts

as I continue to pare the leaves,

the withered, the dead.

For my life could be the springtime of this plant,

the flowering bud, the rich green of each leaf,

the dark soil feeding, the water quenching.

And I could be okay to be okay.

I don’t have to hurt over the years that the bush

didn’t grow, didn’t make a statement for the yard.

I cut and prune, careful in my design.

In with the breath,

I cast off the unwanted

like the trauma, littering the ground

with it, molding my perfection.

I stand back to admire and realize

there will always be more to take away,

but perhaps I can let it go

back to the wild living,

creating its own way to be,

happy in the wonder of itself.

I close my scissors.  Let them rust.

Let the beauty be in its living.

I sit with sunglasses on  protecting my view,

as I watch the natural order

take care of my yard.

And it’s okay.

Life In The Moment

I’m closing in on the present of the day,

this mindful moment I possess,

the hard progress of being in the now.

For I forget so often and slip into the sadness of a past moment,

a used up moment that already wasted my befores

and has no useful purpose regifted to me today.

I clench fingers into fists,  set my jaw tight,

try to defy the blues of depression’s grip,

to be strong enough to believe I deserve the beauty of today.

This moment I sit with my family,

the tree wrapped and glittering,

the boys in sweaters,

the snow outside, the warmth within,

the festivity of our minds giving meaning to the remnants

of ribbons and paper leftover from happy hands preparing

to surprise one another this Christmas season.

I breathe, yes, I belong here, in this life of mine.

My Stepmom

 

In the silence of the  season my heart bursts forth for Sue,

A morning  psalm for peace, her world turned up for greater view.

 

The Lord does share her brightness, proclaims her joy as Zenny’s wife.

So much a mom, a brilliant calm,  even now throughout our strife.

 

I want to tell her how much she means to me this Christmas year.

How she helps my mourning, how she clears much fear.

 

I want to hold her hand and journey through the good we’ve shared

With Dad in hearts and prayers,  the way we’ve now prepared.

 

For she is strength that’s caring, a light for family’s plight.

She gives herself to others even if she cries alone at night.

 

I know that she is with me, that still her shine is kind.

For in this world it’s certain,  all love treasured is a find.

 

Love you Sue.

Jo

December 2018