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Archive for the ‘POETRY’ Category

cute-baby-25The birthday balloon is tethered to the top of a table lamp.
No longer taut, it sways seductively,
its “Make A Wish” message calling to me
as the helium hisses a slow escape.

There is much to wish for as one grows older
but my one wish is simple.
Let me live long enough to see our sons
with families of their own.

Their happiness would fill my heart to overflowing.
And oh, to have a granddaughter,
so that I can finally experience some
of what I so sorely missed with my own baby girl.

Such joy. My birthday wish.

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102106-261x349-Intergratedenergytherapysmallangel

In support we meet, each a conglomeration of everchanging aches
and complaints,
each a walking frustration of foggy thoughts
and dead-end detours.

She says the secret is to laugh,
that our brains can be tricked
into compliance by smiles and
belly-laughs of imaginary amusement.

She speaks of blocked chakras and tree of life imbalances,
of inherited cellular memories and soul repair,
of angels that answer her simple prayers at first thought.
She says she was once like us
but now is cured.

She slides a silver pendulum from around her neck.
First still, it soon sways side to side,
telling her our secrets,
the “yays” or “nays” to her questions.

“You are now unblocked,” she says.
“You are now in balance.”
“Your inherited cellular memories are gone.”
“Your souls are healed.”

I scan the hopeful faces around me,
their evident willingness to accept that which has been said,
and I wonder if I’m the only one
who doesn’t believe.

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like,quotes,thought,txt,life,moment-5883bba7d4638f2ed6a2fdbf964f22b0_hA name forgotten, an appointment missed,
a recipe that must be read and reread.
It sometimes frightens, that feeling that something is lacking,
that my mind will never function
as it did in younger years.

“Play sudoku,” someone suggests.
“Use your brain more,” another adds.
“Don’t type. Use a pen. Read.”
There is no
end to their cures.

But a brain is like a sponge, I tell myself, and mine is saturated
with images of a man on a bike laden with a hundred orphaned hubcaps,
and another who cheerfully pulls a tall wagon behind him, a free ride
for a grown woman, her legs stretched out, her gap-toothed smile pure glee.

Sounds vie for space here.
The rich tones of church bells at noon, the rush of sirens in the distance,
the rattle of carts and wagon wheels as the more resourceful, the more desperate,
scour the curbs for returnable bottles before garbage day,
the quiet voices from neighbouring verandahs on summer nights.

If my brain can only hold so much,
let it be this,
And let the random lists and names of unimportant celebrities
seep away.

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For several years now, I’ve had the pleasure of managing a wonderful online writing group called The Writing Bridge. Every month, we post a poetry challenge. Compared to many on the site, my poetry skills are mediocre at best, but we were low on entries, so I decided to write something on the one topic that occupies my mind right now: my hopes for our future. As it turns out, composing the poem couldn’t have been more timely. That future begins today.

“A Verandah View.”

A verandah wraps around
the tiny place we’ll someday call home.
From it, we’ll watch the seasons pass.
Beside its rail, tulips and golden forsythia
will herald spring.
Fat peonies will hang low,
colonies of ants opening the petals wide.
And daisies. There will be daisies.

On warm mornings, we’ll drink coffee
on a verandah swing.
We’ll count chickadees,
and shoo away greedy blue jays
monopolizing the feeder.
We’ll pass the local newspaper between us
and plan our day.
Weight of worry lifted, we’ll be light as air,
free to write, to paint, to imagine.

On afternoons, we’ll walk by store windows
displaying local wares: crafts and art and homemade soap;
vegetables and fruit from the farmers’ fields.
The smell of fresh bread will lure us
to the village bakery; caving to temptation,
we’ll choose cinnamon buns or rhubarb pie
cooling in the window.

We’ll linger there with others,
laugh and philosophize
over the decadence of our favourite pastries;
the best places to travel; the latest production of
the local theatre group.

The importance of
“LIVING IN THE MOMENT.”

And in the evening, when dinner and dishes are done,
and we grow tired,
we’ll return to our verandah and
the gentle rhythm of the swing.
Chickadees gone, we’ll count shooting stars instead,
relax to the songbirds’ lullaby and
think the same thought each night:
“Aging is inevitable. To grow wiser,
we needed a verandah view.”

Spring has made a huge impact on the real estate market where we live. Suddenly this weekend, potential buyers descended upon us in record numbers. Yesterday, an offer came in. After three hours of negotiations, the deal was complete. While conditional on the sale of their home, it still carried an emotional impact. Suddenly, all of this is very real.

After months of trying to sell our home, actually signing the acceptance was surreal. The respective agents shook my hand in congratulations, but I felt no sense of happiness. We met the young couple who would soon call our home of twenty-four years theirs, and were surprised to learn we already knew them (sworn to secrecy on this for a while but more will be revealed later). I couldn’t help but be happy for them and their obvious excitement.

They left, and then it hit me. I bawled my eyes out.

Change is always a challenge, but it’s particularly difficult when it’s under duress – not so much a real choice, but something crucial to your future. In our case, there isn’t a whole lot of time left to improve our financial footing for our retirement years.

What’s amazing, though, is that once you step out of your comfort zone, the choices available to you seem endless. Where do you go? Do you rent or buy? Buy something temporary, with an eye to a retirement move, or buy something you will want to live in forever? What about house-sitting? A small piece of land up north with a plan to build later on? A fixer-upper?

Having our roots ripped from the ground is a huge adjustment, but maybe, just maybe, it will allow us to feel more adventurous, less encumbered. Free of preconcieved notions about our future, we may end up re-inventing ourselves in the process. And if we’re lucky, maybe someday there will be the perfect little home with a verandah view.

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22

The shrill ring of the phone slices through my quiet
and the somber voice on the line roots me to the ground.
“Annie is gone.”
His words echo through the wire.

Later, dread in each step,
we approach Glen’s tiny senior’s home,
Identical to those left and right,
the pain is still contained there,
not yet bleeding
through the peach-coloured brick
nor obliterating the “welcome”
in the sign that hangs.

A hesitant knock
beckons the shadow
of our old English friend.
Arms wide, he accepts our long embrace
then ushers us inside,
where classical music plays faintly
and lights stay dimmed.
Before we can ask
he begins to speak of her;
her sudden, cruel decline;
the agony of his helplessness.
He struggles to breathe evenly,
as he tells us, in disbelief,
that her first thought was of him.

”But what will become of you, Glen?” Annie had asked.
 
Her question lingers,
hangs in the air
like a mourner’s veil.

His eyes raw, his voice breaking,
he repeats her words, is
puzzled, in disbelief of
her bravery, the selflessness
of facing her own death
but fearing for him.

There is no reality here.

We are still life,
mere points of colour
like the figures on Annie’s tapestries
that surround us now;
each scene to remind her of her homeland,
months of painstaking needlepoint stitches.

She is gone but she is everywhere.
Glistening cabinets
display crystal birds
and delicate china ladies.
Just dusted?
The ever-present candy dish,
entices.
Newly filled?
Proud homemaker,
perfect hostess still.

On the bathroom shelf,
favorite perfumes wait,
perfectly aligned.
Her open cosmetics bag rests
upon the hand towel.
Just used?
Atop the polished bedroom dresser,
precious rings lay
upon a tray;
beside them, silver-framed photographs
are arranged with care.
Our family from a simpler time,
our scrubbed young sons in suits;
no family for Annie to call her own.
Glen rises,
says he feels such thirst
and walks into the kitchen.
“Do you like yogurt?” he asks.
Cups of yogurt, her last attempt at food,
are stacked upon the shelf.
”Please take some home,” he says.
But instead I stare
at the open door
where fuzzy fridge magnets still reside,
and I remember hours of amusement
for our boys so very long ago.

 

We are but marionettes
suspended in an eternity;
reading from a foreign script;
searching for understanding;
clutching threads of normalcy.
”I would try to make her a shake,”
he continues.
”Yogurt and ice cream
and maybe some fruit.
Mix it all in the blender.
She liked that.”

His hand shakes as he reaches
for a fresh tissue to wipe new tears.
And I am like stone,
sitting across from him
in a straight-backed chair.
Just reach out, I think,
do something to help
slow the shudder in his voice.
Instead, I turn my eyes away
and see, for the first time,
a framed picture of a young Annie,
flirting, hand on jaunty hip.
Tears rise at the flashed reminder of her spirit
and I watch as my husband
tentatively touches
his old friend’s shoulder.
He asks “Have you eaten?
Are you hungry?”

 

”I think I’d like a pizza.
There’s a Pizza Hut nearby
where Annie and I often go.”
Then he shows us the new leather jacket
Annie insisted he buy for himself
for Christmas…
mere weeks ago.
“It is lovely,” we say.

And I think how strange
to discuss the merits
of cowhide over lambskin
when life has been so altered;
to debate thick crust over thin,
to need to eat,
to dine amidst smiling faces,
and have no stranger recoil
from the shock and grief
that is worn like a cloak.
The drive back is dreamlike,
our talk of mutual friends,
innocent memories amidst
flashes of Glen’s disjointed thoughts:
”Must close some old bank accounts.
Have to write to Germany
about Annie’s pension. What about her jewelry?”
A few moments of quiet, then “They’ll make me move
to a smaller unit soon.”

And before
we can say any
of countless words
we want to say,
know we should say,
we are back
where death is too familiar,
returning Glen to his home of memories.
At his doorstep,
our solitary friend,
collar turned up against the cold,
a leftover pizza box
clutched in one hand,
waves a faint good-bye.
It has grown late.
Our long drive home is thick
with silent reflections
of life so long ago:
Glen, disillusioned and newly single at mid-life,
and Annie, so needing to love;
her mischievous eyes, the throaty laugh,
her bravado in facing illness and age,
her delight in the simplest
of life’s pleasures,
and her greatest joy:
her years spent as Glen’s wife.
And Annie’s question haunts me
as we journey home that night.
Just what will become of him?

Dedicated to the memory of Annie Stout 1928-2002

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A little girl, soft and delicate,
visited today.
She twisted her curls
and chased my cats.
Her tiny voice tugged
at my resisting heart
and opened the wound left by Emily;
and now, as if it were yesterday,
I cannot sleep.

Years ago,
on warm September nights like this,
I lay awake,
counting kicks and dreaming
of a dark-haired child,
dimpled and velvet-skinned;
of baby giggles
and tiny arms
wrapped tight around my neck.

She would listen, wide-eyed,
to stories of princesses and magic
and tell me secrets.
She’d want high heels too early,
and like boys too soon;
and I would love Emily
forever.

Just like yesterday,
I am awake,
sitting cross-legged
on a hospital bed,
my arms wrapped tight
across my belly;
rocking to life,
willing to live,
but feeling no sign,
no kick from the tiny foot
pressed against
my aching rib.

Just like yesterday,
the scream is still
caught in my throat
as my doctors escape
in hospital routines
to avoid my eyes.
A nurse offers tea
and sits with me
through the long night vigil.

Just like yesterday,
my husband tells me
later that they let him hold her;
that she was perfect.
Ten fingers, ten toes,
her skin as soft as air
her hair dark,
her tiny nose upturned.
But I have never seen her,
will never hear her gentle breathing,
her cry, her giggles.

Will never hold her.

Part of me dies forever,
and today is
just like yesterday.

In memory of our daughter, Emily Potts, November 21, 1975.

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