Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

I don't really recall Thanksgivings of my childhood. We always sat down for meals as a family and on Sunday extended family came and we had wonderful food beyond our normal weekday meals. So maybe that is why the holidays blur in memory. Because there wasn't just a few special meals a year, there were many.

I have wonderful food memories. I come from a family of cooks. Not chefs, just good down to earth cooks. Everyone could make the basics and some of us have our specialties that get passed on to younger generations. My aunt Catherine and her fried apple pies, my mama's carrot cake, my brother's cheesy taters to name a few. Everyone, male and female in my family cooks. My nephew hosts the family dinners now and he smokes pork and cooks the cheesy taters. My niece does the ham. I bring corn pudding or add in my mother in law's scalloped pineapple.

But these gatherings and even Thanksgiving are about more than food. It's about family. About history.  About telling the stories handed down over time and adding a few new ones. It's oral history. Telling our tales, our jokes, telling our lives.

It's about being thankful that I have come from such a family, rich in love and words.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

6 months into a new journey

In late May I asked my husband of 25 years to leave. June 1st, he moved into his own apartment.

And I stopped blogging because I could not find the words to describe what had gone wrong...

Now 6 months later, I still don't have all the words. I still don't know exactly what went wrong and when it did. But we soldier on. We have thus far remained civil. We have a friendship that will last outside of marriage and legalities. We have been through a lot together in 25 years and now it is time for us to walk our own separate paths.

Whether those paths will cross, merge or diverge is a mystery. All I know is that for our individual salvation, this is the right path at this time.

So I am back to my blog. I don't know if I will ever be able to talk about our separation on here. I doubt it. It is a private relationship, not to be shared in a public forum. Just know that we are OK. We are separate, but we are OK.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Changes

In the enormity of a life changing situation, the small things are the ones that break the heart.

I have found that during a period of change the little things that one takes for granted are the things hardest to let go. A ring, a photograph, a letter...

The big things are easy: couches, bookshelves, tables and chairs hold little attachment or sentimental value. But gone are the everyday gestures, turning the ring round and round as you think, glancing at the picture and remembering that day, that hour, that moment.

Finding a letter from another time and space inside your life. A card filled with humor and inside jokes.
A handkerchief that you mistakenly thought was someone else's. Realizing that reality was actually an illusion. That some of the illusions were real.

Sorrow walks side by side with freedom. Solitude and loneliness waltz around trying to decide who will lead for the next hour.

Rooms await repainting, furniture shifts, walls get new pictures and the physical space transforms.

But the inner landscape? It too is changing, unseen to others (hopefully) feeling like chaos theory being birthed in the soul. Emotions are rising, falling, ebbing, flowing, washing away some memories while leaving others on the beach like broken shells.

Change leads to growth or death. Who shall be the victor?

Monday, May 20, 2013

A new site has entered my life...

I just discovered a new (to me) blog/site and have become totally smitten with it: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/ 

Here are some of my most recent findings.

May Song

For whatever is let go
there's a taker.
The living discovers itself

where no preparation
was made for it,
where its only privilege

is to live if it can.
The window flies from the dark
of the subway mouth

into the sunlight
stained with the green
of the spring weeds

that crowd the improbable
black earth
of the embankment,

their stout leaves
like the tongues and bodies
of a herd, feeding

on the new heat,
drinking at the seepage
of the stones:

the freehold of life,
triumphant
even in the waste

of those who possess it.
But it is itself the possessor,
we know at last,
seeing it send out weeds
to take back
whatever is left.

Proprietor, pasturing foliage
on the rubble,
making use

of the useless—a beauty
we have less than not
deserved.
"May Song" by Wendell Berry, from New Collected Poems. © Counterpoint Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

 

 

A Light Left On

In the evening we came back
Into our yellow room,
For a moment taken aback
To find the light left on,
Falling on silent flowers,
Table, book, empty chair
While we had gone elsewhere,
Had been away for hours.

When we came home together
We found the inside weather.
All of our love unended
The quiet light demanded,
And we gave, in a look
At yellow walls and open book.
The deepest world we share
and do not talk about
But have to have, was there,
And by that light found out.
"A Light Left On" by May Sarton, from Collected Poems. © Norton, 1992. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

 

 

All that time

I saw two trees embracing.
One leaned on the other
as if to throw her down.
But she was the upright one.
Since their twin youth, maybe she
had been pulling him toward her
all that time,

and finally almost uprooted him.
He was the thin, dry, insecure one,
the most wind-warped, you could see.
And where their tops tangled
it looked like he was crying
on her shoulder.
On the other hand, maybe he

had been trying to weaken her,
break her, or at least
make her bend
over backwards for him
just a little bit.
And all that time
she was standing up to him

the best she could.
She was the most stubborn,
the straightest one, that's a fact.
But he had been willing
to change himself—
even if it was for the worse—
all that time.

At the top they looked like one
tree, where they were embracing.
It was plain they'd be
always together.
Too late now to part.
When the wind blew, you could hear
them rubbing on each other.
"All That Time" by May Swenson, from Collected Poems. © Library of America, 2013. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beloved

You asked if I thought
there was such a thing
as an unforgivable sin. 
I know from experience
only the most deeply wounded
can believe that they cannot
be loved or forgiven.

I wish that you could see
yourself with God’s eyes.
To see the beauty and grace
in your soul.
To see the courage with which
you face the dark past
that carved trenches of pain
through the tender flesh
of your heart.

If you could see as God sees,
you would see the little girl
wanting love so deeply
that she lets her innocence be stolen
and her body be used
for some one else's pleasure.
And you would love her.
If you could see as God sees,
you would see the teenager
who, with nowhere else to turn,
traveled down a path of sharp edges
and broken dreams
that cut and sliced
so that blood ran as freely as tears
so that even now
she feels the pain of despair.
And you would love her.
If you could see as God sees,

you would see the mother
who sacrificed her health
and her body
to raise her children,
who went without food
so they could eat,
who rocked them,
soothed them and
finally set them free
as strong, brave women.
And you would love her.
If you could see as God sees,
you would see the woman
who is gentle and kind,
who laughs with her whole being,
who cries with others and holds their hands,
who tries to save the earth
and animals and people.
And you would love her.
If you could see as God sees,
you would see that
God cries with you,
aches with you,
and grieves with you.
If you could see as God sees,
you would see that God loves you,
forgives you and most of all
God does not want
his precious child to be in pain.
If you could see as God sees
you would see yourself forgiven,
whole and renewed,
beloved and healed.
And you would love you.

My prayer for you
is that you can one day see
with God’s eyes
and accept the healing and love
while letting go of the past.
And that you can see you
as God does,
every day,
every minute,
every second,
every breath
of your life.

Believe that you are beloved.

You will love you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dichotomy

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time I give up and take on things to bring me closer to Christ. It is the most serious of Holy Days.
Today is St. Valentine's Day; a not so serious Holiday.
The last 24 hours have been a dichotomy.

(A dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts, meaning it is a procedure in which a whole is divided into two parts.)

Not much overlap between the two days.

EXCEPT love. Both are about love.

Ash Wednesday leads us into the contemplation of a God who would take on human form, suffer and die for the love of His creation.
Valentines day is about showing your love, usually with flowers, candy and bling.

So do we go for the temporary show of undying love or the dark and somber vision?
Can we have both?  Can our hearts hold a dichotomy?


Monday, February 11, 2013

Questions too late to ask of my father




I walk the streets
staring at the gray buildings,
watching the windows
wondering if my present was once your past?

Did you ever walk along 23rd Street
stopping to admire the Flatiron building
as I often do?

Did you ever stroll Fifth Avenue
standing back from a world of riches
wishing, just wishing
that life could be yours?

Did you ever sit
 on this bench,
this rock,
on this knoll in Central Park
while families and lovers
ambled by?


During the Depression
when soup kitchens
and bread lines abounded,
were you ever tempted
just once
to stand in line?

I see New York
through a dreamer's eyes;
The present melding with the past,
trying to create the world
as it once was
when as a young man
you passed so briefly
through my city
much like you passed
so briefly through my life.

3 Snippets of Time in NYC

#1
Why is it,
on lonely nights,
I want to call old lovers
and pick new fights?

#2
We all have our secrets
Hidden inside
Covered by whispers
Buried by lies

#3
It's really getting trying
all these people dying.
Death has become a spectator sport
instead of the last resort.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

NYC 1983 (remembered)

I remember my first winter in New York. I thought I knew what cold was~ I remember "hog killing" weather when the days were cold enough that the hogs were butchered. My daddy would get his pistol, the axe and the hacksaw and go kill one of our hogs. I remember the steam rising from the heat of the draining blood. I remember the hotness of the fire underneath the rendering kettle and my face burned and my butt froze.  So I knew cold, I thought.
But the first time I stepped into one of those canyons of concrete and the wind hit me, I realized I hadn't a clue.
I couldn't breathe, the wind sucked the breath from my lungs in a gasp. The tears froze on my lashes and the very marrow of my bones ached. My old brown cloth coat was inadequate. I turned and went back to my apartment where I pulled on longjohns, a sweater and a hooded sweatshirt. I added mittens and put my coat back on. I felt and looked ridiculous but I was warm.
Back on the streets, the wind was still brutal. Two pairs of socks couldn't take the sting out of the sidewalk. I couldn't fathom how the homeless survived.
One woman always sat in Times Square, wrapped in packing blankets, burlap sacks wrapped around her feet, rocking and singing into the wind. It was so cold I couldn't even smell her stench.
Once I bought her coffee. I just held it out wordlessly, afraid to offer it, afraid of her, yet wanting to give her a bit of warmth.
She looked at me, her eyes lost in a mass of wrinkles and grime. She looked at the coffee. She reached for it and for a moment our hands touched.
She opened the lid, letting the steam rise around her face, bathing in the rich aroma. She looked at me and winked. I smiled, bowed slightly and walked away.
That day I found that there was a tiny bit of warmth in the city. I found it within myself and within the face of a stranger.

Bricks (1983)


I once watched a mason working on a wall.
He was an Irishman, actually from the County Cork he said.
He would pick up a brick, spread the mortar, lay the brick.
His moves were like a graceful dance.
The sun shone on him, his red hair alight with the fire of the day.
His freckles, little copper dots kissing his face,
the hair on his arms a soft golden down.
I sat entranced by him.




He whistled constantly, effortlessly as he bent and straightened.
He seemed like a man in love with his work.
He explained how bricks have life in them; made from the earth
they are solid and grounded. They hold the heat from the sun
and the cool of the night. They shelter us from storms and provide
a haven of safety.

He knew an infinite array of patterns: Flemish bond, English bond,
single, double, herringbone, pinwheel, Della Robia.
He described them so reverently, almost as if he were saying a prayer.
What all did he teach me that day?
I don't really know, but I do love the sight of bricks and my heart warms
thinking of a sunlit day and a young man shining like copper and clay.

Winter (1993)


The days are short. Dark comes so quickly now, dropping like a curtain over the window of the sky.
Dark and Cold crouch around the house like predators seeking the warmth and light. The Wind taps scritchy scratch against the windows, whistling a mournful tune.
All three looming ever present until dawn, but even then there is no guarantee of light or warmth.
Morning is so indistinct this time of year.
The grayness only a brightening of the night.
The days remain shadow filled and gloomy making the presence of a candle a matter of rejoicing.

Lenten Practice

I have decided for Lent to not only give up soda, but also to blog regularly.
I have found scads of my writing from my 20's and 30's.
Reading it is interesting. I know that young woman and yet she is now a stranger.
I hope you will enjoy the work that will be posted here.
Peace be with you.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Should, would, could

It is quiet in the house
as I sit in a puddle of regret
and half hearted musings
of what could have been.

The 'maybes' outweigh
the reality before me
and I wonder if
'should, could, would'
would have changed
my life.

What of the road not taken?
What of the risks I feared?
Why does one instant,
one decision
undeniably alter our path?

I marvel at the instant
that a life is changed.
How the potential
skews and is lost
The opportunity gone,
Never to return.

Doubt creeps in
and I regret the times
I did not reach out,
the times I did
and the times I turned away.

Because Life is too hard,
too sad,
too mean.
Or because Life is so joyful
so magical
so beautiful
I cannot stand in its presence
without deep undeniable pain.



Teddy

A few years ago I was privileged to me one of the Freedom Riders who responded to Martin Luther King's challenge. In their honor I post my impressions of that time and those brave souls.

 
I was five
When I first rode the bus
From Detroit
To the South.
A brown bag with a change of clothes,
a cold biscuit in my pocket,
sitting in the back
pierced by strangers’ stares.
I sat as my mama told me to
still, quiet, my head held high.

First day of school
Straining to understand
The strange Southern tongue.
Scared of the laughing girls
and leering boys
I rode the bus way ‘cross town
to the black school.
Used books and broken desks waiting
For me, scared, but my head held high.

I rode the bus to Selma
where I marched til my feet were burning
like the fire in my heart,
the blood in my veins.
For justice
I rode that bus to Selma
With my head held high.

I rode the bus cross town
to the job that paid me slave wages
A hundred years past slavery’s end.
kowtowing to the white folks
Watching the boys that raped me
dance with their pretty wives
who looked through me
in my maids dress serving
fancy eats.
With my head held high 

I rode the bus to Eastern State.
The loony bin, crazy house,
Asylum
my heart was broken,
my spirit wounded,
my body tired and my mind so very sad.

But still, my head held high.


Now I ride the bus to Frankfort
where I tell the truth,
where I have my say,
and they dare not set me down.
Because all these years
I did not falter
I did not quit
I survived it all
With my head held high.