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.