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Late Summer Afternoon

 

The air is leaden, thick, and

shadows creep across my silent deck;

the sun arcs slowly toward the west,

the moon, a tiny splinter in the haze of blue,

whispers the dark of coming night; rusty

leaves hang limp, the birds are hushed;

I sit alone, swallowed in the empty vastness

spread across my tiny deck.   

*

A gentle cooing sudden lifts the heavy air;

my eyes look up, and there she sits,

a mourning dove atop the rail, stretching  

her silky neck this way and that; she holds

my gaze, her eye attentive, pensive,

soft; then stretching yet again towards me

across the brooding silence of the day,

she coos once more and lays a gentle

peace, a quiet kindness in my soul

before she softly flows into the endless

hours of this late summer afternoon.

My Summer Travels with Thoreau

          “I have traveled a good deal in Concord,” Henry David Thoreau once famously said of his frequent walks through his home town.   Usually when we think of “travel,” we think of visiting places away from home, places remote maybe, or ancient; places filled with history, with art; places to awaken our imaginations, relax our often over-busy lives.

          But for Thoreau, who never ventured far from his native Concord and his Walden Pond, travel simply meant a careful observation of all that lay immediately around him.  Travel meant having eyes to see what can be so easily overlooked in all the familiar places of our lives.

          These days, living as I do with CFS/ME, I no longer travel much beyond the street on which we live.  But I am learning to travel with Thoreau, learning better to see and appreciate the immensity that lies right here on our little street.  Here’s a bit of what I’ve seen in my spring and summer “travels.”

not the Arc de Triomphe

just a simple arch celebrating

life ever-renewing

inviting us to walk beneath its bower

to mini triumphs of our own

***

lantana basking in the summer sun

reaching beyond its confines

to dance and frolic

in its tiny corner of the world

***

nature’s votive candles

tucked in a niche of the Cathedral of the Wind,

lit, perhaps, in memory of earlier

leaves and flowers that have come and gone,

sanctity of all of life

***

tiny green beetle

bulging black eyes

legs stippled and striped,

antennae extending into the unknown;

mystery of life

***

 

delicate lace tatted perhaps

by Belgian fairies working late

beneath the sliver of a silvered moon,

each tiny stitch a miracle of love

***

a piece of bark shredded from a tree,

limp, but yet alive

with ancient memories,

nature’s sculpted art displayed

on shelf of bright green grass 

***

a lone pine cone

seeds of new life expectant held

in soft green sheltering arms

beneath an endless sky

beckoning to new horizons

here and after here

***

Yes!  I have traveled a good deal on my little street and am thankful for each marvel that has brightened my summer days.

  

All Thumbs

This morning I’m all thumbs,

scrambled as my too-dry eggs,

twisted as my knotted

necklace chain; I drop a pill, lose a

thought, ill at ease with the garbled

verbs and adverbs of my life.

*

My larger world feels scrabbled too,

justice tangled in the skirts of power,

truth slips between fingers grasping

flimsy straws of status and esteem.

*

Meanwhile, a finch sits quiet,

nipping at our thistle seed;

two chickadees meet at the suet;

leafy branches glimmer in the early

morning sun; the stillness holds me

close, an almost holy sigh, whisper

of a somewhere time, God’s thumb

to wipe away the tangles of our tears.

This Little Light of Mine

 “This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine;”

my husband hums the familiar

tune as I sip my morning tea; later

he will sing with the church choir

this syncopated psalm of thanks

for little lights that bravely shine

in all the darkness encroaching

on our deeply troubled world.

I will not hear that joyful sound, but…

*

outside my window, a little

light shines quietly for me, a floral

candle of delicate, shimmering filaments,

lacy whiteness whispering its quiet radiance;

so unlike the neons of our gaudy

world of celebrities and ego tweets,

so unlike bright chandeliers

aglow with pomp and pride that

only shadow deeds of darkness.

*

Bless you, little light; shine on

in your wee corner of this vast

and anxious world; few will see

your radiant smile, but those who do

will quiet sing a psalm of thanks; will even

shine, perhaps, a little brighter themselves.

That Folded Head Cloth

 

Momentous rising,

shuffling off the stench

of death; the world a-tilt;

a cosmic shining in that soiled

empty sheet, spices strewn across the barren

floor; life undying bursting

through the cloth once tightly

shrouding our mortality.

*

And that lone head cloth,

folded, tidy, set apart,

quiet in a shining

all its own, whisper of divine

attentiveness to the minutiae

of our lives, quotidian patterns,

daily tasks that shape our days; hint

of holy presence, quiet glow

in all the foldings and unfoldings

of our tidy, not-so-tidy everydays.

Lenten Emptiness

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Emptiness fills my world

this harsh late-winter day;

cold seeps into my walls,

sits heavy in my rocking chair,

spreads icily around my yard, a shroud

wrapped tight around the color

that I ache for in my life.

*

The trees in my backyard, stark branches

spider-webbed across the sky, embrace

this leadenness so gracefully;

mystery of stillness,

patience of a waiting rest.

Could it be that angels curl

in those wintered trees, breathe

with them the bitter nights, caress

their icy bark, whisper poems that seep

a solace deep into their veins?

Beneath the brooding skies, I listen

for the rustle of their wings.

Winter Still Life with Red Shovel

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Not the Grand Canyon, 

not Niagara Falls;

merely the snowy deck and roof

of a neighbor’s house, a still life framed

by my dining room window,

sun-painted tree shadows lacing

the whole in intricate, abstract patterns;

steps inviting me to walk

into the picture, to sit a spell

at the empty table, to consider

that idle shovel in the corner,

bright red reminder that, though there is so much

work to be done, work to salvage justice,

work to honor truth, work to love the neighbor,

sometimes it is good to set aside our shovels

for a time, simply rest, renew, re-ground

our lives in simple still-life splendors

that abound in unexpected

corners of our lives.