I apologize for posting across social media, but some people follow me only on this blog. I an honored to have three poems in David L. O’Nan’s massive (over 300 pages) anthology, Poets of 2020. There are so many wonderful poets in this volume–many well-known names! The book is available in several formats. Here’s the US link.
Monday Morning Musings:
“History says don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.”
–Seamus Heaney, “Doubletake”, The Cure of Troy
Lines quoted by Joe Biden at DNC 2020
My mother would be ninety-eight today–
we’d hug and kiss, and smile in the way
you do with people you love–when we could and did,
we never thought it all would end, we’d bid
farewell to normal hopes, and sail into tomorrow
on boats barely afloat, fueled by sorrow
and a bit of hate. Yes, for the dissembler and enablers
who’ve made the situation worse. The world’s more unstable,
increasing so every day. And yet they play with clichéd lines–
heavy-handed, rabble-rousing—creating conspiracies, signs
of the time and getting worse. The storms come, the fires burn
still the seasons, turn, turn, turn—
I walk and think of flowers, our year of sitting amidst blooms,
the garden a refuge of sort from boredom, doom, the rooms
that confined you—and us–as we kept you company,
week after week, watching for changes, hungrily
asking you to remember the past, but wanting you to see
what you could of now, of me,
and we ached, all of us,
and we’d discuss
each change, each day, the words you’d say
of imaginary pets and our dead father, weigh
hope, laughter, grief in equal measure
and still remember and treasure—
a gift you’ve given me, to lift my face to the sun
to see that there are many, not just one
way to see color, beauty, light
the way it changes on the water and fades slowly into night
where perhaps I’ll hear a mockingbird sing farewell–
a lullaby rather than a knell–
a song of love, of peace, of rising up–it’s time,
it’s time, that hope and history rhyme.
As some of you know, my mother died in April from Covid-related complications. Today she’d be ninety-eight. We couldn’t be with her when she died, and we haven’t really had a memorial. Tonight my husband, daughters, their spouses, and I will have a virtual dinner get together. I baked my and her favorite cookies over the weekend, and I’m baking a cake today.
On Thursday, my husband and I had a date night at a winery. We bought tickets a month before, but we were fortunate that the humidity was gone that day, and it was beautiful.
“We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon. . .
. . .When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.”
–From Maya Angelou, “A Brave and Startling Truth”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
There are truths I want to say–
that the sun rises every day
whether we see it, or not,
acknowledge the light, or distraught
by glowering clouds, tears, and fears
of what is or might be, and years
suddenly darkened by plagues and death,
a beloved one’s last breath
that you want to catch and hold
lightly cupped in your hands, to fold
a flap of time over, like a page
marked, even as you rage
against time and the powers that be,
you forget, then remember to see
the light that shines, the people who fight
against darkness with kindness, who know right
can be funny and loving and true,
self-evident, you’d think, but not all do–
so, you remember, as you can,
unfold memories, like a fan
and wave them to and fro—
let them softly blow
across your face,
leaving a trace
of what once was, but cherish, too,
what is—the love (and presents) given you
the children, the pets, the friends—
all the beginnings, and all the ends
that circle round, and then again,
like sun and moon, birds in flight, and rain
from moisture in ground, flowers, and trees,
returning, rolling over and over, tides of seas
and rivers’ flowing–the startling truth, not of never,
but of always, now and forever.
We had a theater night at home this weekend and purchased a ticket to stream The People’s Light and Theatre Company’s production of Hold These Truths, “A Solo Play Inspired by the Life of Gordon Hirabayashi .”
As a young University of Washington student and practicing Quaker, Gordon Hirabayashi struggles to reconcile his deep admiration for the U.S. Constitution with the government’s 1942 orders to forcibly remove and intern over 120,000 people of Japanese descent from the West Coast. Gordon’s remarkable resistance ultimately leads to the famous Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. United States, and continues to resonate today as we encounter questions of national security, citizenship, and what it means to be an American. Steven Eng plays Gordon Hirabayashi (and 37 other characters!) in Jeanne Sakata’s critically-acclaimed solo play.”
My daughters surprised me with a brunch (some mailed and some stealthily left at the door) for Mother’s Day, and we had a virtual brunch with them. We last celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom in 2018. Last year she had a stroke just before Mother’s Day, from which she did quite remarkably recover quite a bit. Today, my sister reminds me, is the anniversary of my father’s death over twenty years ago.
An ache—and after–
in rain whispers,
and dappled light
~winging through trees~
the crows call, and I laugh
a dream of ifs, why, and how
love is a recalled–
the scent of roses
on a summer breeze, lingering.
A puente from a collaboration with the Poetry Oracle. She truly does know everything. My mother died one week ago.
follow the light
within the feathered beats of moon song,
a mockingbird sings of love and hope,
between the full moon and the new,
an eternity passes
I’m not really up for prompts just yet, but this fits Frank’s New Moon Challenge. I was thinking how so much has happened in two weeks since the moon was last full.
Monday Morning Musings:
“To see the stars behind the sun. . .
Somewhen a boy is counting stars.
Somewhen a man is photographing light.
Somewhen his finger strokes the stubble on another’s cheek,
and for a moment everything is relative.”
Some of you know the news already that my mother died early Saturday morning, but this is my official WordPress announcement.
She had been in a nursing home, and she died of Covid 19-related complications. Yes, this is real, and I can’t tell you how angry I am at the people who are not taking this seriously, including the horror in the White House or his enablers. Given the current circumstances, we were unable to be with her, and we do not when we will have any type of memorial service for her.
Friday I went into a flurry of comfort cooking and baking. We visited with our daughters virtually, as we’ve been doing recently on Friday nights.
That night, I dreamt several times of people waving goodbye. Each time, I woke up after the dream with the image lingering in my head. Then early in the morning, my sister called with the news. For a long time, my sisters and I have called each other, saying quickly, “No one has died.” She told me this time it wasn’t one of those calls because my mom had died.
My parents were married to and divorced from each other twice, but he was the love of her life, and I think she was of his, too. Towards her end, she remembered only the good times, and she thought my father lived in the same nursing home. He’s been dead for over twenty years.
On Sunday morning, I went for a long walk. At the river, I cried, threw a stone into the water, and said goodbye to my mother, as I watched the ripples on the surface and watched the river flow.
Two stars in orbit—
causing time and space to shift
in tumbling waves
the universe ripples,
a moment caught,
a family vacation,
heels kicking in the air
as you fling yourself across a motel bed
young and beautiful
learning a new dance with a girlfriend,
or meeting a young man at a party–
he runs after you
to get your phone number
traveling in the wrong direction–
or the right one
you see the stars behind the sun.
of a sort—perhaps–
remembrance, past events, some
forgotten, we smile
at the old
report cards, boxes
of them and
you kept them through all the moves–
holding our childhoods
we’d outgrown them, but
there it is–
a small book I made for you,
in a school art class,
there my first
published book, you stamped
it with your
it to classes, proud father
storing books and dreams,
our lives sharing space
once held living flowers, but
all things turn to dust–
the closet, and close
the door, laugh
so much junk!
Though I understand wanting
to hoard memories
Today, Day 18 of NaPoWriMo, we’re challenged to write an elegy “one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.” This is written in a series of shadorma stanzas. I couldn’t get this poem started until I remembered my sisters and I cleaning out the big storage closet in my dad’s last apartment. He died over twenty years ago in May.
I’m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse.
The Yeats quotation for the day is:
“With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,”—W.B. Yeats
ancient faces etched
with grief. They’ve
seen war, deaths.
Like rain-beaten stones, weathered,
worn, but unyielding.
Vincent van Gogh, “Sorrow,” 1882 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now years have passed, the pain is gone–
physical pain, the dreams remain,
demons, terror, always the same.
of war, of destruction, of fright–
she mourns them still, alone at night.
For evil men, she was a pawn.
They took her youth, left no trace
in tattooed arm and withered face.
The past is gone, she won’t dwell on,
memories–peace comes, with a book,
a cat, some tea, a quiet nook
in which she sits, sometimes till dawn,
longing to die, willing to live,
she tries not to hate; she tries to forgive.
This week, Jane asked us to write about pain for her poetry challenge in a poem using the rhyme scheme: abb acc add aee, etc. I didn’t use the prompt words or the image she suggested. I think this Van Gogh drawing conveys the mood of the poem. The model was pregnant and abandoned by the father of the child. She was forced to prostitute herself to buy food. Van Gogh took her in as a model, paid her rent, and shared his bread with her. The Wikipedia page has more information.
Juliette trudged up the hill in the rain. Day was turning to night, and she wanted to make certain her beloved boy made it home safely from the mill. Henri was only twelve and small for his age; Juliette worried about him. Though he made little working at the mill, it was enough to help the family a bit. He had not complained about having to leave school, though he loved his books.
Henri is a good boy, she thought, fondly recalling the way he gently teased her. Maybe he’ll tell me a new joke tonight.
She pictured the family sitting around the dinner table, eating the stew she had left simmering at home. She knew Henri would appreciate it. He was a growing boy, after all.
She continued walking and musing about him, as she did every day at this time. As she had been doing every day for fifteen years, since the mill had been destroyed in a fire. Her Henri would not be tasting her stew tonight–or any night. He would never again tease her in his quiet way. But he lived still in Juliette’s mind and dreams, forever a boy of twelve.
This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge . The prompt is the above painting by Henri Rousseau.( I can’t find any information about it.) Also, the word “abandon.”