Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dreams Dissipate

Staring into java, contemplating life’s journey in the murky swirl of cream
Blowing ripples, as steam breathes life into foggy recesses
Clearing cobwebs, allowing thoughts to clarify as day begins.

Taking a sip, a sigh escapes as I lean back into masses of pillows
Eyes closed, I listen to the ticking from my antique clock in the hall
A bong alerts me; my time is at a premium.

Sunlight peaks beneath the blinds and sneaks into my room
Chasing shadows and dreams back into the closet to await the night
As I finish the last of my elixir, stretching, uncovering from my cocoon.

Padding to the mirror, I stare back at the stranger I have become
My dreams of being an artist, splattered like slashes across a canvas
Replaced by a lab coat, calculations, stats and calibrations.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weep Not For Me

Sentries draped in forest green.
Stretching, reaching, branching,
Bending to the wind commands.

Standing fast to meet the water
Weeping, swaying to the tune
Of nature as she flows beside you.

Glorious guardians bless the shoreline
Poetic wall of timeless beauty
Secret rendezvous beneath your leaves

Rain blends with the tears of decades
Prayers offered to your mother
Earth her name who gave you life.

Someday let me lie beneath you
When last my breath joins the breeze
Emerald green will be my headstone.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Patience is a Satisfying Virtue

“Yo Stanley, what we doin’ sitting in this big old dead tree?
“Watching what?”
“Just wait, you’ll see.”
“I don’t see nothin’ Stanley.”
“Shut up, George or you will scare it away.”
“It’s not that mean squirrel that chased us out of that tree last week is it?  I don’t think we can take him even if we do sneak up on him.  We don’t even have any leaves to hide behind in this tree.”
“No George it’s not the squirrel.  And I know this tree hasn’t any leaves.  That’s so I can sit way up here and see really far without leaves blocking my sight.”
“Aw Stanley, I’m bored.  Can’t we go into the field and eat some corn or chase some mice or something?”
“Go if you want, but I plan to stay here and wait.”
“I’ll wait too, if you will tell me what we are waiting for?”
“George, do you have to be so impatient?  Can’t you just wait and see?”
“Ok, Stanley.  I’ll wait for a little while but I am sure getting hungry.  Hey Stanley, did you see that dumb dog in that back yard yesterday.  Chased his tail until he got so tired he fell down.  Caw, ha!  I nearly fell off the roof laughing at him.”
“George, how many times do I have to tell you to be quiet?  If I miss this I’m going to be real angry with you.”
“Ok Stanley, I’ll just pace up and down this branch for awhile.”
“No you idiot.  If you paced back and forth, it will see your shadow and you will scare it away.  Just sit still will you!”
“What now George?”
“I have to pee.”
“I thought you said you did that before we left the nest this morning?”
“I lied.  But I really do need to pee now.”
“Well for goodness sakes don’t do it here!  I swear George; you have a brain the size of a grain of sand.  Carefully move to the back of the tree and squat.”
“Here in this dead tree?  Not in your life Stanley!  What if LuLu comes by and sees me! There are no leaves on this tree.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake George!  No one’s watching.  Do you see another living soul anywhere around this place?”
“Well no, but they might fly by and decide to stop.  Nope, I can’t do it here.”
“Well leave then!  I don’t know why I bother with you some times.”
Hey Stanley?  You gonna be ok while I’m gone.”
“George if you are still here one minute from now I’m going to drill a hole in that skull of yours with my beak.”
“Well that wasn’t very nice at all Stanley.  I was just worried about you.  I thought you might get lonely or scared.  Ok, ok, I’m leaving Stanley.  You don’t have to ruffle you feathers at me that way.  Well, I guess I’ll catch up with you later at the watering hole.”  With that George flew away.
A moment later, Stanley’s patience finally paid off.  Just below the dead tree was the prize he had been waiting for since before dawn.
The moral of the story you ask?  The early bird always gets the worm.
Stanley flew away with a very satisfied grin on his face.  And he didn’t even have to share.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

You Left Dancing

As soon as I could feel you move
I knew that you could dance
We labored for a name for you
The distinction wasn't by chance

We bought you toys to fill your days
We bought you clothes and planned your room
We read you books and sang you songs
While you were still within my womb

Then cursed fates were meant to be
Your fluid home was washed away
And even though we wept and prayed
You were born to us that day

Heavens angels awaited you
You came into our world
Dancing to a tune only you could hear
My love for you unfurled

We named you Aiden Carter
Spitfire was your name
You fought a battle brave and true
But you lost it just the same.

You await us on the other side
A shoreline too far for us to see
Departed family holds you safe
Until our souls are also free

Dedicated to my son and daughter-in-law

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dearest Ruth

     I pushed my way through the corn stalks; curiosity leading the way.  From my Uncle Elsie’s farm, I could see another house with barns and a silo. My cousin Vera told me it belonged to her Aunt Ruth.  Ruth was my uncle’s spinster sister.  My Aunt Gladys was my dad’s only sister and my parents visited them almost every summer.  I had never met this aunt and decided in my seven years of maturity that it was about time we met.  So in my Sunday best dress, I marched myself over to introduce myself.  The sun was warm that July afternoon and I was full of spunk after spending a morning in church and visiting my ninety plus years grandfather.  I was always the adventurous tomboy.  Dirt and woods were always calling to me; just a mystery to be explored.  So with pink frills and white patent leather shoes, I trekked through the rows of green and gold to find the treasure at the other end.

     When I arrived at her gate, I was delighted to see, that her front yard was filled with geese, both big and small.  I loved visiting the farms that belonged to both sides of our family, being from the outer suburbs of Detroit.  I proceeded into the yard and went straight to her pen to visit with the ducklings.   Reaching down, I picked up the nearest one and held it to my chest.  Imagine the shock I received when my aunt’s boxer “Queenie” came charging around the side of the house barking at the intruder.   I squeezed the duckling a little too hard, not that she wasn’t already traumatized, and she proceeded to excrete her dinner all over my pink frilly front all the way down into my shoes!  The hens and ganders were squawking, the baby bit my thumb hard, the dog was digging dirt and barking, and here I was balling my eyes out, when the strangest woman I ever laid eyes on came around the corner. 

     Ruth was wearing a long brown dress and a dingy white apron with a bib.  She had on a brown bonnet tied under her chin and was carrying a basket full of eggs.  In her other hand she had a thick walking stick and used it quite effectively to come to my rescue.  Taking me by the hand she escorted me into her home through the back door.  At the big kitchen sink she pumped water from a hand pump and filled the sink with water and soap.  I removed my soiled dress and she gave me a shirt to wear.  She used an old wooden washboard to clean my dress and socks then took those out back to dry on the long rope line secured between two trees.  When she came back in, she made us some tea and we sat at her kitchen table to complete our introduction.  Everywhere I looked there were things I had never seen before.  She had homemade bread cooling on the counter, onions and potato’s hanging in baskets beside wire baskets filled with all kinds of eggs.  There were brown ones and white ones, speckled ones, big and small ones.  There was a big wooden churn, which I soon learned was for making butter and cream.  There were dollies and trivets and hand made fly swatters.  She had an overhead wooden blade fan rotating slowly, churning smells that my young nose couldn’t begin to identify.  She had jars of pickles and a variety of jellies.  Her linoleum was in a checkerboard pattern and she had the prettiest lace curtains over her sink.  We sat and talked for awhile and then she went to call my aunt and uncle to let them know where I was.  That was the beginning of a most memorable friendship that over years never wavered.

     Ruth had worked in the post office until she retired.  She raised her own chickens and guineas and made her own breads.  She traded these with other ladies for jellies and fruits and it gave her a chance to visit when the mood stuck her.  She had a large barn and a corn silo in the back.  She stuffed pillows and quilts with goose down and she crocheted the dollies that adorned her tables.  The only modern contraptions she finally allowed in her house were an indoor privy and the telephone, both non-negotiable items that my uncle had installed.

     Over the years I would sit in her kitchen and tell her stories about the city.  I would talk to her about boy problems, drugs in the schools, deaths of friends, and she would just sit and listen to me.  She would ask me how those things made me feel and she would hold my hand if I cried.  During the summer visit’s she taught me how to gather eggs without the hens leaving peck marks on my hands, how to skin and peel the hair off the corn, to churn the butter and how to have a good time without the aid of a television. Most of all she taught me how to find peace in a very hectic world.  She knew when I needed to talk and when I needed time up at the top of the silo looking out on miles of corn.

     When I grew up and had my own farm and children I would send her pictures and letters.  She was such an inspiration in my life.  One day my Aunt Gladys called to tell me that Aunt Ruth had passed. She told me that when she was cleaning out Aunt Ruth’s house, she found all of my letters and pictures I had sent her tied up in a ribbon in an old shoe box. 

     I will miss her always but she is still my rock in a crazy world.  When it becomes too rough, I close my eyes and picture the woman in the brown dress and bonnet who was my mentor, my analyst and my best friend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Communion with Dawn

In the stillness of the early morn
When nature shakes off the remnants of slumber
Leaves stretching, flowers opening
I sit quietly with my cup of tea in reflection.
Gazing at the first visages of dawn
As the sun lazily climbs into the heavens
Gradually dressing the day in a kaleidoscope of hues
Huddling a bit deeper into the quilt I have wrapped about me.
Oh quiet morn what blessing will you bestow today?
A gentle shower, a warm caress?
Or will passion shatter us from our doldrums,
Enveloping fury of an unleashed tempest.
Communion with nature, I tune into earths heartbeat
Thundering through my blood, rejuvenating my soul
I rise and salute you in prayer and thanksgiving
Calmer from the spiritual union of birthing a new day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ostriches Breed Ostriches

Another child becomes physically ill at the thought of going to school.  It isn’t because they forgot to study or do their homework.  It is not because this is the first day to show up to school with braces.  They received a text this morning that said that the bullies would be waiting for them.  Yesterday plays back in their minds like a bad movie.  They visualize how they were pushed to the ground, their lunches destroyed, and their pockets emptied.  They remember last week when they witnessed a child beaten up in class, with the teacher present, and the injured child had to leave school for medical treatment.  They think back on the two friends last year, whose frightened parents decided that home schooling was better in the long run for their children
     The bullies have control, both in the classrooms and outside on the social circuits.  Our children do not feel safe enough to go to school.  How can we expect them to learn if they are forever looking over their shoulders for harm to come their way?  The teachers can’t and won’t help, for fear of reprisal from society, their superiors and yes the students.  Will I loose my job?  Will the bully take action against my family or my possessions?  The children have no safe space to call their own.  They are bullied on buses, in the classroom, the restrooms, at school functions and yes, even in the sanctity of their homes on the social internet.  They feel a need to become part of the herd rather than fight against it.  They don’t want to be culled from the group and branded as outcasts.  They believe that if their parents had the ability to fight it, if the police felt they could help, if the church could make a difference, then they might feel more apt to deal with the day to day issues they face.  The problem is that they see these pillars they look up to for guidance and protection, not able to do anymore than they can.  How often do they hear, “There’s nothing I can do”, “We aren’t allowed to disciple”, or “Our hands are tied”.
In this day and time, we are concerned about the terrorists of the world and what they will do.  But aren’t we, in our own way, condoning this type of behavior in our schools?  We are allowing our children to be terrorized on a daily basis.  It is no longer a case of a simple prank.  It is fear of injury, ridicule, retaliation, and even death.  Has the righteous turned a blind eye for so long, as to allow evil to rule and the honorable to cower?  Are we to believe that this is just the way it is and nothing can be done? 
     Let me ask you this.  If garbage lay decaying in the center of your living room, would you just walk around it?  Would you cover it with perfumed spray, surround it with flowers or cover it with a blanket to hide it?  Hopefully not.  It is my expectation, that you would roll up your sleeves and attack the trash with a vengeance, until no trace or smell of it would linger.  That, through our own actions, our living space would once more belong to us.  So, why then do we allow this to go on in our schools?  Why do we sit back and permit the stench of decay and loss of education to become the norm?  Do we plan to tiptoe around the pile of decaying trash, allowing rats and maggots to consume our places of learning?  Do we permit the Phoebe Prince’s of the world to feel that the only way beyond this is to end their suffering?  Have you ever searched the internet to see how many childhood suicides are linked directly to harassment by other children?  These lost children are just the tips of the iceberg that are visible.  There are so many others, right now, living through this nightmare. 
     Bullies will never go away.  They have always been around. This is not a social, economic or racial issue.  You can’t hide your child in an ivy school and feel immune to this behavior.  Removing them from society and enclosing them into home schooling is only a band-aid fix.  It does not prepare them for the real world or give them the tools needed to stand their grounds and fight.  Ostriches breed ostriches.  Fear feeds on fear.
In the past, our families would not tolerate it.  The schools and churches stood up against it.  The police had the authority and the support of the constituents to control it.  Neighbors looked out for neighbors.  But then again, all of these people had the support of families who cared enough to take a stand. Cared enough to come out of their comfortable cocoons and stand up for what was right.  How much do you care? 
     Being less than five feet tall all my life, harassment was inevitable.  I never took it lying down.  I got right in their faces and called them out on it publicly.  You know what usually happened?  The bullies backed down.  They don’t like their faults broadcast.  They don’t like witnesses.  They especially don’t like facts. 
     Where are the flower children, the rebels, the fighters that existed some 40 years ago?  Have you all buried your heads in the sand and decided it is someone else’s fight?  These are your children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, and our friends.  It is time to take a stand.  It is time to take back our schools and our neighborhoods.  It is time to act.  Leave a legacy your grandchildren will be proud of.  Give them the tools and the right, to not be afraid.  Give them hope and insight to see that they have a future.  Let their biggest worries be the surprise pop quiz or the pimple on picture day.  It is our choice; it is their right. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

You are my Essence

You are the colors in my world
The blues of the morning sky
The grays after a rain

You are the clouds in my life
Soft and billowy
Dark and ominous

You are the breath in my life
Cyclones and hurricanes
Lullaby whispers and sighs

You are the reason in my life
The sturdiness in the turbulence
The last thought I have when I retire.