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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

I shut my eyes in order to see. (Paul Gauguin)

Umbrellas and I don’t get along well. I either leave them in the car or under the table at a restaurant. Several years ago, I published a poem on a For a Better World site, AEQAI, maintained by Saad Ghosn. I remembered some of those narrative poetry lines while I was driving today, rain falling, my umbrella in the trunk, my thoughts recalling the many broken people I know. Peace upon all. Without judgment.

THE BROKEN UMBRELLA

I find an old, bent umbrella

in the back of a closet,

and remember a story

about my great aunt,

the one who lived

with my grandmother.

I heard she refused to go to school,

rain or shine, without her umbrella.

Grandma laughed when she told me,

one of those tired adult laughs

I didn’t understand.

She never knew why

her little sister feared rain.

And I wouldn’t dare ask.

 

My great aunt talked about men

as if they were born as sooty coal

covered with flesh.

Genetically messy, crude, loud.

Sports without a soul.

Since I was her only niece,

my aunt sought my ear.

I tolerated her out of pity.

I pictured her as a child

at the turn of the twentieth century.

paired with her umbrella,

two closed slender shapes

surrounded by bullies

who gave fuel to her opinions.

She learned bitterness somewhere,

wore it as a badge of a holy crusade.

 

In the fifties Grandma took in a boarder,

a quiet man who ate corn flakes

doused with warm water.

My aunt latched her door at night,

and moved a bookcase

in front of it.

 

Then one night after Grandma died

I stayed overnight with my aunt,

gave her some company.

I recall her bony frame in dull, plain pajamas,

all femininity pressed out,

as she told me about an uncle,

or was it a cousin?

You won’t believe what he did to me?

By then I was old enough to guess.

But, not old enough to know

the burden of that knowledge wasn’t mine.

I remained silent.

Her secret stayed bound

within flannel and hate.

She died in a nursing home.

Alone.

 

I imagine a new scene as I discard

the useless umbrella from my closet.

What would have happened if

I could have borrowed a few years

of experience from my future,

risked touching the pain in her eyes,

and asked, what happened?

 

My old umbrella’s hollow spiked bones stick out

through torn, split fabric.

I can’t fix it. Yet, strange,

I feel an odd sadness for all things

that no longer have a chance to recover.

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Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (John Barrymore)

My grandson, Dakota, and I explore our backyard with his new red plastic truck. It’s large enough for him to sit on it. I’m grateful he realizes I would crush it. A septuagenarian squatting that low and then maneuvering the toy from a bug’s height, would be a sight for the neighbors. I wouldn’t want them to anticipate a 911-call.

“You know you won’t live forever,” he says.

“Yes, I do. That’s why I celebrate time with you, give to others, and love as much as I can.”

He doesn’t answer and continues playing with the truck. We create ramps from National Geographic Magazines. He rolls construction paper and tapes it with heavy tape. My granddaughters’ baby doll bottles in the center maintain firmness.

We let the moments speak for themselves, the challenge to roll or unroll. To go over the ramp with the truck or bypass it. If one tactic doesn’t work, Dakota tries another. My little buddy doesn’t give up easily.

I consider how quickly the notion, not-good-enough, flashes into my mind. I know it was taught to me in childhood. What isn’t good enough? The statement is too generic to be true. Nevertheless, the temptation to just-forget-it rises far too often. For most human critters, both young and old.

My friend, Cathie, calls. She hasn’t seen me at the Y for a while. Either I have been entertaining grandkids or working on my book. She has something to give me.

“When I saw this, all the bright colors,” she says, “I thought of you and just had to get it.”

I plan to meet Cathie. On Friday morning. At ten AM.

She has made a pillow. Cathie is a seamstress. She uses her gift to celebrate other people.

“It’s pre-hugged,” she says, holding the pillow through the plastic bag against her chest.

Since we have both been in the pool, we are soaking wet. A chlorine hug doesn’t negate the love attached to her or her work.

Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. However, with grandchildren like Dakota and friends like Cathie, sweetness is easier to find.

 

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As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. We realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. (Richard Rohr)

Can time be weighed?

Does night and day,

progress, failure

illness, health,

compassion, and greed fit

into the final figure?

History. Is each page unbiased?

I wait, and watch as unnamed birds

fly and hide into deciduous branches

where leaves will fall, allow

trees to stand bare, and perhaps,

begin a new cycle.

Life changes

and yet remains unchanged.

 

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 I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” (Eve Merriam, poet and writer)

As Ella moves through a dusty playground area, I watch the children’s interactions. Some of the kids are wild, climbing over one another on the slide. They laugh even when their bodies’ positions are obviously uncomfortable.

Other youngsters appear less aggressive. I notice the essence of both peace and war in scaled-down forms.

One bright, talkative little girl tells me the story of a skunk that appeared one evening on one of the softball fields. She is animated yet assures me no one was sprayed. Her spirit speaks peace. Another little girl and her younger brother race against Ella for a bouncy whale and dolphin.

Ella stands too close to the two children. She begs for a turn. I can tell the siblings are determined to maintain a battle over the sea mammals because they gesture to one another as Ella walks away. I lead my granddaughter in another game.

“Ella, I’m swimming, but I’m not very good at it. I need a lifeguard. Will you be my lifeguard?”

I move my arms in an awkward mock swim motion.

“Sure,” she answers.

The distraction works—at least until the two kids are called by their dad to go home. A simple solution. At least for the moment.

Mine. Mine. Mine. A universal problem. Ella also wants to help her grandmother. Play is serious learning. She doesn’t grab the dolphin until at least ten minutes after her antagonists leave.

War. It has lived since ancient times. Now, news travels faster through social media, television, the Internet. Stories appear slanted, tainted, unverified. And violence continues in various forms as TV watchers eat dinner.

Suddenly, I have indigestion.

Shadows. They have multiple meanings. Reflected images born from the sun. Shady areas. Loyal followers. Hidden flaws. Metaphors.

Find the kindest kind of shadow…

Illusive at best. I can only seek the goal I see and love to the best of my ability. Love is war’s antonym.

Attending a protest in front of an ICE facility in my home town was a recent choice for me. You bet I was frightened. However, no one ever said love was going to be easy. Yes, immigration control is necessary. Cruelty, especially against children, is not. Fortunately, the event was as peaceful as it was intended.

Some shadows need more attention than others.

Peace to all.

 

 

 

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There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met. William Butler Yeats



When some people hear the word travel, their eyes light up Christmas-tree bright. Mishaps slow eager travelers’ tales long enough for a comma’s breath. These individuals could spend a week in an airport, then fall off a camel unharmed. They have the stamina of a million-year-old rock.

I scarcely know my right from my left and have turned the wrong way inside a restroom. Airport Terminals One and Two could be different continents. I would rather be in a guillotine line than a queue for customs.

Once I enter the plane, I see the goal with reasonable clarity. However, getting that far doesn’t always seem worth it.

For me the possibility of meeting friends makes the decision a worthwhile gamble.

The Best of Ireland Tour, sponsored by Trafalgar, could turn me into one of those irritating globe travelers. Okay, once I get beyond the irritating places. Maybe. No one can claim a win from the starting line.

Our tour guide acts as an expert social catalyst. She has a sense of humor. I laugh. And sing. With ease. The song doesn’t need to have Irish roots; it needs to be sincere and come from my heart. This group knows the difference.

The history of Ireland suddenly becomes mine even though my ancestors came from Alsace-Lorraine. Irish history is human. The story of oppression. The story of one ruling group taking over another as if farmers and their families were things and potatoes were commodities, instead of the only food the people had.

Beautiful land and impressive castles seem to sanitize the past. Yet, memory and memorials hold the truth.

In Dublin the colors of the doors stand out: blue, red, yellow, or white. Our tour guide explains. When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria declared that all the doors of the kingdom be painted black in mourning. The Irish rebelled. The brightness remains.

Time to leave. My husband and I pack our bags, larger now with gifts for our family. I struggle, but not for long. Both fellow coach travelers and world travelers help me lift my load.

I pray kind action be contagious. Simple, yet powerful. One gesture to help rather than center on self, me-only. Peace. A long-term goal. Yes. Yet worth the effort.

 

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There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world, I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair, and disrespect. (Nikki Giovanni, poet and professor)

 Today’s quote may be longer than the blog. Always something to do. I’m taking a few weeks to both rest and work—write later. My usual blog will be back in July. I promise.

Time. This strange experience that turns infants into children, children into adults, adults into old folk.

My youngest granddaughter studied my skin today, but said nothing about its soft feel, rippling like moving water. I would have told her a lot of time is hidden inside those striations. However, striation isn’t in her vocabulary yet. It doesn’t explain my life or anyone else’s either. No superficial explanation does.

Occasionally I find I need to step back from my self-imposed rat race. Breathe. Rest. Work. Explore. Discover.

In the meantime, peace upon all. May your journey be rich. And blessed.

 

 

 

 

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Serendipity always rewards the prepared. (Katori Hall)

I stand on our partially wet, partially dry sidewalk and wave to our neighbor as he leaves his house. He waves back. During that short pause, the daily newspaper lands at my feet. The delivery man’s arm and back of his head are all I can see as he continues on his rounds.

To the right of the newspaper are damp yellow daylilies. A perennial that returns and blooms even though passing deer often choose the bright blossoms as a part of our neighborhood’s buffet.

Ah, I’ve heard of door-to-door delivery, but never six-inches-from-your-right-toe service. An accident maybe, but I’ll take it.

Inside the paper will be a comic page, death notices, and stories that could cause me to wince. Another layer of everyday life wrapped in an orange plastic tube. The completed package.

Completion. I wonder if there is a certain misunderstanding of the notion. Sure, I can complete a single chore. All that is expected of me on this journey? I may not be the final judge. All I can do is I watch for the serendipities, the blessings inside dark and light. They appear along the way.

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