#12 Closets of My Mind

Closets of My Mind


I have closets in my mind

That hold secrets:

Things I wasn’t supposed to know about—

The truth about Santa

Or I wasn’t supposed to do

Play with matches

Or people I shouldn’t have been with—

No names will be disclosed here.


I have locked away things I wished I didn’t know

Or wished I hadn’t seen…

Like the car accident that happened in front of me

And the woman lay bleeding on the road

Crying for her baby


Or the devastation after the tornado

Where parts of houses vanished

And a trampoline was on top of a tall tree


I have closets that hold the pain

Of loved ones who have died,

And the anguish of those assaulted.


Some closets are best kept closed

And some do need to see the light of day.

Cindy Herndon

The Recipe Box

The Recipe Box


The blue, wooden recipe box

Was a summer project in 1964,

When I was ten.

Nailed together into a rectangle with

Almost 90-degree corners,

It held tried-and-true ways to make delicious meals:

Watergate salad, corn pudding, popovers,

Blueberry mace cake, banana pudding

Ahh! The memories of those dishes make me salivate.

The occasions waft through my mind:

Pot-luck dinners, family events, company’s-a-comin meals!

No one was worried about carbs or fat.

Microwaves, insta pots, and air fryers weren’t even day dreams.

Meals took time to make and were eaten at a table with conversations.

What looked like a recipe box was really a time machine

Capturing the flavors of family life.


Cindy Herndon

#10 What Is Love If You Are Gone?

What Is Love If You Are Gone?


If you were gone,

Days would seem endless

And nights even more so.


I would have to call repairmen

And car mechanics

And financial planners.


I would have to eat all the vegetables

By myself

And the chocolate cake.


Without you, love would be a treadmill

Going, going, going

But never getting anywhere.


What is love without you—

I don’t want to find out.


Cindy Herndon

#9 Word List “I Could Have Danced All Night”

I Could Have Danced All Night


Your jacket was the color of cinnamon

Which brought out the green in your eyes.

I wore a dress—the deep, rich color of fresh beets.

You took my elbow and led me to the dance floor.


When the event was over,

You took me home and parked in the driveway.

You unscrewed the lightbulb in the carport

And we danced to the music on your car radio

Until we knocked  over the car-wash bucket

And the neighbor yelled at us.


I didn’t lose a slipper that night,

But I definitely felt like Cinderella.

Cindy Herndon

#8 Front Porch Strummin’

Front Porch Strummin’


He strums the guitar

Picking a simple tune.

With our eyes closed,

We tap our feet to the rhythm

On the wooden front porch.

We all feel the beat and nod our heads.

The high, raspy voice floats on a melody

A butterfly visiting flowers.

Others follow this pied piper

In a song of life.

Cindy Herndon

#7 When Life Gives You Lemons Viator

When Life Gives You Lemons


When life gives you lemons,

Make lemonade.

Add plenty of sugar

Announce, “It’s homemade!”


Open a lemonade stand

When life give you lemons.

Add some strawberries

And just keep on grinnin’.


There are plenty of trimmin’s

Like kiwi and berries.

When life gives you lemons,

Open a shop.


Things could be much worse—

Like if life gave you persimmons.

Just remember it isn’t a curse

When life gives you lemons.

Cindy Herndon

#6 The End of the Earth

The End of the Earth


I follow the multi-colored arch

Spanning from one horizon to the other.

To the east, a church spire stands

Silhouetted against the end of the earth.

The cross atop the spire directs my path.

I draw near to find a cemetery behind the church.

And there, the earth ends.

Life on earth ends.

The sun’s aura lights the space

And I see eternity.

I am blinded by the streets of gold,

Calmed by the songs of the birds,

Beckoned by an outstretched hand.

Everything behind me seems trivial.

Then I hear His voice say,


Cindy Herndon

#5 The Mystery of Who’s to Blame?

Who’s to Blame?


Things did not go as planned.

Do we blame the personal assistant

Who arranged the business dinner at 1804 C Street?

Or the Uber driver

Who assumed it was C Street NW not NE?

Or the executive who didn’t specify

If he wanted Indian food or French cuisine?

Or the lawyer who insisted

He knew  where and when and what they should eat?

Or the delivery man who double-parked his van that blocked C Street

And backed up traffic for half an hour?

Or the nanny

Who couldn’t pick up the children from school?

Or the principal

Who issued a detention to one of the children for name-calling?

Or the weatherman

Who forecast 5” of snow and it happened?

Or the minister

Who had encouraged families to slow down?


Blame is a game that nobody-wins.

Cindy Herndon

#4 Two Shall Be One

Two Shall Be One


He was a half-step ahead of her—

Swatting down spider’s webs

And lifting branches so she could walk without obstructions.


When the path got steep,

He reached down and pulled her up

Or stood below so she wouldn’t slide.


At the lake side, he took off his backpack

And produced a sandwich lunch.

They didn’t need words to express their thoughts.


They had a map but had decided to chart their own path.

They trusted each other

Confident in the commitment

To honor one another.

Cindy Herndon

# 3 Time Is a Shadow

Time is a shadow


Time is a shadow.

It has no beginning and no end, but it is brief.

I can smell its beginning in the fragrance of lilacs. I hear it aging as the grass is mown. I feel time’s exhaustion in camp fires. It’s biting cold stings my cheeks. And I taste the tears of loss when time is up.

Time has no hands but I feel its pressure when it touches my heart with its fiery fingers.

When Grandpa Lundy climbed the East Lake Fire Tower—

A tall periscope of protection rising above the loblolly pines,

He measured time in the acres lost to forest fires.

No, that’s not right. He measured time by Sundays, his day of rest.

He would gather his family together on that day, and for a while, time would stand still.

Urgencies released their grasp.

He had time to play his banjo and sometimes have a hoot-n-nanny.

He believed moon shine was the devil’s doin’ and pert near believed it was what the serpent used to entice Eve to eat the fruit.

From his perch, he could only see tree tops, not the ground. Forests so dense, shadows and night walked hand in hand.

With his binoculars, Papa Lundy could see to the ends of the state, maybe the ends of the country.

When he was back on the ground, Papa said, “Now, Cindy, don’t you go playing near the garden. That’s our winter food. Youngin’s don’t see tomorrow, but I do. We will need them pole beans come winter. Go play by the back porch.”

Papa would shake his finger at me, and I would head to the back porch.

“This winter, we are going to have plenty of beans and collards. Can never have too many.”

From the  back porch, I would look up at the fire tower and see the sky shaking its finger at me and whispering, “Tempus Fugit.”

And the shadows would grow longer and longer.


Cindy Herndon