Hour Twelve – Survivors

Survivors

 

Can I possibly write about being a grandmother?

Really, it’s too vast.

Like trying to write about

the universe!

 

Better to write about the leaf that drifted

into the garden birdbath this morning.

 

How could I possibly write about a boy, so

like his father – and now a big brother?

How could I put words to the smell of

new grandson’s head, when I

am able to cradle him?

 

Better to notice the hydrangeas, strong

survivors of summer heat, adored

since our first, little house

in Portland.

 

I thought of children then.

Already lost one.

Dreamed of more.

 

Hour Eleven — Banshees

Banshees

 

I am Five.

Perhaps Six. And Seven.

Overnight visits with my two girl cousins.

Time away from the boys, and time with our

Irish, immigrant grandparents.

 

It is after dinner, which was pork chops. Mashed spuds.

Brown gravy.

Also – a glass of the precious Orange Soda we’re allowed.

 

It is after dinner, so Grandpa prepares his pipe and sits

in his red, upholstered rocker. He tamps the

Prince Alpert tobacco into the bowl.

Begins the complicated ritual of lighting and re-lighting

his beloved smoke.

 

In the corner of the living room is a black, square

record player, already old-fashioned, and a

small stack of 45 rpm records.

 

It is after dinner – so it’s time for Grammie to start up

the music and three, little girls to dance.

I have no idea if we knew any steps that resembled a

jig. And the records were the worst of Irish-American,

corny songs of the time.

 

I’ve since listened to fine musicians playing the best of traditional tunes.

I’ve also since learned that my grandparents taught Irish step-dancing

in the Parish Halls of their adopted city.

 

That night, I only knew my grandfather’s blue eyes,

already becoming rheumy with age, shone bright.

And the angels surrounded us and protected us.

And it was great fun to dance, and laugh, listen

to stories about the banshees, headless horsemen,

and, of course, all the saints be praised!

 

 

 

Hour Ten – Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

 

When you live in the Pacific Northwest,

and you finally have the chance to remodel

your kitchen, and you and your sweetie

immediately agree on a certain tile color,

and that certain tile color turns out to be named:

Foggy Morning of all things, it makes for a great laugh.

 

And having a great laugh during a kitchen remodel

is a good thing.

As a matter of fact, having a big-hearted laugh

is a very good idea for:

Long marriages.

For friendships, with too many months in between visits.

For siblings, who have shared a bit of pain.

For aging parents and their beyond-middle-age children, trying to figure out the tricky steps

along the journey of these final years.

 

There are many foggy mornings, no matter where you live.

Mornings you would rather not enter into the day.

Mornings when you wake up, then remember, slowly, what has been lost.

 

But – as I read on the web description of my new tile, which

Is “steeped in a cloudy grey hue” the question appears to be:

Are you ready to embrace the fog?

 

Maybe tomorrow . . . .

 

 

 

Hour Nine – Neighbors

Neighbors

 

Oh, Hi There!

I couldn’t help but notice.

Your man may be so cool gliding on

and off that web he worked on all night.

 

Oh, he worked hard, all right!

 

But – once he gave you what was needed,

Have you seen him since?

Didn’t think so.

 

But, oh – Lady! I’ve been watching that

silky bed you’ve been preparing.

Back and forth. In and out.

Then tucking all your little ones in tight.

 

When I looked again, you even had a sweet blanket

covering every, single one of your darlings.

Hid them real good, too, didn’t you?

 

Even if I had eight legs, and all that special juice

inside me – I don’t think I could match your handiwork.

And you have so many to protect!

 

We live right next door. The house beyond the hedge.

Truthfully? We won’t be asking

you all over to visit on the porch. No offense,

or anything.

But – good luck and all that. And, please –

Watch out for that new family of

Blue Jays that moved in last week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hour Eight — Solace

Solace

 

It is solace I crave,

that rhythmic, quietude of the heart.

 

It is forgiveness we treasure,

A gift from each other.

 

It is remembrance we now embrace,

That we may begin ,

again,

our one, true song.

 

 

 

 

 

Hour Seven – Revelations

 

Revelations

 

In August, we are wide open.

All the mysteries have been revealed.

The garden is, as it will be.

Tomatoes are gangly as adolescents on the corner.

Basil should be harvested soon.

The late-summer blossoms have arrived:

The Dahlias. The Lilys.

The Daisys – some still as perky as advertised.

 

I wait for the Aster, which stands tall throughout the season, holding back a bit before revealing her royal purple.

I pray we shall receive an audience soon.

 

And, yet – our spirits still crave that mystery. That unknown.

We look now to the skies, that cathedral of revelations from above.

We scan the heavens for a hint of Perseid Meteor Showers.

Traveling at 133, 000 mph – this cosmic debris zooms into our villages and backyards.

 

There is our miracle!

There is that moment we can allow our jaws to drop, foolishly and awe-struck!

 

 

 

Hour Six – Lavender

 

I go outside, and pick lavender from the garden.

Make sure no one needs watering

too desperately. Make sure – that

I am here, too.

 

Because, in fact, we are all desperate at the moment.

In need of moisture.

Nourishment.

Safety – from our own worst fears.

 

I go outside, to remember this day.

Remember this August day, that I spent inside,

writing poems – one after another.

 

Prompts for writing are coming to me,

Electronically. Frantically.

Improbably.

 

I bring the lavender inside. Crush the blossoms,

just enough to release the scent. That magic of heat,

and light and wild, summer madness.

 

 

 

Hour Five — Next Stop

Next Stop

 

It’s like a first love—

That place you remember

when you first knew there was . . . something else!

 

Something beyond the three channels

on the television. Something beyond

the bad movies every afternoon, Walt Disney

on Sundays, and Lawrence Welk

when Grammie was staying over.

 

It’s like a first love—

so fun, and giddy — but probably not

the best choice in the long run . . .

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to

Friday nights in the suburban family room of the 1960’s!

Or – in the words of the handsome, yet frightening host Rod Serling:

 

You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

 

 

Hour Four – Vespers

Vespers

 

This is the vigil I keep:

The page – my weak candle

This room – a stone-walled chapel

Your memory – the thin shawl to cover my shoulders

As I bend

 

As I bend, I do not kneel.

Rather, I touch the stone floor, and

Face the dim light.

Murmur my own prayers.

 

This is the vigil I keep:

Strong tea – sweetened with honey

Loose clothing – in colors that reflect the evening sky

Vespers – proclaimed in the garden, from trees and brush

as shelter for us all

 

Shelter for us all: my prayer

Nourishment for our spirit: my hope

Your memory: the thin shawl to cover my shoulders.

My meditation: Begin, again

Hour Three — Eternity

Eternity

 

If you choose Eternity, can I still be your friend?

If you choose, umm . . . Him, as your one and only,

can we hang out? Laugh and be a bit . . . crass?

 

I may want to string some lights up at the campsite.

Invite that cute guy from the festival, the one who

said he spends most summers up in the high country, helping his uncle

with the horses.

 

I may want to finally try one of those tacky beach resorts and order

sweet drinks that will taste awful, later.

Spend too much money on a surf lesson.

Walk into town and wish you would still come along, and

laugh about our bad dancing the night before.

 

If you choose Eternity will you get one of those rings? The

ones that are supposed to mean you’ll stay a virgin.

Or something?

Remind me not to swear?

Send me religious holiday cards with photos of you—

and Him?