saying goodbye

brother

IMG_2298 1

I can’t imagine how puzzled
my mom must feel
to have outlived her son.

Her precious dark-haired boy,
the big one
at age 2,
meant to look after his blond
blue-eyed brother,
then curly haired
little sister,

then me, the squealing surprise package
when he
was 11.

Maybe he should have been
the baby
for a little longer,
caretaker that he was.

Never could stand
to see anyone cry, always
the one to say “It’s okay.”

I wish we’d had more time
in these years, my brother,
but I’m glad
I got to
take care of you.

shelter

A sense of place in a time of loss

Photo by Octodrone Maxilla

Shelter me

says the millipede to the leaf
as the air goes cold in springtime

Oh, shelter me

says the leaf to the twig
as the breeze lifts her fellows ‘long the climb

Oh, oh shelter me

says the twig to the branch
as the storm becomes less than benign

Shelter, oh shelter me

says the branch to the tree
as it clings to the strong wooden spine

Shelter me, oh, shelter me

says the tree to the forest
as lightning’s child razes her shrine

Shelter me shelter me

says the smoke to the air
as the last ash drifts dusty and fine.

Shelter me

says the speck to the millipede
as it settles to ground

and becomes part of time.

 

 

Blessings on Pharoah

As the Israelites departed Egypt, it is written,
Pharoah asked Moses for a blessing.

Godmade mutant nature had
creeped fell hopped
flew flowed erupted
festered gnawed bit
until Pharaoh said “Let me go. By my gods and your One God, let me go.”

We will never know
what transpired between them,
Moses with his pack and stony coins of bread,
sandals untied from his haste to begone;
Pharaoh with eyes red and cheeks sunk in sorrow.

They must have heard the deafening silence outside,
broken by a lonely bleat, a sob, a slamming door.

I like to think Moses raised an eyebrow
and took his leave,

Pharoah wondering if that’s the form
this new evil god’s blessings take,
or if he had already been blessed
tenfold.

john-martin-the-seventh-plague-of-egypt

 

 

Salad Days

Jill sat at the glass-topped table, aimlessly moving a piece of lettuce around the plate, like a wayward jigsaw puzzle piece that does’t match the box photo, not at all, whose idea was this anyway, stupid lunch with Flynn that just wouldn’t serve any..

Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Flynn didn’t show, and so she ordered this salad that she didn’t even want. Who cuts these black olive slices into precious little stars, anyway, some underpaid college student no doubt trying to work her way to a degree that is useless and probably marrying the totally wrong kind of person to get out from under the loan debt, who would stand you up for lunch even as the divorce papers…

Anyway. The grackles fussed over a discarded disk of bread, a lazy bumblebee (hah! she knew it was not lazy at all, such a human misperception of the life of bees, for godsake they worked so hard for so little, just a bit of yellow powder clinging to their…) hovered near the slightly ratty bougainvillea. Perfect landscaping for this nondescript little bistro Flynn picked for their, what, maybe last ever lunch together. And Flynn. Where was he.

Well then. Jill pressed her fingers to her wrist. Pulse, a little accelerated. She could feel a moistness on her forehead that foretold a headache coming on (Oh, come on, really now, she had been disappointed so many times before, rack this one up to The Usual…).

The problem was, she knew that after this flurry of dispiriting missed meetings and misdirected anger, they would be friends and probably no certainly this was for the best. Still. He could have at least picked a better restaurant to make his final, dismissive statement.

Jill relished the last drops of iced tea (formerly iced, rather), sucking noisily through a straw and enjoying the glances of fellow undiscerning diners. A warm glow spread through her stomach (maybe this headache would lay her low) as she rose, left some money on the table, and left the lettuce and little star shaped olive for the grackles to share, or not.

Worst Friday

That one day was a bum deal all around.
Betrayal: check
False accusation: check
Torture: check and check.

Just a few days prior to the Very Worst Day,
The people were excited!
Running around, hosannah-ing right and left,
“Oh Jesus we love you you’re the best”
but soon calling out the name of Barabbas.

The Most Awful Day pressed on.

Even worse than the torture
was a sudden deficit of disciples.

Disappeared.
Deny deny deny.

Did he know things were going to go sour
so quickly? All indications are
yes. Still…

As always, it was the women
who showed up, really showed up.
And that one apostle whom Jesus loved.

By then, all that was left was the forgiving
and the dying.

IMG_2258Painting by Robert Valienti-Neighbours

 

Bright Angel

My father in law, Herb Van Brink passed away Friday, June 7, 2013. He will be missed.

It looked to be just a stop —
Majestic, grand yes of course,
but still
a stop on a road trip.

They stopped and looked and
changed forever
at Bright Angel.

Those bright souls
traveled on
across country and years —
kids, grandkids, friends,
chasing eclipses
bowling strikes
dwelling in quiet times,
hard times,
and bright times along the way —
less bright, now, by one magnitude.

The canyon abides
and the Angel keeps watch
over us travelers and lovers,
together but ultimately alone.

Goodbye, Herb.

Clearly departed

Today when I left my job
for the very last time
I thought of my two coworkers who,
quite unexpectedly
and through no desire of their own,
did not return to our office the next day.
They were my friends, but
only after they were gone did I learn
how much I wanted to hoist a few pints with them
and hear the stories
that others told about them at their memorials.

So today, I made clear:
I am fun. I am free. And if you want to hear a story or three
Here I am.