Tag Archives: death
As she drew the curtains to let the sun in, her Big Ben door chimes rang out. The bay window afforded a view of her front door, but no one was there. The bell rang again, this time, with a strikingly sweet diinnnng! She entered the hall to find that her roof …was gone! The sky seemed to envelop her, sucking her in; no boundaries, no past, no future, no time – just – unfolding present. The deepest blue she had ever experienced evolved into a permeating nurturing pink – a conscious intelligence that knew every moment of her and it loved her without limit, without judgment, without expectation of any kind.
Behind her hundreds of “her” people had gathered, and their arms thrust her with such enormous speed – Whoooosh! Like child on a swing – it took her breath away, though she had no sense of breathing, only of the white light – closer and closer – it should have blinded her eyes with searing pain, but didn’t. She couldn’t look away. It, too, knew her with complete, perfect, and even amused love.
All too soon, from light years away, a pin prick voice called her name. Immediately she began to fall and the light, still brilliant, grew smaller and more distant, and she knew it was consciously letting her go.
“Don’t send me back! Please,” she cried. A sound – a loud, sharp CLAP dropped her and she was back, standing at her open front door where a ragged stranger was asking for a glass of water.
“Of course, come in,” she said and gently ushered him to a chair. At long last, she truly understood: the only reality and the only real choice is love.
As she waited to hear back from the hospital she found herself thinking about her brother’s bedroom – magical, mysterious, and strictly off limits unless she knocked and received permission to enter. A rare treat that he gave only when she promised not to ask too many questions….
“Brucie, what’s this?” she asked, fingering a fishhook from the tin box on her brother’s workbench.
“Put it down. If that gets stuck in your thumb, I’ll have to push it all the way through and you’ll cry like a girl.”
She examined the sharp point and barb, then dropped the hook and picked up another one. “What’s it for?”
“Fly fishing.” Her brother set a small hook in the workbench clamp. Taking two scarlet feather fronds from a cardboard container he placed them against the hook and spiraled golden silk thread round and round the ends, flush to the base of the curved steel, transforming the hook into an alluring winged insect.
“Wow, that’s pretty. What do you do with it?”
“You tie it on your rod like this…” Retrieving a spool from his tackle box, Bruce threaded nylon through the fishhook loop, then tied a knot and cut the line in one deft movement. He tossed the hook into the air and flicked the line back and forth. Light from his workbench lamp glinted against the shimmering gold and scarlet.
She forgot it was merely feather and steel and sat mesmerized by the dancing insect that responded to her brother’s hand.
“When this lure strikes the water,” he said, “the trout thinks Supper! He leaps to the surface, gulps the insect, and snap!” Bruce jerked his wrist. “That’s when the fish becomes my supper,” he said with a laugh.
~ * ~
It was the jangling telephone that dragged her back to the here and now. After the call she sat in stunned silence. “He’s gone,” was all her sister could say.
She imagined the neurosurgeon tying silk stitches, closing the hole where the tumor had been. The surgeon’s thread was shimmering gold.
At the corner of her vision, something flickered past the window drawing her attention outside. There an incredibly beautiful, scarlet dragonfly danced in the morning sun.
“Hi Bruce,” she whispered. “How did you do that?”
Sonny’s gone, Jim wrote.
The scribed message, so simple and stark
lacked the sound of his voice, but I heard
Jim’s pause-filled sigh in those uncountable seconds
when truth hits hard
and words, mere symbols of our reality
let us down.
3-D memories flooded my mind
tactile visions of spring-born colt
chestnut legs like flying buttresses, ungainly and long
and wonder-filled days ahead with happy destiny
carved by DNA and sweet mare’s milk
and sun, those glorious summer rays…
Galloping grows from sunshine and meadows
hooves drumming the bodhran ground
chastising squeals and mother-love neighs…
All the while, as I dream of the child horse who’d been,
Sonny’s lifeless body, a silent shadow of himself
draping earth – an old sleeping giant – awaits
Jim prepares the tractor-dug coffin
a deep, soft space, gentle rest place
of honor for his friend, nestled beside beloved bones
And beyond the invisible curtain of light and love
Sonny’s spirit dances, chestnut shimmering, cavorting again
for there, waiting to greet him, stands Sur
shaking his noble head, calling
Welcome home, Sonny.
It was a good passing
To be a writer
is like being two atoms that dance with one
Hydrogen playing with Oxygen
moving with scintillating, procreating fluidity
a disciplined yet unchained pattern
until the quadrille
with hardly a breath
transforming into crystals,
each one a unique expression
of water being frost
rock being mountain
or wind being ripples on river’s skin
like human being body, emotion and thought
like me, turning molecules of mind into words
dancing the rounds and rhythms,
pulling sounds and meanings like taffy;
stretching, tempting, and loving the sweetness
of post-rain petrichor, poetry and story-being-born.
Discipline is all it takes;
it’s only a matter of focused attention.
All the while my faucet drips
a metronome playing Chopin’s Funeral March.
It echoes against the cold hard tub: Dum Dum da Dum,
Dum da Dum da Dum da Dum…
A suitable march for somber scenes
or penned phrases that smirk.
Do you remember Mommy’s funeral?
When we weren’t supposed to laugh?
Suddenly, simple things such as a lady’s hat
black and wide
a saucer-shaped ride for snow,
turned resignation and sorrow into nonsense,
amplified our sighs into unstoppable giggles,
and hoots escaped from our throats
bouncing off gravestones
and falling like stars of grief-relief.
We stood there, two children hugging themselves
trying to appear with socially-acceptable sadness
behavior more suited to the tragic event.
Laughter, glorious laughter
like a toad released in a classroom of nuns
shocked the mourners and freed us.
Mourners shifted in confusion
at our emancipation.
Surely we weren’t glad that Mommy died?
No more bed pans
No more sheets and laundry
Not one more morning of waking up wondering
if she’s dead
or still dying…
Is that faucet still dripping?
Handel’s Water Suite No 2
now skipping like tigger in my tub
bouncy, boisterous and… happy.
In the yellow pages under Plumbers, I find Scotty.
I call and ask him for a quote.
He knows my rented cottage
I forgot that this is an island,
a community of small and intimate
where no sparrow falls without everyone knowing
just as no bath leaks
nor pipes crack
nor drain becomes clogged
without Scottie fixing it
I need more than a washer, he says,
to stop this rhythmic dripping that disturbs my work.
Receiving his quote, I discover that words come cheap
but plumbing doesn’t.
His repair will cost me a whole chapter
including the edits.
Handel’s happy notes begin to grow on me.
Staying in the moment, I hear another pattern
an attitude – a practice of choice – an epiphany.
A drip or a sound need not be my nemesis
instead it is a setting; fire and fuel for my work.
I listen to the rhythms, inhale them, accept them into my being
Words commune and bond with water
dancing the dance of intention
while I, in glorious birth,
exist again and again and again
bonder of sights, sounds, heart and soul
in crystal-forming discipline
becoming what I already am
Submitted to Poetry Palace’s Thursday Rally:
Do you remember
the first time
you and Death
You were seven
We moved to Wiltshire farmland
an old stone and brick house
built upon an underground river
a seventeeth century pub
and the river ran
through the cellar
to keep the spirits cool
but it kept us cold and damp
No heaters, just coal grates
one in each of the two
ground floor rooms
no fires to warm the upstairs
where we slept
where icicles gathered
on your father’s whiskers
in those long winter nights
and where oil lamps
gave more heat than light
The wind always whistled
across the chimneys
and through our bones
even in the midst of summer
~ * ~
Just over the rise,
on Lord Bath’s park estate,
animals roamed free,
outside the tunnel cages
built for people
Here a baby elephant,
named Zola Bud
an Ethiopian famine-rescue
brought to a queen’s land
lived amongst giraffes,
and a little girl of seven
Zola and the child,
sisters at play
one carried the bucket
the other trotted behind
trunk on shoulder
like a child’s extended arm
everywhere the child went
One warm spring day
released to the sun
and allowed to play
she fell into the bog
her heart, still frail
scarred from starvation
stopped its sweet beating
Do you remember?
The only shadow
that followed you then
your first one
an Ethiopian elephant
silent and spent
http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ Mag 34 The Oil Lamp
Photos courtesy of google images
My friend, Sebastian, told me in one of our discussions, that he uses his imminent death as a barricade – a shield.
How so? I asked. Please explain.
Sebastian said that it wasn’t until he knew he that he could die – and, in fact, was dying – that he began to live. The pettiness, annoyances and inconveniences that plague us all; these, he thinks of as arrows, and he bounces them off his barricade shield. Death protects him therefore, encouraging him to grasp instead the positive gifts of kindness, compassion, generosity and time – precious time – given to him by the people he calls his angels – nurses, hospice staff, visitors, student volunteers and friends who didn’t say, “I’m sorry to hear,” and then stayed away in fear or helplessness, but who came to sit, watch, listen, laugh and cry, and who placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, or gently stroked his cheek when it all seemed too overwhelming. For these precious things, the barricade shield comes down and the love of angels goes pouring in.
Researchers in gerontology and social sciences have reported that, unlike younger generations, people in their senior years, have a greater tendency to avoid things that disturb, and they tend to focus much more on positive, happy and comforting people, things, situations and environments. Perhaps seniors, approaching the end of their life, feel more vulnerable, or powerless to change the big negatives. Maybe years of life-experience have proven at some unconscious level, that what they focus on, is what expands. Why waste precious energy on people, places and situations that drain them, frighten them and make them feel uncomfortable? It’s understandable.
In my youth, I was always ready to join the fight against establishment and injustice, actively working to make things better, to change people’s attitudes and behaviors, including my own. Yet now, in my sixth decade of life, I sit here horrified by what I see, but do nothing. Oil gushes through the ocean like an arterial disaster; armies of trucks carry deadly chemicals across our country – liquids that are pumped down holes bored deep into the earth, poisoning rivers, land, animals and people – killing America; all this for the sake of fuel for our cars and factories, and for ‘clean’ natural gas for electricity; for corporate profits that allow people to retire in their senior years, live off dividends, and drive their houses-on-wheels until they’re too old or too sick to discover America anymore.
I acknowledge my deplorable lack of action to fight our current attitudes of profit-priority, mindless greed and acceptance of earth-rape. I admit that now in my older years, I lack the passion, energy and naivety of youth to believe that I can do anything to change this world. As the earth bursts and bleeds, casting arrows of blame, I raise my own barrier shield of senior age against it, and I look away. I focus instead on using what time I have left for enjoying the beauty around me; for kindness, empathy, humor, patience and compassion.
Today, as I sought to focus on those positive things, my comfort was torn, shattered in shame. No shield – no barrier – not even death – could spare the cold realization, that the place where I find the most beauty – the most comfort and peace – is right here, in my grandchildren’s faces – in all of our grandchildren’s faces.
My barrier is breached. My shield lies broken, crushed on the truth-flooded floor, staining it with a desire to stand up and do something…
Does your tap water ignite? Gasland is an urgent, cautionary and sometimes darkly comic look at the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign in history. Part of the HBO Documentary Films Series. WATCH: Gasland: Trailer http://www.hbo.com
I once heard Dad say that the bear who ate my mother did him a favor by saving us the cost of her burial. Perhaps, in a strange way, Dad did me a favor, providing some image, at least, of the woman who gave me life. You see, I never got a chance to know her, so I make her up. The black and white photo, hidden in Dad’s desk drawer – the drawer where he keeps his whiskey shows a woman with short dark hair and freckled arms. I never saw anyone like her until that day at the Stop & Shop.
She bought something small enough to fit into a quart-sized, paper bag. It wasn’t heavy; it swung in her fingers as she walked. I decided it was a birthday card; a special one – for me. In fact, there were ten birthday cards in that bag; one for each of the birthdays I had celebrated without her. I wondered what she would write on the cards.
“To my dearest daughter… Love, Mommy.” I couldn’t imagine what would go in the middle, between dearest daughter and love. That was why I followed her; so I could watch her write the messages in beautiful long-hand script, slide each card into its envelope, lick the shiny glue edges, seal them, and drop them into the mailbox, kissing each one before she slipped it through the slot.
She walked fast. I had to skip to keep up. Her skirt swayed left, right; swing, swoosh; it was a very pretty skirt with wide pleats of brown, beige, charcoal and gold – earthy, autumn colors. Her blouse, short-sleeved and crisp, with no wrinkles bunched at the edges of the collar, revealed her skill with an iron.
When she stopped at a corner to look for passing cars, I waited a few yards behind. I didn’t want to stand next to her just yet. She crossed the street. Two blocks down, I crossed as well, and skipping fast, caught up to her shadow. It stretched grotesque and crooked, while skimming over sidewalk cracks in the afternoon sun. I carefully avoided the cracks.
I wondered if she kept lipstick and powder in the handbag that slung over her shoulder. I decided the lipstick was called Romance. I imagined her removing the tortoise-shell cap, twisting the gold tube, and a rising bullet of smooth dark crimson appeared. She would apply it to her lips with skill, and finish by pressing her mouth on a tissue, leaving a paper smile behind, cracked with tiny rivulet patterns in a passionate, blood-stain kiss. I would ask if I could keep the tissue.
She turned up a drive and walked to the side of a clapboard house, removing a key from her purse. She stopped, pulled open a steel-framed, screen door, and hesitated, with the door resting on her back as she inserted her key into the lock. All I could see was her screened silhouette, except her ankles – clearly exposed, in brown leather pumps, beneath the door frame. Before I memorized the density and curves of those ankles, one by one, each foot stepped up, and forward, and out of sight, until nothing was left, except the sound – a screen door – slammed – like the slap of a grizzly’s paw.