A Door Opens
Ever so slightly a door opened
Cobwebs sticking to the jamb
Dust sloughing off the sides
Behind the door was change
It had eluded me time and time again
Life-shaking change that held me tight against the door.
No crisis, nor grief nor yearning
Could charter the path to protect the vulnerability
Shorten it to comfort and ease the pain
Smooth the steps and protect the vision
Level the terrain to ready for the rush of fresh air
I was an unwitting partner to my own undoing.
Slowly I began to understand
A key piece of my lifeís complicated, delicate web of
Tangled relationships and unfinished business
Relinquishing my passion and zest for life
To a powerful force of placating expected norms
Trying hard to be a person I was not.
I see now that from an early age
I was performing, seeking approval
Acting a role without question
Adopting a persona eyes wide shut
Disconnected from my spirit within
I was a good girl, a good enough mother and wife.
I have a picture of me at about the age of six
I am standing in front of a car
With my older brother and a friend
My long curly hair was disheveled
My hands on my hips in a jaunty, impish pose
Where did this little sprite go?
Many years later I suddenly became undone
My glued dried up, my legs and arms weakened
Disillusionment and enlightenment together
Struck me like lightening on a summerís eve
My eyes burned at the dawning, like a baby crying
And grasping the air without her toys.
I was afraid of the unknown
Afraid of what I did not know
It was like the death of a family friend
It was intimidating and formidable
Yet somehow I knew deep in my heart
That I was finally being set free like a newly hatched bird.
Now long after the burning and yearning
Iíve become whole, perfect in my imperfection
I no longer carry the staff of a shepherd
The carapace of child-ness is gone
I just simply am, a being not unlike others
I have stores of love, passion and laughter now.
With humility I understand I have a responsibility
To open the gifts God so generously gave me
This awareness started in San Francisco in a small bakery
The air was full of baking bread, hanging plants and sunlight
I was immersed in knowing what pleases me most
Camaraderie, goodness, music, sun, sweet smells.
This memory was a springboard
An epiphany, a moment of clarity
About what I need to be me.
Why did it take so long, I ask
Had that impish six year old
Finally grown up?
Plagued by chronic illnesses I struggle to fight the good fight
Who am I, I ask
There is no stage anymore
My daily life is stripped down to bare wood
Sometimes even formless clay
Yet, with limited resources I say yes to every day.
Some days go better than others
I slip and fall, shake my fists
At a deity I donít always understand
But most days are not like that
Most days I think about joy, hummingbirds, flowers
My dear husband and many caring friends and family.
I trust that little girl to my sails
I am blessed with so much love and caring
I have a few regrets
Stored quietly in my soul
There is only today
To love and be loved.
SWM - 8/2009
A Reason to Fly
Walking tentatively in the damp green grass
I approach my beautiful garden beds
I see bright blooms and unwanted weeds bursting through the mulch
I want to bend down and extract
The pesky things, to make the garden neat and orderly.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed forever.Ē
Reluctantly, slowly, I retreat to my rocking chair on the patio
I feel defeated, frustrated and old in the face of my limitations
This is a place that I have invested my soul in, a place uniquely my own.
I want to tend, cultivate and fertilize, to primp, putter and prune.
But that all requires bending over on unsteady feet and uneven ground.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed forever.Ē
My dear husband tends the garden for me
He has discovered a new hobby and commitment. He likes results
But he too is frustrated; not enough time
To do all that really needs to be done
One more reason for me to work.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed forever.Ē
I grew up close to the ground, planting
Flowers, cutting fragrant bouquets of
Peonies, French lilacs, and honeysuckle
I picked potatoes in the harvest, hands in the dirt.
Itís a feeling that stays with you, that feeling of gritty dirt.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed forever.Ē
She is right, I know. I can visualize what might happen.
A broken bone here or there, a broken hip, God forbid.
The latter would be life - changing
A walker, a brace, assistance to do anything and everything
Confined to a wheelchair at the worst.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed forever.Ē
This poor back of mine, stressed beyond longevity.
Neck, middle and lower, all shorn
Of strength, much to my despair.
I feel stripped of my youthful energy and grace.
Gardening seems such a simple thing, all for a moment.
She said, ďIf you do that, your like may be changed forever.Ē
Now I surrender to the stark reality, tears in my eyes.
There are other restrictions I must follow.
Iím tied up like a cartoon character, a static,
Stationary soul in a rocking chair. Like a bird taking flight, I soar to the skies and clouds, free at last.
She said, ďIf you do that, your life may be changed
SWM - 11/2010
A Swan's Song
Long ago and yes, far away, a marriage ended
A husband raised his clenched fist
To his wifeís face
His eyes bloodshot and eyes full of rage
Face reddened, body in a rigid attack stance
The wife was afraid for her life
She knew he was very capable of hurting her
ďThis is it ďshe murmured to herself.
The moment passed
She felt completely exhausted
And emotionally abused
She thought only of survival
Where to go
How to get money for the children
She concluded he had all the power
And she had none.
She went to a mental hospital because she wanted to die
It took six weeks to get her stable
She put her best foot forward
Resigned to her childrenís absence
It gnawed at her insides every hour
She remembered the softness of their skin
The fine silk of their hair.
Three little faces she had nurtured for twelve years
Moments of joy flashed by her mind
Family gatherings, holiday celebrations
Antics of their much-loved dog
Keepsakes from each one Ė a holiday ornament,
Clay sculptures from little hands
Photographs of happy times and yet
Scenes in her mind of many lonely moments.
He had been a hard man to love
In the beginning he was sweet with her
On the outside she had a good life
He changed into a stranger
Distancing himself from her
Playing the good provider
She knew she was neglected
She built a life of her own.
Both married again
The children grew up
And had families of their own
She never dreamed she would experience
The heart loneliness would inhabit her heart again
ďToo busyĒ was the reason
They didnít communicate with her
Their presence in her life withered
The swan was singing again.
She talked endlessly to her therapist
Psychiatrist, best friend
Her inner light still glowed
With deep love for them
She doubted her lovableness
She turned her anger and disappointment
She blamed their unresponsiveness on the divorce.
Maybe she had been wrong to seek her survival
At their expense
She asked one of them if they
Had a happy childhood
The response was positive
Why, then, were they not interested
In her, her life, her worries with cancer
Her love became enshrined as a monument of memories.
SWM - 10/10
I am holding a bronze coin in my hand
It has the Roman letters XX in the center
Twenty years of sobriety it means
No small feat, just one day at a time
Keep on coming they said
So I did.
SWM - 08/2009
The mind changes perspective over time
Like a flower budding and gradually blooming
What starts out as a green sprig in the warm soil
Keeps growing stems then leaves
Then branches and finally buds
I begin to see myself for real for good.
I am shedding one or more layers of skin
I donít mean the outside one
I mean the inner psyche, maybe my spirit
Maybe my personality
It doesnít really matter where it is happening
Shedding skin is not painless.
Going going going gone is
The people pleasers' so so nice girl
I am almost violently casting aside the belief
In pleasing others so that they will like me
So that they will not discard me into the bushes
So that they will not hurt me.
The child in me is kicking, screaming
Change is scary to her
She who knew only one way
Is faced with necessity of a turn in the road
Who can be trusted
Surely not everyone.
I am casting aside the belief that pleasing others
Keeps me from getting hurt and keeps friction at bay
No wonder I am chronically exhausted
I am a lone wolf in a thicket at night
Eyes gleaming warily watching
Breathing every so silently.
SWM - 08/2012
She stopped talking just before Christmas several years ago
Her decision did not seem riddled by desperation or depression
In fact, she seemed content with her silence
Quite sound and empowered
She continued to show signs of affection and warmth
All and all she was her warm and loving self.
One winterís day she took her favorite rocking chair and
Dragged it carefully down the hall to her special room
Of books, sentimental trinkets, crystals in the windows
She stayed there for hours and hours
Listening to time worn musical CDís
And perusing photo albums of days long past.
She had written a letter to her daughter with whom she lived
Explaining her choice to no longer talk
With apology she wrote about seeking
Peace and quiet
And reconciliation with her maker
She promised to write down her thoughts and requests.
A family meeting had been called to discuss
This unfortunate turn of events
Had she gone over the edge
Was she to be sent to a hospital
What about the holidays and guests
Her daughter allayed all their fears.
She knew how sensitive her mother was
Understood her needs in her remaining years
A room with sunshine through the windows
Was set up for painting and writing
A wicker chair with a flowered chintz cushion
Was carefully placed near her motherís easel.
It was her daughterís hope that in this room
Her mother would softly speak
Talk about her memories and
What she would like to eat or do
It took some time and effort
Hours of silence and an open heart.
She ate her meals with the family
Clapping her hands quietly and briefly at the end of the repast
She always removed her own dishes
And tidied the counter and sink
She would water the African violets on the sill
Everyone adjusted very well.
One day the daughter brought her mother
A fresh bouquet of flowers from the garden her mother loved
She placed the flowers on a small table covered with a linen cloth
Her mother was quietly painting, listening to
Classical music as she worked at a watercolor painting of flowers
As her daughter leaned down to give her mother a kiss, a small voice said ďStay.Ē
Then they talked together of days gone by and her motherís needs.
ďI would love to go for a ride in the car
A long drive in the woods
Maybe see some water or streamsĒ
They embraced one another
And the daughter said ďYes.Ē
They went to a pond and some woods
And stepped out of the car to the sweet smelling air
Loons floated on the water nearby
Their lonely calls beckoning
The water kissed the shore
Both women smiled and understood.
On the way back they stopped for ice cream
The daughter ordered chocolate knowing her motherís favorite
Together they sat at a table and exchanged thoughts and quiet laughter
The motherís grey/white hair moved slightly in the breeze
A tear fell down the side of her face
She looked at her daughter, saying ďthank you,í then softly ďI love you.Ē
SWM - 03/2010
Surgery was scheduled for noon
At a hospital I had not been to before
I was having the first of two surgeries
The first thing I noticed was the smell
An ultra -clean smell with just a hint of sickness
You couldnít duplicate that smell at home
Unless one was dying there.
SWM - 12/2010
O God! Humanity.
Thatís what he said
Driving down the busy, congested road
Cars swerving, jutting out
Skateboards and scooters clanging
People with their heads down talking on cell phones.
Has the dial of time speeded up?
Multitasking is the new reality
Itís a cover for not paying attention
To traffic, children playing
Overdrive, hard drive
Blogs, Facebook, twitter and tweets.
Will the art of meaningful dialogue disappear?
Will there be a generation
Of unsocialized beings?
What about meaningful discourse about art, books, life?
Will all of that communication that keeps us interesting
Be relegated to antiquity in the name of the newest and latest technology?
And what about affection?
Arm in arm, hand in hand, shoulders touching
Will smiles, hugs and kisses
Fall by the wayside like pebbles on a hillside?
Will the communion of humans
Be limited to impassioned pairs in the dark of night?
I see a mother pushing a baby stroller
Small children trailing behind
Hurrying to catch up, not quite making it
The mother is talking on a cell phone
Not murmuring to her baby
Or talking with love to her children about the wonders of the world.
Are there no more talking points?
Have we been reduced to endless chit chat
Shortened sentences, single letters and abbreviations
What about beautiful adjectives
Daydreaming, humming, reflection.
Will downcast eyes miss the glory of spring?
The brilliance of autumn?
Technology has become a bad word
In my plain vocabulary
He says we canít live without it
I know places where we can.
The Main Street of Americaís small towns
Declines at a steady pace
Year after year, hour after hour
Yet here and there people
Meet to share stories, drink coffee or beer
In celebration of goodness and honesty.
Will there come a time when humans will be expendable, unnecessary?
Will we lose a battle of abbreviation?
Are we to dwindle and diminish
For lack of contact and context
For want of peace and honesty?
Will our days collapse in exhaustion?
Like dinosaurs some of us
Parade the horizon
Frowning on our out of touch
In touch brothers and sisters
Embracing the best of days gone by
Treasuring the warmth in our hearts and souls.
Our pens do the work
Our hands touch everything, vibrating with energy
We smell savory wafts from our kitchens
We laugh and cry with dear friends and family
Soft music soothes our naked nerves
I, we can do without technology overload.
SWM - 11/09
I Don't Know
Snap, squish, crunch
Rustling in the grass
Trees bending, swaying
A barely perceptible path
Not recently tread.
Grass slightly pressed
Leading the walker forward
Cream puff clouds overhead
A break in the tall spires
A break in the stormy heart.
ďThe doctor will see you nowĒ
Oh yeah, well maybe I am not ready.
Maybe I will come back another time
When my mood is improved
When pigs fly
When the lights grow dim.
Iím tired of the patronizing
Tired of the vagueness and platitudes
The receptionist drives me crazy
How can I possibly fill out all these forms
I donít even know my social security number
Or my fatherís motherís name.
I give in
And enter the exam room
A paper Johnny is waiting for me
Canít they afford real ones?
Open front or back
What difference does it all make?
It matters to my dignity.
When did the crying stop?
I cannot remember
I know I felt great release and great pain
From the tears that I did not understand
They came from down deep in me
Like in a deep dark cave with no bottom
To see, no walls to hold onto
It was entirely freefall.
Over the years I made peace with the tears
They were my emotional baggage
Just another part of me
Like my blue eyes and curly hair
But the tears festered, red and fiery
They became my core
Depression welled up inside
The question unanswered.
After my divorce a knife yet again
Pierced the fiery void
Not the birthing, not the loneliness
Nor the absence of intimacy
None compared to the loneliness
That invaded my broken heart
I yearned for my babies
Left so I could be whole again.
Brief encounters with lovers who barely knew me
Brought me down into the cave with our lovemaking
Some thought I was having a breakdown
Others questioned my entire sanity
And some moved on quietly
I remained the same
Wondering what was wrong with me
What basic piece of being a woman I lacked
Over time I moved on, too
I pursued work like a hunter staring down a beast
SWM - 01/2013
She paces throughout the downstairs of her home
The lights are dim
She is not hungry
She tries to read, watch tv
She thinks about tomorrows' hard work
And remembers the pain of the past.
While her husband sleeps peacefully upstairs
She wonders how many other women
Maybe millions of them
Are just like her
Her world, their world
Are on her shoulders
She ruminates on the memory of the children
Gone to find new lives apart from her
She plans another meal for two
Forms an idea for tomorrows work
Reflects on her babies
Wonders what the future will bring.
Eventually she curls up on the couch
A warm blanket covering her weary body
She thinks of the homeless
Caught in the winter cold outside
Where do the lonely go?
Her husband wakes up refreshed.
SWM - 1/2009
He didnít know how to love her
He couldnít love his children
At night he would take the babies to bed
Holding them away from him instead of cuddling them
It was as though he were carrying a tub of water
She was beside herself, it wasnít always this way.
When she met him in college
He showered her with affection
Gave her handwritten love poems
Folded tight in his pocket
She had no reason but to love him
He was everything she ever wanted.
They loved to dance together
He took her out to eat in nice restaurants
They talked a lot, loved a lot
When he was away he called every Saturday
She basked in his attention
And celebrated their love with long letters.
There was no reason to doubt him
She overlooked small hints about his character
Her father later said he was not their kind of people
He was right, she knew
But at the time she was in love
And couldnít see the truth.
In her long reflections on the matter
She thought of the survival training he endured
Maybe it closed him off somehow
Made it so he couldnít be truly intimate
She tried every way she knew to change him
Knowing full well you canít change someone, only yourself.
The years passed and her discontent grew
She wanted to be free of him
Wanted him to go away
And take his sterile ways with him
She paid a price for her inaction
And finally walked out the door.
What of the children?
She agonized about their care and well being
Was there a way she could care and support them
Her life had been to nurture them
She had no money, no job, no credit
Her checkbook showed about twenty dollars.
On the other hand he had a very good job
There was the house near the school
She hated it, found it hard to be inside it
She found a small apartment with a loan from a friend
Then there was a job at a mental health clinic
A glimmer of hope shone in her eyes.
With pain in her heart she concluded
The children were better off with him
Except he didnít know how to love them really
And to be honest she was drained of love
Starving for attention and intimacy
Depression plagued her all the time.
She didnít like herself very much any more
Thatís what happens when you give and donít get love in return
It was too painful to be with the children and she avoided them
All the while in her heart longing for a way to have them with her
The four of them in safety, love flowing freely
She reached for the dream but never touched it.
He went off to marry another
She moved back to the state they came from
She had a good job
He had a great job
She had no desire to be in a relationship
Much less to marry again.
The children grew and left their nest
She wondered what their battle scars were
She knew her own scars from love unreturned
Sometimes she remembered those love poems
Tucked carefully in a pocket
And given with tender love.
Many years later she found the love of her life
A man who knew how to love her
A man she could love in safety
The sorry past retreated
She blossomed in the warmth of his attention and affection
Her father would have loved him.
SWM - 04/2010
Beam me down, celestial light
Down the shimmering moonlight satin
Over the stark white honeysuckle blooms
Deep, deep into the dewy grass
Crossing over the coral rose buds waiting to unfold
Finally tiptoeing into my cherished, dense garden.
I am wearing my long cotton nightgown
It brushes gently across my bare legs
The hem is now damp from the damp grass and mulch.
The sweet scent in the air lightens me and
I am engaged in the mystery of the night air
Mindless of the dayís melancholy weight.
Slowly I walk the path of bricks gently placed in fine sand.
I can barely see the darkened dusky Echinacea
That look like pink umbrellas half open
I step tentatively behind the red-orange azalea
To the sweet dwarf lilac sending
Wafts of perfume into the silent night.
Carefully I step across the path to the tall dahlias
Almost ready to bloom, delightful dinnerplate size blooms
In soft pink, striking magenta and shouting yellow
In my mindís eye I see the many bouquets to be had.
At the corner of my eye I see a dark form
A large raccoon moving silently along the stone wall.
Lifting my gown I step towards the wire fence
Where miniature clematis, tendrils moving up, have closed blooms
Of the barest hint of blue in the daytime, simply white at night
I stare quizzically at the bare hillside next to the house.
It has defied my gardenerís hands
With only a few ferns here and there.
Along the steps comes our feral cat, fluffy orange fur
And blue eyes that glow like fireflies. He rubs
My bare legs and gently head butts my ankles.
He seems to want human contact
But only on his terms
I respect his independence, wishing I had more.
Now on the patio I move to sit in my rocking chair.
Back and forth, Back and forth
I smile at what I can barely see; I smell the sweet moist air
Back and forth, back and forth
I find peace of mind from the stars and myriad light
I am content.
SWM - 11/2010
Mother of My Age
It is a night of my 65th year
I enter the bedroom, pleased with what I see
Photos of dear loved ones, a photo of my motherís mother
All dressed up in a jaunty hat and fox fur stole
I glance at the sweet white eyelet curtains dropping to the floor
Billowing slightly in the gentle night breeze.
Some of my own paintings are hung on the putty
Colored walls, along with a barnyard scene that
Has always felt familiar, a fading farmhouse, an old dilapidated barn,
A dirt driveway where an old woman is stooped over, feeding white chickens.
It was a gift to me from my father when I was but a young girl.
Was he reminding me of where I came from?
I go through my nightly ritual. Having dutifully brushed
Old reliable teeth, I take pills, put lotion on my dry, scaly skin,
And finger comb my short graying hair.
I welcome the hour, ready to surrender to the peace of sleep,
Something that eludes me more often than I want to admit.
What did today have to offer? What will tomorrow bring?
I light a votive candle at my bedside table, adorned
With an old runner of cutwork linen. This is time for reflection.
Some days all I can do is to tend to my personal care.
The constant isolation I experience challenges me to
Paint, write and communicate. It may sound easy to me,
But there are times when I imagine I will just vaporize into a whirlwind of dust.
Carefully I slide into my comfortable quilted bed,
Wanting only to be held by my mother, she long passed.
I have memories of being a baby standing at the end of my crib,
Peeking through the almost closed oak door, to see my mother at the piano
Playing Irish lullabies for me. Those sweet refrains
Remain a distant thread in my heart: ďToo Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra.Ē
I remember being a young child on a cold winter night returning home
In the car from visiting friends in a nearby town.
I nestled into my motherís shoulder, the smooth sleeve
And soft fur of her coat keeping me warm. I felt so safe.
She and I were big and little, she petite and thin, I tall and almost stout.
Were we really that different?
In my teenage years people said we were more like sisters than
Mother and daughter. She was a sprite, extroverted and a lover of people;
I was introverted, shy and fearful.
Like many teenagers I felt a growing gulf between us,
An angst splitting us apart year after year. She wanted me to pursue her star to the lights.
I wanted to nest and nurture.
We both married sweet talking men
Who danced the night away with our hearts.
When the music faded she had no choice but to stay.
I chose to leave and start a new life.
She was angry at my defeat.
Now, much later, time has shown how we were alike, then as now.
I can think of no greater comfort than her
Delicate, soft hand caressing my cheek,
Stroking my long brown hair, making finger curls
That bounced on my shoulders,
Lifting my veil onto my hair with a glint of teary eyes.
We still touch each other through the astral ethers,
I am at the age when she had become ill,
Dementia creeping slowly into her brain.
At the time I felt deep, numbing remorse and believed I had lost her.
I think she understood in her own way
My life-long melancholia.
She was at a loss to help me save to say, ďThere, there, Dear.Ē
I now share some of her physical ailments.
Laughter showers me with freedom, a drive to succeed endures, a gift from her.
Indeed we were closer than I had ever imagined.
I nurture my memories of her,
Calling on the she-gods to bring her back to me.
Out of the mouth of the unknown we are side by side.
I want my mother. It is a growing mantra day by day in my pain.
I seek her sweet solace, her deep belief that time heals.
This is fear talking to my own declining brain,
Fear of dying, most certainly of frail aging.
I want my mother, grasping for her touch and warmth.
I want my mother to hold me again.
SWM - 06/2009
Mountain Ash Tree
The veil of delicate white blossoms parts
Revealing a secret hideaway
Treasured by no one but me.
A leafy wall surrounds the entire tree space
Created by an injured sapling that grew to be
A squat thick trunk with bark like a birch
Discolored over time in the luxurious shade
Its horizontal branches supported by an intricate trellis.
I like to think my father created this hideaway for me
His shy introverted daughter
Who needed quiet and safety.
He was a soft-spoken sensitive man of the earth
Who taught me about birds, trees and flowers
He was a steadfast steward of our very large yard
Planting evergreens and forget-me-nots
With his bare, weathered farmerís hands.
I retreated to my secret verdant hideaway
Most often in late spring and summer
To observe the intricacy of the tree trunk
The varied groundwork with moss, twigs
And caterpillars that dropped from the branches.
There were dreams to be dreamt,
Problems to understand and perhaps solved
I was very busy under that tree.
As the tree grew so did I.
Each summer my father threaded the new growth on his trellis
Careful not to break any of
The slender delicate branches
He was like that with me.
As the white blossoms faded
I still sat in my secret envelope pondering life
Awaiting the red orange berries of autumn.
My Dad is long passed and I miss him dearly
Our disappointments and sorrows are forgotten
Gone like the lacey Mountain Ash white flowers lifted in summer.
As my own autumn descends upon me
In sheer fabric veils of lavender and pink
I immerse myself in the many precious memories
Given to me by my elusive father.
In my finer moments I embrace the old Mountain Ash tree.
SWM - 1/2012
My Almost Lost Son
He was born on a wintry day in California
After four months of bed rest for me
Hoping to delay his birth until he was stronger,
To make it on his own.
He had a twin sister, too.
I was overwhelmed.
They were born in the middle of the night
Their father was on alert at a B-52 bunker.
At birth he had difficulty breathing, a blue baby.Ē
I watched through the nursery window
watchinghim struggle to breathe.
His tiny body was a phalnx of tubes
I watched and prayed for him to be strong
A month or so later he came home
I started to breathe easier
As did he.
SWM - 01/2015
Of a Certain Age
Everything I ever believed in and remember
Is coming to the fore
Like cool stream water and pebbled sand
Swirling beneath and over my feet
I listen for the rhythm
Ebb and flow, ebb and flow.
Memories ripple through my mind
Childhood pictures flash by my eyes
A wedding pools color and smiles
Children frolic in our home
Cards flick over my toes
My mind is a never-ending kaleidoscope.
I question all my decisions in peace
Some were good, all were well-intentioned
Some were disastrous and brought
Pain and ever-flowing tears
I wiggle my toes in anxiety
The memories swirl all around me.
Was I a good enough woman?
Did I shelter my children well?
Did I deserve the riches in my lifeís flow?
I meet these questions with a calm mind
Believing the best of me
Was always seated on a rock.
When I discovered my higher power
And really listened to ĒThy will be doneĒ
New freedom flowed through me
I was like a newly hatched water creature
Wiggling and seeking and following
The current of enlightenment.
A new wedding
To my soulmate for the rest of my life
I learned how to laugh
At myself, at the world
At anything that tickled my fancy.
My life began anew.
As I grow older
I become more forgiving
More focused on my strengths
I am good to myself
Dipping my feet into the water of life
Living well within my wrinkled skin.
SWM - 6/2010
Oh Happy Day
I donít want this day to end
I donít want to let it go
It has been all sunlight, smiles, flights of fancy
Free of all that bothers me most of the year
Every few months, three or maybe four times a year
The veil of chronic illness lifts and light is all around me.
I donít know why this happens
I donít know when to expect it
It is a gift from the Great Divine
I am humbled and eternally grateful
I visualize it lasting
A heavy weight off my weary shoulders.
I know tomorrow will be different
It is enough to live in the now
There was a sunny September day in Jamestown
I made a grapevine wreath
And picked variegated foliage to decorate the living room
Then off in my Mustang with my camera.
The coffee flavors entice me
The pastries are to die for
SWM - 11/2010
There is a form of mature communication
Probably not to be found in textbooks
It comes refined with age and experience
And the realization that feelings are tender
And emotions are to be guarded
With care and concern.
In choosing oneís battles carefully
One must overlook the words cloaked in triviality
Teaching about honesty for honestyís sake
Being in the Now
Letting people know where you are at
These have their place, but most often they are rife with pitfalls.
In daily life there are dozens of little things
That accumulate on oneís shoulders like a swarm of bees
It could be a lover
It could be a dear friend
It could be a celebrity, tv announcer or politician
Somehow, sometimes they just get under oneís skin.
The first impulse is to respond
Honesty is the best policy, yes?
Honesty and truthfulness require energy
Energy that oftentimes must be conserved
For larger, more poignant and significant moments.
This is not a call for dishonesty
Honesty that is filled with anger or hurtfulness
Can damage a relationship or ruin a day, week or year
True honesty is reflected upon, spoken with care
Motive needs to be inspected
And one must speak out of caring and forgiveness.
Honesty is the best policy my parents used to say
But in my small world
I occasionally write a letter to the editor
Or have a heart to heart talk with my patient spouse.
But more often than not I find
It is a kinder and softer way to let it all go.
After all, what may bother me
A missed moment
A chance comment taken out of context
Better to give a benefit of a doubt
To let sleeping dogs lie
Who am I to disturb the universe?
So you say, what about my anger, my frustration?
I say channel it positively
Into something physical or creative
There are a myriad of mind occupants
One can chose from
It is a choice.
So I choose my battles carefully
They must be concerning and very important
Not relegated to the mundane or trivial
Daily ups and downs, moments of impatience or anger
In the scope of things, in the breadth of life they are dwarfed.
I prefer a House of Peace.
SWM - 7/09
I remember the women I knew
When I was growing up
Few of them were slim
Most had nice round bellies
That made them look lovable
No one spoke of abs running or fasting.
My girlish figure is long gone
I hear the epithets of the day
Running Yoga crunches
Crunches, spinners, runners
Flat bellies are definitely in vogue
And I am not in fashion.
Not that I really care
I am growing old
Wrinkles, hair falling out
More love handles
I put lotion on every day
Exploring spidery veins.
The fashion magazines I used to enjoy
The health and well-being articles sometimes attract my attention
Who has all those exotic foods and tools anyway
I learn the difference between vegans
Sometimes Ė usually at the neew year.
Old age makes me laugh at the folly
Of it all
And yet I dress up in whatever pleases me
Itís the fun of color that I seek.
Soft bellies are beautiful, too.
SWM - 11/2010
I can still remember the sound
Of her voice, steady and strong
I would go to her in all my childhood angst
She would listen patiently, quietly
Her steel blue eyes holding fast on mine
Each time I felt as though
My world was collapsing
And each time she brushed me on.
Hold your head high, dear she would say
You can get over this
You come from a good family
You are smart and pretty
People love you
I need to hear those words again
Though she is long passed
And I am old and weary of turmoil.
SWM - 11/2010
Like a huge ocean wave swell
The sounds rise up
To a fevered pitch of pain
It rains down on the small group
Of lowered heads in recliner chairs
Grief swells with the undulating sounds.
SON OF A BITCH WHORE!
Says a formless bundle
Drowning in a white blanket on a chair
The deranged epithets
Give vague meaning to the voices
She hears in the caverns of her demented mind.
I WANT ATTENTION!. IíM IN PAIN!
TAKE ME TO MY ROOM!
This child woman, woman child has needs
Far too long ignored
She has a beautiful name
And her voice drives me to my witís end.
Moans, groans, tears and even shouts
I WANT ATTENTION!
My own anxiety builds
My insides are all twisted foam rubble
Tightening and loosing
I am in pain and I am not demented.
Their voices are lowered
I retreat to my room in tears
Headphones to my ears
I soak in the beautiful music of a piano
Pianissimo, andante, forte
Where is my place in this agony?
SWM - 12/08
She felt searing unbearable pain
Sheíd forgotten to bring a painkiller pill
And the treatment was delayed by nearly two hours
The overhead lights hurt her eyes
She couldnít see the intake form
Her patient, loving spouse finished it for her.
When she finally entered the long tube
Her head immobilized
She asked for music
But the sound was drowned out by the pulsing
Magnets that would point out a picture of her brain
Had the cancer spread there she wondered distractedly.
As the machine rumbled on, she went to her fantasy space
Where she was enveloped with sensual smells
Fragrant flowers, soft breezes
Her dear friend was there waiting
She could summon him at will
His kind, smiling face met her gaze with immeasurable care.
The Enya music continued, sometimes breaking through the noise
of the machine which pounded and lurched
And shuddered, jolting her at times back to reality.
Quickly she flew, retreated to her skytime musings.
She knew his face, his slender body, his gleaming eyes.
They soared together through the clouds, fog and then, clear sky.
She started to cough, trying to keep her head very still
The mirror in front of her face gave her grounding
She stood down with their help eagerly
Back to the sky
Back to the dance she began with her pain killer lover
She didnít look back.
They started a celestial slow dance comfortable in one anotherís arms
formed into one perfect pair
They murmured, laughed
spoke softly in one anotherís ear
There was no pain, no sadness, no dread
Only the joy of unbound love.
Were they dressed, she wondered
Were they comfortable with each other
In spite of years apart, love denied
Nothing mattered but the moment
The stars in their eyes.
The dance went on
The northern lights gave them
A royal sendoff
He turned to let her go back
Quietly he said, ďLet it happen, dear one.Ē
SWM - 01/2013
The Indignities of Old Age
My heart weeps for her every day
Since long ago when her doctor told her
In the dark green hospital room that
She had to go to a nursing home
A victim of atherosclerosis and dementia
She had broken her hip.
Up until that moment she had enjoyed
The comforts of her own home
Though restrained in her daily activities
That a woman once so vibrant, active and community giving
Could be reduced to this confinement was
Of itself an insult to her treasured independence.
She was rightfully indignant and furious
In her child-like anger she threw
Her wedding rings across the room
Nothing in her life
Would ever be the same again.
Mothering did not come naturally to her
She loved deeply her offspring
And showered us with all our wants
Her love had a certain ferocity
Some days she shone with the light of love
Some hours she was clouded and preoccupied.
She lived in the nursing home for seven years
The number of visitors dwindled
Forced away by her rantings
And endless begging to go home
One day she asked me for a cigarette
I didnít dare oblige her, unsure of how her medications would interact.
If I had it to do over again
I would take her in her wheelchair
Outside in the sunlight
Light a cigarette
And give it to her briefly
A moment of satisfaction in a fractured life.
Iím sure she approved of her funeral
A beautiful rendition of Ave Maria
In the church she had given so much
Iím sure she was already in heaven
Looking down on her mourners
With relief and peace.
The funeral procession to the cemetery
On the hill just outside town
Was led by a lone police car
Its lights flashing
A town paid tribute to one
They had loved.
SWM - 5/2010
This is What Was
Baby blue, robinís egg blue, silver coated radiator
Turquoise organdy curtains billowing in a gentle breeze
Gross grain ribbon threaded in the lace hem
Chintz bedspread with rose flowers in the design
A ruffled bedskirt touching wood floors
Full length mirror in the closet door to study a young body.
Nancy Drew books in the bookcase
Dolls gently placed on the bed
On the radiator, on top of the bookcase
Cherub and kitten prints on the walls
A bottle of Friendship Gardens toilet water
A private place for reflection and secrecy.
A Singer floor pedal sewing machine
Making pretty outfits for dolls
A record player for Elvis and Fats Domino
A diary hidden in my underwear drawer
Pages printed for different subjects
ďMy favorite boys,Ē ďMy favorite movies.Ē
My safe room
Webs of dreams
Freedom from expectation
Boy hands on my diary
Floating on the ceiling
Relief from unknown pain
A cigarette glowing just outside
The screen by my bed.
Frozen in my sweaty pajamas
Unable to get help.
Bass drum in the rear of the auditorium
Dances without dancing
Boys without boyfriends
Pretty clothes too shy to wear
Sitting alone in my room
This is what was.
SWM - 7/2009
For the Love of a Blue Mustang
She was a 1998 dark blue Mustang
Hatchback and cassette tape deck
Blue plush seats and
Leather covered steering wheel
Really sporty and fast
Took me anywhere I wanted to go.
The best trips were to the beach
When a sunny weekend beckoned.
Iíd leave early and get a donut at Allieís
I had a system for taking all my gear
Settled in with other women and talked
About the latest makeup and work.
The long walk barefoot in the sand was the best
Checking out the other bathers
Checking out the guys
We would stay till the sun started to set
Gathering all our stuff
Planning the next trip.
Sweaty and salty I would head for home
The Police played loud on the tape deck
Roxanne, Every Breath You Take
Windows down sunroof up coconut oil in the air
The breeze brushing my hair and bare shoulders
Life was good.
There were trips to Florida
She didnít skip a beat
Trips to Maine where pine pitch
Stuck on the hatchback
I never thought twice about
Driving her anywhere.
God I loved that car
Not the way a man would
No kicking of tires or
Prolonged inspection of the engine
She was perfect
I gave her a variety of names to suit my mood.
I just liked the freedom
She afforded me
I could wake up on a rainy day
And tool up to the museum in Boston
Or check the latest deals at TJ Maxx
Sometimes I would just take myself out to lunch.
She needed few repairs
No major ones
189,000 miles of pure pleasure
She died one day on the freeway
All the fluids just came out
Leaving her in the lot made me feel sad.
There was to be no other car
My right leg gave out
The PT said I couldnít drive any more
Iíll never forget the independence
And good times I had with my car
Knowing I could go anywhere anytime.
Now she is just a memory I treasure
We talk about the trips
I reminisce about treks to the mall
And rides on the back roads
I had it all and I donít mind
Most of the time itís just okay.
Some of the good things in life
Go away without warning
Things we take for granted
Friends we treasure
Itís a good thing to keep track of them all
Some day they just lose all their fluids.
SWM - 03/2010
Here I am in a geriatric ward of a psychiatric hospital
Clinical depression over a long period of time
Is my diagnosis
Iíve come for electric shock therapy
My new psychiatrist says it will
Give me a whole new life
Can I be sure?
Most of the patients are depressed like me
But some suffer from dementia and
Their state of mind renders me numb
I sit alone in my room
Earphones giving me music
To drown out the mental noise
I donít like the routine
I like my home routine
But I am compliant
Thatís what happens when you go there
Your will surrenders to the ones in charge.
Everything is stark
Naked minds roaming the halls
Meals are served in a small dining room
Some like to eat
Some donít like the food
I am disappointed with what is on my plate.
Here I am in hopes of renewal, rebirth
Yet what I see discourages me
I want to go home
Back to the familiar, even the depression
What is known is far easier than the unknown
Will this treatment be right for me?
Itís nearly 5 am and I am ready
Iím dressed in hospital clothes
Too small for my large frame
I hold the folds close to my chest
As the wheelchair is pushed into
The bowels of the old hospital.
We sit in a row
Awaiting a fate unknown
I am called to see the doctor in charge
His face is stern and detached
Yet he gets his face close to mine
Ready to discuss my fate.
I can hear his words
But itís like I am deaf
I am not a candidate for ECT he says
There is danger because I have had a stroke
A year ago
I am wheeled back to my room.
The doctor on the unit
Suggests it is a good time
To adjust my medications
I wish I had gone home then
I liked my pills they way they were.
But I stayed a few days
Tried new medications
Addressed the chronic back pain
Overwhelmed by the demented ones
I went to another unit
It was strangely quiet.
When it was time to leave
I was relieved
I had accomplished nothing
Went back on my original medications
And went out the door a wounded soldier
Home from a war of the mind.
SWM - 9/2009
Three tall blooms in a row
Stately delphiniums in blush pink
I had doubted it would ever bloom
Three years after planting I assumed
It was a failure of my anxious shaking hands
Mother Nature granted me a glorious win.
Sitting on my green rocker I glanced to the side
And spied a delicate motionless dragonfly
Sitting on a begonia leaf in all its delicate splendor
Could I capture the moment of amazement
I gazed intently not wanting to move
Lest the insect lady move.
Sorting through a file of old papers
I seek clues to another time
In a faded file folder I discovered
Thirty year old drawings of my youngest son
One a simple potted flower
To Mom, Love Mark
The sight of it brought tears of joy to my eyes
Washing away the excruciating pain
Of a family torn apart so many years ago
What were we all doing to alleviate
The scourge of divorce?
I hid away in shame.
SWM - 04/2012