Fishing

He runs down the sand dune

Slipping sliding down

Flings his fishing line over his head

A school of dolphin near the shore

Dive in and out of the water

I can’t believe it

Father wants to catch

One

 

He runs down the beach

Races with the dolphins

They play with him

Tease him

Never losing pace

His feet

Pound the shoreline

Keeping up

Until

Far down the beach

He loses breath

Falls back

And they swim

Away

 

—1981

(under)Painting by Brian McQueen

If Only I Could

Do you not see   truly see
Faces of children
Caught in the middle of war
As they witness     as they experience
Cruelty exploding around them
Their eyes wide with fear
Faces expressing bewilderment
Frozen in terror

Do you not feel   truly feel
A silent war like an infection
Coursing through the blood stream
Of our country
For me    guns are the virus
Gunshots into a crowded concert
At innocents in a store
A school yard   a movie theater
To claim a religion   an ideological
Ideal
It is war   wherever guns are used
To kill   to maim   to terrify
I abhor them
Would outlaw guns
Completely
If only I could

Where Have You Been?

Poetry Angel calls to me

Where have you been

I call back

I have been here where I am

I am here

Where have you been

She answers with what

I already know

She says

I have been by you

Inside you

Waiting for you

 

These are my excuses     Angel Friend

 

Words have flown around my mind

Like fallen leaves in autumn

Blown by the wind

To scatter hither     to scatter yon

Escaping from me

 

An operating table     a hospital bed

Food I do not like

Medicine I must take

A rehab center that’s      okay

My husband     my Love

Visits me     eats his dinners with me

My bed sits by two windows

I watch him ride by on his scooter

Going home

We wave to each other

I yearn to go with him

I want to go home

Get up     get out of bed

Walk     keep walking     walk

Physical therapists nudge me     nudge me     nudge me

They command    

     Walk     walk

 

You ask Angel Friend

Where have I been

I know what you ask

Where are my words

Where is a poem

A poem

 

Well     now you know

From My Window …

… I see     I feel

Morning sun

Touching the life of the

Sycamore’s new leaves

A hyacinth not yet in

Bloom

From my window

I see other windows

On a hill across

The Riparian Way

Like tiny lighthouses

They shine beacons of light

To me

As night closes day

 

From my window

I hear sirens on El Camino Real

Their sound grows fainter

As they move farther away

Then one abruptly stops

Called here

To the community

Where I live

 

From my window

I send a prayer

  

Too often

Someone I know

Someone I don’t know

Passes away

Death is no stranger here

But life is far more familiar

I feel the void

When faces go missing

I never get used to it

Life lives with death

Two parts of the whole

 

Every fall

From my window

I watch the sycamore’s leaves

Dry out

Their color green changing into

Old gold

Falling to the ground

In graceful slow motion

Then welcoming her new leaves

Every spring

 

The sun rises

Over the distant hill

Goes down over the distant

Ocean

Moon rises

Over the distant hill

Sets in her own time

Over the distant ocean

It is an orderly Universe

I closely observe

Closely observe

 

From my window

Reconciliation

Mother

When he went away and left you

He left me too

And we lived together

You and I

One woman     one child

And I wanted to grow up

To love you both

But you’d come home

From a job that drained you

That made you curl up tight

Inside yourself

I knocked and I know

You tried to let me in

While he went away

And sent letters of love to me

And I cried to live with him

I didn’t understand

 

My best friend told me this

People say your mother

Has a chip on her shoulder

I didn’t understand

 

Believe me Mother

When I tell you

I don’t remember

That time in your life

When you were ill

When your legs were weak

And you used a cane

When your eyes saw double

And the threat of disease

That would waste you

Hung over us

A girl of fourteen

Awake     awake     whose eyes

Could see     whose brain

Could think

But Mother I don’t remember

I just don’t remember

 

Mother

We are healed now

And the years between

Have made us friends

I need you Mother

When you die

No one else can care as much

—1975

Midnight

Midnight for me is

Mysterious     unattainable

For Mother has me in bed

By eight o’clock     always

Eight o’clock

Hard as I try

When my eyes open again

Morning shines into my

Window

I want to know     midnight

What it feels like

Who is there     what do they do

In midnight

 

I would like to see

Winged horses

White like Pegasus

Unicorns     dancing bears

I want animals that speak

My language

To have conversation

Be friends

Colors swirling around us

Rainbows     even angels

With halos     with wings

Oh     will I never know

Will I ever know

What it feels like

To be awake in

Midnight

 

Years pass

My beloveds sleep

In their beds

Here I am

Notebook open     pen in

Hand

It is quiet     so quiet

My sanctuary of peace

And the clock strikes

midnight

—February 7, 2017

 

Beyond The Word

images-1

As a little girl

I hear disparaging comments

Made by the adults

In my life

Judgments of people

Even people unknown

Walking down a street

In a store

Though these words do not consume

Sunday dinner conversation

Around Grandmother’s mahogany

Dining table

They are spoken often enough

To create in me

Aversion to judgmental words

Criticism

I hear them     shrink into myself

Sadness moves into a corner

Of my heart

Doesn’t move out

 

My childhood is a patchwork quilt

Of remembering

Scenes of places     faces     voices

Yes     voices

For I have come to understand

It is not words alone

That cause pain

Even more

It is the tone of voice

I hear it

Clench     constrict

Hold my breath

It has always been so

 

Mother seldom speaks of father

Who leaves their marriage

When I am seven years old

But her tone of voice

When she does speak of him

Lets me know the depth

Of her bitterness

I feel devastated

Helpless

 

Now I understand     accept

My reactions     my despair

Surrounding this election cycle

I am witness to

Words never heard before

As they hang in the consciousness

Of everyone who hears them

Vocal tones of ridicule

Scorn

Project the words into the atmosphere

And the feelings they create

Invade like toxic fumes

From the tragedy of

9/11

 

Now     at 84

Words   tones of voice

May still sting

Bring distress

But it is my voice

My words

And what they do

To others

That matter more

I praise

I bless

I forgive

 

I breathe

Save

Save

Save

Save

All Love for My Hero

MomDadWalkDownAisle

Oh

I remember well

The beautiful young man

Standing in the front room

Of the Rodgers Park Jewish

Community Center

One June morning in

1954

I have come there

To be a counselor

In the Center’s summer day camp

A job I’m not overly excited

About taking

Only here because a college friend

Tells me there’s an opening for a

Girl counselor     and there isn’t any

Other summer jobs I know of

To apply for

Oh yes

I walk in and there he is

Standing right smack in front

Of me

I look up into a pair of very

Blue eyes

In a face smiling down at me

With beautiful     white     even teeth

He wears a white tee shirt

The sleeves rolled up once

His arms tanned     and not bulging

With muscles     just right

I don’t remember anything else of that

Day     our first meeting

Except that first day unbeknownst

To me     is the blessed first day of

Sixty-two wonderful years     sixty of them

In marriage

 

Thank you God     thank you Stephen

And you beloved family

Beloved friends

For blessing us     honoring us

By coming to be with us

As we celebrate our marriage

Of sixty blessed years

 

Thank you     Thank you     Thank you

MomDadVows

Numbers

th

Fifty odd years ago

I find

Six dining room chairs

Made from humble oak

In the crowded basement

Of a secondhand store

In Kenosha Wisconsin

They accompany me

To five different houses

A sixth chair left behind

When it cracks in half

In house number three

 

Four children of my heart

Sit on these chairs

All through their childhoods

And even today

Now their own children

Sit on them too

 

They are not new

These six oak dining room

Chairs

When I pick them out

From myriad others

I wonder

Where    when

Were they created

And by whom

They deserve noble stories

Of grand houses     mansions

But no     they are only

Humble oak

I envision them in a home

Where there is love

Where they surround

A beautifully dressed table

Laden with favorite dishes

Prepared by loving hands

But how to explain

The crowded basement

Of a secondhand store

In Kenosha Wisconsin

 

The chairs come with a

Table

It too from humble oak

With five extension leaves

That make me feel ecstatic

I stuff everything into the back of

Big Blue

My loyal station wagon

Carry them home

All for the price of

Twenty-five dollars

 

Holiday     birthday

Ordinary day dinners

Are eaten off the table

Homework cried over

Papers scattered across its

Top

My children travel the years

Sitting on these chairs

Around the table

Legs grown longer     appetites stronger

Until they leave     come back

Leave again

While he and I

The chairs     the table

Remain

photo credit

 

Angel Wind

th

I call to you

Blow away storms

That rise at times

Inside me

Blow them away

Away

Dark clouds

Dark    dark

Surround my heart’s

Cavity

They drift upwards

Fill my mind

Down again

To cover my organs

Invade my body’s

Cells

Push Spirit’s Light

Away     away

While I live unaware

The calamities

Storm tossed emotions

Evoke

 

Something unknown then

Arrives

A voice speaks to me

I hear without ears

That hear

Feel it like the warmth

Of a blanket wrapped around

Me

 

It says

“Ask and it shall be given”

I ask

 

And the Angel Wind

Comes

Blows the storms

That rise inside me

Out to sea

Blows them into the ether

Vanishing like the morning

Mist

Away    away

To understand

Now

In naked clarity

The Angel Wind

Is me

*photo credit