Poem for our 65th Wedding Anniversary

For my husband, my hero ... 

Who would think

A man could be

So utterly kind

So loving is

He

And wonder of wonders

He married

Me

 

Sixty-five years

Ago

On a very hot

Day

My tearful father

Gave me away

Why the tears

Daddy

You had to have

Known

As soon as I’d seen

Him

I knew I’d come home

And then they arrived

One  two  three  four

Three little boys

One little girl

Oh how we loved

Them

Did our best

To guide them

Watched them become

Grown

Then tried not to

Cry

In front of them

When away they had

Flown

So

It’s you and me

Kid

And ain’t it been

Fun

We love remembering

All we have done

And you

You have made me

The most fortunate of

Wives

With all the Loving

Moments

Creating our

Life

That began

Sixty-seven years

Ago

When we walked into

Each other’s

Lives

A day camp for children

Guided there by Spirit

I am certain

 

Then two years hence

We married

On that very hot day

An afternoon wedding

We soon drove away

Ate hamburgers and

French fries

Our very first meal

As husband and wife

Loud thunderstorms

Kept us company

All through the

Night     remember

Other storms blew in

Blew out

And never was there

A doubt

God’s gift to us

Beloved

When we were

Young

In summer’s sway

Was this

We saw our life

Together

Down the years

And so

We did not look

Away

 

 —June 17, 20201

To Alice (Mother’s Day, 1991)

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother’s years

Fall around her like a velvet cloak

Cover her with folds of silken thread

Of gold, deep blue, of burgundy

Like the colors of cloth in a painting

By Rubens or Rembrandt

But it has a lining of woven straw

This cloak of velvet

That can scratch and tear the skin

Straw on one side, velvet on the other

The fabric of a life

The way it is, my mother says

 

And she gave me straight hair

And thin ankles

And she gave me love

She gave me the markets of Guadalajara

And Oaxaca

And she gave me the truth

Of her own self

 

One July we are very young

We eat lobster bisque together

And watch the seagulls live their lives

On the pier in Monterey

As the sun is going down

Back at the restaurant in the Monterey Hotel

The waiters are on strike

All the others from the tour bus

Cross the picket line

But, my mother says, not us

 

Now the hawks glide in the wind

Over the roof of my house

This is where my mother has never been

And I tell her how they rise up

And soar

How they dip with their wings outstretched

And sway into the currents of air

And I tell her that her years

Fall around her like a velvet cloak

And she is beautiful

Reconciliation (1975)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

My Untethered Horse

Beloveds

I want to tell you

A dream I had

In the darkest part

Of night

A dream so vivid

I have to believe

It was no dream

But real

 

I am riding on the back

Of an untethered horse

I too     untethered

No saddle     no stirrups

No reins

Come between us

As my hands hold to her mane

My knees pressed against

The shine of the hair

On her sides

 

Oh     I would ride free

Forever

I call to the wind

On the back of this

Untethered horse

My soul     my spirit

As free as she

Galloping on the sunlit shore

With an endless sea

Behind her

 

Then Beloveds

I wake filled with joy

Feel my spirit speak

Hear words

From my soul

Telling me

 

The untethered horse

Is my horse

She is God’s love

For me

My freedom

I can ride untethered

Free forever

 

All I must do

Is let go

Drain pools of negativity

Collected through years

Of judgmental thoughts

Judgmental words spoken aloud

Deep pain from shame

From guilt

For things that were done

Not done

Neglected     forgotten

By me

Let them pass

Through my consciousness

Like water through a sieve

 

Let go     let them go

Unto God

—September 2014

Only Love

Only Love

Enfolds this memory

Nothing else needed

Just the fields

With the rows of ripened

Wheat

Fields of gold

 

It is early afternoon

We are on a drive

Into what we call

The county

My little boy

Sits next to me

In his car seat

Looking out the

Window

I see fields

With rows of ripened

Wheat

Fields of gold

I look at my little boy’s

Head

His hair

The same color gold

As the gold of ripened

Wheat

I take the sight

Into my heart

To keep

As the years will

Surely pass

 

Yes

Only Love     only Love

Enfolds this memory

Nothing else

Nothing

Museum Hill

Do you remember

The night

We drove up Museum

Hill

To gaze into the night

Sky

Crowded with stars

An overwhelmed feeling

Of absolute awe

In our hearts

Starlight still so much

Brighter

Than light from the city

Below

City lights that would

Multiply

In years still to come

Dimming starry brilliance

From the night sky

 

Museum Hill

The Museum of Indian Arts

And Culture

The Lab of Anthropology

The Folk Art Museum

As tho asleep

Their doors locked

The silence of night

Wrapped around them

We know them well

Each with its own

Unique reason for

Existing

 

How many hours

Over twenty-seven years

Did we spend in one

Or the other

 

I don’t remember     now

How long we stayed

Looking up into that

Infinite world of stars

Maybe until our necks

Began to ache

I only remember

It was hard to leave

Ignorant astronomers

Were we

Excited to spot

Numerous shooting stars

The Big and Little Dippers

Then red Mars

And a satellite

Streaming across the sky

Amazed with the stars

Slow move of their

Positions

As the night

Moved

On

 

We left as we came

Driving down and around

The winding road

That led us around

And up

Museum Hill

Do you remember

Do you remember

I do

*starry night photo credit: Cliford Mervil

For Tigray, November 2020

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air strikes and a ground offensive on Nov. 4 against Tigray’s local rulers for defying his authority. On Nov. 15, the air force bombed the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, killing hundreds.

 

Beloved child

Of the streets

Who has no home

To shelter in

No food to fill

Your soul

Or belly

I open wide

My heart

To you

To every child

Of the streets

So many     so many

Hungry

Abandoned     alone

I speak of

Tigray     Ethiopia

But in truth

Tigray is everywhere

On Earth

Where a child suffers

Are there different degrees

Of suffering

Different ways to suffer

It matters not

Suffering is suffering

How do we let this

Be

 

Roast Chicken (2008)

A roasted chicken

Comes out of the oven

Needing to be deboned

Skin removed     grease

Poured out of the roaster

Into an empty soup can

From the freezer

Waiting to be filled

 

This job surrounds

More than an hour

Of my afternoon

Leaves a mess

Reminds me of the president

The pile of disasters

Created by him

And his administration

As bones lie splayed

On the bottom of the roaster

Greasy skin

Against the sides

 

Afterwards

The kitchen is cleaned up

Grease can full of grease

Put back in the freezer

Chicken bones in a pot

Ready to make soup

Skin packed safely away

In a garbage pail

And the meat

Cut into pieces

For chicken salad

Order is restored

Again

 

Now

Time to clean up

The real mess

I want to vacuum

The White House

Sweep its occupants

Out the door

Hose down the Congress

Scrub the Pentagon

With soapy water

And gallons of disinfectant

Fumigate

The Department of Justice

The FBI     the CIA

Harder

Much harder

Than roasting a

Chicken

 

*Wendy crafted this poem after President Barak Obama was elected in 2008. It was first published in her 2014 collection, Reflections. I publish it today, November 8, 2020, one day after Joe Biden was declared President Elect, with a sense of hope that perhaps decency, compassion, intelligence, and sanity may return to our country, our hearts, and our homes. —Dina McQueen, blog manager

Still …

“It was the best of times

It was the worst of times”

Words Charles Dickens wrote

To begin

“A Tale of Two Cities”

It is the worst of times

In the multitude of cities

That fill the map of the

United States of America

A pandemic clogs the

Arteries

Of our country’s life

Even the word     pandemic

Brings feelings of panic

Disbelief

An avalanche

Sweeping swiftly

In and through

Every corner of our

Existence

To leave some of us

Still standing

Lives of too many

Others

Snuffed out

 

Oh my children

Never would I have

Imagined

Your world turned so

Completely

Against itself

It is difficult

So difficult

To accept the reality

Of this turmoil

 

Still—in its midst

I hear the mourning dove

Calling     calling

Still—I watch the phoebe bird

Erratically flit here     there

Catching bugs on the

Wing

The sun rises after every

Dawn

Casts a muted glow

Against my closed window

Shutters

And every late afternoon

Still—I am aware

Of a slow darkening

Sky

The Natural World

Follows its own path

 

Oh my children

Listen only to those

Who speak Truth

Follow the Light

Of your own inner

Guidance

And know with certainty

You will remain safe

And

Never led astray

 

Riot (1968)

 

 

 

We’ll weep, Black Sister, we’ll weep together

For her whose home is dust.

Charcoaled ashes from riot weather,

A bitter wind of mistrust.

Hatred lies smoldering, pungent, and deep,

Shifting like sand.

Will she have a memory to keep

In this abounding land?

Must we, like Antigone, daughter of despair,

Live without sweet reconciliation

And beyond deeds of repair?

They’ve forgotten, those men of the law’s creation,

Whom the law should heed.

They’re not for you, Sister, so we must weep.

*from Poets are the Bravest, written 1968