Inspired by and dedicated to Margaret Simon, who shared the photo and who’s mourning the loss of her father.
Photo: Kim Douillard
Half remains afterward it is enough tangible beauty even in mourning throes to sense the infinite flows of life undulating beyond what the eye can see or hand can hold where the spirit abides whole, unbroken
Awe descends like snowflakes in the silence finding asylum in the holy places where it perches plump and blue a quiescent electric spark sent to shock the soul from its stasis with a sudden gasp of winterclean air
Bluebird in the falling snow this afternoon, perched on the birdhouse my father-in-law made when my boys were small. They still call it “Pa-Pa’s bird church.” Those sparks are reflections of my Christmas tree lights in the window where I stood to capture this picture of awe.
with thanks to Andy Schoenborn for the invitation to write on “what we have taken and what has been taken from us” in today’s #VerseLove on Ethical ELA – a reflective poem using the words take and taken.
A double etheree, on Day Thirteen of National Poetry Month
New morning brimming with yet unwritten possibility asking nothing of me only offering itself for the things I shall make of it once the ribbon of light releases this present day; what shall I take of it?
This present day, what I shall take of it? Maybe just isolated fragments to hold in pockets of silence little treasures worth saving moments of loving like the ones yesterday has not taken away from you and me.
We are playing a game of hide-and-seek according to her rules, which means that if she can’t find me in approximately twenty-five seconds, she begins calling “Yoo-hoooo,” expecting me to echo.
She sends me out of a room to count while she stays in to hide. I have to pretend I can’t see her sock-toes at the crack of the closet door.She hides in the same place twice.
On her way to find me (I am sandwiched sideways between the bedroom dresser and the bookcase), she stops to retrieve my old hat which is lying on the trunk at the foot of the bed for a bit of vintage-y atmosphere. She plops it on her head.“Yoo-hoooo!” she calls.
“Yoo-hoooo,” I answer.
She whirls around. “There you are!” she shouts, hopping with glee.Then she regains her composure, asserts her authority:“Now, whoever is LOOKING has to wear this hat.”
“Okay, but first let me take your picture wearing it. You are SO elegant.”
“No.” She bows her head, hiding her beautiful face.
“Oh, please? It would be the best picture.”
She has to tease me a bit, evading the camera. She’s calling the shots. She flops around the edge of the bed, giggling.
Finally she stands and lets me get my shot.
Quick look. Can’t help myself: I crack up. “Ummm…how about I get one more? An even better one?”
“Let me see,” says the little grande dame.
I show her the photo on my phone.
“Nope,” she declares, “it’s a keeper!Now you count and I hide—your turn to wear the hat!” She flings it in my direction and scurries away.
I don my old hat and count…every precious, precocious minute, for the hidden elegance thereunto.
—Is she five or fifteen?
An etheree, for my “elegant” granddaughter:
You. Seeking your own way in your own play —let me now preserve your essence for lighting the remainder of my days, hoarding every fleeting moment in the reliquary of my soul where dust cannot corrupt the elegance.
The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approach: On Day 5, I am writing around a word beginning with letter e. Another favorite e-word in this piece: echo.And an etheree seemed to be called for.
Also shared with the Poetry Friday gathering today – thanks to Kathryn for hosting the Roundup.
Some things are just meant to be. Like the coming of my granddaughter into my life a year ago. Like the exact same age difference between us as that between my grandmother and me. Like my granddaughter’s birthday being in December…like Grandma’s.
My granddaughter is turning five this week. She loves to read. She takes a flashlight and books with her to bed at night. Her parents and I still read to her at bedtime, though. She chooses the stories.
Naturally books must be part of Christmas and birthday celebrations…when I saw this storybook Advent calendar, I knew it was meant to be. I had to look at each tiny book before giving it to her. One of them is based on her favorite movie, Frozen. I rearranged so that will be the book she finds on her birthday.
Little bits of magic go a long way.
My son says she confessed to a sneak peek. She informed him: “I think I am going to have a special Advent calendar book on my birthday!”
My daughter-in-law says she’s in “tiny reader heaven.”
Such joy for me.
Once upon a time, my grandmother read to me.
Now my granddaughter does.
Old things made new…
an etheree celebrating my granddaughter, reading, and the storybook Advent calendar
Read for joy read for love read for yourself, dear gift from above a book a day, how fun words are magic, every one tiny reader heaven for you advent of promise for me, to see how the world expands, in your little hands
The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. – Matthew 19:14
For Spiritual Journey Thursday. A double etheree.
Now I wake, now I rise, wiping the sleep from my sleepy eyes. Time to eat, time to pray. Thank you, Lord, for this new day to live, to learn, to love, to play. In Your kingdom, where I have a place, remember Your little child saying grace.
Remember all Your children, needing grace when we’ve forgotten to seek Your face. Draw us back to that holy place in a child’s believing heart. O Lord, in the morning cast us not away— help us, we pray— You are great, You are good.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation… Psalm 51: 10-12
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. -Psalm 5:1-3
******* For more Spiritual Journey offerings, visit Reflections on the Teche – with gratitude to Margaret Simon for hosting.
Today I have a literal “found poem.” Meaning not one derived from another’s work but as in finding it while going through folders from previous school years and unearthing poetry I’d modeled for students on writing around an object. I remember taking three objects with special meaning to me so the kids could choose which I’d write about.
They chose the bottle.
Which I found after my grandfather’s death, visiting the farm where he was born. It was the second and last time I walked this piece of land. The first time, my grandfather, grown old and frail, walked with me. Ten acres of fields bordered by trees is all that remains, but he showed me where the house once stood, and the barns, and the henhouse … all gone without a trace now.
Except for some long-buried treasures.
In the old days, farm families had a trash pile. What wasn’t burned away with fire, or washed away by ages of wind and weather, or destroyed by perpetual tractors and harrows, might be swallowed by the earth until the earth is ready to give it back.
I wasn’t expecting such a gift the day I walked alone, mourning my grandfather.
So, I told the students, as I prepared to draft, when you write about an object you might also considerthe feeling the object triggers in you. For me, with this bottle, it’s wonder. I want to incorporate a sense of wonder in this poem.
And so I wrote for them, and they enjoyed making artistic suggestions (they wanted it to rhyme):
Granddaddy is gone And I walk his old farm How he loved this place This wide-open space Nothing now to see Where barns and house used to be Just an empty field After harvest’s yield Cold breeze blows Through my heart, it goes When I spot in a bit of grass Sunlight glistening on—glass? I momentarily forget my hurt As I dig it from the dirt —a bottle, imagine that No telling how long it sat Buried deep in this ground As theas the years circled round Whose hand touched it last In that long ago past? Clear glass, heavy, yet small Cracked but unbroken, all in all What unseen secrets must it hold This bottle of stories untold
It holds untold stories, all right. I’ve not determined exactly what tincture this old bottle actually held. The faintest embossed image of a root, almost worn away, remains on the front. A health tonic, likely. I know my grandfather had a sister who died of diphtheria at age three, in 1907. I doubt the bottle is that old but I have visions of my great-grandmother nursing her ailing children and tossing that empty bottle onto the trash heap…
Sparking me to attempt a didactic cinquain:
Bottle Antiquated, weather-worn Eroding, cracking, enduring Poured out for healing Elixir
Or maybe a double reversed etheree:
Empty of that for which you were fashioned vessel of life-blood for veins long ceased drawn from roots to nourish my own cold glass clasped in hands now still spooned in mouths now silent elixir fully poured out, consumed every drop gone cast off forgotten swallowed by earth kept year after year without ceremony lying silent, eroding enduring seasons, weathering cracking but enduring, determined to remain clear with your story obscured.
When I was a child, I looked forward to seeing the dentist.
His name was Dr. Job. Like Job in the Bible, long o, not as in “teaching is a hard job.” I could not understand this when I saw his name on the office door: Why do we say ‘Jobe?’ It says Job! J-o-b. That’s not right.It should have an ‘e’ on the end. J-o-b-e …
It irritated my father: That’s how his name is pronounced. He knows how to spell it. Now stop.
Dr. Job had white hair and a white coat and to be honest I wasn’t happy to see him.
I wanted his rings.
After each visit—usually for a filling—Dr. Job reached into some magical cabinet and brought out a box. With a big smile, he opened it before me like a hawker on the city streets selling watches out of a car trunk.
The box was full of rings, set in foam rubber, as if on display at a fine jewelry counter.
“Which one would you like, hmmm? You’ve been a good little patient!”
Of course I was good … there were rings for the taking! How they glittered. All different colors, sizes, shapes. It didn’t matter which one I chose as they were adjustable; their metal bands were split to be widened or narrowed to fit.
One day I looked and looked it—had to be the best ring—until Dr. Job finally cleared his throat: “Ahem. You need to pick one, all right?”
I settled on a ring with a pale purple stone cut in facets like a diamond. I put it on the ring finger of my right hand (not my left, that was for getting married someday). Feeling like a princess, I said: “This is alexandrite, right?” (so … as a child I was fascinated by birthstones and pored over them in mail-order catalogs. My own is emerald. To me, at the time, this pale purple was prettier. June’s birthstone. Point to ponder: How many kids today know about birthstones? ).
Dr. Job looked at me and blinked. He closed the case and returned me to my father.
The main reason I remember that ring is because of a scene in a different office. Plagued by allergies, I had to get weekly injections in both arms. Sometimes I had reactions, rashes or big knots that burned. While I sat waiting, waiting, waiting at the doctor’s office, before and after the shots, I read all the children’s books and magazines—I loved Highlights. Then I read the grown-up stuff, like Reader’s Digest. One afternoon I was too tired to read. I sat sideways in the waiting room chair, leaning against the wall in the late-afternoon shadows. I reached up to rub my sore left arm when waning light from the window caught my “alexandrite” ring. A dozen tiny rainbows appeared on the wall beside me. Mesmerized, I move my hand this way and that, watching the rainbow-spots dance, vanish, and reappear. I forgot the time, forgot my swollen arm; I was too busy scattering the light.
This whole story returned to me as I was continuing my containment cleaning and sunlight caught my ring (diamond, on my married finger) just right.
Scattered light. Tiny rainbows. On a day, incidentally, when Highlights became a destiny…
Ethereal moments call for an etheree, don’t you think.