Living Out The Prequel

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Living Out The Prequel

If I am a story
Or a story is me
And we are turning pages
There is this unfolding
My breath is held and
I may forget to breathe

But living does not rest on whether
I remember
Or I forget

It is the mystery of baited breath
God grants me this until the end
And did God feel this way
On the days, one and two
Knowing what he knew of all that lay ahead
Knowing all he knew
About the peonies in shades of flesh and rose and the oyster with its hidden pearl
The sound of rain and rainy drops
Slowly tickling the backs
Of a parched and desert dry cracked earth

Do I know I know not what is to come

But breathing deep and breathing fast
Swallowed up by the fog of a heaviness
Expectant in the coming next
I know as any mother knows
To hold the baby to her breast and sit back
Long and languid, rest in waiting
Love

I know as the salt marsh tide knows
When to ebb and
When to flow
And in its knower
Knows that it will never stop

I know that I am walking
Through the days of prequel joy
Pregnant in expectancy
Of splitting hairs of heavy wait
Of counting stars and counting dreams
Of wondering how much joy a soul can hold

All the while entangled
In a mystery of how will it all end
And when
In the days left in the waning
Of the remaining

Until healing comes to all

Again

And the prequel gives way
To what He has in store

So I will turn the page
Savoring every word
That was
And will to come

Be still
And hear

the prequel

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A Thousand Hands Have Passed By Here

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A Thousand Hands Have Passed By Here

Maybe hundreds more
But
There was no one there to count

A well-worn wooden handrail
Documents for us

But she will not give up secrets
Of all the living that has come by here
The hurried ones
Tiny pink bare feet
Scampering off to bed
To dream under a mountain quilt, tucked
Under
Crisp cool sheets
As trains go up and down
The mountain tracks
Singing them to sleep

The tired ones who will wake
Before the sun and putter down
The stairs, running wrinkled fingers
Along the smooth and weary rail
Worn by love and life and time
Holding up the aged, the weak and frail

Guardian of more than
One Hundred years of living
Well-traveled
Quiet story-keeper 
Stairwell of this
Old home

Perhaps the next hand, left
Or right from generations
Coming up and down 
Traveling through this  place
Will be a hand of healing
Offering
Sacred grace

Pray blessing and forgiveness
Over those who’ll come here too

Perhaps
There will be a thousand more
Hands traveling down the rail
Bearing witness to 
Humility and redeeming love
For generations still to come

For scores and scores of lifetimes
More
May scamper up to bed
Up, then down, down then up
Living, loving,
In this family place

A thousand hands have passed by here

So
Walk quiet now
Soft and slow and reverently
So
You may hear the tales
Echo in the halls
Wisdom from sojourners
Who came by here before
Pass on stories of
Their living
Loving strong and hard
For years and years

Within these pine-board walls

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Joining Sandra Heska King for Still Saturday

Redemption’s Beautiful, Remember

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Redemption’s Beautiful, Remember

I wonder what the years will do to today
Take it and shrink it
Shred it and fade it, peel it, tone it down
Today can never be brighter or more glorious
Than she is in her now
The slow fade comes in the looking back
Over shoulders and in glass, in memoir
And in remembering
Reflecting, recalling
Reaching back into archives of the mind and of memory

So I will hold today up to the light and make it
Tell the truth to me
Beg it to be generous in its gifting of itself to me
Beg it to show me details wrought in sharp hues
And bright shades of this moment
Desperate for every ounce of pleasure I can squeeze
From it, from sunup to down
Draining it of all joy and grace
A woman starved for beauty
As if the sun would never shine again
As if it hasn’t in a decade now

The dark and dormant winter
Has been asked to retire
And we usher in, on a red carpet, rolled out
For the now and today
Fit for Kings and stars and starlets

The belle of the ball
She is today, dressed in her finery
Her seconds of fame and glory
Ticking away as she spins and spends
Herself

And I
Recording
Knowing that the clearest
She will ever be
Is before me now
Tomorrow and the day after
Bring me a dimmer version
Missing pieces
Forgotten parts
Losing memory of herself
Losing detail and sharp lines
Blurring the focus of what it is
As it becomes what it never was

And I may not even remember
Today
Tomorrow
Oh the pain of a fading
Past
The currency of the current
Spend it wisely
Record it as a wise man would
Regret robs today, regret robs tomorrow
Regret stole some of yesterday
I wonder what the years will do to today
Redemption revises
Restores
And today is beautiful again.

Joining Deidra and Sandy and Laura

The Days The Milkman Came

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Pieces of me come from 1959. They would have to. I picked up the times in which I was born. Birthed and set to grow in soil of the South yet for a time, wandering under the wing of my parents. From Boston to the middle of the US. I have memories of the milk truck, as I walk my dogs around this village. At dusk. Dusty memories appear. I see only the blurry face of him, the milkman, we did not know his name. We, the children, but it came. Mana, all we’d need. These were the days of boundaries of want. It was all right there. There were sweaty glasses of iced tea and warm milk. And clearing one’s plate. And stories of children in Africa in want. And books on the bed after school, shiny and new. And sugar on grapefruit and grapefruit spoons. These were the days of walking to school.

Pieces of me come from watching the man step on the moon. They would have to. I picked up the times in which I was born and raised. Before the sleep-over, piles of giggly girls watching a giant leap for mankind, was it black and white, I stood in puddles of grief. In front of the screen, I know was white and black and a president was buried in plain view on that screen. Camelot, I may not have understood then. I do now. I picked up parts of the me I am from the life and death of then. Of a television showing Vietnam war footage while we tried to swallow our food. War and dinner. For a time. I know it was in color then, the camo and blood.

Later I would gather up the sweet smell of gardenias in June, skinned knees year round, stubbed toes worn as battle scars from play and Sunday’s at The Country Club after church. We sat in the same pew year after year. Politics in the family DNA. There were more than a few eyes on us. Always. They are a box of Crayola’s coloring in the lines of me. These memories. The roses that didn’t quite bloom. Seeing shadows through a louvered bedroom door. And riding horses, the real ones and the pretend.

I will walk my dogs in my new old village home. Where I will pick up memories of me. I am made from scraps of quiet. Pieces of simple. And yards of complex. Reams of contradictions too.  The scent of Noxema and lemon squares. The days of telephones, two lines and election night and slogans for a father’s campaign. A Southern Democrat. Aiming for Congress.

Pieces of me come from 1959. They would have to. I am gathering memories that make me me.  And recalling what came before and after, the days the milkman came. The days when a side porch held so much abundance and hope. The white liquid for dipping Oreo cookies. I didn’t. My father did. My father, a tickle machine. Raucous play and laughter. And multiple Christmas trees. My mother, silver and linens and elbows off the table Mabels. And Tab.  And I am just getting started.

Fifty-five years of shading in the details of me. The days before the poetry. My life could be labeled before poetry and after poetry. But I would rather think about the milkman.