The Witness

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The Witness

It was deemed that I was worthy
I took a vague vow of bearing
That my senses would capture
Catalogue the beauty
Override the pain
War analogies make me weary
(Messy mirror of the bloody real thing)
And yet, I am suited up, armed and ready
Battling as correspondent in the middle
Of this war
Rallying, as a witness
Recorder of the beauty
Crying out
I swear to tell the truth
There is beauty in the pain
Hope with me
We were called to tell these stories
Joy will not die, shattered
Scattered on the cynic’s broken

Battlefield

The witnesses remind us
Hand raisers, promising to tell nothing
But the truth
Hallowed is the ground where beauty lives
Buried are the memories
Mercy holds an olive branch
White flags fly from pole and post
My eyes have seen the glory

No More Happily Ever After’s

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Welcome to Day Nine.

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No More Happily Ever After’s

And they lived happily ever after
Wait, what?

All those precious years spent
The clock tick tock
Tick, ticking
Wishing and waiting for
The grand grande finale
Life put on hold while things become bigger,
And better and bester and bestest
All those fair tale endings
Their endings so perfect
The slippers and princesses and knight’s
In their bright shiny armour
I sort of like things just the way
That they are

Even if sometimes
They seem dull, dim and plain

Maybe it all was a crock of baloney
Maybe Hans Christian Anderson or ole Walt
Yeah, Disney
Or dear  Mother Goose
Or whoever dared write it
Should have sat up and noticed
All the wild and the wooley, the winsome
The wonderful spilling out on the now
Like paint from a bucket tipped from the sky
Because I spy
With my little pair of hazel green eyes
The craziest most wonderful things in
A day
There are white standard poodles
Seated in cars
Blazing
Through busy intersections
Sitting up straight as a board in the passenger seats
In open convertible cars
It struck mommy as silly
And tickled her funny bone
As we drove all the way home

You can’t make this stuff up
Dear for Pete and
For heaven’s sake
A capuchin monkey’s having lunch
Out on the Parkway
With his owner
Seated out on the deck

The scandalous, humorous right here right now
Stop and wake up
In the middle of this one crazy life
The what’s happening this minute
While we’re off in a fog
Dreaming of perfect
And all the incredulous make-believe
After’s are not after
No, they are what’s just right here

In the mannered South where I was raised
To be oh so polite
Never abrupt, rude or
God-forbid loud
Or question my elders
I would just let it lie or lay or
Whatever

But the theology of the whole notion
Is just a little too off
And the cost well the cost
Is much too high to pay
You pay with your life
If you don’t enjoy this one glorious day

I’ll take my happily’s
Now, at lunch
By the deafening train track
With red bugs and yellow jackets
And Dementia, seated to my right
And all the uncertain rest
Of it
All

I’ll take my happily’s
In the comings and goings
And the dull inbetweens
The murky uncertainties and the worry and pain
The cancer, the divorce, the loss and the rest

I’ll look for the happily ever’s
All over the place

For me the ending of today’s well-lived story
Comes in the miraculous the beautiful
Found in
One very flamboyant
Fall tree

That caused me to slam on the brakes of the car
And stop at the urging of mother
Stop
On the side of a steep mountain hill
Stop in the middle of one thin hilly road
Stop dead in our tracks

And capture this moment
With one very long stare

The epitome of Joy
On a plain old Thursday
We sat and we drooled and we sighed
Just look at this

Our happily’s some days
Come in the form
Of tree’s whose leaves
Look like candied corn
Covered in
Technicolored leaves
Displayed against a canvas,
An
Azure blue sky
Sacred
Majestic
Pointing us heavenward
And reminding us

Look to the trees with their magnificent Glory
And leave the happily ever after’s
To those old
Children’s stories

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Joy Comes In The Morning, The Wind Is A Gentleman, I Seem To Remember (A Triology)

Welcome to Day 8.
Welcome to Poetry.
Today my offering is A Triology. Thank you for riding through October with me. The pleasure is all mine.

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I.
Joy Comes In The Morning

Like the morning tube of bad news
Rolled and stuff in cellophane
To protect us from it
Or it from the rain
Count on it, the wad of this and that
Thrown in haste at the end of the driveway
We can count the number of times it
Has failed
To find its way into our breaking hearts
With news of the day

But Joy comes in the morning
On the magic carpets wafting to
And fro, in currents of wind
The limbs
Their launching pads
From which they are sent
Couriers of beauty
Bearers of good news
Fragments of whimsy
Stuck in the autumn’s wind
Draft, their fuel

The next piece
Looks like a Monarch
Lost
And the next confetti
Autumn celebrates its peak

And we leave the paper
In the drive
And choose to let it rot and dry
Become yesterday’s news

Because joy comes in the morning
When we set our eyes on
The beauty of it all
One leaf, two leaves
I cannot count them all
But each one marks
Gratitude
As
On my lawn
They
Fall

II.

The Wind Is  A Gentleman

Gentle in his ways
Caressing the wind chimes
With his fingertips
Like a lover on his beloved’s
Cheek
Blows a kiss
Gently touching
The soft and blue veined skin
On the nape
Of her nearly
Octogenarian
Neck
Saying goodbye
Soft and sweet
But just
For now

A gentleman always returns

III.

I Seem To Remember

I seem to remember
She said to me
After the poem was read
Twice
Aloud

We’d ingested every word
Sucked the beauty from the bone
Like marrow on the leg of lamb
Left ravenous with remembering

Poetry, bone-digger
Excavater

Of the buried past

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Thank you for joining me. See you tomorrow, Day Nine.

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The Beauty Of Repetition – A Story of The Bats

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Thank you for joining this journey of poetry, prose and photography. To follow the series click here for all posts in Postcards From Me — #write31days
Grateful to have you along on this 31 Day Writing Challenge. You breathe joy onto the pages here as you accompany me on this journey.

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The Beauty of Repetition – A Story Of The Bats
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Good Night Moon for the two hundredth time
Crispy fried chicken from the colonel from Kentucky
Hot macaroni and cheese
Orange or yellow, boxed, or home made
And a glass of cold milk at bedtime
Cheek on cold pillow
Rhythms and patterns, the labyrinth of life

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I start out to gather my words, herd them into a poem. They said, “no can do”. My words talk back to me. They can be headstrong like that. I know they won’t conform to my poem so I give them up and open the field of prose. Let them run wild and free.

I think they like it there sometimes where there is more openness, where it is wider, bigger more like South Dakota. A lot of space to stretch and breathe. And be the words they were created to be. With less fence lines and gateposts and cattle gates with locks.

Plus, it is difficult to write about bats in poetry. Unless you are Billy Collins or some other very creative and poet laureate-esq writer. Because the words, patterns, memories, recollections that have tried to form a poem have put their collective feet down and said “tell this in prose.” I assume your words talk back to you in a similar way.

She keeps telling the bat stories over and over again. And we laugh and feign misery and say”no not again, don’t tell the bat story.” And then we spell as if she can’t and say, here comes the b-a-t story again. Being a child and being an adult are not that dissimilar. Familiarity is comforting. And patterns are guideposts to our living.

Repetition comforts. Pattern calms. Tradition and customs and pilgrimages restore our souls with the balm of the familiar.

I walk to the spring and stop. Stare at the water trickling down. Measure with an invisible yardstick in my memory. Check to see if the water is coming from the spring in a rapid or slowing rate. Twenty something years of going to Wynne Lithia Spring and it’s new every single time. The beauty of repetition restores me. I stop and lose myself in the beauty of the spring. And remember my memories of this place. I have stockpiled them. Hoarded them. Hold them tight.

She asks me if I have read this book, the one in her hand, the one by Flannery O’Connor. And I say yes parts, until I realize it is a different Flannery O’Connor book. And I remind her of the author’s love of peacocks. Thinking we’ll discuss the short stories with tales of the peahens and peabiddies. And she said yes, “I see that now in technicolor on television.” And I haven’t a clue. Until I catch up with her mind and her world and where she has gone. She is not in the room. Her look is far away. Empty. Vapid.  And I am lost.

Dementia is a game player. One moment we are discussing Flannery O’Connor and the next she is remembering NBC’s early logo from the television of her youth. I go there, with her, in my mind. And follow this trail to her past. Where I learn. And revisit. And uncover. And secretly wonder about this place of distant remembering that she goes to brush off the dust and bring back a treasure from her past.

I was thinking of O’Connor’s beautiful peacocks, her beloved peacocks from her youth. Mother was thinking of NBC. As the crow flies, they aren’t that far away. You  must learn the language of dementia before you can communicate with it’s strange dialect. The nuances. The subtleties.

We cross our legs in laughter. Red faced and breathless. The bats came walking into the powder room one day as she sat there. Stunned. Amazed. Bewildered. And then they came from the bookcase during another time in her life. We zig zag through the stories of the bats. And where do all these bats come from. And why is there a series of unfortunate bat stories in this family. And aren’t we all a little batty anyway.

There are other “bat stories”. No not stories of bats. But ones she repeats. The stories of her youth and childhood. The ones that are emblazoned there in her mind. She grabs the photo album. We sit down side by side. And she shows me the pictures of us again. In Boston. I am two.

And I savor her narrative of this faded photograph album.

And listen to her telling of us.

As if it is the first time. Because like my visits to the spring. Her stories are always welcome and new. With an added piece of herself, folded into the telling. And if I listen with the ear of a child, I will walk away, wiser. Changed.

By the beauty of the repetition. And dementia loses another battle. And we are winners, again. We beat back the dark and stand in the light. And say “Wonderful story, mother. Tell us again.”

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