In Your Own Words — Restoration (A Guest Post On The Blog of Charity Singleton Craig)

Join me, please as I share my word of the week Restoration as part of a beautiful series hosted by my writer/friend/blogger Charity Singleton Craig.

Every other Thursday, Charity invites writers to writer about their word of the week. Mine,

Restoration — noun

the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.

the act of brining back something that existed before

the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

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Restoration

(Fly with me over to Charity’s. It is a beautiful place filled with her words and the words of her favorite writers.  And my poem is featured there today. What an honor. Join us...Click the link and you’ll be there by the magic and mystery of the internet)

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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

Hiding Out In The Poetry Section of Barnes and Noble

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Hiding Out In The Poetry Section Of Barnes and Noble

You always knew you liked to touch and feel
It’s the eyes of the fingers that transmit the most
Information
Via the tactile sensory processes

And so there is something far too abstract
About a place called Amazon that sells books
Many of yours come from there
Conveniently delivered to your doorstep

So don’t complain
But you can’t run away from a world that is throwing
Daggers your way
And hitting a perfect bullseye
Everytime
Into the arms of Amazon

But you can slip into the quiet
World of books
Row on row
Air saturated in Columbian coffee beans
And the sound of the old school musicals
On the intercom system
So loud you could not dose off
If you had just taken an Ambian
Before crossing the threshold

No it is sensory overload
There in the corner by the bathrooms
Life in full swing
Grand Central Station has nothing on
This purveyor of poetry

To your right is T.S. Eliot and right in front are
Wendell Berry and Billy Collins
And Maya Angelou and the whole section is so small
You want to weep
Because you know that poetry placed right beside the bathroom
Is more than ironic
It seems cruel and condescending
But why state the obvious
When you are discussing
Poetry after all
That part you should have left out

The genre needs no defending
Don’t even go there
You have come to hide
And there is not enough real estate
To even hide
Much less cry
So you read and keep your eyes dry
Because if you soil the book
You’d have to buy the book
You adhere to old mores of retail protocol

So you wonder about this height of irony
This fact that
You have just ordered a book from Amazon
From your phone
Delivered to your Ipad
From the poetry section at Barnes and Noble
And you think to yourself
Life is odd, today
Ridiculous and strange

So you wander to the periodical section
And eavesdrop on the lady who is caring for
Her husband
With Parkinson’s
You can’t meet the lonely in the halls of Amazon
So you learn of his pain and hers and where she is from
And where she is going
And how no one has ever heard of a man having shingles for
Four years
Not you, not her, and no doctors
And you want to weep again and she looks away and tells you how hard it is
But she’s making it
And you talk to her, struggling to determine who needs whom
The most

And suddenly your problems

Are left for a minute
Back in the poetry section
Beside the bathroom
Where the air
Thankfully smells like coffee
And the poets get two small sections of books

And life today doesn’t seem fair
But it is good
And you try to rate your pain
And wonder how she’ll make it through the days
Of shingles and Parkinson’s and doctors
And she was from Michigan
(Might as well have been Siberia)

And poetry’s problems pale in comparison
So you buy a magazine
Swing through the door of the big book store
And go home to read “Love, Etc.” by Barkat
And you weep

Tears, mingled rivulets in three’s
One for the man from Michigan
One for love
And one for pain
Both the present and the future

Grateful that your tears
Cannot ruin the titanium cover of
“Love, etc.”
At which point you are sick of irony

The Letters

wpid-2013-05-09-14.58.40.jpgTwo letters came in the box on the road
the one that is accustomed to holding no great thing.
Unless you count taxes and coupons among the great things in God’s creation.
Some how no, though Caesar needs his due too.

Two letters came in the box, diverging days apart, like Frost’s roads
Our only choice was to open and savor and feel changed
By the power of words written by hand, delivered by snails and placed in a box on the road.

Moments are simple that way.
A child old enough to go to war and vote says this was the best one he ever got.
Words like that grab you
Pinch like ill-fitting shoes, a wake you up pinch.
And shout you have that too, dormant, laying there.

Two letters came but some words came by social media too
Choked me up, bright red flush came over me
Words can do that
Someone called me a name, a good one
Undeserving but I wore it around the house for awhile like a royal robe
Put the crown on too
Realized she didn’t really know me as well as she thought.

Some words touched someone the other day, they were true
The ones I wrote about the man who grows art with thorns in his yard.
He uses dirt but he has the Louvre of roses over there
And I didn’t even know it until
Well I read some of his words about it
Asked if I could stop by.
A few words later and I have all these photographs of miracles
He grew with God, art in the yard, co-creator he and God.

He just gave her twenty dollars
For her life’s work and ministry
He didn’t have a lot knocking around his money clip
It never was about the money anyway
But she sat down and wrote a two page letter

A letter ended up in my box
And I wanted to weep but couldn’t
I have to be tough these days, so I don’t leak all over every one
Letters of gratitude are still in vogue
And manners are important but matters of the heart
Well they trump it all.
And twenty dollars really can matter
And it’s all about the friendship that started over how we might help a little. A very little bit.

And the funny thing is the lady that brings all of the snail mail
Well she broke me up, tore me up
She wrote a little piece and put it in the box
She covered us with forty seven cents and she wanted her money back
She did us a service and she wanted to be repaid
So I pulled out my Crane stationery and thanked her properly for the loan
Because it could have been her last red dime.

Because she brings good gifts.
Like the one that the teacher saved for seven years
The one the eighteen year old who could be a soldier got
The best mail ever
Because teachers and letter writers change lives
She said remember when I asked you in fifth grade to write a letter to yourself in seven years, well here it is.

And we’d lost two pets and his favorite food is still tacos and his brother isn’t married
But we see the value in loving in the simple
And holding a child’s letter for seven years

And if you want to tell someone they are a good role model you might
make their day
or tell a man you want to see his garden
or just say something to someone

Chances are you
might get filed away in a mental memory
make a young man smile
or make a new friend, a man who didn’t know anyone really saw all the beauty
or bless a  woman who thought she wasn’t getting it all right
or a mail carrier who doesn’t have forty seven cents to lend out.

That long arm and those long fingers have work to do.
Go tell someone something that might change their heart
Or mind.

And sofa cushions are good bankers
For investments in people

And I talk to myself when I need a good talking to.

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