Sweet Apples

Three apple trees.
Due date approaching.
Branches loaded with fruit,
over-ripe ones on ground
sickly sweet with buzzing bees.
Fresh picked apples brought inside,
peeled carefully, cut in halves,
sliced after cores are tossed.
Seasoned with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
they’re left to sit, making their own juice.
I move the rolling pin over the dough,
stretching it carefully into shape, leaning in
as close to counter as my swollen belly allows.
And then I feel it. Shirt lifted, I look…..
our soon-to-be little one is rolling too.
Crusts placed gingerly in aluminum pie pans
spicy scented apple mixture poured into tins.
Butter pads scattered on top, then top crust placed.
Crimping dough I smile, remembering.
Yesterday I folded sweet little undershirts,
cloth diapers, and placed them just so
on shelf in second-hand bassinette.
Pies made, into the freezer they go.
All the preparations done, we wait.
Iowa’s winter won’t seem so harsh this year.
We’ll have that heavenly apple aroma
as one of our pies bake,
and we’ll be holding a tiny baby boy or girl
ever so closely in our arms.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Kim asks us to consider fruit….pick a fruit…..what does it remind us of. What is it like? Describe it.
Immediately our apple trees came to mind from when we lived in rural Iowa. And then memories came flooding back. These were the days when we went to the dr. to find out if we were pregnant. And the only gender reveal was when the baby was born. Our daughter was born after I’d frozen our apple pies for the winter – she’s now 46!

Lesson in Timing

Diapers, bedtime stories,
Christmas stockings.
Driving them to lessons,
reading report cards.
Wound up like a top
I whizzed through the arcane.
Now in my golden years
I think back and realize.
I should have paid more mind.
The arcane was indeed
the miraculous.

Written for Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I’m hosting and ask people to include the word “wound” or a form of the word in a poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Notice that “wound” is a homograph. There are two pronunciations and each has a different meaning: He suffered a wound in battle. VS She is wound up like a top. Folks are free to use either pronunciation/meaning or both! If using both, their poem must still consist of exactly 44 words, not including the title.

Photos are of our children who are now 45 and 46! And yes that’s me, about forty years ago!

Bridges

She crossed a bridge with the utmost faith
knowing her husband, gone so long,
and her Lord would be on the other side.
We who wait in this waystation
bid her farewell and rest
and we move on as we must.

Sometimes a bridge is like a catapult,
a sudden bolt from here to there.
Others seem miles long
as we cross treacherous waters,
painful steps, unsure of where they lead,
straining to make the span longer still.

I stand outside tonight,
staring at the stars above our universe.
I wonder and I hope.
Peace and unconditional love
must surely have met you
as you knew it would,
when you crossed over to the other side.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today, Merril talks about bridges and asks us to either write a poem in a particular form, or to somehow write about bridges. This poem is dedicated to my sister-in-law Starr. We lost her on April 10th. She and I were planning on my visiting in July….it was not to be. I shall miss her. I do miss her.

nee Gruenwald

Adopted tradition,
forest bathing.
Greening in serenity
she lives her name.

Dedicated to my dear friend Kenji Kojima and written for Day 14 at NaPoWriMo where we are prompted to write a poem that delves into the meaning of either our first or last name. In German, my maiden name Gruenwald means green forest.

Japanese culture includes the practice of forest bathing, shinrin-yoku (shrinrin means forest and yoku means bath). I have always felt at peace walking in the midst of trees.

Photo taken during our time in Ireland.

Between Here and There

What, cruel fate?
When body ages naturally,
stooped and frail but moving still,
enjoying time with family and friends,
you dare to strike unexpectedly?

You send blood careening to skull
where corpuscles wreak havoc,
inflict destruction without mercy.
Life gasps bereft of speech, bereft of steps.
Minimal movement left, only on left side.

Now dear Starr, comes time to leave,
the good life lived.
Sustained by faith,
your one love gone far too soon,
waits impatiently beyond.

Ascend into the universe,
soar upon angel’s wings.
Painful our goodbyes
though we understand your need,
your exhaustion, your readiness.

Your body upon its own journey,
earthly path to far past stars.
We hold your hand, not to tether you.
Rather to show our love, provide comfort,
an assuring touch in this transition time.

And when you are gone from here, 
body spent, spirit uplifted, 
you will be here with us
and simultaneously there.
Forever imprinted upon our heart.

This is dedicated to my sister-in-law Starr and her family. Starr, eighty-three, entered hospice this past weekend. She has five children, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She lost her husband, my wonderful brother, to a massive heart attack when he was only fifty-one. We shall all miss her terribly.

Written for dVerse where today Grace hosts with a prompt entitled “The Body and Poetry.”

Also included in NaPoWriMo Day 8 – National Poetry Writing Month – where the challenge is to write a poem every day in April.

Light at the end of the tunnel….

Rusty, stiff, unwilling introvert
this Covid-confined self.

Like a long steel girded tunnel
beam after beam
day after day
sameness leads nowhere
stretches far ahead,
farther than the mind can tolerate.

Until science leaps through hoops
crosses finish line,
wins trophy emblazoned HOPE.
Elixir in a sterilized needle.
Shots into arms engage wills
energizes souls.

Dim light,
once far beyond the grid
glimmers, brightens,
glows, grows.
Lights up faces around the world.
Emergence is near.

Written for Day 4 NaPoWriMo. The prompt is to use an image from Liminal Spaces@SpaceLiminalBot as motivation for a prompt. I chose the image above.

Taken too soon . . .

My friend, Louise.
Gregarious, always moving, always engaged.
She strode through life like she owned it
doing good for others, singing, laughing.
Pain from a pulled muscle slowed her a bit,
but she kept hiking, bicycling,
eagle watching along the Iowa River,
until she could ignore the pain no longer.

Cancer. A word. Not a sentence in her mind.
She fought. God how she fought.
Refused to be forced over the edge.
She took everything they had
and asked for more. Bring it on!
She told me, “I’m not afraid of dying.
I just don’t want to.”
Steps slowed. Belly bloated. Scalp exposed.
But she trekked on. Reached the fringe of living.

She  never acknowledged it. Would not let it win.
“My head’s freezing but doesn’t this hat look divine?”
She grabbed every filament of hope
no matter how thin. She held on for dear life.
Until one night as the household slept,
a kind ethereal spirit appeared beside her bed.
It spoke gently, words riding on the breeze
that floated in from her open window.

“It’s not like a high mountain top towering over a rough sea.
It’s simply a turn in the road.  
Hold my hand and I’ll walk you there.”
And quietly, in the middle of the night, she did.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today our prompt is to consider the edges and the fringes. We may if we wish, write a poem that contains the word “edge.” Photo is of my dear friend, Louise. She died in 2018 after a 2+ year battle with ovarian cancer.

Junie’s House

I remember Junie’s house. She was my best friend until we moved away when I was in third grade. I remember her house as comfortable. A heated enclosed front porch held all her well-used dolls and dress-up clothes. Her grandma always sat in the living room in an old wooden rocker. She was tiny, silent and mysterious to me. Junie’s big dining room was crammed full by just three things: an old upright piano with lots of sheet music on its top, a huge dining room table covered in papers and books and magazines, and a large sidebar that had mail on it and a mish mash of other things. The kitchen was huge. I was entranced by the modern washing machine and dryer next to the big gas stove. That was the only washer and dryer I’d ever seen – until we moved to our new house. Junie had a special white metal chair at the table. It sat her up high and was battered and dented. I was always jealous of it when I had to sit on a regular chair on top of books. Junie’s mother, Bertha, was my mother’s best friend. I remember her in the kitchen, wearing an apron around her ample waist, always happy. She made yummy pb&j sandwiches and cut off all the crusts for us. Junie shared a bedroom with her older sister. First door on the right when you got upstairs. There was a dressing table between the two twin beds, covered with Auberdeen’s lipsticks, dried corsages, and fingernail polish bottles. And strangely, I remember the doorknobs in her house. They were big and white and looked like china to me. I have no idea what the doorknobs in my own house looked like.

I have no photos of Junie’s house; nor did my mother. I find it interesting that I remember it in so much detail. And that I use the word “comfortable” to describe it. But that’s in juxtaposition to my mother’s tiny glass animal collection on display in our dining room and my collection of story book dolls kept on glassed in shelves in my bedroom.

winter storm rages –
farm cat beckoned into house
turns back to old barn

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I host and ask people to “travel down memory lane” with a simple exercise. Close your eyes for a few moments and go back in time to your earliest memories NOT recalled by virtue of a photo or family lore. Now start jotting them down. You’ll be surprised what you come up with. When I first did this exercise, I actually drew out what the first house I lived in was like: rectangles for rooms. Then I labelled them: my room, parents’ room, brother’s room, living room, dining room, linen closet in hall — and suddenly I remembered climbing up in there to hide from my mom! After jotting things down, choose one memory to share.
Remember, a haibun is: 2 or 3 paragraphs of succinct prose that must be true (cannot be fictional), followed by a haiku that is somehow related to the prose and includes a seasonal reference.

Photo is one of the few I have of me and my friend Junie. Junie is on the left. An interesting fact we found out about 5 years ago when we reunited after some 60+ years, we were married on the same date! That’s a Tiny Tears doll she’s holding. Anyone remember those?