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?

On the Occasion of Seven Republicans Voting Guilty

I remember Mrs. Jester’s house.
Reddish paint, curtains always open.
Mostly I remember her apple tree
blossoms bountiful,
sturdy limbs to climb.

That house has not aged well.
Foundation cracked,
three-quarters sinking low.
Panes of glass missing,
cracked or in shards.

Apple tree now diseased,
fallen waste dead at base,
putrefied in stinking mold.
All branches save one,
diseased from within.

Seven fruit, avoiding pestilence,
catch a bracing breeze,
land far away from tree.
Far from decaying rot,
their goodness intact.

Children on a walkabout
give wide room that rotting tree,
but see the golden orbs
and recognize their worth.
They stuff their pockets full.

At home the fruit is buffed and cored,
cut in quarters and enjoyed.
Children, wise beyond their years,
save seeds to grow again.
The youth shall become the sowers
and goodness shall survive.

Ode to the Aperture

Aperture, open-shut
time frozen in space,
minute details embraced.
Butter-colored flower filaments
crowned by mustard-yellow pollen.
Violas waving in purple-lemony shades.
Mother smiling back at me,
weeks before she died.
Father sits, infant twin
one-hundred years ago.
All long gone, but with me still.

Written for Quadrill Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Merril asks us to use the word “embrace” (or a form of the word) in our poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Pub opens at 3:00 Boston time. Drop by! All are welcome.

Aperture refers to the opening of a camera lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. Around 1880 photographers realized that aperture size affected depth of field.

I have old black and white framed photographs on our living room shelf (some of them shown above). They are family treasures.

We take photography for granted these days….clicking away with our iPhone, deleting what we don’t want. Storing the rest in cyberspace. I remember when I had to take a roll of film to the drug store; wait a week or two to pick up my photos; and then be so disappointed in the quality of so many. What a world of convenience we live in! And thank goodness for the photographers of olden days!

Just sitting here thinking . . .

Reflecting today – don’t know why exactly.
Just am.
Wondering . . .
who has known me my entire life?
Requires they be older than me.
Parents, brother, grandparents,
aunts, uncles, five cousins.
But all departed from this earth.
Have I known me all my life?
Earliest memories,
not gleaned from photographs?
Me at age five.
So no,
I haven’t known me all my life.
Turns out, no one on this earth has.
Odd.
Life is just odd.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. I’m hosting OLN today. That means folks can post any one poem of their choosing: no prompt, form or topic requirements. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come on over and imbibe some words!

Photos in collage: Left to right top row – me with mom and dad; my folks and my brother Chuckie (I called him that all his life) in summer; me and my brother before his high school graduation.
Left to right middle row: mom and dad; my gramma the year before she died; me as an infant.
Left to right bottom row: my brother and I not too many years before he died suddenly at age 51; my brother and I with our grandparents; me, mom, dad and Chuckie at my baptism. He was nine years older than me.

The ravages of war are sometimes steeped in silence . . .

Orderly spaced headstones
gleam pristine in morning sun.
Blood stains and broken bodies,
beneath the verdant green.

Stilled smile in photo frame
clutched to breast each night.
Bereft widow lies in bed,
his voice only within her head.

Stanley, called to World War II,
assigned to stressful desk job.
Safe, his thankful family thought,
gentle soul far from battle.

But war destroys in different ways.
Pressure built. Commands grew harsh.
Time, country, lives at stake.
Stanley broke . . . mind imploded.

Other soldiers moved forward,
Stanley retreated inward.
Into the mind’s maze.
once in – no way out.

His world, one room. His eyes vacant.
No words. Only rare mutterings.
His way lost in the war,
once a brilliant mind, is where?

Weekly family visits
in his once was home.
Devoted family tried
tried to talk, to share.

You bring me to be with you
but Iamnot here

I amnotanywhere
Iwillneverbeeagain


The cacophony of war –
sometimes evident
in the silence we see.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today Bjorn asks us to consider the poetry of war.
My first thought when I read this prompt, was of Arlington Cemetery. And I thought of the hushed silence in that sacred space. And then I thought of my husband’s Uncle Stanley who came back from World War II a different person. I am of the mind that war is hell . . . no matter one’s role in it.

Image from Pixabay.com