On this day . . .

This early morning, Thanksgiving day
before the dawn is bright,
I contemplate by candlelight
our family so afar.

Quiet am I now, as memories come and go.
Travel to another state, the table set for many.
Generations past. Grandchildren now grown.
Scenes of happiness and laughter, dancing in my head.

Sun now risen, our day to share begins.
Warmly we embrace, so thankful for each other.
Later we shall sit to sing our family’s table grace.
Only two place settings, two voices raised in song.

Thanksgiving 2020’s essence remains the same,
thankfulness for God’s abundant blessings.
Unique this year, we also have requests.
We pray for more kindness in our troubled world
and healing in these Covid times.

Shared with dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe, and my friends and family, on this Thanksgiving day.

Rubicund Me Rosy Red

Christmas is red,
with or without snow.
I am tone deaf but rosy carols come naturally.
Heart blooms musically as cheeks blush rouged.
Passed in ’98, mother’s memory crimson bright,
tinsel lover carefully silvered red bauble balls.
Red skirt paled beneath gauzy apron always smudged
snowy confectioner sugar streaks and gravy tracks.
Life’s red blood stopped as father’s bubble lights died.
Mulled wine evokes spiced rubicund scent.
Red hot ire most of the time creamsicles to softer pink.
Passion flames blend to ever-companion,
berry bright books and lover in my bed.
Down comforter snuggled save cold red nose,
which brings me back to Rudolph.
Christmas is red.

Today Grace hosts dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She is teaching us about synesthesia, a “neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences of a second one.” Today, we are focusing on Grapheme Color Synesthesia, the most widely studied and common type of synesthesia.

For today’s prompt, we are to write about color from the perspective of a synesthete. Pick one color or several colors and create our own dictionary of color. What I chose to do was write in a stream-of-consciousness format, reacting to the color red. Photo is Christmas tree of my childhood. My mother loved tinsel.

A Time to Cherish

November winds strip trees of autumn glory.
Squirrels scamper in fallen leaves,
seeking nuts for winter stash.
We come inside, to this warm home
many of us coming from miles away.
We reconnect, play with little ones,
share new stories and old ones too.
We talk of elders who for so many years
graced the adult table when we were young.
This feast we put upon the table today
turkey, dressing, and all the fixings
cause for joy.
But the real feast is so much more.
It is the sharing, the sitting with,
the laughter and the caring.
It is in the actual gathering.
Our family in thanksgiving,
witness to our love.

Sanaa is hosting Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets across the globe. She asks us today to think about what November means to us. Sadly, because of Covid, this will be the first time in fifty years, we will not travel to Chicago to be with our extended family for Thanksgiving. We miss them. Illustration: Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, Freedom from Want, which is in public domain.

Love Is . . .

Just twenty months apart, they grew up together. Whispered secrets through a grate between their bedroom walls. Shared stories at supper time. Shared chores on family camping vacations. One tent for the four of us. Four small blue canvas chairs always set up by the campfire site. We sat together talking. Sometimes stared at stars and moon; watched ember sparks glow. They always slept soundly when the lantern was doused, even in their teenage years. Cocooned in sleeping bags.

Years later, they live six-hundred miles apart. Raising their families. Busy with life. Those starry nights are part of who they are. Like deep and long roots sustaining the stately oak, those special times inform how they define family. I wonder if in their dreams, they sleep with the moon shared between them still. Far apart, but always akin.

Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, Merril is hosting and asks us to include the line “In their dreams, they sleep with the moon” in a story or memoir (some type of prose; cannot be poetry). The line is from Mary Oliver’s Death at Wild River.

To Everything There is a Season

City folk turned country dwellers
we weathered through the seasons.
First-time home-owners on thirty acres,
we rented out our fields.
Watched corn and wheat planted,
then flourish in hot Iowa sun.

Harvest seasons came and went.
Like shapeshifters,
acres changed their landscaped views.
Plant, tend, reap, rest.
We marked off years waiting,
hoping for a blooming of our own.

And then, pregnant with expectation
we watched my belly grow,
just as the wheat and corn grew tall.
Similar to mother earth that year,
we gave birth, finding sustenance
in the fruits of our labor.

And then one bright September day
we brought our daughter home.
Stood blinking from the sun’s glare
holding her up amidst the fields,
thankful for new life
in this, our season of joy.  

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets across the globe. Today, Rose is guest hosting and titles her prompt “Waiting on Wheat” – asking us to somehow write about wheat within our poem. Photos are from our homestead in Iowa, in 1974. Yep – that’s me with our daughter on the day I came home from the hospital. In those days, it was common to stay in the hospital for 5 days! Even after a normal birth. My how times have changed! The title for the poem comes from Ecclesiastes in the Bible and was also turned into a wonderful song written by Pete Seeger, first recorded in 1959.

Catharsis 1906

Ship of dreamers
homeland left behind.
We cross vast seas,
anxiety churned by pitching waves.

Land nears.
Hope rekindled,
we stand tall,
crane to see her torch.

Hands clasped, excitement peaks.
Grinning widely we circle round,
dance exuberantly
as she comes into view.

We are joyful Swedes,
ready to begin anew.

IMG_4866

Brian Miller, founder of dVerse, helps us celebrate the pub’s 8th anniversary today by providing the prompt. He wants us to capture a moment in our poem, reminding us that moments come with a context. The happenings before and after the moment. Today I write motivated by a Hallberg family photo, taken in 1906, at the moment Hjalmer Hallberg and friends saw the Statue of Liberty, when coming to this country from Sweden. I write in the first person, trying to imagine this moment.

One Shining Moment

Saturday, October 19th, 2013. A beautiful crisp fall day. Our condominium complex drive was cheerfully planted with bright cushion mums. Little did we know in July 1997, when we moved from Iowa to Boston, how important that housing choice and this date would become.

Our condominium high rise building is across the street from side entrances to Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the premiere healthcare facilities in the United States. As some of you already know, on Monday, October 14th, 2013, my husband suffered a six-minute cardiac arrest in front of our building. He was rushed by ambulance to MGH; put into an induced coma on life support. They lowered his body temperature and gave him a paralytic drug to keep him absolutely still, trying to minimize brain damage.

On Tuesday evening, October 15th, his body temperature was slowly raised as he was weaned from the paralytic drug. We were told he may or may not wake up. If he did, it would not be for at least 72 hours and, in all likelihood, he would not be himself. Against all odds, he woke up at 9 PM that night. Wednesday morning October 16th, he was taken off life support, intubation tube removed, and he correctly answered all questions posed to him by a neurologist. On Thursday, October 17th, he was moved to the cardiac step-down unit, out of intensive care. Friday, October 18th, he had a defibrillator implanted. Saturday, October 19th, he was released from the hospital. And in one shining moment, with our son and daughter on either side of him, he walked back home. Back across the street and back into our lives.

dark clouds dissipate –  –
honeysuckle blooms again
bees hum in bright sun

Photo is a bit blurry as I was crying tears of joy when I took it.
Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today I’m hosting and asking folks to write about one shining moment in their lives.

. . . and he became a man

One last moment,
I just needed one.

My son,
your wedding so beautiful.
You pledged a lifetime of love
to this wonderful woman at your side
and I watched, tears in my eyes.

My son,
I looked on, so very proud of you.
Your compassion, caring,
your talent, accomplishments.
All things good.

My son,
I knew you must leave
cleave unto your love.
I knew that
and I looked on lovingly.

And when the ceremony was done
suddenly, in that crowded room,
just before the photos began
you came to me
overcome by emotion.

You were in my arms
sobbing
and I flashed back.
Holding infant-you to my chest
comforting, nurturing.

And then you pushed back
asked for a tissue,
turned and walked to your wife.
And just like that,
you became a man.

But you’d given me,
that one last moment.

Day 29 in National Poetry Writing Month. Today Toads asks us to write about something that signaled almost the end. This was an amazing moment in my life….one that I remember distinctly and that my son, to this day, has no recollection of. For me, I am still grateful I had this one last moment with him as my young son. And by the way, he is a very happily married man with his bride/wonderful woman by his side and three delightful children.

…and who are we, if not similar to

. . . those hands, those fingers, that face.
Those eyes,
seeing me as I see you.

Genetic relatives
mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda
lowland gorillas in western Africa

and me. Visiting you.
Those hands, those fingers, that face.
We are so alike. Akin.

And in this new Corona world
I feel more akin,
stumbling in my own shrinking habitat.

Have we plundered too far?
Been too sure of our advanced selves?
Has our arrogance been revealed

by a novel virus
that recognizes humans
only as we truly are?

Too smug beings
who caged others
and now it’s payback time.

Photos taken in Washington DC, May 2019: my husband’s hands (in black and white); and the hands and face of a gorilla at the National Zoo.

Poem written for day 24 in National Poetry Writing Month. Toads  asks us to write about “nature’s wonders . . . how everything is connected.” 

Lest someone be offended by this post, please know I do not take this virus lightly. It is a horrific disease that is affecting so many people globally. My heart goes out to all those affected, including those who work so others might live a daily life. Stay safe everyone. I pray daily for a vaccine that this scourge may never happen again.

Oh Brother, Dear

He was nine years older.
His daddy went off to war,
I was the afterthought.

I was the tag-along
the have-to-take-along,
the dawdling one behind.

I delivered his eulogy
unbelievably far too soon.
Mom and dad sat numb.

All these years later
they wait for me again,
resting on a grassy hill.

Not yet, I whisper.
Not yet.

Day 16 of National Poetry Writing Month and today Toads asks us to write about something that stems from the word “remains” — the word itself does not need to be included. This poem is also posted to dVerse, the virtual pub for poets’ Open Link Night which I host today. Poets may post one poem of their choice, no particular form or prompt. dVerse opens at 3 PM Boston time today.