Her Leaving Time

She’d been left behind by her son and husband many years before. Left to grow old without them. Legally blind. Too much effort to live. Too many pills to remember each morning. Each night.

Now, this cold autumn afternoon, lying in a hospital bed, she simply said Lillian, I’m tired. And I knew. I bent down, leaned close to her ear and whispered. I told her it was all right. Find the light, mom. They’re waiting for you. And she suddenly sat up and smiled. Eyes bright. A broad big smile. And then she flopped back and lay still. The kind male nurse who’d been at her side looked across the bedside at me. He simply nodded. And I nodded back.

golden amber leaves
blow off trees, hit closed windows
nature’s death displayed

Haibun written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Merril is our guest pub tender and asks us to write about a transition. A haibun is two or three short succinct paragraphs of prose (must be true) followed by a haiku that, in the traditional sense, contains a kigo (reference to a season).

Still Missing You

Charles Andrew Jr.
birthed before the War,
nine years my elder.

Took leave far too early
buried deep atop grassy hill,
mountain range across the way.

I see your image
every day,
looking out at me.

Framed and under glass,
always smiling.
Forever fifty-one.

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It was Quadrille Monday at dVerse. The prompt word  was “early” and somehow, I’m late to post for it!  Photo is my brother…..hard to believe he’s been gone almost 30 years.
Quadrille: a poem of exactly 44 words, sans title.

 

Apple Me Too Many

Farm house apple trees,
harvest never picks them clean.
Fruit rots ‘neath baring branches,
bees buzz drunkenly in mashed pulp.
Sickly sweet scent hovers,
annual fall perfume.

Gina is our guest host for today’s Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. He asks us to write about a scent we remember. Apple Me Too Many is drawn from my memories of living in a farm house on 30 acres of land in rural Iowa, from 1974 to 1976. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Treasured Kitsch

Mother’s treasured knick knack,
miniature rotary telephone.
Two metal pieces, one with delicate dial,
still turns by clumsy finger tip.
Second piece balances on first,
receiver, small enough I’m sure,
to span from fairy’s mouth to ear,
to listen and to talk.

Mother’s treasured knick knack,
best friend’s gift in ’37.
Yellowed fragile note,
pristine cursive of the day.
My dear sweet Helen,
Always remember,
girl talk makes our days go faster.
Love from Franny, forever.

Mother’s treasured knick knack
sits on dusty shelf,
beside great-grandmum’s cameo brooch,
glass hat pin
and wound-to-tight music box.
Worthless items today,
to you.
Priceless to me.

 

It’s Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Sarah is hosting and asks us to be mindful about a particular object….any object. Pick it up, examine it, write anything that comes to mind from it…and then from those thoughts, write a poem.

Bereavement

Evil incarnate soared that day
then plunged metal-searing hot,
into the hearts of thousands.
We reeled through dust laden,
tear and shock stained weeks –
searching, then praying
for departed souls.

Six-thousand-two-hundred-
and-four days have passed.
For many, all colored
by loss tinctured dawns.

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It’s Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets….and coincidentally, the 17th anniversary of 9-11. Amaya is hosting and asks us to go “on a loop.”  Return to a poem we wrote/posted on a previous September 11th and take a word or phrase from that poem to create a new one. We were in our beloved Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, on September 11th, 2016 — as we are today. I posted a poem then, Cape Cod Lure, that included the phrase “tinctured dawns” which is used again in this 9-11 commemorative poem. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Marengo Years

How did a city girl end up a high school English teacher in rural Iowa? From graduating in a class of eight-hundred-fifty, quick-stepping to Pomp and Circumstances so the procession wouldn’t last an hour; to senior class sponsor of thirty-two, holding students back until the prior one was all the way down the aisle and seated – so the band could play the entire song.

Town square on Main Street. No traffic lights. Elementary school kids on decorated trikes and bicycles in the high school homecoming parade. Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and drama club. Six-on-six girls’ basketball and a superintendent who sometimes wore bibber overalls. Houses with unlocked doors and party-line telephones.  Church cookbooks and pot-lucks. Friendly people always willing to share, listen, and lend a helping hand. My second time in high-school. More special than the first.

ten foot drifts that year
folks hunkered down waiting for plows –
farm cats warm in barns

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. It’s Tuesday Poetics and Amaya is hosting, asking us to remember our school days. Photo: Our rented farm house in rural Marengo, Iowa.

Come Inside My Haibun

He was an immigrant. A painter. A Swede who arrived at Ellis Island many years ago. I was privileged, as were many, to experience his journey in a most unlikely place. A basement room, in Chicago, Illinois.

Entering that underground space, we stepped onto a ship sailing across the mighty Atlantic. Sky cerulean blue overhead, dipped to meet the horizon, forever brightened by an invisible sun. Gulls hovered above waves rolling with white caps, dabs of paint that never splashed. We sat in the midst of many family celebrations, our chairs backed up against basement walls, as if leaning on Grampa Hallberg’s painted ship rails. A lifeless life preserver hung never-used, drawn not quite round.  It was a room like no other. It was the USS Sweden, frozen in time.

young beaver crosses pond
gathers sticks and stones and spring time mud –
journey revealed in lodge

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It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets and I’m hosting today – asking everyone to delve into the traditional … and at the same time, take us on a trip into an interior they remember from their past. A room they can recall.

The Haibun must include 2 or 3 tight paragraphs of prose describing the interior (cannot be fiction); followed by a traditional haiku: 5-7-5 or short-long-short in syllabic form; must be about nature; must include a kigo (reference to a season) and a kireji (a cut achieved by a hyphen, ellipsis, or punctuation mark, that shifts to an added insight within the haiku.

Photo: Grampa Hajalmer Hallberg on the left in 1972, two years before his death. He immigrated from Sweden in 1906 at the age of 22. He’s sitting in the basement he painted to remind him of his journey to America on the USS Sweden.

Dad, You’re in my Haibun

What is a venial sin? What is the Immaculate Conception? What are the Ten Commandments? What are the seven mortal sins?

As a young child, I had to memorize answers to Catholic Catechism questions before I could make my first holy communion. One of the greatest benefits I gained from my early Catholic education was the ability to memorize. I spouted off those answers quickly and matter-of-factly as my father patiently sat in his big green fake-leather chair, asking the questions. He never went to church – except for mother’s day, Christmas and Easter. Yet he sat patiently, testing me on my catechism questions.

I remember my father as undemonstrative. I don’t remember being hugged or hearing him say, “I love you.” But I understood years later. He showed his love in different ways. For example, listening to me spout off doctrine he didn’t believe. The one answer I parroted, but could never ever understand, and never dared to ask a nun or priest about, was the one that basically told me my father would go to hell because he didn’t believe. No way. He had the patience of Job. He was a good man. And he was my dad.

huge white pelican
rules of gravity be damned –
soars in autumn skies

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The White Pelicans migrate every fall to Florida. With a 9′ wingspan, they are one of the largest birds in North America. And they soar.
Amaya hosts dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets. She asks us to considerthe 7 deadly sins, and/or the 7 virtues. We may consider our relationship to them — or how they affected us at some point in our lives. I’ve written a haibun: 2 or 3 tight paragraphs of prose (must be true), followed by a traditional haiku.
Missing my dad….