Lives in the Balance

We’d been aboard the cruise ship for fifteen days. This, the sixteenth, our last day prior to disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Relaxation our goal, we never got off the ship. We simply explored this glorious vessel. Marveled at her sculptures, paintings, photographic art; and her six fine dining rooms, each different in décor. We enjoyed delicious entrées and delectable desserts. Our stateroom had a king-size bed and large bathroom with rain shower and soaking tub.

And then, on this sixteenth day, the Captain’s announcement: There is a raft on our starboard side with sixteen refugees. We will remain near them for approximately three hours until the U.S. Coastguard comes to their aid. We are committed to the safety of everyone at sea. Through binoculars I watched a green rubber raft bobbing in white capped waves. Four oars floundered, trying to propel and steer the raft. Desperate people struggled to survive against the elements.

I’ve read articles, seen news clips, about refugees plodding across and through unforgiving terrain. But nothing compared to seeing this from my cruise ship balcony. The juxta-positioning of my life at that moment, the privileged lives of everyone on the cruise ship, to what was happening before my eyes. Heart-wrenching. It started to drizzle and a rainbow appeared, arcing over the raft. I immediately thought of it as a metaphor for hope. These people, hunched against the wind, shoving four wooden paddles through the teeming ocean, desperate to overcome the insurmountable, seeking a better life, with God knows what going through their minds. And me standing there, so privileged, that I could formulate poetic thoughts and think metaphorically.

fire hydrants gush
kids splash, jump in ghetto streets –
country club pool soothes

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday. Frank asks us to write something in relation to Thanksgiving or being thankful. We just returned from a Caribbean cruise on Celebrity’s newest ship, the Apex. The ship is stunningly beautiful. On the last day at sea, what I’ve written about in this haibun happened. Watching the refugees, I suddenly understood how privileged I am. I prayed for these poor souls, hoping they survive their treacherous journey. We could only surmise they left Cuba to get to Florida’s shores. Watching them, from a cruise ship balcony, I realized how fortunate and how blessed I am. Thankful for every day. Thankful for freedom. Thankful for a warm bed and food. Privileged to afford a cruise. Humbled to watch this scene unfold.
Photos all taken on our cruise.

Marking October Fourteen

There is a pain too raw.
Too personal to write down.
Wrapped in the shrouds of death
it came too near,
but for angels along the way.

Pain of illness, threat of death,
most astute tutors of life.
Love every mundane moment,
cherish them as a gift.
Celebrate every dawn.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Ingrid asks us to consider pain and how we can come out on the other side of it stronger. Photo of dawn from one of our many trips.

Here versus There

Outside my window
another space
another sense of time.

Here, I am nesting
cocooning
mundaning.

I walk slowly
share quiet space,
my spouse smiles at me.

There in that place,
life and death rush through
like katabatic winds.

Patients arrive
fever burned eyes,
gasping, fearful, alone.

Nurses, doctors, attend.
Frenetic patient care,
selfless dedication.

Here. There.
Identical clocks,
hands moving in sync.

But sense of time?
There versus here?
High gear to the extreme.

I live across the street from Massachusetts General Hospital, a major care giver for Covid-19 patients in Boston. Photos taken from our windows. God bless all who are working on the front lines in these challenging times. And may all my readers stay safe and healthy.

Written for day 5, national poetry month. Prompt is given from Imaginary Garden with Toads. We are to write about the intersection of time and space.

For Kenji

‘Tis legendary
not ordinary,
‘cross sea.
Firm friendship, nary
time’s adversary.
To be
older, not wary.
Smiles luminary,
esprit.

Inspired by my recent visit in Yokohama with Kenji Kojima. Photos of Kenji and I in our 1965 senior high school album. And a new photo of us taken together last week in Yokohama, Japan.

Kenji was an AFS exchange student from Japan during our 1965 senior year at Waukegan Township High School in Illinois. We had not seen each other since 1965! The years didn’t matter. The distance didn’t matter. The friendship held true and we enjoyed two wonderful hours together reminiscing, talking about our families and grandchildren. What an absolute privilege to see him again.

Poetry form is the Lai: 9 lines with the following syllabic and rhyming restrictions:

Line 1: 5 syllables, rhyme word a
Line 2: 5 syllables, rhymes with a
Line 3: 2 syllables, rhyme word b
Line 4: 5 syllables, rhymes with a
Line 5: 5 syllables, rhymes with a
Line 6: 2 syllables, rhymes with b
Line 7: 5 syllables, rhymes with a
Line 8: 5 syllables, rhymes with a
Line 9: 2 syllables, rhymes with b

Morning

I wake up first. Our pattern for the past forty-six years. Turning my head, I see the love of my life. He sleeps, small puffs of air escaping from his lips. I smile recalling early days when he rocked our children, sang softly and soothed them into their dreams. His beard is white now. His hair more sparse than when the alarm clock jarred us into busy career filled days. I am content. I know we will soon be talking, laughing and loving, thankful for this day.

sun rises indolently
touching cloud puffs with rising blush
a new day to love

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Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, a virtual pub for poets, where Grace asks us to write about an ordinary moment in our day, challenging us to find the “extra” in that moment.  A haibun is a paragraph of prose, written in the first person and is a true personal narrative; followed by a haiku that is complementary. Photo from Provincetown, MA.