The Sentinel

I was there when the sun rose and watched it trim the horizon. The night wind kept me awake and swaying. Now, the sparrows sing as I gently swing to the breezes proffered me.

Somehow taller than yesterday, I can see a bit further. I bend towards the coming day, collecting the light. The arrhythmic pulse of beetles and alighting flying things courses through me.

The robin and the jay argue and flutter over nest placement. The stone path beside me stares upward in disbelief or ambivalence, I cannot tell the difference.

There will be others soon: Old ones that sit beneath me and drink in the silence. I understand the solitude. Young ones that run and squeal. I feel their joy.

Moments of complete stillness are rare and only abide in seconds. I hear them coming.

An end will come, pulled from the beginning of this day. A strand of light that dims and thins will precurse the wind turn. Stars beguile the sky.

I stand here, watching amidst the time and winds that move me.

*******

Written in response to #summerofprompts idea by Mary Biddinger.

Needlework

It is to admire, the dedication of Ireland to her writers and poets.

Stories and verse are held close and read in weekly doses.

The next writer featured from Oranmore or Kilmainham or Skibbereen.

All have something to be told.

Just as words born from Beckett and Heaney, Yeats and Tynan,

these are ancient and bold.

It is a patchwork stitched from ages of fabric and thread,

pierced with tales of loss and love and fairy trees.

Sometimes covered with gorse and rock, instead.

But almost always green and growing

beneath a cloudful blue, with the wind blowing.

Held fast in stone with those who’ve passed

or washed in crashing waves felt in the west.

Words that only come from those who live and die

stitched to their land with a needle through a feather in the sky.

hidden in sight

She likes to nest in the seasonal swag on our front door,

even with better natural options in the burning bush on the corner

or the Japanese maple in our neighbor’s yard,

our roosting house sparrow waits, en garde.

Perhaps it is the safety of a solid wall,

the camouflage of her twigs and grasses and straw

among the bundles of dried vine, hydrangea blossoms, glistening and false.

or this perfect window to a world as she “twee-deeps” her calls

Perhaps she shares some insight to other songbirds

hidden within the sound of her chirping words.

Water Cycle 2019 (after Newman)

What has happened down here with the climate change
Storms built in from the north and it started to rain.
Rained real hard and forever and a spell
And the bottoms filled up ‘round the lake at Dardanelle.

The river rose all day.
The river rose all night.
The bayous backed up in the flood.
Some bridges now are clean out of sight.
The river spread clear from the Ozarks to the Ouachitas,
Roaring water through the streets of Arkansas.

Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.
This is melted glacier water’s way.
The water cycle’s here to stay
Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.

The leader-man came down from that place he reigns
and a yes-man with an i-phone in his hand
The leader-man says, yes-man isn’t it a shame
What the water has done.
Where’d it come from, yes, watch it rain.

Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.
This is melted glacier water’s way.
The water cycle’s here to stay.
Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.

*******
In homage to Randy Newman’s wonderful song “Louisiana 1927.” The song has been rattling in my head for several days, as I continue to see remarkable and sad footage from a region of the US that I am very familiar with. I do not mean to look upon other’s misfortunes lightly or with malice, but I felt the need to say something. I hope and pray for the safety and quick recovery of all of those in harm’s way.

Being Something Else

To wonder if our evolutionary
ancestors made such split second decisions:
not just to swim ahead in fear of survival
to evade a larger predatory fish,
but about whether to swim back a few feet
with purpose to look at a beautiful pebble,
or to creep to the water’s edge
and feel the silt and sand for a few moments,
then return to the deeper water.

Until one day,
it was past three seconds
in the sediment, and they decided
they were no longer fish.

On birthdays, memories, and top 5 lists

This past week I celebrated another birthday.  It was a milestone, being number 55. This year events coincided that made the day just a day.   My wife recently had back surgery and is recovering at home (doing well, but still has pain).  My eldest son is busy with work projects and a new baby.  My youngest son lives elsewhere and had to work (though he did call and we had a great conversation).  Good friends had other family obligations or were traveling.  I worked all day.  In fact, this is one memory of my birthday that will go down as being one of the most unremarkable.  For that alone, I will probably always remember it.

I will count the small kindnesses/gestures along the way:  The balloons shared by coworkers who recently turned 55 this month and like to tease each other about who is older.  We now have a special club – and I will always get used balloons because of it.  The blueberry pie made for me by a family friend who was looking in on my wife as she recuperates.  The phone call from my youngest son to wish me a happy birthday. The adorable phone call from my parents singing “happy birthday” in different keys.  Note:  My parents are career musicians and are never off-key.  Greetings shared on social media (FB) from friends and family – far and wide- hoping that I had the greatest day – the best day.   Yet, it was just a day, and I guess there is nothing wrong with that.

I reflected on past birthdays  and wondered what made a day the best day – the greatest day.  I’m not sure I have the answer, but I did dredge up some good memories of birthdays.

  1.  On my eleventh birthday, I received my first vinyl album as a gift from my parents.  It was Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles.  I had recently been introduced to their non-mop-top music by a school friend, and was immediately smitten with the lyrical genius of John Lennon on I am the Walrus.  It would be the first of many vinyl albums I would receive on my birthdays/Christmases.
  2.  On my 13th birthday, I had a sleepover party with 8 friends. I think this was my first and only sleepover birthday party. We ate hotdogs and hamburgers, played badminton, wiffle-ball and touch football, then roamed around the neighborhood after dark – playing  ghost in the graveyard.
  3. On my 27th birthday, I received my PhD.
  4. For my 40th birthday,  my wife purchased third base line tickets to a AAA baseball game in our city.  We went with some dear friends (one each of our children share a birthday) we had recently reconnected with.
  5.  On my 50th birthday, I was traveling in Germany with my eldest son and my father.  We were in Nuremburg on that day and visited Coburg Castle.  Facebook likes to remind me of that day every year and I smile.

There are memories of other birthdays,  but all the things that make days special are there in that list: meaningful gifts and gestures, landmark events, good food and fellowship, and exciting adventures in new places.

They are still just days – though,  and I hope you have a great one.

 

 

 

quietness

It is  her quietness that fells me;

my mind, last uninvolved in the world –

now filled with an aubade, the chirping rhythm of songbirds.

The deep breathing of her sleep –

Coming to, a morning of whispers

and ascending light on the far wall

here holds a new frame of reference

and rushes in a new momentary silence

at its crescendo.