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Sleigh Bells, read at the LaPointe Cousins reunion

Cousin Molly spoke of how we honor the memories of our loved ones like Great-uncle Charlie by passing on their names though we call our cousin Chuck instead of Charles or Charlie, by the recounting our memories of his humor, his light-footed dancing, his love of the ladies ( though he never married) and in my poem Sleigh Bells. (I didn’t catch that my iPad had shortened the name!). I read in a lovely shaded yard and was happy to share, even happier to sit back down after.

I realized that as happy as I am to be a poet, I am still reconciling the new and the old me as I continue to grow into myself. Insecurity and anxiety are part of our family legacy as well as the characteristics we fondly recall. I fight the impulse to duck my head and hide, to stand my full height among our family tree branches. I hear my mother asking if I have done the best I could. This wasn’t always true but it is something I strive for every day. It is all any of us can do. So thank you, those who listen and connect with my words. Thank you for being friends and family who support and care. That is a true legacy. Here again is my poem about Uncle Charlie.

Sleigh bells. 12-20-18

Echoing distant yet hauntingly close,
the ringing of sleigh bells
tickled my ears.
It’s been years since Uncle Charlie passed
yet I saw him tall against the snowy hills,
bundled thickly in woolen winter plaid,
vigorously shaking those big brass bells
a smiling imp of mischief,
his grin from ear to ear,
those famous Nelson ears,
a family legacy just as his humor.

Always ready with a joke for his great nieces and nephews,
urging us on to a second cookie
or helping of ice cream
as if daring mothers to deny his hospitality

which though they may have wanted to,

they never did.
He’d grown up on a fruit farm
when horses were standard transportation,
those bells part of his holiday celebration,
waiting for us to ask questions
so he could tell stories
of how it used to be.

The bells rang again
as his sleigh flew from the barn to the lane!
Merry Christmas, Uncle Charlie!
He’d have a great ride, I was sure
as my heart lifted high as the moon in the sky.
Old memories rose pungent from cedar and snow
as clear as stars hung from holiday thoughts
It’s true what they say,
all hearts do come home
at Christmas!

Rainy October Days

Gray, rainy days seem to automatically slow ones pace. Projects that require dry weather get postponed with a shrug that acknowledges nothing can be done about it so you move on in a different direction. Today, in the snug warmth of our home, I hit a wall and was unable to move forward.

It started with the rain. Then driving across the Grand River I thought about how often she had written about rivers. All kinds of rivers. Sultry, steamy, southern rivers hung with branches laced low with moss. Cool, northern rivers with secrets that carried you away or towards something. Just that quickly I was deluged with sadness, grieving for the loss of my friend, our friend.

Last week, she laughed with us. Drank her coffee and ate three chocolate chip cookies as usual. Wrote with us. Shared with us. Said goodbye as if next week was for certain. It wasn’t. Now our writing group and small town community join her family in remembering her and mourning her.

I listen to the rain hit the steel roof, steadily drumming, matching the sadness I feel. I’m just going to sit here a while and remember Katherine. She was quite a woman!

Sunday

A day of peace,

floating disconnected

from the business of the past.

Raindrops cling to black mesh screens

released from quiet gray skies,

my world washed clean of yesterday’s dust.

I’m ready to reflect

on last week’s goals attained,

releasing the self-induced stress

I carried.

I heal from the migraine,

the physical price I paid

but in the safety of retrospection

the cost was worth the pain,

the achievement worth the effort.

Monday drifts closer, gratefully not yet here,

the organizing of the day and next week

approaching but not imminent,

not near enough to threaten

my sanctuary Sunday.

I savor the kiss of coffee on my tongue,

the gift of homegrown melon

a benediction for my breakfast.

I write the feelings of my heart and soul,

as aware of the morning news

as I am the chatter of squirrels

muted in the background.

I am profoundly grateful

to be here in this moment,

loved and loving,

this my sermon to guide me forth

when life demands I leave

my holy place.

One more cup of coffee

before I put the china in the sink,

ready to face life with a wink.

One more cup to aid digestion and reflection,

nursing my psyche through realms

of peace and seas of tranquility.

one more cup of savoring

simple things and angel wings

while my heart sings,

thankful.

Steal me away from the humdrum and boring,

from responsibility and chores

that stifle and provoke me to snores.

Throw the bike into gear!

Let the tire spray stones

fan-tailing a trail behind us,

leaving the drive, the farm and the house

in our dust.

Take me down

narrow country roads dappled in shade,

clouds racing the bike overhead.

Let colors bleed together and blur,

the cycle a whirring of parts

stretching forward to answer my need.

Let me inhale green mown fields and corn tasseled high,

depths of brown soil dredged furrow deep.

Later I will sleep

but now I am wide awake, aware,

so alive, so high we fly,

so close, you and I,

almost as one!

Take me to a lake small and nameless

but cold and clear, reflecting sky blue,

room for two and a bottle of dew.

We’ll lay our faces up to the sun

and tickle our toes with grasses below.

Let the wind blow,

tangling hair and knotting dreams,

where everything is what it seems.

Take me! Take me now

before the world swallows me whole

and I cease to exist!

Take me away!

Keep me from fading

between black lines on gray paper,

the minutiae of minutes

threatening to consume my soul,

to suck me dry.

Ride with me!

Now!

One moment

One glance
where eyes meet
and hearts quicken.
One breath
an eternity
of sharing.
One smile
paired with its twin
hers to his,
knowing.
One dance,
embracing
within the music
only two may hear.
One love
melting two hearts,
speechless between beats,
infinity linking two souls
in a unity of one.

Captured Sunshine

Skies rest low, weighted with brilliant blue

as sunshine glows, growing yellows and greens

captured in fences.

In pauses between breaking weather

flowers rush to bloom, wherever there’s room,

seeming to rise between one breath and the next.

Defiantly they stand, bobbing in the breeze,

coloring the heart with hope against the odds

and seeding faith for what may follow.

All of Life’s Circle

All of Life’s Circle

He was Georgia born
midst red clay and sun,
shaded by pecan and peach trees
in the warm southern clime.
Michigan raised, he grew
into a son of the soil
and all things outdoors,
his mind fertile ground
for all that he learned
though the open window called
and the open door answered.
Caught in a gaze of cornflower blue
shaded by hair summer blonde
he traveled Oklahoma hills
gently rolling in green
to put down roots in pear and peach,
full circle
back to fruit trees
and rusty red dirt.

Just Because

Today I will drink my tea on the sun porch,
dreaming, seeming to flaunt the rainy day,
just because.

Today I will wear spring colors though the mercury slips
and my nose turns red
wishing for warmth in the chill of April
just because.

I will play with words
that hint and tease, just as I please
just because.

Once I was a child
and played by my parents’ rules,
just because that’s how it was.

I learned about God’s golden rule,
about playgrounds and schools,
about hard work and reward,
because that’s how life works.
Just because.

I learned about loneliness and disappointment,
about pride going before a fall
and getting back up to try, try again.
I learned to push forward towards the new
rather than live in the past.
Just because.

I learned to let ghosts fly by
instead of listening to whispers behind my back,
I learned how to be happy
because God doesn’t make junk.
Just because.

I’ve learned not to let the weight of care
leave cuts upon on my shoulders.
I can lighten my load if I want.
I share my life with the man of my choosing
who chooses me with equal heart,
cherishing still these many years
as though we’ve just begun.
Just because.

Today, because I want to,
I can celebrate the journey
it took to reach this point.
Just because.

A Sharing on the Prodigal Son

I’ve had great difficulty coming to an understanding of this particular lesson. Oh, not the issue of love and forgiveness. That was easy. What I really had trouble with was my empathy for hardworking son who stayed home with his nose to the grindstone. I understood his feelings and his difficulty in accepting the party for the prodigal.

At long last I am at a place where I am happy with my feelings about this parable and I owe it to the author, James Patterson. Yes, you probably know and have read works from this prolific writer. I read his book “Woman of God” this past week and the main message I took away was to simply BE in the moment where I am, to simply BE with the person I am with. Today when this parable was read at church, I observed the power of BEing. The stay at home brother merely needed to BE in that moment of celebration for the return of his brother. In the matter of siblings and fairness, tomorrow would bring its own reckoning, but today was a day for celebration. The peace this brings me resolves a conflict of many years. Obviously, I can work on a problem for a long time while seeking its resolution. I just thought I’d share a little peace today!