Monday, June 20, 2011

Down To What Matters

here, at last, is where truth lives
on the bitter edge of loss

where we sing no pale songs of  regret
shed no tears for faded memories

no confessions of bad choices or failures
resentment of time’s devastation
no slippery denials or ego defense

relief is a fragrant warm bath on a cold night
senses ablaze, skin crying out for touch

naked honesty, open arms extended,
waits here in silence, all is forgiven

what has been held back is released
like caged doves to spiral into dreams
and submit to ancient instincts

save yourself for days filled with strawberries,
nights with sweet merlot and stars,

tenderness pours down, fills the aching abyss,
soothing tattered hearts and savaged spirits

with love that transcends old forms,
freedom for which words have not been invented
and finds silvery solace in this moment,

which is all that matters.

from Sip Wine, Drink Stars (2009)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Father's Power

I was six years old when my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. It robbed him of his dreams, sadly before I ever learned what his dreams were. I know he loved me, his only child, very much though he, a gentle and quiet man, rarely expressed it verbally. Every Father’s Day I think with regret of how little I knew about him and his life before me and yet how sure I was of his love. The distinct memories I have of him are few but treasured. My favorite memory is of the cottage on Lake Erie where we went each summer. I would sit on his lap on the screened porch, watching the spectacular lightning displays across the Lake. My mother was terribly afraid of thunderstorms, so while she hid in the bedroom, my dad, determined that I would not catch her fear, persuaded me that storms were beautiful, powerful and wondrous natural events. I have loved them ever since and always think of him when the sky cracks open and flashes its power across the heavens. In that moment, I am the six-year-old child again, sitting safely in the arms of my father.

Fathers must be among the most powerful forces of human nature. In an over-simplifed, and in no way scientific, study, I have found few men or women who don’t have some kind of “father issues”. My theory is that fathers don’t understand their power...for good or for its opposite, which is usually not evil. They don’t understand, often until long after their influence has left an indelible stain, the desperation with which children, especially boys, long for their father’s approval. Some men seek it all their lives, convincing themselves that they are unworthy humans because their fathers never said, “Son, you’re OK as you are.” And so goes generation after generation.

This Father’s Day, I am especially aware of how powerful dads are.  My youngest child, son Scott, will be celebrating his first official F.D. in the company of his beautiful twins, Claire and Jonah, six months old. He has elected to be the stay-at-home Dad and is doing a fabulous job of it. Yes, it clearly can be stressful, exhausting and complicated. But those children will grow up knowing their dad in a way that most kids never do. They will see his silly side, his vulnerable side, his confident side. They will hear him sing to them, see the thousand funny faces he can make. And they will know that he makes mistakes sometimes and can admit them. He might fantasize about being the perfect dad, but he also knows there is no such thing. He’s a grown-up man who loves his kids. And they will never have to wonder about that. What a gift!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Gets in the Way

Most of us would agree that we are often our own worst enemy. I think as we age we do less getting in our own way, less struggling against the unchangeable. For me, it is the struggle that wears me down, the wishing away of things that are here to stay -- for a while at least. This poem is about a peaceful acceptance of what IS. Not a giving up...more of a letting go. It may only last an hour or a day, but for that brief moment, the shoulders relax, the hands open and the breath comes deeply.



Opening

but one day you just know...
that the struggle must end,

that the time for sadness is past
and the grieving stranger, no longer needed,
has gone for good;

that the sweet music you hear
is the rhythm of your hopeful heart
laden with gifts of nourishment,

a lavish feast for your hunger,
a warm cup for your deepest thirst
that you will not turn from, but embrace;

that you have come at last, searching
for yourself, clothed in grace,
to offer only love.

from Dance on a Dirt Road

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Revealed

Light changes everything, tricks the eye
and then the heart, to believe in the mysterious,
a canticle of temporary, breakable or already
broken dreams and songs that were meant
to last forever.

At nightfall I can believe in many things
impossible in the luminous morning;
the nacreous moon steals reason,
hides truth behind a tranquil fa├žade,
impassive, pretending and remote.

I see you silvery, as through a prism of water,
or a veil of forest leaves mottled in a dozen
shades of green, there but for a fleeting second
and then not there, beyond my reach, grasping,
groping to touch your face.

So much regret, so much loss, pooled on the floor
like a sheer curtain, shielding but exposing
injury that cannot heal or mend itself
as though we were already gone, leaving nothing
in its place that I can trust.

N.C.