bar ditches (Palm Sunday)

spring ridge

Driving along the ridge,
Bright sun in a cold sky,
The bar ditch is filled with the first blush of spring.
Effervescent purple henbit covers the ground,
Weeds of childrens delight,
First bouquets of the season.

When my nieces were babes,
These weeds were their favorite flower until their father
Mowed the yard,
Decimating their wild flower garden and bringing bereft tears.

Did my grandfather tell me the story of why we call the ditches
Along the roadside ‘bar ditches’?
The dirt was borrowed ‘bar-red’
To raise the road, flattened for the wagons then model Ts
To travel above the fields.

Memory sometimes obscures the truth.

I remember that my father died on Palm Sunday,
Though it is not the truth.
But that is the memory I keep.
And it is Palm Sunday once again,
Not the date of his leave taking
But still the day I grieve.

And it is the first day of spring,
The day I remember my nieces’ grief
Over the heaped green weeds across their yard.

On this day, memory, unreliable and exact,
Borrows the joy before the grief…

Its the first of spring and all the birds sing
And little children palm frond process
Waving welcome the King.
Alleluia!
Alleluia!

(revised 2018)

***This is a poem written a few years ago and revised last year. In it are the memories of my grandfathers and my dad. And, on this Palm Sunday, I also remember my Mom and my brother, Frank, the father that mowed the weeds. I miss them all. So very much.

rend not

Unconsciously, I think my husband knows its Ash Wednesday,
the beginning of Lent.
He is busy arranging things on the table top
and the smell of bleach cleaner is coming from the bathroom
where he has sprayed down the shower stall.

I need to dust, our prescribed arrangement of household chores,
he vacuums, I dust.
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, I sing song to myself
as I look for the Murphy’s Oil Soap.

I tear an old towel into pieces-
Rend not your clothing, but your heart, the prophet tells us.
My heart has had enough rending, thank you very much, and
I think it is high time to darn the pieces together again.

So this is my Ash Wednesday prayer, this beginning of Lent,
that my heart be stitched back into place, that
its brokenness is plastered over and smoothed.
That the grief of the past long years be no longer bright flames
but ash and dust,
ashes to ashes,
dust to dust.

Joel 2:12-13 Ash Wednesday 2019

in your trembling hands

October evening 2

oh! how full of love
is the world-
our minds sometimes won’t let it just be
quiet and rested
in that knowledge.

But oh yes! that love-
even in the disquiet of our times
even in the anger and hate
and disloyalty, even
in the sadness and grief-
be sure
that that Love is there.

and if you can be very still
for just a moment
you can sense it
and hold it in your trembling hands.

hold it, even tear soaked and weak,
hold it there in
your trembling hands.

most times

spring ridge 2

I don’t believe in ghosts
though sometimes I wish I did-
to see her face and maybe sit for a while together.

Yes, I would be willing to believe
just to hold her hand again
and laugh through my tears.

Grief leaves stains-
a little like sweet tea
on an old linen cloth-
most times
its hardly noticeable.

bar ditches (Palm Sunday)

spring ridge

Driving along the ridge,
Bright sun in a cold sky,
The bar ditch is filled with the first blush of spring.
Effervescent purple henbit covers the ground,
Weeds of childrens delight,
First bouquets of the season.

When my nieces were babes,
These weeds were their favorite flower until their father
Mowed the yard,
Decimating their wild flower garden and bringing bereft tears.

Did my grandfather tell me the story of why we call the ditches
Along the roadside ‘bar ditches’?
The dirt was borrowed ‘bar-red’
To raise the road, flattened for the wagons then model Ts
To travel above the fields.

Memory sometimes obscures the truth.

I remember that my father died on Palm Sunday,
Though it is not the truth.
But that is the memory I keep.
And it is Palm Sunday once again,
Not the date of his leave taking
But still the day I grieve.

And it is the first day of spring,
The day I remember my nieces’ grief
Over the heaped green weeds across their yard.

On this day, memory, unreliable and exact,
Borrows the joy before the grief…

Its the first of spring and all the birds sing
And little children palm frond process
Waving welcome the King.
Alleluia!
Alleluia!

(revised 2018)

I answer the phone..

I answer the phone and
their memories spill out of the ether.

Its not enough to grieve but to remember together
what she was like or
what he said or
how forgiveness is as hard as the long dark night.

It has all changed us at a molecular level,
all those things we did,
things required
and unrequited.
How did we know to place our hands to that work,
how did we summon the courage to lift
and carry that burden-
the weight was great but not unwelcomed.
We rose each morning and put our hearts to the test-
until, weeping with the stars,
we lay just for a moment before we were called
again and again and again.

Love sustains and
Will exceeds what we know
and that which we cannot comprehend.
Those things that we were called to do
changed our DNA
until suffering is no longer feared
and death seems somehow diminished
in the light of an autumn afternoon.