If you are lost, can’t find a way

Like a search light I shall find you

Pluck you from the stormy seas

And turn the tides to shore

If you get scared when their monsters’ play

Like a blanket  I shall cover you

And tuck you close, be your shield

It’s all just smoke and mirrors

 

So hush sweet angel

No more tears

I’ll stay right here, beside you

Through the brutal and the beautiful

I’ll love you for all time

 

 

 

 

~  storm lullabye

Charming

Charm me, darling

Perchance I forget

 

“Behind every song is an untold story,” he said.

With a gentle nudge

He whispered, “Come dance.”

 

The notes began from silence

And in the still, I fell

Drunk on him

 

Time signatures filled the room

Apollo cradled Calliope

As the music played on

 

Lyrics overtook me

Words slipped like honey from my tongue

I spoke

Of never-ending summers

Starry nights, we chased till dawn

Of sea shells and ocean waves

A siren’s lilting song

Candle lit moments

Before time left me wondering,

Is there any poetry left?

 

He pulled me closer

As the music played on

 

Music painted on silence

Gave wings to my soul

Strong magic

Lifted me from the ashes

 

He kissed my broken

Poured the poetry back in

As the music played on

 

~ Apollo and Calliope

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nest

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The nest loosened from the crutch of a branch, sailed on the back of a gust, to land upon the boulevard. Far from the tree, it lay empty, in a discarded heap.

 

A hammering wind pounded at the city’s core, splitting and tossing everything that wasn’t nailed down. Sheltered inside her home, a woman sat at a computer. She read the words that came across the screen. “A real rip-snorter,” her friend wrote on chat.“ I’ve already brewed my morning coffee and poured it into a thermos. Just can’t function without coffee.”

The woman smiled in silent agreement. First World Problems.

Throughout the lower mainland, people hunkered inside and watched through candle lit windows as the earth heaved and trees upended before their eyes. Splinters of debris fell upon the streets; tree limbs hit the ground, scattered askew like victims of a crime scene.

She sat front row, safe within the darkness of a home and listened as the wind howled outside the window. She saw the towering evergreens bend and accept fury. Temper, temper, she silently scolded. The blast rattled the window panes.

Storms didn’t worry her anymore. She had lived through many.  There was something edgy in the bluster. As the gusts gathered momentum, she pulled a blanket higher to cover her shoulders. Tucked in, she wasn’t afraid. As the maniacal fury shook the window panes, she sighed. It will pass.

She had sensed the wind’s approach, felt the electricity deep within her bones, had noted the eerie silence that hung in mid-air. Far away, somewhere over the ocean, the wind’s muffled howls announced a supernatural force. With a huff and a puff, the winds unleashed. Afterwards, a hush settled upon the land, false comfort from an untrustworthy and sinister phantom’s whisper.

Once upon a time she had rocked her babies to sleep as the wind blew outside their window. Frightened, they asked in turn, “ Mama, will it blow us away?” Her hands tucked each child closer, arms brought them nearer to heartbeat; their fear calmed by a steady rhythm. And she changed the story. They learned that big, bad wolves can be tamed and that it’s wise to straighten and face a storm with brick strength. And they knew her love was constant.

 

Outside her home, the evergreen branches shuddered, cowered under the force of the wind. Snug, she waited for the storm to pass.

They always do. She understood storms; their patterns so predictable. While the center unraveled, broke apart and nicked that which stood in its path; she kept calm in the knowledge that this one held no lasting power. Faith comforted her as she drifted to sleep protected by gentle dreams.

 

It was the chirping that woke her. Sunlight streamed through glass. As her sleepy eyes opened, she understood there was some truth to words, those clichéd daily mantras of positivity that arrived to her inbox. Yes, yes, the sun shines after the storm and true, tomorrow’s a new day. There was no need to attempt a conversion; she clung to hope. There was no choice.

In a sunny room high above the street, she surveyed the storm’s aftermath, the messy beauty left. Beyond the window, a bird’s nest lay in disarray.

She wanted to touch it, keep it. The nest symbolized a home, a place of protection and love. At that thought, she paused. Instinctively, one hand reached to cover her heart. What was it about a discarded nest that caught her eye? How could she ever sanely explain the need to protect such a simple yet complex object?

To know this woman, you’d understand. Born beneath a shield of loyalty, an invisible string circled around her, included those she loved, slip knotted by others that came before. Guardians of hope and love, shoulder to shoulder, family united, they circled.

Hers was never a life of entitlement; it was a life of enough. She lived simply, feathering her nest with bits of beauty and heartfelt devotion. Flawed objects intrigued her and once she heard their stories , a precious connection made it near impossible to let them go. Protective, she took care to nurture for she understood loss. You had to leave her.

Go and get it. Swiftly, she crossed the street, hoped the neighbor wouldn’t peek through the shutters and see her, a grown woman standing on the boulevard, bent over an object. Would he even notice? It seemed no one was home anymore. When did the street become so silent? Was it when the children left?

Carefully she cupped the nest. Gently she placed it into a discarded cardboard box. A temporary place, she mused. Something so humble deserves a grander setting. Her probing fingers turned it over; she felt twigs snap beneath her touch. She marveled at the nest’s intricate construction, strong yet fragile. One section had torn away.

The nest had belonged to an enterprising crow. Tiny dark feathers lined the hollow of the cup. Tufts of spun animal hair padded one turn of the nest’s edge. Rabbit, she wondered? A long length of string was woven in between thin twigs. Strands of tinsel glittered and peeked from between smatterings of mud. Beautiful in all of its ugliness, the nest had been carefully curated. It was a home to warm the eggs and coddle the fledglings that it had once housed.

How earnest, she thought. How sincere the want to nurture, how it clutches and pulls at one’s heart to be both resourceful and creative, to make a protective space, a home.

At the thought of home she paused and looked off into the distance. She recalled one home. It was long ago. For a time, she had lived with her grandfather, a silent, hidden away Scot. After he graced her with a second floor bedroom, he had all but disappeared to the attic. To this day, she could not recall his voice. He had made room for her, shown a hint of kindness and a touch of love.

In her humble opinion, this was the loveliest room in the house. Along an outer wall was a window with a wide angled view of the backyard. It wasn’t much of a yard. Grandfather had portioned off a rectangular patch to plant vegetables, constructed a compost box, nearby. There were few flowers planted except for Lily of the Valley. In the center of the yard was a majestic cherry tree. Its sturdy branches touched her windowpane.

At first she was afraid to sleep in the room. From behind the curtains came scratching sounds. It was the tree summoning her.

She recalled how she had stood at the window and watched the cherry tree change with the seasons. Positioned high above the ground, it was as if she had sprouted wings. From this viewpoint, she looked down upon the gnarled branches. The tree brought gifts to behold.

It was a wondrous time to be a child within this house. There was music and laughter. Sometimes, a family member would place her high into the cherry tree and run away. As she clung, cheek pressed to bark, she learned patience. He always returned to swing her around until her feet touched ground.

Winter was her favourite season.  Vulnerable, the tree allowed a look deep within its angles. On one such occasion she had spied an abandoned nest.

And then one morning in early spring, a bird returned to the nest. Fascinated she watched as it dipped and fluttered to finally reveal three eggs. The eggs reminded her of the ocean, how the waters blended, washed and mixed from dark to the lightest shade of blue.

Under a blanket of stars she had drifted to sleep. Songs threaded through dreams, the notes traveled up through the clouds and beyond delighting the stars. The stalwart cherry tree stood, a sentry outside her window.

Snap shot memories surface on a whim, the grainy Polaroid images of long ago spent in a small house on a quiet street. She remembered how the wind sang as it passed through the cherry tree’s branches. Sometimes the notes rang soft as a lullaby. Other times, the notes were ominous, a slow, steady drumbeat of noise.

Now she stands, on a storm strewn street. In her hands is an empty and broken nest. She thinks, there is a certain beauty and strength here.

The woman yearns to return to her earliest memory of love, to a gentler time, to a moment when the window frame lifted to allow a peek at the world. Beyond the glass, life beckoned. She aches to rewrite her story. It was in that space of endless time, that she had felt at home.

She lifts the nest from the worn box and places it upon a glass pedestal plate, something a wee bit fancy. The woven twigs, the simple bits and bobs that fill it suggest an understated elegance. She sets the pedestal onto a worn whitewashed sideboard.

The nest was once strong and protective. This fact is not lost on her. Once upon a time it was a home. She notices the length of thick string that circles round. She resists an urge to pull the string loose.

Here on the sideboard the nest will sit. People wonder, why keep it? She smiles. Of course its true that the sun loves the moon. It will always return to kiss and tame the darkness. There is magic in the universe and beauty in the broken. The nest reminds her of all that truly matters in a life.

It’s also true that hope endures. The solid cherry tree still stands on guard in the middle of a backyard. She imagines that a gentle soul inhabits the room with the best view. She prays that the child is loved. The branches continue to tap on the windowpane. As the seasons change, the tree leaves gifts for another child to behold.

 

 

Through Her Eyes 2

 

Late in the afternoon a door opens and a small woman steps out.  She tucks a lock of auburn hair behind an ear, pauses to inhale the salt air that blows off the ocean. Waning sunlight announces the end of day. Her blue eyes rove the landscape in search of beauty. Today she’ll walk a familiar route home, a route she knows by heart. There is time and light.

The fence comes into view. A solid structure of  connected mid century modern blocks. She stops and recalls a moment from her past. A craftsman sets the blocks into place, trowels a row and begins again. This memory elicits a smile. The open squares fenced a perfect hideaway, a spot to peek and play between the tangled ivy. For a moment she pictures two children; their laughter rings through air. Her fingers graze over the blocks, trace the roughness.

The woman covets beauty. Not perfection. Rather, she prefers the imperfect, the missing and broken. She finds beauty in the everyday objects left among fauna and man. Slowly, she lifts the camera from her bag and aims it at her subject. One last shot. A story  in the making.

 

It’s time for some good byes. Winter’s sighed one last cool breath and left a namesake, Winter rose, a gift for tender Spring. As the visual softens and blurs, she notes the rows of Helleborus beneath her feet. These evergreen perennials are neatly placed within shaded borders. Petals open bluish purple to blotched, maroon pinks. Pale green, bell-shaped flowers reach from underneath variegated leaves.The shutter clicks. She imagines the ire  of roused, rosy-cheeked woodland sprites, iridescent wings whir beneath sunbeams.

Suddenly, the woman senses a presence behind her. The spirits of her ancestors stand united. Souls whose calloused hands dug soil and transported the woodland plants by wheelbarrow to this very bed. Their whispered voices sound as peaceful notes; their words carried back and forth on the back of a cool breeze. She imagines them kneeling as they arrange the plants before her. The woman sighs, it was so long ago and she is weary.

It is time for Spring, she thinks, a time of new beginnings.

Along the walk back home, her beautiful mind deconstructs the objects. Drawn in by their elements of shape, form and colour, she pauses to scroll the photographs before her. The lens of a camera is the conduit through which she takes simple to majestic. A finger points to push the button, a frame clicks and a moment is captured in time. She imagines these images altered by subtle shifts of light and placement.

It’s a shame, she thinks. Blindly, we rush past the everyday. One day we realize. That which we forget, is forever lost.

 

Stay

Stay

 

stone angel
stone angel

Meet me under moonlight

Arms enfold

To pull you close

A whispered kiss touches your cheek

Say you’ll stay

Please. Stay.

 

Meet me under starlight

You lead, I’ll follow anywhere

As we dance off the page

Our footprints press the sand

Say you’ll stay

Please. Stay.

 

Meet me under street light

An umbrella as our shelter

You lean in

Together, a glance apart

Say you’ll stay

Please. Stay.

 

I hear your heart’s rhythm

Each beat a word

Tell me the story

Pretend it has a happy ending

Only then can you leave.

Please. Stay.

 

A Gentleman

“Grandfather, Great Spirit,

Once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.”

~Black Elk

It wasn’t a fancy car but it was reliable. My Grandfather drove an aging Valiant Wayfarer utility wagon. This was in keeping with his humble style. A simple man, my grandfather had his own brand of street style. An aura of authenticity hovered over him. I imagine that it pleased him to note that the Valiant was manufactured in Australia.

A plaid wool blanket was folded across the Valiant’s back seat. This gentle touch offered soft comfort for a snuffling Boxer named Mitzi. In the winter months it provided warmth from the chill. Along the road of life, Mitzi and Grandfather traveled as true companions.

I recall Grandfather tidy in a crisp white shirt, sleeves rolled to the forearm. Look again and you’d glimpse a tattoo; the lower half of a mermaid’s fin. Overtop of his shirt, he wore leather- tabbed suspenders. They attached to buttons hidden under the waistband of his pressed woolen pants. His low boots appeared oiled. The leather had the sheen of rubbed chestnuts. A copper bracelet encircled his right wrist. He believed that the power of this element bewitched and tamed the demon called arthritis.

Understand, my grandfather needed the full use of his hands. They were his tools. An oiler by trade, he knew the most intimate parts of a boiler’s engine. His intuition understood every hiss, puff, and pause of machinery. His strong hands worked the land. Muscled arms heaved soil, necessary to build shelter for family. Born on the land, he was a descendent of carters and farmers.

My grandfather was a gentleman in more ways than one. A trademark felt fedora graced his head. This was the only fashionable touch of formal style he held to. It recalled a time of common etiquette and classy formality. He practiced simple courtesies such as opening doors for women. When a lady entered the room, he stood and removed his hat.

When I learned to drive a car, we would meet in the country. Grandfather had a precious sister that he visited each week. It was their ritual yet they made room for me.

Together we’d cruise in the Valiant. His favourite spot was a nearby provincial park. Gravel crunched under tires as the car wound along the rough roads. Finally, Grandfather would park the Valiant in a clearing. “Time for some fresh air,” he’d say. As we walked into the forest, my grandfather would pause to point out the trees.

“That’s a cypress. Notice the small, woody cones,” or whisper, “Look up. Find the tallest tree. Over there.” He’d stand stone still while my eyes followed skyward from the point of his finger. “There’s an eagle’s nest in that fir tree.”

When our time together ended, grandfather walked to my parent’s car and opened the driver’s door. He waited as I settled behind the wheel.

“Drive carefully,” he’d caution. “I’ll go on ahead. Follow me along the highway. I’ll lead you back to the turn off and then be on my way home.”

The dark two- lane highway was dangerous to drive. Evergreens rustled and swayed. Sometimes, I’d lag behind in speed and when that happened, he’d pull over to the shoulder of the road and wait for my car to catch up.

Up ahead, I’d see my grandfather’s car stopped and waiting. The car’s lights shone upon the Valiant. A man wearing a fedora stood tall. As I passed by, my grandfather doffed his fedora. It was our signal. We could both carry on into the night and find our way home.

A staunch fighter for worker’s rights and health care for all, he believed in bettering community. As a younger man, he rode the train from Alberta to the West Coast. At the city’s terminal station, he stood strong with the other unemployed and desperate men. Beat up and ordered to leave town, the men stood stronger together. Those were the meanest years of the Great Depression. He took whatever work he could find.

A loyalty to Queen and a new country shaped his nationalist spirit. One World War had been enough for his scarred body and gentle mind. In search of family and the opportunity to own land, he emigrated from England to Canada. The familiar grassy hillsides and vast farmlands would become a memory. His tender heart coveted memories of childhood and family left.

It was the tilt of his head that I recall. The way in which it tipped ever so slightly left. It was as if he had purposely paused a beat in time or stalled the moment. I sensed he felt the need to fully appreciate whatever was before him. Perhaps he knew too well how quickly moments vanish. A shy smile and twinkling eyes lent him humble, boyish charm.

This unassuming man possessed a gentle spirit and a watchful eye. At certain times in our life, he suddenly appeared. I believe he sensed the need to connect and guide. In those moments we exchanged few words. It wasn’t necessary. He was loyal and protective.

To me, he was known as grandfather. In his presence I felt the buzz from the purest magic, sent forth by an unseen hand. The magic came from a place beyond reason and beyond us. It felt real and true. In youth, I did not appreciate the gifts he gave me. They weren’t material in form, yet they were significant. These invisible gifts shaped me into the woman I have become. When I forget who I am, I close my eyes and remember.

Occasionally I drive along the stretch of highway that we used to travel. Whenever I do, I think of him. The winding road is now straight. Two lanes of highway became four. The ancient trees that rustled in the darkness are gone, long ago clear-cut. Behold an expansive housing development that continues for miles. Now, endless light shines from a stretch of apartment windows, illuminates the darkness.

Up ahead I see him. He is patiently waiting. Passing by, he tips his hat.

We wonder if the smallest actions matter. They do.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Minutes About A Storm

Two Minutes About A Storm

 

I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.

Paulo Coelho
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/storms.html#ThVdLkLO3ue5iYQj.99

Storm watching isn’t for amateurs. Gale force winds pummeled the house. Gusts tunneled through the nooks and crannies. Wind whistled like a freight train, assaulted the weak in its path. A rip- snorter of a storm had caught the West Coast somewhat by surprise.

Surprise because it is seasonally too early to experience such chaos. Drought like conditions created this “perfect storm.” Stressed coastal trees, their root systems dried and brittle from a lack of rainfall and necessary water restrictions. Meteorologists describe this type of storm phenomenon as a Pineapple Express. There was nothing sweet about this rebel train.

As a child I feared storms, cowered with fright as thunder clapped and lightning struck just beyond my world. I peeked through my bedroom window, listened to the rhythmic taps; imagined slender witch’s fingers a ‘waiting to snatch. A blanket was my armor. It’s different now. Altered, older, stronger, I have faced fear.

Trepidation and wild curiosity fueled me. I ventured outdoors to stand in the fury. The advisory recommended, stay indoors. Foolishly lawless, I steadied for the fight. The street was eerily silent, the quietest calm. The only sounds heard were the snap of branches, the crash of metal falling, and then, the unrelenting screams of wind. Nature unleashed a beast.

Bravely I filmed. In between scenes, wild became calm and still. Stealthily the beast circled, at first the only clue, a faint whooshing as it whistled and teased the branches. Momentum gathered to unleash a fury.

Evergreen limbs jitterbugged, a frenzy of branches whipped about. Pinecones scattered. Boughs snapped and thumped to the ground. Later I would hear the news, power lines fell and arced. Someone’s forgotten laundry sailed past my windowpane. A cast of tea towels, ghosts to a gathering. Sirens screamed.

Defeated and spent the storm abated. The clouds parted and a heart formed within the gossamer. Humanity ventured out from the safety of their shelters and began to tidy the debris left. Usually silent neighbours spoke, stepped in to aid one another with the clean up. Random acts of kindness shone.

Sometimes it takes a storm to remind us of the grace that follows. Life storms happen and in the moments of peace and quiet that follow; we realize how much there is to be grateful for.

 

 

 

I Remember

I remember you.

A father and my rock

“Let’s go,” you said.

Long car rides, the songs we sang off-key.

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

I remember you.

Reaching for the dial

Slam up the volume

Me. Switching the station to Jim Morrison’s lyrics

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

I remember you.

The rock candy laughter Saturdays

The ocean we sailed

The campfires and crab shucks on the beach.

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

I remember you.

Once lost, then found anew

Your lowered mortal head

The words you spoke, wary, shielded, and broken

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

I remember you.

Late- nights under glittering stars

The biting scent of cigar

“Sit awhile,” you said. Together wrapped in silence.

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

I remember you.

Your compassion and your wit

Where have you disappeared?

A presence sensed; hidden, you pace alongside me.

Rebels in the wind

I remember.

 

Smile

 “A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.”

~ Audrey Hepburn

 

Posy Court Vase~ Kate Spade
Posy Court Vase~ Kate Spade

The day was mine to pick. Sunshine, friendship, laughter and smiles; who could ask for more? Dahlia’s gathered from a local farm add some old-fashioned charm to a simple swooshy idiom Kate Spade vase (Posy Court- Medium).

http://www.thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/brands/vases-bowls/posy-court-medium-vase-0048-l854763–24

 

 

 

For You

Overhead, dark clouds rip open. Raindrops slip from the car’s windowpane; I watch them disappear. The clouds cover the sky like gauze, softening a wound. Loss festers. Heaven’s tears spill forth as Angels witness an aching sadness that can only be found on earth.

Today I uncrate grief. Yes, I miss you; wish you here, returned to earth. It is true. Sadness shadows me in odd moments. Today the veil of cover hid her from the light. As she snuck up behind me, I sensed your presence. She’s aging. Pulling away. You heard my unspoken words.

We sit to rest. Her words spoken, tossed like rocks, hard hits to the heart,

“This was your father’s favourite place to dine. You enjoyed coming here, too.”

Not today. In that moment, shame surfaces. I rush my mother too much. It stems from a fear of regret, this desire to hurry her, pack up the never- ending stack of fries that she barely touches, drink the brimming coffee placed before her. I steal our time, afraid of growing old too fast, waiting.

As ifsensing my inner thoughts, she fumbles, wraps her lunch and requests a cup to go. It’s enough for today.

We drive along in silence. Rain thrums a pounding rhythm upon the roof of the car. She slowly walks to the front door of her building, turns and waves. I wonder if she cries too. I want to rush to her, hold her frailty, stop time.

You interfered again, set yourself down like stone between us. There are beautiful moments I recall, snapshots in time I cherish. Yet, just to sit with you under the stars one more time would be enough. We could talk.

Today you haunt. Images flash. One repeats for no apparent reason. The stray pointer you snuck into the kitchen; its big eyes shone light from beneath deep, muddy pools. The old blanket you wrapped around the creature’s shivering bones, your concern for  another’s well being. In that moment you taught me compassion. You were kind.

You stood strong in the world. You believed in right and fought for it, demanded it. Your words became my truth, protected me with steadfast might. You taught me to be brave.

You believed in me; said I could be anything I wanted to be. The world I lived in offered opportunity. When I faltered, your words echoed,

“Work hard.”

That was the mantra you spoke. It was called responsibility. Do you recall how, each morning, you left a never- ending list of chores for me to complete? Each evening, I’d hand you the crumpled list, proud to have crossed off each and every item. The following mornings found longer lists waiting on the kitchen table. You taught me to persevere.

If I could bring you home we could talk. My tears, the proof of enduring love.

You sit upon the usual chair. Hyper vigilant, I notice a repetitive twitch of your left thumb as it strokes a finger, sense your anxiety. You avert your gaze, turn your head and look away. This time I call you out.

stone angel
stone angel

Prepare yourself. Pent up words unleash a spoken fury, slice through the thorns and twisted vines that wrap your soul. Unafraid of the tangled silence you grew, I press on to satisfy the wondering that buries me alive with a never- ending grief. That is the legacy you left.

Once satisfied of atonement, I polish you, ask how you came to be so aware of vulnerability; I ask after your youth, your dreams and wishes. There is still a moment of time. Share your regrets.

Please banish your shame. My hand reaches forth and gently takes your palm. I press your knotted fingers to mine as we sit, now in silence. You can leave, rest in peace. Know that you taught me well. I can finish our story, put back the piece you fumbled. It’s called loyalty.

Always loved.