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.

 

 

The Messenger

This is a draft version of the narrator’s “voice;”I will continue to polish the piece. The narrator’s name is, Justus and he is about to leave on a mission. It is from a fictional piece I am writing. This chapter is in the narrator’s POV.

 

“Justus, Get up! Hurry.”

 

Urgent words enter my dream. Their pitch notes rising as I attempt to ignore. The voice calling in my ear speaks louder. “Justus wake up.” I push the covers away from my somnolent body and rise.

“It’s your turn. Go.”

Hurrying to the meeting zone, I stumble, the residue of sleep lingering in its peaceful hold, as I step forth. Pushing back a lock of dark hair and coughing to clear my throat, I straighten. It is time.

I belong to a group of watchmen, messengers from the past; we work for the present and future. Our mandate: listen to another’s story, understand and give voice to it; we are conduits between the souls and their living. The universe is made of tiny stories.
Some people call us angels, which we are not. We are messengers, invisible souls; we walk alongside those lost to grief and sorrow. We know your stories well; we are kin.

Imagine a crowd of people, all strangers. Yet, you pause, turn around and take a second glance back. There is familiarity in a gait, knock, or smile. Something about the way that individual speaks captures your momentary attention. You swear you’ve seen that someone before. The sighting haunts and returns. You believe in happenstance yet you are wrong. Events occur for a reason.

You are never alone. That deer you saw, at the precise moment your mind recalls a loved one’s fondness for all rural fauna is not coincidence. The clock that chimes on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, the one you thought broken, is planned. Consider carefully. The face you see, as it flashes by, in a newborn’s glance. Remember these souls from your past.

 

Every family is an infinite circle of souls. It helps to envision this symbol of continuous unity. The circle enlarges when new members are born or brought in. When death knocks, the circle shrinks. As long as the members hold to one another, reaching forth, the thread that connects remains strong. It is only when one lets go, steps away; when no one reaches back, that the thread that binds, breaks. That is when we enter your world.

It has been awhile since my last assignment, * years to be exact. I recall the details of that mission: to stand beside a family member. Can hope triumph? Love heals; there is nothing it cannot conquer.

 

To Linger

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Grace lifted the lingering snow-globe, the last of the holiday decorations. She hesitated to put this one away. Safe underneath a cloche of glass, the miniature scene bespoke coveted memories. Be careful, they whispered.

With a gentle shake of her wrist, tiny flakes began to tumble over the glimmering steeple. The tall structure sparkled as if lit by an inner light. Puffs of sugared snow drifted to settle around the base of the church, softening the straight, stern edges of the tiny building. Behind the church stood a tall evergreen, now dusted with sparkle. Two simple shapes, yet each held profound meaning to the woman whose hands cradle glass.

Grace yearned to go back, return to the beginning, fix it. Life held promise; it made sense, was kind. She recalled the wedding photograph; the young couple laughed as they exited through the open doors of the quaint, country church. Light shone through them; their faces appeared lit from within, eyes shone forth hope. A tall, handsome man, earnest and true, steadfast with integrity. He tripped and fell. The glass shattered.

     Put it back together. Words easy to speak, harder to accomplish. An ocean rolled between us and seasons changed until it became, always winter.

 

Grace clings too tightly to the past, protects the broken pieces. She keeps the shards in a locked box, cradled within her heart, takes comfort from the pain now layered upon her being. There is merit in learning compassion the hard way. Still~ to know one was loved. Isn’t that what we all wish for? An unbreakable connection to another. Walk away, be silent, let it go.

The still setting under glass rests upon the oak sideboard. Grace glances at the snow-globe. The contents remain calm and silent, protected underneath the cover of a fragile dome. Emotionless. Time has honed her senses. She appreciates beauty; notices frost patterns that tattoo the earth; shrinks when the warmth of the sun kisses her cheek. That’s what happens when you believe in happy endings.

 

 

Gratitude

Beauty

Gratitude. Years ago a thoughtful neighbour brought me a clump of peony roots, dug from her colourful garden, divided for another.  On a walk, I pause to admire the show of beauty blooming so splendidly in her garden.  My eyes covet the peonies, the genus Paeonia, buds wrapped tight, stalks gently holding the shy, unfurling blooms.  Some garnet, pink, and as if this isn’t enough beauty to behold, two weeks later, the white flowers show, shining through the dark night.

On the cusp of autumn, she placed three small bundles at the doorstep. They patiently wait, still, wrapped in brown paper, tied with twine, for me to discover.   Cradling the bundles, I take them to my garden, gently hand them to the earth.  Planting the woody clumps into the soil, I wonder at the magic these simple bundles of wood and roots would conjure.  Seasons changed, the little woody clumps slept snug underneath an earthen blanket.

The following spring the roots anchor, stalks push through the soil’s surface, evolving into small bushes covered with compound, deeply lobed leaves. Three garnet peonies bloom on one of the bushes. Two weeks later, the second bloom opens to reveal the purest white petals. Years later, these small clumps have mothered five beautiful bushes.

Gorgeousness. Some believe peony compounds have the power to heal.  Inhale their fragrance, touch the soft petals with a finger tip, breathe in as your heartbeat slows under this intoxicating spell.  I wonder at such beauty.  

Under A Blood Red Moon

Love to my way of thinking, is the emotion one feels when they meet someone who makes them be what they want to be. We feel love toward someone who shows us the light, who pushes us to become what we have always wanted to become but may have never realized. We love the person who makes us love ourselves.” 
― Mina HepsenUnder the Blood Red Moon

http://www.space.com/25250-a-tetrad-of-lunar-eclipses-starts-in-april-video.html

Nasa explains this breath-taking phenomena better than I do.  Please click on the link to find out all to know about the early morning total eclipse of the moon.

Under A Blood Red Moon 

I awake at four a.m. and gaze out through the unveiled window.  It is the moon that captures my weary attention.  It hangs suspended, a brilliant white light, full and heavy, in an inky black sky. A wispy cloud passes by, as if a wayward remnant from a beribboned banner cut.  A silken piece left after the  announcement that the greatest show of the universe is unfolding.

In the Bible, it is written that God uses the moon and the stars to send signals to earth.  The moon held power over the people.  It brought about their fears and swayed imaginations.  Superstitions surround the topic of the moon.  Beware~ those who sleep under a full moon run the risk of insanity or blindness. Worse yet, the magic conjures to turn one into a werewolf; fear not, you are safe from harm.  This occurs only if the lunar event  falls on a Friday.

I have slept under the blood-red moon, awakening too late to view the total lunar eclipse or tetrad.  I catch the last stages of this spectacular lunar event.  For a few minutes I am able to glimpse the shadow of red, surrounding the edges of la luna.  Our collective hearts beating back to one another.

During a blood-red moon, one is viewing every sunset and every sunrise around the earth at the same time. It appears as if earth’s reflected back by the brilliant moon light.  We, the human population, are given a brief opportunity to view each other’s worlds, however fleeting the moment.

It is impossible not to be awed by this spectacular celestial event.

If you missed this lunar event, mark your calendars for October 8, 2015 when once again the earth will experience a total lunar eclipse.

Full lunar eclipse. Moon 5 photo 3

An Ocean Between Us

There is an ocean between us, an ocean of words left unspoken.  The waters, deep, dark, and murky, swallowing the whispers. Did you hear the crashing waves beat upon the shore; they brought forth rage.

There is an ocean between us, an ocean of regrets.  Appreciate, there will never be closure, never any reasons given that will end searching, ease the heart ache, calm the spirit.  Perhaps, you heard the waves as they gently rocked a heart?

There is an ocean between us;  tears will continue to flow. For that is what happens when betrayal is sent spinning forth onto a universe.  A price is paid; you were willing to pay it.  Listen in the wind as the gulls cry out to the heavens above.

There is an ocean between us; I forgave you from the start. May you never feel the pain brought about by your actions.  May you come to forget your part in the messiness of a life.  When you look upon the residue, may you feel no shame.  Look onto the surface of the ocean;  like a mirror, you see your reflection shining forth the truth.

There is an ocean between us; the tides pull back and forth depositing treasures upon the shores. Hearts break; love is blind.  To every life there will come a time to reflect upon one’s legacy.  Look upon the sand, you will find my gift to you.  It will come in the form of a heart-shaped stone.  Pick it up.  Treasure it.  It is all you will ever have to remind you of what you lost.

Cashmere

Cashmere

Cashmere, the mention alone, beautiful to speech.  Cashmere, pronouncing it, the syllables, smooth, clear, luxurious, as the unit of spoken language rolls off the tongue. Cashmere.  Cashmere. Cashmere. Say it; repeat it for surely, you will fall captive under its spoken spell. A fine textured fiber, light, strong, and soft, shorn goat’s hair.  A garment made from cashmere is certain to provide excellent insulation and instant appeal.

It was at a Nordstrom’s sale that I spotted the cashmere wrap, my fingers gently caressing the soft fibers, wondering if, perhaps? Walking away, uncomfortable as the sales clerk loomed too close.  After all, I am not really the confident cashmere type of woman or am I? A woman who elevates jeans and basic tees with faux pearls. Sipping a latte, imagining myself wrapped in the luxurious cashmere, dreaming, perhaps.

It was the allure.  The light, soft touch of the fibers that drew me back, the seductive charm of the soft weaves.  Choosing the wrap with the diagonal, cable knit pattern, as it must look different, unexpected.  An ordinary, predictable cashmere wrap would never do. Choosing the shade of grayed, west coast, wintery clouds, wrapping myself in bespoke luxury, I could not resist the self-indulgent purchase of cashmere.  For I was buying an emotion if one can even do that, capturing a sentiment.

Wearing it felt divine.  Suddenly, no longer just another woman in a crowd. “Who is that woman wearing the cashmere?”  It is simple, casual.  When tossed about the shoulders, the weave gives the wearer an elevated look of effortless elegant glamour.  I can attest to the warmth.

My mother is opening her gift, delighting in the patterns on the delicate tissue papers that envelope it.  “Oh my goodness,” she exclaims.  There is a pause of silence.  Do you like it, Mom?  Don’t worry, mom.  If it needs dry cleaning, I’ll take care of it for you. My mother whispers, “ I’ve had two cashmere sweaters in my life. Your father bought me one.  I was about seventeen and he bought me a cashmere sweater for my birthday.  It was very beautiful.  Smart looking.  A dark navy with a small collar.”  My mother gestures to her neck.  “So lovely. We went skiing and I wore it.”  For a moment, my mother, a vision of youth in all its splendour, her petite frame, classical good looks, widow’s peak of raven hair, coiffed and flipped, one so beautiful in navy cashmere set against the winter white wonderland.  “We went skiing and I got soaked.  We hiked to his cabin and your father lit a fire, hanging the cashmere sweater over the stovepipe to dry.  The heat from the pipe burned through the back of the cashmere.  That was the end of it.  This is beautiful, Grace.   Dark navy.  I’m so grateful.”  It’s black Mom, you deserve it. “No, it’s dark navy, it’s the colour of the sweater your father bought me so many years ago.  Thank you, you’re too good to me.”  Capturing a sentiment.

Layers

My mother slowly exits the car and pauses, looking back at me, through the open window.  I ask, “Would you do this mom, if you were me?”  There is a pause of seconds, although for a few brief moments, I am  sensing that she won’t approve.   I still need my mother’s approval.  As a child, craving approval.  Her approval. My mother’s eyes look toward the grey, clouded skies. Turning to face me she says, “I don’t know.  I am old now. I don’t have the energy.  I had to let it go.  Do it, though.  You have my blessing.” I note my mother’s blue eyes are layered, bluing, greying, mistier now.  Some days, I feel as if she is lost, far away, somewhere within their depth.

We all get lost, searching through a foggy veil, for pieces that we may not find.  What we discover is dirtier, shabbier, thinned out, for that’s what time does to its precious bits, forming discreet layers of love’s evidence.  The tears, dust, and deceit, tucked between the pieces of laughter and love.  Collect the tattered bits to preserve them, before we forget. Their structure, beautiful and raw. Evolving over time, the evidence of love.

My mother’s approval comforts me.  It is in part, for her, that I keep trying to right the wrong, validate, earnestly reminding her of the beauty that surrounds.  She is giving up, I sense that. Stay strong, I whisper to the wind. We will find our way, mom. Behold the beauty within the bits. 

The Daily Prompt~ Junk

MirrorDaily Prompt: Clean House

by michelle w. on September 29, 2013

Is there “junk” in your life? What kind? How do you get rid of it?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us JUNK.

A clean and tidy house calms me, assures that all is right with my world. Clean as in floors washed, dishes scrubbed, trash contained and clean as in visually calm and pleasing to the eye, everything in its place, ship-shape, serene.  There is an order to the spaces and pieces in my home, purposely placed to show their function, use, or aesthetic beauty.  Artful placement.  Nothing mumble jumble. It has always been this way for me, a comfort comes in knowing and visualizing where everything is and why it is.  Addicted to order and beauty, addicted to calm.  I fear chaos.

I am addicted to order and beauty yet I can not pass by that one-off chair sitting by the curb, discarded, worse for wear.  I can see possibilities and beauty.  A project.  Junk to you, treasure to me.  Lately, I am drawn to shades of blues and greys, reminiscent of oceans and skies, the shades changing with the hour and the light. Moody shades.  Addicted to shape.  I touch all that is round, smooth, and cool.  Rocks, chestnuts, shells, pottery bowls, and glass are heaven in my hands.  Lately, I am addicted to words, those prolific, simple quotes that complete a thought.  I selectively search them out, books, notecards, posters, pillows, words grace my space.  Junk to you, treasure to me.

Junk challenges and over the years I have attempted to deal with that aspect in my life.  Recycling when I can, discarding if I must, choosing with a selective  eye, finding a home for each item, or walking away.  When I see an item of beauty, it is the history that captivates me, the memories evoked, the stories.  I am addicted to the stories that the pieces whisper forth as they sit in the thrift shop, or beside the curb.  Sometimes, I falter and bring them along home, lovingly restoring and coaxing new life to the damaged shapes. Finding a place for the old.  Junk to you, treasure to me.

Junk can clutter a home; it can clutter a life.  Lately, I have decided to deal with the debris in my soul, sweeping it off and dusting over the scratches.  Polishing up the shabbier pieces, illuminating the beauty and shine, finding my voice. It requires one to be brave, take a risk.  It is difficult to let go and scatter the broken bits, the memories we frantically cling to.  Some of these memories will find a place in a story, some banished, others will be forgiven, planting the seeds of hope and promise. Junk to you, treasure to me.

Oh~ and I will purposely leave a cup out-of-place.  I will walk away.

Writing Contest Stories

I’ve been testing my wings.  Writer and Educator, Luanne, from the blog, Writer Site, recently hosted a writing contest.  The story entries will be posted on Luanne’s site, writersite.org  throughout the week.  My story, The Lady’s Coat, is posted today!  Please take some time to read the judged entries.  Writers can appreciate the process of writing and the brave spirit necessary to “publish” one’s “darlings!” A special “thank you” to Luanne and the esteemed judges,

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

for offering this exciting opportunity to the writing community.  With my amazon.com award, I have ordered a hard cover version of the Newbery Medal Winner, Where The Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin http://gracelin.com/.  I chose a hardcover, paper to touch book as a gift for my “dear” one and my hope is that she will treasure this gift through time.  I want my dear to enjoy print and words as much as I do.  Follow your dreams!

My entry, The  Lady’s Coat, is posted onto writersite.org

I hope you enjoy, The  Lady’s Coat.

Thrift Store Coat
Grace’s Thrift Store Persian Lamb Coat

writersite.org

Sincerely,

“Grace”

~ Lynne

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