Blank Slate

Arrows and stones: a child’s song
Protects the fragile boy
From all who want to paint him
As if he were as blank as Locke
As if he just arrived on the cul-de-sac
That morning for the first time:

He had not.

He was there the day before.

He had been there days before that.

And so on… like a hall of mirrors
reflecting him back and forth, forever
He’d been there.

Now, though, now,
They see him cry
And think:
“AHA!
A fete!
On him,
We can paint all the shades of our pain!”
As if the color under his skin wasn’t on the spectrum. 

A Mother’s Dreams

The final poem in this Mother’s Day trilogy was written over a decade ago and speaks to the strength of a Mother’s Love in spite of fears and in spite of circumstances. No matter how tired the best mothers get, they persist and that must be respected.

Your dreams do not predict the future,
Be relieved they process the past
So you can function this morning.
Your fear still burns
The sweet blood in your veins,
It contaminates your heart.

Your dreams wake you in a sweat.
The anxiety you felt when he refused
To rebuckle, the dread you felt when he
Ran past the play ground into the crowd,
The terror you felt when the car broke
Just a fraction too close.

Your dreams are not real,
But real enough:
A girl swept up by adulthood
By things she cannot control.
Tired, nevertheless,
She does persist.

Always Remember (1985: Age 15)

Always Remember
September 10, 1985

Summertime is gone
With it the sunshine
There will be a new dawn
With it new sunshine

Life does not end
With one season
Look around the bend
You will see the reasons

Don’t forget your new found friends
Or your old renewed friendships
Never forget our summertime trends
Be ready to sail on new ships

Life is meant for living and loving
Keep on learning and discovering

You must carry on
Without written lines
Because there comes a new dawn
And with it new sunshine

Remember trust and love
And with them patience
You will see a white dove
True love will make sense

Remember, Summertime is gone
With it the warm sunshine
Soon comes the awaited dawn
With it warmer sunshine

… and so it began…

image: Sheila Tiffin – Children on the Beach, Porthmeor, St. Ives

Long Johns Conceal Love (for Bobby)

“Long johns, my friend, we need to put them on to stave the cold”
It feels colder these days than when as kids we built snowmen,
Rode our flexible flyer down the hill, brave and reckless, laughing.
We wake in the morning with stiff fingers and an unusual chill: 40?
New England would laugh a collective laugh at our need for layers.
Yet, here we are, in our pit, in our mire, seeking rock for our feet,
Fingers numb to the bone, the pain we feel hard to diagnose, known
Inside our souls, yet we only share part of the details, what our shame
Forgets to hide as we try and abate our shivering flesh, ripped away
From the bones that once held us upright and strong as we climbed
Back up the hill once our laughter filled the valley of drifted snow.
Are we far from those teenagers now? Without conviction I say yes.
Yet, the 17 year old looks down on me in my wasted state of weakness
And knows he is already the better man and turns to his mother to say
“I will be edgy and cool without a diploma.” “We have to watch over her.”
He doesn’t know about long johns or laughter in the snow drift valley.
The blades of the flexible flyer have rusted. My sins have overcome me.
I have become poor and needy, and look up to this little Lord, help me
Do not delay your thoughts, chill climbing my bones needs a blanket.
Do not conceal your love, cover me up, so that all might see mercy.

I believe this was a collaboration between me and Christine Ray, or maybe it was just something she said that prompted this piece, either way. She deserves her usual credit for her faith in me, for her faith in my words, and for just being a general Badass.

Spend some time with her and her amazing network of beautiful writers!
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The Path My Feet Must Follow

Image: Vineyards and Snow, by Julian Merrow-Smith
Postcard from Provence: a daily painting blog, fresh daily since 2005