Looking up from below
He stands high above me
I search in the heavens
As the world will see
Wherever I search,
He stands beside me
His hands support my soul
The dreams of Coronus
The dream of Peace
I feel the presence of Heaven
Come to the Go Dog Go Cafe this week and share your thoughts on “The color of her blood was the least of my worries…”
The color of her blood was the least of my worries,
The color our blood made, a delta of throbbing flow
Two rivers carving up the earth relentless in pursuit
Of an ocean in need of salt. The rush of this pair
This need, worried me. Why can the single stream
Not carve land with adequate expression of faith?
When he drifted up to view the landscape written
In his tumble down to the sea, he saw half letters
Made complete in the delta of their blood a quill
That wrote new tales of life in fallow fields.
Christine is known for her writing prompt challenges on her blog Brave and Reckless. She is now hosting a Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge at the Go Dog Go Cafe. The prompts are designed to be quick challenges that can be written in 10 to 15 minutes, inspire you creatively, are fun, and get everyone interacting. Please post your response to the prompt in the comments below and show your fellow posters some love and support. All members of the Go Dog Go community, including Baristas, are welcome to participate. Feel free to share this post on your own blogs and/or Facebook.
Christine is always looking for cool, quick writing prompts. If you have a great idea for a future Tuesday prompt challenge, send it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s prompt is a flash fiction that starts with: “The color of her blood was the least of my worries…”
Today, thought I just about made it
When the sand felt so soft under foot.
Surf as gentle as she has ever been
Kind, she tasted my toes, an offering.
The Bay as still as she has ever been
Called my heart ready, an offering.
So I swam, free style, each stroke
Reaching as far as it could, elbows high,
Until there was nothing left to reach for.
Stories tell of the peace felt the moment
Water rushes inside remaining voids
Releasing oxygen others need more.
Today, just about made it across the bay
When the bottom, littered with rocks
Called me its offering, gentle and kind.
So I swam until there was nothing left
Water rushed in like a baby yet born,
I closed my eyes, close enough to losing.
Are you awake?
I’m right here.
Are you awake?
I’ll watch you.
Today, swim with me,
Son, so close…
I am not losing you
This week’s song of the week finishes The National back-catalog with a response to the stunning melancholy of “About Today” formally released on the EP Cherry Tree, made more powerful in its live version on the Virginia EP. A conventional reading of the lyrics tell of a man next to his wife realizing he is losing her. An unconventional reading of the lyrics is more self-reflective, a man looking at himself so close to losing everything. Today, the 25th of May, both readings speak to me. My response, however, ends with the hopeful, yet pained voice of a Father, perhaps The Father, who watches over his Son, not yet ready to lose him. This cathartic poem has been brewing for some time, now, and at last finds its voice.
Original version, a powerful part of the film The Warrior:
This live version, however, rips my heart out every time:
Songwriters: Aaron Dessner / Matthew Berninger
You were far away
Didn’t ask you why
What could I say
I was far away
You just walked away
And I just watched you
What could I say
How close am I
To losing you
You just close your eyes
And I just watch you
How close am I
To losing you
Hey, are you awake
Yeah I’m right here
Well can I ask you
This morning, the rains practice their rhythms on the skylights
That had let the day inside all night long, but somehow a dream
Found me. Now with the rains I practice my craft of singing
Words over emotions and memories as they fall down to earth
Looking for a puddle to gather and be stomped in by a child
Who wants to see what mud splatters will say, dried on the wall.
The dream that found me had been sitting like a solitary soul
Somewhere on the broken landscape inside Thingvellir Rift
When the playful child god inhabited my solemn grey frame
And taught me how to play again with my children. Hiding
In a cave that stank of piss, lurking like a tiny monster to scare
The first youth who dared walk past my home, unsuspecting.
Too late, they had become suspecting of their playful father
Recalled from Tiger Wrestles and indoor basement camping
And out-seeked the hider. Before they became aware of fatigue
Sitting alone inside the stench of my own piss, I walked out.
This was not the dream. From behind the rift wall, a tectonic
Movement occurred inside, pulled apart 2 centimeters a year.
In the gap the ocean had filled, glacial melt so clear yet so cold
You could see the bottom 46 feet down, it looked like a hand
Could reach inside to pick the lucky coins now a part of earth’s
Slow history. Someday, tell the story of how God’s patient rip
Tore open the flesh so called perfect gods hid behind, aware
The fissures in the facade were cracking like broken porcelain.
In seconds, though, God wrapped his hand around my heart
Began to squeeze so hard to make me stop and listen to Him.
Look out across my broken landscapes, Son, and see beauty:
Each crack in the earth, the sharp uneven rocks, every weed
Awaits your naked feet. Be brave. I unbuttoned the costume
Seeing in front of me the first rock that looked stable enough.
They begin speaking the words they had been collecting from their stories.
Words that no longer have any real meaning, because,
Perfection cannot know everything.
I pause to ask God, “Choose one or the other:
Omniscience or Perfection.”
He says, “One or the other, Friend?
For you, I chose to be a man;
Though it was a woman you wanted, right?
So perfection seems to be too much,
But I do know what you really need.
This broken conversation that you knew would
Have it, though,
Like a debt that needs paying.
Someday you will know everything, too
And agree that nobody’s perfect.
Something so obvious,
Those who know nothing at all
God giggles as he meanders away.
Then they continue the conversation
Looking for meaning in their story,
In honor of Mother’s Day, I share a poem written for my Mom during Freshman year after receiving a letter telling of my family’s legacy at Notre Dame. She didn’t tell me before I left home, but wrote… “My father always wanted a boy, so he could go to Notre Dame. He was so proud of his Uncle Charles… he would be so proud of you.”
November 12, 1988
Open my soul to the music of the wind.
“The Virgin Mother
Feel her golden gaze.
She will guide you.
An everlasting embrace.
She will remember you.”
Oh, Madonna watch over me
“A precious heart lives forever with hope-
The presence of your eyes is fulfillment
Of our forgotten dream
Their eyes in eternity watch with you,
A smile on their resting souls.”
I always connected with the words “At Notre Dame” written by my Great Great Uncle, Fr. Charles Leo O’Donnell, CSC one of the finest Catholic poets of his generation. “Another singer down these paths may stray” he writes, someone who hears “Some whisper of a song in these old oaks” and who “may remember that I passed this way.” My songs may never match yours, Uncle Charles, but I hear you and I remember you.
Once a year I would hike to his modest grave at the Holy Cross Cemetery and say a quiet prayer for him, for the grandfather I never knew, and for my Mom. Now, Father Charles, Mom has been the singer who calmed a soul’s unrest after the grief of summer’s undoing. Grandpa Francis, I am grateful for her and I know that your eyes are smiling on her as she gives your grandson the strength he needs to bear the weight of his winter. For many more years, may I breathe brave air and whisper my songs, until, perhaps, some graced newcomer hears their faint echo.
At Notre Dame
So well I love these woods I half believe
There is an intimate fellowship we share;
So many years we breathed the same brave air,
Kept spring in common, and were one to grieve
Summer’s undoing, saw the fall bereave
Us both of beauty, together learned to bear
The weight of winter. When I go other where —
An unreturning journey — I would leave
Some whisper of a song in these old oaks,
A footfall lingering till some distant summer
Another singer down these paths may stray —
The destined one a golden future cloaks —
And he may love them, too, this graced newcomer,
And may remember that I passed this way.
To the beginning son, go back with me
Remember how I stood beside you when…
No, you only remember my absence.
Here we return with precision, an arrow
Fired by the great Tell who reveals us.
The apple on our heads, the gift of Eve
Who saw in us the beginning of Love.
On a hill in Wales, Father enters me
Not with punishment, but with his sadness.
Fills me with a beauty that consumes me:
Simple sheep graze on green grass on green hills,
Too many verdant hues to name. The blue meets us
Compassion like the sky hosts metamorphs:
Clouds, lurking innocent children of beasts
Whose anger gave us this green, gave these sheep.
Gave us wool that warms us in winter.
Gave us mutton that fills our hunger.
Beauty these gifts represent enters
Me like Father returning to the land
Of his own. “Get on your knees, son, sorrow,
You must feel it now. These gifts given you
Lie in waste like blood in scaled veins. Look up!
Through tears, I show you once again! This time,
I will humble you and you will know Love.
With it, do good like storm begets spirit.
Rise up, face the life I called you to live.”
I got off my knees and climb the mountain
To toss the precious that ruled like a curse
Masking my Soul, invisible to me,
Led me to the river to steal fish
From mouths needing food,
Kill those whose only crime:
The place of their birth.
I became Monster
A monster does not know exists
The mirror sees past the blush,
Through the mascara of a mask painted
In green rooms of youth only to be smudged
By the tears of life’s stage.
Now, the Father
Who returns to me, kneeling in supplication,
“Get up! Climb, son, climb. Go find the path
To treasure granted by breath that fills lungs,
Breathe out songs only one Soul will echo,
Love that will be the melody of Life.”