She could scarcely believe that a year
had passed, spent in stagnant mire
garnished with forgotten breaths
The flimsy laminated menu
detailing sophisticated cuisine
promised escape, escape!
“Escargot“ enticed, whispered
coyly of a fragrant symphony
certain to yield only satisfaction
She assessed the china dish before her,
lifted tiny garish spoon to take in
tenderness afloat in rich garlic pools -
And could only picture the quiet garden
where innocence was never questioned…
and snails knew not the essence of salt
A Brave and Startling Truth
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil
When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze
When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse
When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets
Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world
When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
Funny the things we recall.
Images that flash through our brain.
Some most vivid for me were of an old man.
Skin like creased parchment paper,
Lined and yellowed with age.
The veins visible just below the surface,
of a thin nearly transparent veneer.
Liver spotted flecks of red,
Charted paths from the toil of many years,
Palms callused forever from a life time of labor.
Big fingers knotted and misshapen,
The two inch tip of one gone missing,
Saw taken, at age sixteen.
Looking at those old hands, one could hardly guess
That still there remained gentleness in their caress.
For an old dog, or a little grandson in need of some
Companionable affection or parental love.
Those aged hands could also make things,
Toy sailboats, and wooden trains,
complete with caboose,
And cow catcher guard.
A cool flute whistle that actually worked,
He said it was like the Indian’s made,
Out Oklahoma way.
And he would know,
He cowboyed there.
His hands taught me to tie my shoes,
Open and close my first pocket knife.
Those same hands could become birds,
rabbits, butterfly's, all sorts of things.
When projected up on the wall,
Silhouetted by a naked back light.
His hands knew magic too,
Pluck silver coins right out of my ears.
His tired face matched his hands,
visual weathered, creased and
wrinkled road maps,
Of 89 years of rugged roads traveled.
Yet, his lively pale green eyes remained
forever fraudulently youthful prisms,
Eyes and spirit of a much younger man within.
But it is his hands most of all I shall remember,
Their imposing look and their reassuring
touches of tenderness.
I shall never forget my Grandfather’s hands.
My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same
A lov'd regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Revers'd for him our grandsire's fate of yore—
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlook'd or unforeseen,
I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.
Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr'd
The gift—a fate, or will, that walk'd astray;
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.
Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outliv'd, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have roll'd
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience; not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear),
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.
I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrific'd to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.
Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation; to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
Oh that thou wert but with me!—but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show;
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my alter'd eye.
I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have lov'd, they are
Resign'd for ever, or divided far.
The world is all before me; I but ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply—
It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.
I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not; for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun,
The earliest—even the only paths for me—
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept;
I had not suffer'd, and thou hadst not wept.
With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make—a name,
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.
And for the future, this world's future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outliv'd myself by many a day,
Having surviv'd so many things that were;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
Of life which might have fill'd a century,
Before its fourth in time had pass'd me by.
And for the remnant which may be to come
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless, for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings further. Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around,
And worship Nature with a thought profound.
For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are—I am, even as thou art—
Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwin'd—let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!
~Lord George Gordon Byron 1788—1824~