Beacons Unreachable

Crowned with gold by the rising sun
         the tree tops taunt me

They reign joyously in their airy empyrean
         illuminated, exalted, beacons unreachable
                   from the vale of shadow in which I stand

Down upon the earth,
         the grasses tangle in an untidy carpet
                   dull and trampled, littered by crumpled brown leaves

The mock orange has lost half its foliage
         and the ragged fronds
                   reveal ivy encroaching from its roots

The memory of bridal blossoms, a mix of glad buds
         half-unfurled petals, and flowers full-blown
                   cannot charm, as unreachable as the crowned oaks

The glory of autumn gone
         nature half-dead lacks the clean clarity of winter
                   messiness drowns in dimness, made yet more dim
                         by the brilliance of the overarching heavens

As the dawning progresses to full morn
         light will reach the shadows, dispelling them

Would that it might reach me
 

In memory of my mother:
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Too Late

          Delicate
               furled soft pink
                    the petals of a late summer rose

 
          The air should be langorous
               abuzz with bees
                    demanding the wafting of a fan for comfort

 
          Matte green
               traced by veins with a hint of red
                    the rose leaves are all they should be

 
          But the air chills my face
               crisp, autumnal
                    and the rose petals are brittle, frozen

 
          The month is November
               not the August
                    to which I cling

 

In memory of my mother:
Beacons Unreachable
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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One Crossing

   now the grief is sharp
   my mother, oh, my mother
   come back, please, come back

 
   let me hear your voice
   let me touch your hand
   let me kiss your cheek

 
   you are dear to me, so dear
   my heart breaks that you have gone
   between one breath and the next you were gone

 
   oh, Mother, my mother
   return to me
   I want you back

 
   the pain is sharp
   but no one returns from that last departure
   I know it even as I beg for your return

 
   between one breath and the next, you slipped from the flesh
   freed spirit sitting easily, smiling
   you stood without thought, happy, and walked onward

 
   there is no crossing the same river twice
   I struggle with that truth
   longing for you

 
   longing
 

In memory of my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Grief
Lament
Missing Her
Grievous Loss

 

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Lament

   a fire burnt in my being
 
          in the depths
          in the darkness
          at the heart

 
   fire to create
   fire to love
   fire to be

 
          but grief has translated me through time and space
          away from myself

 
   o, bring me the burning coal
   heart, where is thy passion?
   fire, where is thy flame?

 
   even the ashes are absent

 

In memory of my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Grief
Missing Her
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Grief

    I have gone long past autumn
    The brilliance is fled
    Soft somberness cloaks me
         as I mourn

 

    The winter has not come yet
         to close down this inbetween interval

 

    I tread the shredded leaves underfoot
    Damp from yesterday’s rain, they do not rustle
    There should be weeping
         as I mourn

 

    But the season’s death is soft, weary;
         it drags and muffles, does not cut

 

    I stand beneath dark outstretched boughs
    Remembering another tree, flanked by two like it
    My heart weeps, but my eyes merely ache
         as I mourn

 

    The clarity of the distant sky has vanished,
         coming close to mingle with the soft air, removing hope

 

    Lost between my loss and an unknown future,
    I am alone and forsaken,
    Too weary to find my way
         as I mourn

 

In memory of my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Lament
Missing Her
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Grievous Loss

My mother passed away October 7, 2017. She was 87 years old. I’m going to share with you the words I spoke at her funeral on Friday, October 13, 2017.

I loved my mother very much. I still do. We were close from the very beginning, and we just got closer as I grew up.

My mom was a remarkable woman, and I wish I could share with you everything that made her so wonderful and so special to me. But I’m capable of talking about my kids for 6 hours by the clock, and I suspect I could easily double that for Mom.

Since I can’t tell you everything, I’m going to focus on one very special aspect of her, something that was at the heart of our mother-daughter relationship. And the best way to lead into that is through something that happened to me last Wednesday.

I woke up at 5 in the morning from a nightmare.

I dreamed that someone I love was judging me and condemning me unfairly. It pierced me to my core. It really hurt. And I awoke to a pounding heart and a full fight-or-flight response.

It was one of those dreams that are hard to throw off, but I worked to do just that, reminding myself that it was just a dream, that I was awake now. I wished I could tell my mom. There were so many times in the past, especially when I was still young and living at home, that I would have a bad dream and tell Mom all about it.

She would listen with her whole heart, completely interested in my experience, and immersed in talking it over with me. She was not bored, or waiting to tell me her dream, or thinking about all the tasks she had to get done that day.

She was with me with her whole self, listening to what I said and to what I could not say. I felt so safe in her presence and so heard by her. And she always came up with the insights I needed in order to understand what I could learn from the dream, to arrive at peace with it and be able to let it go.

Of course, my dream of this Wednesday was a fairly straight forward matter. It showed me that I still tend to judge and condemn myself unfairly.

My mother would have enjoyed dissecting that dream with me, but I usually sought her counsel for life problems that were much thornier and more painful. And she gave me the same deep interest and caring that she gave my bad dreams.

She found the psychological puzzles that were posed by my problems to be fascinating in and of themselves, but of course she also wanted to help me and relieve my emotional pain, both because she liked to help people by bringing relief to their psychological hurts and because she loved me very much and wanted to ease my hurt.

As I moved out of young adulthood, our long and deep talks became more of a two-way street. Sometimes she would seek my listening heart and my insight about one of her thorny life problems. We took turns asking one another’s counsel in the search for clarity and understanding.

I miss my mother to the core, because she was my mother and I love her so much. But I am also missing those heart-to-heart talks that were so much of how we related to one another.

I won’t be having those talks with her ever again, but they form a part of her legacy that goes out far beyond me.

I’m going to conclude with one small story that shows what I mean.

As my mother’s health worsened over her last few months, I leaned more and more heavily on my closest friends for support. During the past two weeks, I called one of them nearly every day. I found her words of wisdom and her warm caring to be invaluable.

In one of our conversations, I told her so.

She answered me by saying, “Well, I learned how to listen like this, with my whole heart, from you.”

I was astounded. “You did?” I said.

She replied very simply: “Yes, I did.”

And then I realized that was one of my mother’s many gifts that has been rippling out into the world all of her life, and that will continue to go out to touch those in need of a listening ear paired with a loving heart even now that she is gone.

She taught me to listen deeply – with my whole being – and to think deeply about what I was hearing. She taught me by doing that for me. I taught my friend by doing the same for her. And my friend has surely passed on that gift to yet others.

My mother gave this gift of caring listening paired with wise insight to me, her daughter, but I was far from the only one who received it. She was eager to help anyone who wanted and needed her help, and she did.

Imagine that legacy of her love and insight flowing out through each one of us to others in need of compassion and wise counsel. It seems a mighty legacy to me. That gives me some comfort.

In tribute to my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Grief
Lament
Missing Her
One Crossing

 

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Why the Long Hiatus in Blog Posts?

My plan, as of November 2016, was to focus on the revisions needed for The Tally Master and the work needed for the holidays. Blogging could wait until the beginning of January.

Part of that plan went forward just fine. I think my kids had fun, I loved the time with my parents, and everyone seemed to enjoy bonding during the last weeks of December. Additionally, I made steady progress on my revisions and turned The Tally Master over to my second reader on January 7.

So far, so good.

The very next day I received the phone call that let me know my mother was dangerously ill in the hospital. I dropped everything and went up for a week to support her and my father. She got better! Was able to go home. I went home, too, arriving just in time to handle a crisis involving one child and school. That took some sorting out, but I did sort it out, and had almost finished with it when I received a phone call that my mother had been admitted to the hospital again, even more seriously ill this time.

I couldn’t drop the crisis at home – my child needed me – but the instant I got it resolved, I dashed up to Maryland again and stayed for another week. And my mother got better! It seemed almost miraculous, and I was so grateful. She was admitted to a rehab this time, and I returned home myself. To discover that my left retina had torn!

Aaaaah!

You may recall that my left retina tore last year in January. The recovery from the earlier repair procedure had been grueling. This time I was lucky. The tear was much smaller and more contained. The ophthalmologist was able to repair it very quickly with just laser, and the aftermath did not require holding my head at a specific angle 24/7 for months.

But I must admit that all of the above really took it out of me!

I haven’t been entirely preoccupied with personal emergencies, however. Many weeks I was. But I’ve also been working hard on the appendices for The Tally Master, as well as communicating with the designer I hired to create the cover.

Yes, I actually hired a cover designer instead of doing the cover design myself! And I’ve learned something.

I’m skilled at using Photoshop. I’m talented at graphic design. The covers I create are attractive and professionally done. But my covers are not adequately conveying the mood and feeling of my stories to many of my potential readers.

How do I know this?

The instant I saw the rough draft for the cover of The Tally Master it fairly leapt to my eye, because this cover did convey the mood and the feeling, and the contrast with – say, Fate’s Door – was dramatic.

I’m still thinking about what I’ll do about covers going forward. I want to see how the commissioned cover affects my sales before I make any firm decisions. But I am leaning toward hiring out cover design for my novels, at least, although I may continue to create the covers for my shorter works myself.

So… while I await feedback from my second reader, I have lots of things to share with you here: cool stuff about the setting of The Tally Master, the new cover, and some new things I’ve been doing on the cooking and nutrition front. I can’t wait! 😀

 

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