Your Youth is Calling

Photomontage: Lakeside IdyllsIdylls & Idealism

A lake as cool as fishes’ silver flanks

and ruffled less by wind than lily leaves,

where children roll their pant legs up, and sleeves,

to shepherd pollywogs along the banks,

Right where the river empties in its pool,

sending out eddies limned in leafy green

and damselflies all hover on the scene

as shadow changes sun to shady, cool,

Pale reminiscent ghosts of yesterdays

that elders at their picnics on the shore

remember by their scent, if little more,

and are transported thus into a haze,

For idling lakeside, childlike, it seems,

inspires sweet, idealistic dreams…Photo: Reminiscing

Shades of Myself

How Fleeting is My Soul

O, perfidy! that, fugitive, elopes
With all that filled my soul with meanings rare,
And character, and hung up in the air
What history I knew, and all my hopes,
My senses, and my sense, unleashed them all;
Left me unmoored, untethered, in the wind,
Subject to every buffeting, unpinned;
And burning like an effigy, to fall
In ashen flakes and caught in drafts, to drift
Apart from faithless memory, and pine
For everything I thought was Me and Mine,
Now tantalizing from across a rift.
What once defined and marked me as my own
Has fled, and Self has left me quite alone.Digital illo: Egret

Here’s hoping that there are cures, or at least tremendous strides in treatments for, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia in the near future. And even before then, greatly improved support for those who suffer from these sorrows, whether as patients or as patients’ caregivers.

Invitation to Inspiration

Photo: Our Sorrows are Our OwnIf Beauty Dwells Inside

If beauty dwells inside the mortal heart

and soul, what dark impediment can be

so strong that we’d forget, incessantly,

to let it rule and be the greater part?

Have bitterness and poverty of care

for good and kindly things the weight and sway

to force the love of beauty out, away,

and leave a wound of emptiness in there?

What fault in us could any cause invent

to trade our greatest gift for grief or hate—

can joy revive, or is it left too late

that we grow wiser, love, create—relent?

Let us let go of emptiness, grow whole

by filling it with Beauty, heart and soul.Photo: Beauty without & within

Death and Perfection

My friend said to me not long ago something that got me thinking about death, specifically about the way that love and other relationships are affected by it. What I was thinking about was, mainly, that until any of us dies, we not only cannot but perhaps should not be perfect; if it were possible, what would be the point of continuing? I hear people talking, often enough, about how there might be people alive today who will live to be 150 years old, perhaps even twice that, and my immediate reaction is Why?! Is there really so much important stuff any one of us is going to accomplish in two or three of our current life-spans that we ought to crave living several lifetimes?

I certainly have no desire to live extra long if it means that I will have to get another job or six in order to afford it, and retire, if I’m lucky, when I’m 215 years old. Or if it means that I outlive whole swaths of people I have liked or loved or admired and have to struggle to make friends over and over again. Or, most especially, if it means that my slow-aging compatriots and I live in a world full of people who can survive all sorts of diseases and previously life-threatening injuries, but not necessarily with a very desirable quality of life, or worse yet, we exist like crammed masses of crawling and buzzing insects in an ever-decreasing amount of space relative to our numbers, scrabbling and battling for resources that couldn’t possibly expand to enrich all of us, let alone with any sort of fair distribution or generosity. If the current chatter ever gets a whole lot more encouraging about the long-lifers spending equal attention and energy on making the world more peaceable and the people in it healthier, kinder, happier, more generous, and a whole lot wiser, then I might consider living “forever” of greater interest.

My friend’s comment also prodded me to think about how death has affected my own life and the relationships within it. To revisit the many what-ifs about whether I could be better than I am, had I cherished and understood my long-gone relatives and friends more wisely and profoundly. About whether I can still garner the strength and intelligence to improve if I pay attention to the lessons I did learn, or maybe can still learn, from them. Certainly, I have wondered enough times what my life’s sojourn, and I within it, would have looked like if various loved ones had lived longer, not to mention how different the whole world could have been. Something in me always eventually rebels at that thought, however sorrowfully, for there is a large part of me, too, that knows how easily I become fixed in my thinking about even living persons I know and forget to reevaluate our relationships, to renew my commitment to them. And I know very well that those who have died remain perpetually frozen ever after in the way that I perceived them and our living interactions. It’s so much easier to be a devil or a saint when you’ve ceased living and can never again do or be anything new to change the balance of the known and the imagined.

And this path of contemplation returns me, of course, to wondering whether it will matter especially to anyone else that I did exist. I have no children to carry on my genes in a direct line, for better or worse. Most of the people who fill my days, no matter how valued in the present time, will continue on their life paths and I on mine, and the majority of us will lose contact and even forget each other, and that is natural enough and no terrible thing, either. But when my dust rejoins the remaining carbon of this known planet, will it matter?

And will I live in memory as devil or saint, or simply and satisfyingly, as an ordinary mortal being, fixed, perhaps, in the amber of another person’s memory just as he or she knew me and never more or less? I can’t answer. I don’t need to answer. I’ll go the way of all living and dying things. I will mingle my dust with all of my fellows’, and with everyone who has gone before or after us, and if any spirit lingers on, may it be—for all of us—the best that is remembered, and the rest forgotten and trodden into our survivors’ own life paths, going wherever they, in turn, may go. If the mountains of our remains raise them up any higher, then so much the better that we both lived and died.Photo: Enfold Me in the Green

Enfold Me in the Green

Enfold me in the green breast of the earth

And gently speak my name with love once more,

Then turn and take your way to what’s before

You now, that all the world will know your worth

As I was blessed to know it in my time—

That hand, unstinting in its tender care,

The scent of rain around you everywhere,

Your slightest whisper in my ear sublime—

That now you’ll speak to other waiting ears.

For now I sleep; let earth be the embrace

To keep me kindly in my newer place

While yours will others bless in coming years.

I thank you, now I need no more the sun

That shall be yours until your day is done.

Darker than Dark

Digital illo from a photo: Black ButterflyEclipse

It all began with the erasure of

All memory, of thought and hope and care,

Of sight and sound and sense, and of the air,

Removal of all faint belief in love—

A chrysalis unsealed its crystal door,

Wherefrom emerged a brittle wingèd thing

That slowly pulsed the veining of its wing,

Searching for light and heat that came no more—

And, lastly, drew upon the black’ning sky

To fill its velvet wings, opaque, a most

Mysterious angel, butterfly, a ghost,

Then spread that inky cloak and sprang to fly—

And so was blotted out the sun and moon

And ev’ry ounce of life at highest noon.Digital illo from a photo: Black Wing

Too Soon

Photo: Blurred by TearsStolen Away

Too soon, cold sorrow steals from me the light

Of promise, of the hope for growing love

Which I had longed to see his mastery of

Bring him to see such stars divide the night

That he might know it possible that day

Was his as much as anyone’s, and keep

Alive, alight, and not succumb to sleep

As refuge from an endlessly dark way,

But my poor strivings—anyone’s, I guess—

Could never generate the power he

Required to light enough so he could see

In such great bleakness any happiness,

And love and hope, invisible and far

From him as he from me, my distant star.Photo: Sorrowful

Morning and Evening

Digital illustration: Happy New Year

Year In, Year Out

The year begins with ice and fire at dawn

As January draws the curtain high,

Revealing what is written on the sky

To turn our vision forward and move on—

Into the year ahead, awake, renewed,

To see what can be done, what holds the key

That everything required of you and me

Will help fulfill the prophecy we viewed—

Move us with hope and joy through dark and light,

Through time that tests us as it passes by

Until we see another evening sky

Leading the way to that December night—

When once again we’ll come to gather here

And mark the changing to another year.

Digital illustration: Happy New Year Again