Bloom

Bing images

Bing images

Pretty color.
I reach out, entranced.
The thorns prick.
My blood disappears into
the scarlet Bougainvillea blossoms.
I’m not fond of blood.

I slide off
the dizzying height;
past white striations on grey slate
that run southward and meld
with dark cave holes.
Grotesque shaped arms reach
out towards me.

I pick up speed and fly on.
Stop. Ahead.
Where sky
merges with Terra.

“Are you watching?”
She said as she
stirred the gumdrops
into the batter.

Instead of the
promised soar
I lie broken,
my bed a dry creek,
with pillows of brown dust
that billow and settle
into my cracks.
I turn invisible.

Whiffs of orange blossoms
stir the dust, tickle my nose,
and carry me back
to cool spring nights
under the backyard stars
where tiny pebbles in the ground
under the blanket
get on my last nerve.

“Be careful, or you’ll
end up burned,” she
worried.

“I believe in you,”
he smiled.

I was torn.
Caught in the middle.
I couldn’t believe
either of them.

In stops and starts
I ventured out,
flitted and floundered;
afraid to soar.

You’re not promotion
material,
he justified,
ticking off his boxes,
unless you can play
the politics game.

I gripped the ink pen
so tight it bent.
Not willing to
go so far as to
mortally finish
him or me,
I smiled.

A smile that never
reached my eyes.

Open up to the
decay, the
putrid slime
and drink in.
Smile the grin
of the damned
with Bougainvillea red
dripping teeth.

To accept
or not to accept
such an invitation?

I try.
Come on in,
the water’s fine,
they call as they
go down for the
third time.

Why is it not
that simple?
Just finish it.
Just do it.

Some primal urge
to survive wells up,
and drags me back from
the precipice.

Scarred fingers
pull against ragged
crags. Hands reach
out and pull me up.

At last I stand
on the jagged mount,
love healed,
my Bougainvillea bracelet
a scarlet reminder.

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Turkey Journeys and Stars

image source:123rf

image source:123rf

Thanksgiving means extra grocery shopping.  I think I’ve found a good, pre-packaged gluten free bread stuffing for the turkey.  Two years ago, I made my own using a loaf of gluten free bread, onions, celery, chicken broth, oil and spices.  I liked it, though to be honest, when you can’t have wheat most grain products taste pretty good.

Of course I still had to stuff the turkey with Mrs. Cubison’s Bread Stuffing for Mother as she was convinced anything without wheat would not be worth eating.  She had a bite or so of mine and said it wasn’t too bad, which was why I was surprised last year when she suggested we just stuff the turkey with gluten free bread stuffing.  Works for me as I’m up for anything that makes life easier and not having to make two different stuffings qualifies.

Modifying my diet is nothing new.  I’ve spent the last thirty years finding foods that work for whatever physical quirk my medical gurus and I have uncovered.  At first it was like I was on safari in a far off galaxy, floating among the stars, spear guns and large nets at the ready, avoiding the meteors threatening to knock me off my perch; hanging on so that I didn’t float untethered into the great beyond, but bit by trial by bit, I found things that worked and that I liked.  The rosy glow of health and increased stamina to stay balanced among the piranhas being the obvious pay-off.

Try explaining all that to your elderly Mother who believes if we just eat normally, all will be fine.  Of course, her definition of normal depends upon whatever tangent she currently finds palatable.  Like the spicy hot sauce, chips and Coke she lived on for a couple of years before I moved here.

“Why?” I asked.

“My stomach was upset” she said, “and I had really bad diarrhea and that was all that tasted good.”

Hmmm.  There could be a pattern here: spicy hot sauce, huge amounts of sugar and the caffeine in the coke – do you see the connection to not feeling good, Mother?  Evidently not.

Sadly for her, she can no longer shop or drive so doing the shopping is now up to me.  I’m not buying foods that will make her health quirks worse.  And does she get ticked off.

“I can’t believe you threw out my loose leaf Black Tea,” she says, her voice rising.

“I didn’t throw it out, I donated it to the church,” I say as I fill her tea canister with Caffeine free loose tea.

“If I put something on the list, then that’s what I expect you to get,” she slams the ink pen down on the grocery list, pulls her red sweater closer around her and glares at me.

“Here’s the deal, Mother,” I put the fresh veggies in the crisper and close the refrigerator door, “if it’s so important to you to eat things that aggravate GERD, then fine, that’s what I’ll buy,” I open a 3 lb bag of sugar and fill the canister, “and when you can’t swallow your food and aspirate in your sleep, I’ll just call the EMTs after you’re gone, ok?” I slam the canister back into its spot at the back of the counter.

“Humpf,” she reaches for her cane, turns and with each slow step clonks towards the dining room, “it’s time for my painting show,” and the TV goes on at full volume.

It’s been a winding, spinning trip but from time to time she catches up to me and when she gets there I’m surprised at what she does, like offering to make gluten free desserts and saying she’s thinks the packaged gluten free stuffing I found will be delicious.  I’m amazed that somewhere in her easily confused brain that can’t remember the names of her great-great-grandchildren and which grand-children got married last year, she has learned some new ways to eat.  Proof positive: you can teach an old dog new tricks. If they don’t kill you first, that is.

image source:thispilgrimland

image source:thispilgrimland

I feel the burn of the rope over my shoulder lessen and the weight of the barge I tow easing as it navigates more easily on its travel through the stars.  I thought I was here just to help her maintain, to be comfortable, to keep her health balanced so that her end would be easier.  I didn’t know the journey would also be about me letting go.  I had no idea it would be about finding new ways to communicate.  I couldn’t see that it would be about accepting Mother’s weaknesses while remembering to recognize her strengths.  I had to learn this journey is not really about Mother, it’s about me.  What I will learn.  Who I will be.  Who I will look like after she’s gone. Relieved?  Worn down?  Blossomed into a new inner beauty?  That’s the one I’d like to choose.  Only God can get me there and thankfully He’s pulling this barge with me.

Shining Star

image source:uww.edu

image source:uww.edu

I read somewhere that scientists equate the universe to the ticking of a big clock whose mechanism is losing energy, winding down to a stop.  They give it complex explanations of thermodynamics, entropy and kinetic energy, but essentially, the universe began with a fixed amount of energy and in every second of the millennia, that energy is being used and will not be refueled.  So, the stars are burning out, giving off their heat as they become unavailable energy and the universe will go dark and cold and dead.

You and I, we’re finite, begun by the creative power of the sperm fertilizing the egg and once planted, all factors being correct, the little seed grows until it must burst forth from the womb, then nurtured and cared for, the little life grows into adulthood.  We’re refueled to some degree along the way by sleep and food but there is a point at which our life’s clock begins its winding down and the once smooth skin in its blush of youth and beauty ever moves on to a yellow/grayish pallor, deeply lined and creased, our bones and muscles achy and creaky, our organs losing their ability to function and in the end, we lie in the coffin inert, powerless, done, finished, gone.

Some things about the way we grow and then wind down seem a little bizarre, I mean really, why would a creator make your eyes at birth about 2/3rds their adult size and have them stop growing sometime in your late teens or early twenties, but make your ears and nose so that they just keep on and keep on growing?  Now that’s weird, right?  I mean you’ve seen those old people with really big noses and ears, haven’t you?  Like, how attractive is that?  And what about all that old people ear and nose hair that somebody should trim?  Creepy.  Maybe that’s just God’s sense of humor.

We have all this wound up energy in the beginning and we take in sustenance and the growth is fueled into muscles and strength and we’re taught to harness that power.  People once believed one should harness their resources to create beauty, build great buildings or expansion bridges or city infrastructures or rockets that fly out into space or develop the technology to live on the bottom of the ocean; and all these great advances took energy and creativity and hard work and had to be funded at great expense by someone who had worked hard to create immense wealth.

At least at one time that was the goal.  Now, I’m not so sure.  We seem more takers than givers these days.  The wound up energy that believed we could dominate nature and could create great societies, could build a tower of babble, could reach the moon, could triumph over all disease and inequality and oppression; is that energy gone?  Expended to never return?

You might not think so when you look around.  I mean, nearly everyone you see has the latest technology in their ear bud, at their fingertips with ipads, ipods, iphones.  We’ve all got cell phone chargers and microwaves and cars that could go fast were it not for traffic.  We’ve got what we need to thrive in a modern world, right?  To make that world better, agreed?  I wonder.

image source:WilliamWilberforce.the marginalized.com

image source:WilliamWilberforce.the marginalized.com

And what did William Wilberforce have in the late 1780’s until his death in 1832 to use to fight against human slavery?  Consider this, packaged toilet paper wasn’t even available until about twenty-five years after he died.  I’m not sure I could conquer the world without toilet paper.  How about you?  That didn’t stop Wilberforce.  He had that life force, the wound up energy we’re all born with and he harnessed it until his force ran out at age 74.  Perhaps more to the point was not when he lived and what advantages or disadvantages he lived with, but that he had a purpose, a goal, a great driving force that told him it was wrong for one person to own another person as a slave.  Not that his convictions were easy.  He came up against a huge money-making machine that fought long and hard to keep its power and control, but eventually, the rightness of his cause won out and on his death-bed, his bill to end slavery in the British Empire was passed.  It became effective throughout the empire about a year after he died.  Talk about energy living on, the purpose of Wilberforce’s beliefs lives on today.

image source:scienceblogs

image source:scienceblogs

Without a great purpose, what’s the point of my life’s energy?  I will go dark at some point.  You will go dark.  Maybe the burning out stars are a clue.  They light up the sky; their very existence means at one point their energy began and they fulfilled their purpose.  Are we not the same?  Created with a life force?  The challenge is to find my purpose, do my creating, change my world as I go along.  Take the risk to search for meaning, for reason to be.  Become the Wilberforce in my part of the universe.  Be that shining star.