Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Look Before You Leap - W H Auden

Leap Before You Look

The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendency to disappear.

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.

Much can be said for social savior-faire,
Bu to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep;
No one is watching, but you have to leap.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

-- W. H. Auden

Friday, May 16, 2014

Grandma's Grave

Grandma's Grave by Freya Manfred

Mother and I brush long drifts of snow from the gravestones
of my great grandfather and grandmother, great uncle and aunt,
two of mother's brothers, each less than a year old,
and her last-born brother, George Shorba, dead at sixteen:
1925-1942
A Mastermind. My Beloved Son.
But we can't find the grave of Grandma, who buried all the rest.

Mother stands dark-browed and musing, under the pines,
and I imagine her as a child, wondering why her mother
left home so often to tend the sick, the dying, the dead.
Borrowing a shovel, she digs, until she uncovers:
1889-1962
Mary Shorba
Mother almost never cries, but she does now. She stares
at this stone as if it were the answer to all the hidden things.

"Grandma's Grave" by Freya Manfred from Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring

Spring by Linda Pastan
Just as we lose hope
she ambles in,
a late guest
dragging her hem
of wildflowers,
her torn
veil of mist,
of light rain,
blowing
her dandelion
breath
in our ears;
and we forgive her,
turning from
chilly winter
ways,
we throw off
our faithful
sweaters
and open
our arms.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Last Visit

LAST VISIT TO MY MOTHER

Pared to the bone,
The ivory skin is wrinkled,
Cool and soft to the touch.

Spare flesh on the old bones,
The hands plucking,
Plucking the sheets -
Questioning, moving.

She lies on her side,
The blind eyes open.
Still smelling sweet.
She always has.

I bend to kiss her hands.
To tell her I am here.

"Oh, cover me with kisses,"
She cries in that hoarse, rusty voice -
And I do.

Silence then as she drifts away,
Listening to the sounds of memory.
 "Mother, it's OK to go," I say.

The next morning she dies,
Alone in the room.

I could have stayed,
What urgency called me away?
I wanted so to see her out,
To ease her through the door.

I ache for the chance
To be with her again.

Mary Murphy 8/15/89 - Helen Brown died at age 95

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Divine Image - William Blake

The Divine Image by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

"The Divine Image" by William Blake