Memorial

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Summer

 
He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.

 

Winter

 
One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
From the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.
Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his

memory of so many other beatings,

determined to stop it now!

But facing his own father

he could not fight back, and

weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists

landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and

embraced my brother.
 

 

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

(30 Jan 2011/11-2017)

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Pentecost

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PENTECOST-213861

When you left us
I saw how the clouds parted,
rent curtains,
as you cleared earth’s
drossy smear,
and passed into a heaven
bright beyond
my wildest imagining.

Bereft, fearful, we
shut tight the door
against wolves’ howling
and waited for you
to keep your promise.

At first it was a whisper,
the sea-ward wind
prying loose our
weak walls,

but soon the song rose, until
its power overwhelmed us
with chords of faith,
and, afire at last,
we spoke!

Out of the Silence

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“Out of the silence, Light is spoken.” Thomas Merton

I walk
into the morning.

Birds
drowse
in the dark,

an unseen breeze
strokes my
arms, my bare neck,

as two cranes
over the edge
of the meadow
rise

as the Holy Spirit
moans
in tones
of morning light.

Oblation

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Photo N Federle: Egrets in Suisun Marsh, 2019

Bathe me in light, with warm
water wash, submerge
my submissive head,
my face, my hands,
my wayfaring feet.
Oh, cleanse me!
prepare me
to walk
into your perfect
day.

Vicksberg

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The river glints
in the morning light
as we slowly drive
past the guard-gate
and into the rolling hills
of the Vicksburg Battleground.

But there are no battles here today
in this ringing forest ,
on these wrinkled meadows;

These cannons spit no fire
into this soft Mississippi morning,
and no soldier falls, sighing
into these cool, dark earthworks.

Slowly we drive the winding road
past a bronze soldier
grasping his bronze rifle,
tensely gazing
into the empty distance, waiting
for the screaming charge,
of his deadly brothers.

But all anger spent,
they sleep now
under smart ranks
of gleaming stone;

Now they lie,
unknown soldiers,
lulled by whispering
Southern magnolias
far from forgotten
Northern homes.

(5 Aug 2011)

Aubade: Vale of Tears

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Photo Brian Federle, Sun in Trees, Russian River. April 2016

Morning fog
caressed
my winter tears

as unseen geese
(noisy gaggle)
crossed the opaque sky.

Things well hidden
confuse
my fragile faith,

so when bright, piercing rays
broke through
this lonely vale of tears

I thought it was only the sun
not the golden light,
desire of my fleeting years.

Aubade: Morning Dove

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Dawn fires
the cold roses
one-
at-
a-time,
when, with
planetary urge,
all explode to
vermillion
conflagration.

Then the cherry tree,
plain in
drab leaf,
erupts into
emerald
glory,

and high
from the bright rooftop
the mourning-dove
sings
his low, plaintive
song of
love.