Jigsaw

I.

I open the lid

and my breath speeds ragged,

seas stormed by discontent. So many

pieces – why so many pieces? – and

why so many shades of blue? No one needs

that much sky, I think as I start to sort.

 

Everyone knows you find the edge pieces first

and build in, first the skin and then the heart,

but I can’t find them all in the tangle

of chaos heaped discordant, their absence loud

in the landscape.

 

II.

The box boasts Italian villas, a Mediterranean

masterpiece of  idyllic days. It hurts, this beauty.  It

scorns the doctors, scorns those tired

eyes which peer over masks to discern who

of the twenty will benefit

most from the single ventilator that can be

spared tonight.

 

The bits of colour on my table

are lost in that steady rush of feet and again I wonder,

why so much sky? My hands tremble

and I lose hope – I cannot make this

make sense.

 

III.

Tears brim and wash images clean.

I blink. Is that

a pattern in the stones, a barely perceptible

shift from dark to light just there, in

the bottom left corner? Pieces find shelter in

limestone.  A new thought forms in

the shadows  –

perhaps this much sky is necessary to breathe

in a world full of rocks.

 

Perhaps my eyes are too small,

too human to see the bigger picture;

I step back and

close them in prayer

and my lungs are filled with blue. I breathe,

in and out, slow and big;  I hear

what the jigsaw has to say in the silence.

 

IV.

The construction of a life

is always messy; a chaos of constant

attention to details that

puzzle and elude. There will always be too many

pieces, and so much awful sky – but the blue

is meant to be inhaled deep in faith,

exhaled in mystical prayer over Italian villas

while eyes remain fixed on the box lid. I need to memorize

the villas in all their glory: they will be beautiful

again after the ventilators forget how to

hum.

 

V.

I am alone in the quiet. I search;

there, a smudge of the right kind of blue – bright,

not muted or mixed with gray or green. I smile

and set the piece into place,

a prayer in itself.  Now I can breathe;

I work steadily from the edge in,

first the skin and then the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Berry Bush

Stoic, she relinquishes her treasures.

Fingers swish, palms purple with the richness

of the gift. She whispers soft

but I am occupied; berries bounce in a plastic

pail to the rhythm of songbirds.

 

The old-timers say

that the harvest is only heavy every

seven years. This is the one in seven-

fat orbs dazzle the eye

and my pail overflows quick,

tongue stained and smug.

 

I strip the branches easiest to reach, careful to

pry into intimate places, seek

her secrets with greedy grasp. I slow. Here, not all are

perfectly ripe. My fingers must pull with

respect, leave the immature for a later picking.

 

The pails are piling purple. Content, I

step back, prepare to sail home

with cargo hold brimming. I stretch,

look up. More. And more, and more hang. I hear it

indistinct, this lesson. On tiptoe, the blessings are harder to

harvest, require more of my complacency.

 

Patience prickles. Fingers falter, accidental purple showers

to the earth. Joints creak, muscles strain,

and here is the true miracle,  saved for last. Fullness scrapes the dirt

plump and glad. The  equation comes

clear, and I laugh aloud with the unexpected joy of it –

 

for when do blessings not hang in clusters,

ripe and ready to pick? And how is great glory not

gained with a stretch of stained hands toward heaven?

Which good and surprising delights

were not made the sweeter by bowing of the head

and bending of the knee?

 

I hear her now.

Her syllables ring loud in the silence.

And I, who teach for a living,

am schooled by the berry bush.

 

Cover

frosty spruce.jpg

The trials which have smothered you and frozen all your dreams

(Those icy fingers down your spine unraveled all your seams)

Are burdens which you never sought; indeed, you begged them gone,

And yet, they linger dawn to dusk, and dusk to weary dawn.

But Pilgrim, lift your tired head, and brace your feeble knees;

For lessons learned in schools of pain are not like schools of ease –

What humbled heart and broken bones with faith can start to grow

Is rather like the evergreen made beautiful by snow.

Where Beauty Sprouts

broken poppy.jpg

You hate the cracks, the places where the pain has split you through;

You don the mask, and paint the scars, and smile when spoken to –

And yet, the Dark that pinned you down, that swore you’d never win,

Forgot that all the holes, when healed, will let the Light shine in…

Set down the script, rewrite the lines, take up your truest role;

What tried to kill and steal and lie cannot destroy your soul.

Those cracks, those scars, those broken bones, those spots where pain leaked out

When warmed by sun, and earth, and rain – they’re where your beauty sprouts.

The Great Unravelling

egyptian-mummy

Here lies 2018,

behind her glass barrier,

shrouded in mystery. The hand I stretch out

cannot quite hide its tremor. What will I encounter beneath

her folds? Curses or capital, fortune or

fright? Nothing is certain

but the compulsion to peel back

that first layer. Exhilaration battles anxiety. Where to start? There is the smell of death –

but also the tang of adventure and promise of new knowledge about her. And so

it begins.

Each moment, each day, each

month unravels more of her riddles until at last every

secret cavity has been divested of its contents. Some turns of the wrist

will reveal treasures,

things hidden from days of old, joyous to untie. Others

horrify, fill the nostrils with the stench of decay and loss –

even then she demands to be set free of her wrappings

layer by layer, day by day. Until she is free of her casement

the baubles and bones seem disjointed, unrelated,

entries in the catalog to be studied by greater minds. But

after her 365 day burial,

her treasures and triumphs, grievances and gloom

will be placed with care in the display cases of my heart. They are messy,

these artifacts. Random bits of broken pottery,

gems – uncut and unrecognizable,

scarabs encased in amber. When studied,

wrestled with,

polished to reveal their glory,

then and only then will she divulge her beauty. Taken as a

collection,

the years lined up in their coffins give context to my past,

enable me to excavate the Truth of who I am.

Whatever this year hides, this wrapped enigma,

for good or for ill

she is mine to enearth.

My fingers find the tattered fabric

and pull…

Image Copyrighted by Historylink101.com & found at Egyptian Picture Gallery.

Transformation

frosty spruce

Just as frost makes pearls from pain and covers plain with glory,

So your faith can glean the grain within your painful story;

When you feel the pinch of frost, the sting of cold rejection,

Know one day when it has lost, you’ll be a grace confection.

Foot Fetish

autumn resting place

Rest, the road exacts its Toll,

Take a load off wearied sole;

Close your eyes and breathe Life in,

Reflect on where your feet have been.

Confident, they marched with ease;

Terrified, ‘neath shaking knees

They stumbled on when doubtful days

Blocked e’en hope’s most brilliant rays.

Pause, let wand’ring feet sit still,

Exhale deep, let lungs refill;

Slow your pace, take time to stroll,

Rest is good for every sole.