“…things no one else can see.”

The effort made, the distance spanned 
In hope of giving some relief: 
  We cannot wear another's grief, 
  Nor hold their times within our hand. 

Though selfishness be rightly banned, 
And our tales placed within a sheaf, 
  We cannot wear another's grief, 
  Nor hold their times within our hand. 

That love was once, and ever is, 
Like Autumn falls upon the mind 
That struggles deaf, and dumb, and blind  
To where we find what never is -- 

It isn't good or great or grand, 
A touch like chill and wind-blown leaf: 
  We cannot wear another's grief, 
  Nor hold their times within our hand. 

Starting out, we are gaining in powers, and we come to feel ownership: of the world, of life, of ourselves.

The rest of our years are spent learning to let go of all of that.

Our significance comes from our goodness, not our greatness. It does not matter that our names our not known by millions, if our good deeds, or good hearts, are known to a few. If our names were known by millions, it wouldn’t meant that we were. Known, that is.

Grief and sorrow are inevitable, because we are born with an innate sense of permanence, a that is a thing this life does not offer. There are many types of loss, and some of those go beyond any place words can travel.

When someone we love is gone, we suddenly realize just how stark the limits of imagination are. Reminiscing can recreate feelings, but it cannot recreate actual people.

I accompanied the two of them to the cemetery: a dark-haired young mother and her fair-haired four-year old son. They stood by her late husband’s grave almost perfectly still, the only motion being the light wind moving their hair.

I was standing off at a distance.

I was struck by the boy, who is a classmate of my granddaughter’s. I’ve seen him a handful of times this school year, and never known him to be still, even for a second. But his every movement on this occasion mirrored those of his mother.

His mother, who is hairdressing client of my daughter’s, held her son’s hand and seemed to be seeing something there I could not see.

Grief is always composed of things no one else can see.

(Other posts from this month’s community blog posting group.)

Signs of Things Already Past

Signs of things already past 
Are ones I love to keep: 
Outdated fliers, slogans, posters, 
Stack up pretty deep 

Here at my house. I know it's strange, 
Just add that to my list -- 
But I get off on dwelling upon 
All the things 

I've missed

A Teacher, a Painter

My mother was a teacher, and my father was a painter. I grew up in a house full of her books and his paintings.

I think it is safe to say that the modern world has as strong an interest in identity as any age before it. I chose to identify my parents by a profession (for my mom) and a hobby (for my dad) even though she didn’t become a teacher until she was around 40, and he gave up painting before I was born.

Defining an identity as being boiled down to single word or concept is part of our human tendency to want to substitute simple things for complex things. My mom was a singer, a reader, a union organizer, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a swimmer, a humorist, a melancholic. My dad was a pilot, a windsurfer, a track runner, a human rights advocate, a chorus director, an insomniac. And that only scratches the surface on each of them.

As storytellers — and I assume anyone with a blog or reading blogs is a storyteller — we struggle to transfer our known perspective through the prism of the unknown perspective of readers. So much that has become part of us — so much we have experienced — has been done without words, and that context informs our every thought. So we try to say how we feel, but our words fall short of conveying our meaning. I can describe my parents to you, though, and can bring parts of them back to life through stories. Which is just one reason why storytelling is magic.

I’m grateful to my parents, now, in ways I probably wasn’t while they were still alive. That is sad, of course, but I suspect it is common. My children, and their children, will one day describe me in some way: maybe, “he was a mathematician” or “he was a pianist”. They may also see in me some light I’ve long since lost track of. Or, they may truthfully remember the darkness in me, for there is plenty of that.

My mother was a teacher who taught me that I should never stop learning, and never stop wondering. My father was a painter who loved to show others the hidden beauty in things, and encouraged me to do the same, as best I could. And I hope for all of you the same things: truth, goodness, and beauty.

I called her on a Friday…

I called her on a Friday, 
To see if she was well; 
She told me she'd sold everything 
For two snails and a shell -- 

And so, I took her for a ride 
Out in the autumn air; 
We soaked in all that countryside 
And laid our secrets bare -- 

We climbed into an afterworld, 
Where silence was the rule: 
We broke into the one last vault 
For that remaining jewel -- 

I woke up on a Saturday 
Unable, much, to feel: 
I reached for her, but wasn't sure 
How much of it was real -- 

We heroes and we heroines 
Who grow up queens and kings 
Of snails and shells and countrysides 
And silences 

And things

This Friend You Lost

Who was this friend you lost? He was 
A spirit floating in the air, 
A song you knew that suddenly 
Would morph, and change, and go somewhere 

It didn't seem to be made to go. 
The shape: a hole -- the place: within -- 
Who was this friend you lost? He was 
The 'is' within whatever's 


At the Corner of Anxiety and Disrespect

This age is one with an abundance of anxiety and a shortage of respect.

Much of our anxiety comes from having more choices available to us than humans are wired to be able to handle. Our lack of respect seems to then come from how we narrow the choices available to us through willfully ignoring (or misunderstanding) others.

The library was that first place 
That I could find most anything: 
At age eleven, eyes gone wide, 
At what new wonders it would bring -- 

We could but only take (of course)  
A few things out on any day; 
Although it seemed to hold the world, 
To get it piece-wise was the way 

That we could get it. Slowly, then, 
The pictures would develop, as 
We read, imagined, learned, and grew. 
Like when I wanted to hear jazz: 

The headphones on, one at a time, 
I heard the songs I read about 
And felt the imperfections of 
The medium, but had no doubt 

That what I heard was real, and true. 
Connected then to history 
By all the work it took to hear 
Those things available to me 

But gradually, laborious. 
Right now, I could hear any song 
That's ever been recorded, but 
I listen less, and not for long, 

For we're not limited to what 
We've paid for, or we can check out: 
The songs are all there for our ears 
But where to start, or where about  

Is overwhelming. We employ 
Then social markers, to denote 
The things we will consume instead: 
The same way that we think, and vote. 

There is an 'us', there is a 'them' -- 
This reasserts the borders that 
We long to have; and so we live 
An inch deep and a mile 

you tell me of regretful days 
you lived before we ever met; 
and how you searched for something that 
you'd never had, and couldn't get 

and how you tried, and worked, and strove 
through every new direction 
to make, within the changing world, 
some kind of real connection. 

but searching -- that is what life is. 
to understand what we've not known 
requires in us sacrifice: 
way out beyond our 'comfort zone', 

we must explore. we trip, we fall. 
each minus lost, each newfound plus, 
becomes the person that we are: 
you're human, love, like all 

of us