Summer’s End

Sweltering heat
Suffocated
The entire
Afternoon
One step
Outside
And I was
Immobile
In the still
Stifling air
Surely, I
Would not
Wish away
A summer day-
Quite
The change
From early
This morning
When, after
One look
At the calendar
I realized
Summer was
Slipping away
And began
Wishing
It would last
Just
A little
Longer-
Now I wonder
How many days
Will pass before
A cool breeze
Blows the wisps
Of loose hair
In my messy
Ponytail

Remain Seated

The clock ticks
One second
At a time
The sun shines
One beam
At a time
And yet, with love
One second
Quickly becomes
One thousand
One sunbeam
A multitude
Flooding
Darkness
From the heart
As two sit
Together
In this space
Of time and light
Giving no thought
To the ticking clock
Or the sun’s rays
Only the desire
To remain seated
And experience
The transformation
From the measured
To the unmeasurable

Growing Up

My husband likes to tell people I was raised in a commune. I was not. I suppose, however, that a simple description could be misinterpreted. Let’s see.

Picture a two-lane country highway winding through small towns. Between two of those towns, turn onto a narrow paved road with thick trees lining both sides. Drive about a quarter of a mile until you see a clearing. My house was the first on the left.

Here is the unusual part. My grandparents’ house was in the center. And at any time over the last fifty-plus years, between four and six of their nine children lived nearby. Not a typical neighborhood with straight streets and cull de sacs. More like a valley. When standing in the middle, you could see almost everyone’s home.

Of course, we were free to come and go as we pleased. 😉 And though I left at the wise-old age of seventeen, there is no other place I would have wished to grow up.

Growing up there meant family. It meant security. And no, it was not a peaceful utopia. There were disagreements. But none that could not be solved over a cup of coffee or a few days of staying home.

My mom also grew up there, though, during her childhood, there were more forests for exploring. And with nine children, they needed the space to roam. The original house was small, with only two bedrooms and an outhouse.

I have heard stories of sleeping sideways on the bed, lots of giggling and being scared to go outside at night. Mom remembers as a small child when men came to dig a hole for their first electricity pole.

As you can imagine, they were hard workers. Whether planting in the field or washing clothes on a scrub board, there were always chores to be done. But there was also always fun to be had.

Some days, her dad would come home with a pocket full of penny candy. Enough for everyone. On Fridays, they would have chili dogs and ice cream. Can you imagine dividing a carton of ice cream for nine children? They would open the entire carton and cut it into equal squares.

My mom is now in her seventies. Four of the siblings (including my mom and dad), some grandkids, and great-grandkids live in the clearing today. Only one of her siblings, her oldest sister, Pearl, is no longer living.

Mom recently shared some thoughts that touched me. She described being overcome with emotion thinking of how hard her mom worked to make sure the kids had fun times. She was so young herself; it could not have been easy. Mom said the older she gets, the greater her appreciation for her mom grows. I think I am beginning to understand…

Noticing

How could
I have missed
Such variety
In its shades?
I suppose
When I was
Younger
Other things
Received
My attention
Easily distracted
Time spent
Looking down
Running ahead
But seldom
Looking around
Taking it all in
Is it possible
The comings
And goings of life
Moment to moment
Day to day
Year to year
Are actually
Slowing
Down
Enough
For me
To feel
All
The
Greens
Of Spring

Bald Cypress, Two Rivers Park
Little Rock, Arkansas

Stargazing

Lying on my back
In the driveway
At midnight-the stars
Were too many to count
Nothing to obscure
Their brightness

Sitting cross-legged
In the bed of a truck
Mountains rising above
Even more stars in the sky-
How could that be
With less sky to see?

Sitting quietly
In my backyard
Relaxing by the fire
Only a few of
The brightest stars
Remain visible

I know the others
Are still present
But their light
Has been dimmed
By the light of men
Even though it pales in comparison

Brothers

Strange how two
Paths begin in
The same place
Moving parallel
Until each one
Branches off
On its own
Criss-crossing
Often or seldom
Depending on
Influences from
Outside and within-
Like siblings, in a way
Inseparable as they
Share the precious
Space of childhood
One following
The other until
Big enough to
Walk side by side
Until time turns
Into distance and
The years add up
More quickly than
Either could have imagined-
No matter how far
Apart they drift
The beginning remains-
Allowing wisdom and
Sickness to reunite as
They travel unfamiliar
Yet once again
Parallel paths
Able to speak
Freely childhood truths
Long forgotten-
I love you, brother
I love you, too

Looking

What am I looking for?
Am I looking for anything?
Looking implies intent
As if something is missing-
Where are my keys?
Or a void needs filling-
Where is my friend?
If looking is not
An active part of my day
Does that mean I am
Simply roaming
Counting the minutes
Until the day is done?
Some days…
But on those other days,
I sometimes find something-
Something I didn’t even know I needed

Time for Music

Precious, fleeting, brief
There is never enough-
We want it to slow down,
Then speed right back up.
I’m speaking about time, of course-
Such a fascinating concept
We break it down into
Hours, minutes, seconds
Weeks, months, years
To what end?
Today, I played
A piece of music
On the piano
Baroque music written
Four-hundred years ago
Can that be correct?
History says it’s so
As amazing as the
Four-hundred years
May sound, the wonder
Occurred in one brief moment-
The eyes of a child
Listening and watching
Questioning how those
Notes on the page
Made their way
To my hands

I love playing the piano for my students. The only downside is not being able to teach all of them to play. Someone always asks, and I smile, wishing that was possible. In my dream teaching world, I would have a room full of keyboards. And each student would have the opportunity to experience that note-to-eyes-to-hands connection.

This week while playing, I heard one of them whisper, “That must be a recording.” Then they snuck over and peeked around the side of the piano. Another class was lining up to leave. One little boy said, “One of my favorite things today was hearing you play the piano.”

And one of my favorite things was being able to play the piano for you… ❤

Measuring Life

We try and try to
Measure our lives
Days, weeks, months, years
The number of seasons
We travel can never
Accurately measure
Our existence
What matters most
Is often invisible
Harder to quantify-
The full impact realized,
After physical days
Have long passed
If only our hearts
Could be weighed
An appraisal revealing
The constant flow
Of life-giving air
Transformed into
Actions of love-
Actions of love
Breathing
Life-giving air-
Leaving the heart full
But never heavy
Always overflowing
Impossible to measure

I suppose there is something about being in quarantine that makes me think more about time. Particularly being quarantined as a new year begins. But it is ok. As my Mom recently said, “Looking forward to better days!” 🙂 ❤

Time in a Bottle ~ Kelley Morris, piano

All or Nothing

Giving all of anything is
Quite a commitment
Particularly when
There is no way
Of knowing what
Time will be required

All of me
All of my love
All of my time
All of my days

Whether part of a 
Cross-my-heart promise
Or the title of 
A favorite song
Life does not tell us
How many days remain

A definitive number
Is found only in
The days passed
Never to return

So, I settle on today
This hour, this moment
Right this second
That is all there is
And I must choose
To give all or nothing