Needing a Sign

Restlessness accompanies me
on this sojourn today –
unfazed by ripe red
belly of robin,
or shimmering emerald
of breeding merganser’s crown.

My lens seeks out decay –
rotting wood, darkened cavities,
as if my soul craves reassurance
that life persists even where death
hovers – I need a sign

Discontent, I move on-
drive the river road
snail’s pace – praying for
something to shake
this malaise –
birds come and go,
trees radiate Spring green,
I pause, unmoved.

And then I spot it,
across the river, up high,
a massive hulk;
lens raises, adjusts, snaps,
the regal hunter turns toward me
regards me with ferocious intensity,
does not falter on his perch –

All-seeing, fearless,
he is spirit-manifested,
a messenger, lifting me
from stagnation –
momentary redemption.

(Needing a Sign first appeared here, May 2019. Image my own.)

They’re Just Family, After All

In anticipation of guests,
the hostess – always bent
on pleasing – carefully selects
the script, ascribes roles,
envisions an afternoon
of light repartee, peppered
with philosophical pondering –
satisfactory entertainment.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, confident
in the outcome, fatally smug.

Crowd arriving, she fails
to read disinterest in eyes,
politely attempts to orchestrate
interactions, while they cast about,
calculating, shunning protocols
of etiquette, dispersing in
an unsettling way, then returning,
savagely encircling their prey.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, panic rising,
confusion overriding confidence.

Unprepared to defend herself –
bears no arms but the giving type –
she ducks, grasps, attempts
retreat from the onslaught
of vindictive agendas, but the wall
of stored grievances, spotlighting
a history of injustices, corners
her, hopelessness in its wake.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, knowing
full well the legacy of pain.

It’s friends, in the end,
who save her – a surefooted
cavalry, bearing the swords of
understanding, compassion
their war cry – reigning in the
once-invited, now betraying
guests – objective hearts
demanding an end to the fray.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells them, tells herself,
composure a mere thread.

Tables turned, the offenders
now plead for forgiveness,
beg for help, pretend the slights
were unintentional, harmless,
expect their hostess to step
over the bloodied and slain bits
of herself, and with benevolence,
restore her love for them again.

They’re just family, after all,
she says weakly, the torn script
of her expectations scattered.

(My art, entitled She Stands In the Middle of It All. This poem first appeared May, 2016)

Present Distance

I’ve lived the fog of distance –
life’s highway a series of dips,
destination without promise

Learned that acceptance gains perspective
that climates change, and hope sustains,
and that in the stillness dreams renew.

I travel quieter paths now; appreciate
space – have surrendered to present distance,
certain that this too will change.

(Borrowed from One Woman’s Quest II, April, 2020. Image my own)

Love Overcoming

Expectations are my enemy –
raised without standards,
boundaries full of holes,
I worship at the altar of lies

Fortunately, soul follows it own star –
rages against darkness encroaching,
shatters illusions, commands higher
aspirations – love overcoming fear

(Tuesdays, I borrow from Twitter @Vjknutson. Image my own)

Time for Reflection and Courage

Time stands still;
we wait.

The noise of speculation
stark contrast to the reality
that confronts us…

Where do we go from here,
and what authority to trust
and in this imposed solitude
can we find the strength
of reflection, the courage
to follow an inner lead?

(This poem first appeared on One Woman’s Quest II, in April, 2020. Image my own.)

Do Not Tell

No one told me,
in my haste to grow up,
that adulthood, awash
with responsibility,
would also be lonely

And, no one told me
that the days and nights
of sweating over lessons
would likely not lead
to the life imagined

nor that commitment –
the kind portrayed in movies –
does not exist – the word itself
bearing more substance
than the act, fickle as it is

No one told me that
motherhood would change
my reality permanently,
colouring it with unfathomable
pain and joy – such juxtaposition

And, no one told me that
every battle I ever arm myself for,
regardless of its justification,
is really a struggle with self –
inner demons the most menacing.

I never imagined that age,
with seismic force,
would alter my perspective so –
leave me barren and yet enriched,
enthralled with the ordinary
and unfazed by the rest

And, in the end, as I watch
the vernal rains announce renewal,
in the quiet of my solitude, I am
amazed and grateful for all
that this crazy, driven life has become
and that no one ever told me.

(This is an edited version of a poem published in April, 2019. Art my own.)