Wales

Was moonstone,
the year I travelled

Crossed the ocean
landed in a shared
caravan in Wales

Tongue tripping
over place names
thought echoing

over green, mountainous
expanses – heart mending

with each panoramic
view of Lake Bala.

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

Still Travelling

Travelled East
in search of self

Half-family extended
unexpected warmth

Was my identity here
with stranger-brothers?

I contemplated pausing
surrendering to other

But that was sleep-walking

The distance still remains

Journey has no end
till soul has purpose

and wisdom relieves
the wounded child.

(Still Travelling first appeared here July 2020. Edited for this version. Image my own)

Sunday supper table (sestina)

Two at the ends, two at the back
one for the cook, one for the help
this was the way of Sunday’s table:
hungry tums anxiously waiting,
family dog glued to the floor
lest any scrap should need saving.

Father would pray for all our saving;
serve himself before handing back,
while Mother paced the dining floor
ever offering us kids some help
till dishes, her end, piled up, waiting –
always an imbalance at our table.

Silence was the rule of the table,
stories and anecdotes were for saving,
politeness called for patient waiting –
chairs tucked in and shoulders back
and no cutting the meat without help,
cold potatoes slyly sloshing on floor.

Youngest feet not reaching the floor
tended to swing beneath the table
kicking knees could not be helped;
from fiendish scowls no saving –
Father’s hand flashed a wicked back,
scolding sermons he kept in waiting.

My tongue would tire of the waiting
no matter how I focused on the floor
and if a sister should glance me back
that would be the end of a quiet table,
giggles nervously emerging from saving
any hope of control beyond our help.

Mother’s good nature was seldom help,
nor Father’s silence as he glared, waiting,
for the situation was far beyond saving,
and his chair angrily scraped the floor
as his storming presence left the table
we happily waved at his regressing back.

***

All the stories we’ve been saving –
childhood foibles we couldn’t help

Days and people we’ll never get back
hoping that somewhere they’re waiting

That one day we’ll meet, share the floor
minus the hurt, forgiveness at the table.

(My poetry circle tried their hands at a sestina.
This is my attempt. Another tale from dinner
with Dad. Image my own.)

Vancouver Island

Is it the robin whose morning song so sharp and crisp awakens me in this enchanted place, or the warble of Juncos whose hooded faces delight as they forage between the dried, curled aftermath of a cold Winter, now pushed aside by new life sprouting? The absence of raindrops on tin roof offers promise that the sun might appear today, the buds on the oak trees as anxious as I for the warmth.

I raise the window shades to reveal the lush green of Douglas firs, the walls that divide us from our neighbours: nomads like us in the quest to commune with a simpler way of life. We are metal boxes tucked within green pockets, quiet souls hushed by the grandeur of the forest we currently call home, reticent to disturb the wildlife that also grazes here – squirrel, fox, and rumours of cougar. Occasionally bear. We are skirted on one side by marsh, a lush welcoming for geese and goldeneyes; and on the other by ocean, where seagulls and terns claim driftwood as perches. It is the raven who is master here. Large wings casting shadows, the thrumming call – sometimes belligerent, sometimes a purr – a reminder that this land is theirs, that the totem poles dotting the island are a testament to royalty.

Offshore, seals roam in masses encouraged by the schools of trout and halibut, and soon the salmon run. Orcas gather in semi-circular formation, readying the hunt. Spring is a time of proliferation – abundance after the Winter chill.

Arise, old woman
Nature evokes new rhythm –
Spirit wants to dance.

(Vancouver Island first appeared here April, 2018. It is an early attempt at a haibun. I am linking up to my weekly challenge: trees. Image my own.)

Wayward Daughter

(Warning: this poem discusses the effects of sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.)

Back and forth I travel, searching
for her – retrace every bend, curve,
detour – back to the water, the sand,
the beach where I lost her…haunted

by velvet brown eyes – bedroom eyes,
they told her, men with greedy loins,
calculating – I lost her to the lure of
alcohol, to the pounding beat of drums
in those smoky corners so far removed
from the purity of our dreams…

It’s been an arduous journey, some days
so lost in the daze of forgetting; I cycle
back, memories of manhood exposed
egos craving stroking, learning
what men wanted, learning to numb

disappointment with fast-talk
and all-nighters, suppressing tears
discovering that words hold no promise
and water is deep, and going within
is a dark, foreboding place, and worth…

is shrouded by the discovery
that the father she adored was not
as we’d thought, and that this primal
urge for mating was a trap….
designed to eradicate beauty,
not enhance it…

I need to find her,
hold her afloat in sacred waters,
help her feel the healing light
of a thousand women’s hearts
all bleeding as one,

all tainted by the same
convoluted messages –
that lust is sinful and copulation
a man’s domain, and that in order
to be espoused, she must forgo
her nature – tame the wild
settle…

but as much
as I travel these lonely roads,
I cannot find her, the traces of
her innocence washed away
by the tides…lines now
on this aged face

If you see her, please
hold her close…
hold her until the beauty
of her being is solid knowing
and the shame vanquished
Hold her till she understands
the light she was born to be.

( Wayward Daughter first appeared here in February, 2017, and was published in the anthology: We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault…, by Indie Blu Publishing, 2018. This version is edited. I am submitting it for my weekly challenge: roads. Art my own.)

Self as Book

The pages of this life
bound by aging leather
gilded letters cracked
intended meaning
long forgotten

No images adorn
the weathered face
the colour faded
shade of auburn
like my hair
once upon a time

Spine still sturdy
threads fraying
corners curling –
indicators of
a life well read.

(Written for Reena’s Xploration challenge #176. Image my own.)

Still Travelling

Travel  East
in search of self

Half family extends
unexpected warmth

Is my identity here
with stranger-brothers?

I contemplate pausing
surrendering to other

But this is sleep-walking
the distance still remains

Journey has no end
till soul has purpose

and wisdom relieves
the wounded child.

(Submitted for Eugi’s Causerie weekly prompt:identity.  Image shows an old house with wrap around porch in monotone.  From my personal collection.)

 

Sibling Camaraderie

Remember that time
wading to the caves
St Martin’s summer

How the tide rushed in
Atlantic pulling us apart
my body weak with laughter

How you shouted, coaxed –
once ashore we collapsed
wet but warm, hearts flooded.

(My brother and I weren’t raised together, as his father abducted him at age 10.  Reunited years later, I treasure the moments we get to spend together, even though they are few and far between.  Image my own.)