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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Coming Gray

Winter is like the unveiling of a

masterpiece. We see revealed in the

uncovered distance, a world of light and

form. We must not hurry our gaze or

the secrets will remain hidden.

Looking thoughtfully through 

thin silhouettes of bark and limbs

I become aware of the private places

that rested behind the verdant

explosion of warmer seasons.

Each falling leaf exposes another

life’s breath. Once, I rued the coming

gray, anxious for warmth’s

protection. Now nature’s painting

speaks to me of winter’s truth.

I have become glad of the withering

with knowledge that the universe

awaits my viewing. I have

discovered the ringing harmony

of grieving song.

My steps fall softly on the

moist bed of yesterday’s

dreams and I am grateful

for the heat of slanting sun

through the window.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paper Arms

  My son is battling a cancerous tumor in his leg. He’s not supposed to put any unnecessary weight on it. The femur is brittle and unstable because the tumor has eaten away at it.

Being constantly bound to a couch, chair or bed , he has developed little habits. Of course he has become more comfortable asking you to get him things (thankfully he’s still polite)

  Recently he began to make things out of paper. They are mostly palm-sized stars. As he gets better at it they become more dense and sharp.

   The other day his mother called me at work and exclaimed, “Corson’s feeling better. He opened the door leaning on his cane and threw this star at me. It kinda hurt cause it’s sharp and pointy. When I yelped he chuckled and gave me his devilish grin.”

  It was good news. Tougher days will come, just as before so I am grateful for good news.  Last night he had converted to paper airplanes of various size and shapes. Some were rather sharp and compact. Others were more streamlined like those we made when I was a kid.

This morning in the hazy dawn light as I folded blankets in the den I was picking up airplanes and stars made of lined notebook paper and a thought came to mind. If I was bound to a couch, chair or bed what would I most want to do? I would want to project myself up and away from that place. I would want to physically affect those that moved about me. I would want to touch them somehow; get a reaction from them.

   In the hazy dawn those small stars and airplanes become the arms and hands of my son reaching out to touch the world around him.

  Sometimes, in this place of material existence to which I am bound, I make little paper stars and airplanes called, “the written word.” If you should find any of them lying about, maybe you could take a moment and pick them up.

  When I pass by again I’ll know that someone has been there and I’ll be better for it. Maybe we both will be.

Take it with you if you will. I have plenty. I have a feeling that my son does too.


Ever since I was a child, Halloween has brought a wave of euphoric recall. On my first Halloween, as the night stole in, my mother put makeup on my face. Unsure, I held her hand as we negotiated our way down the narrow front steps into the crisp cool dark that was filled with the shouts and laughter of children.

I remember her glowing smile of assurance as I looked up at her. I came to know that feeling of interior warmth I felt that night as a place of joy not tainted with the steady diet of fire and brimstone the real world seemed to dispense. This night at least was a moment of freedom cut loose from the bindings that enslaved me.

Years later, when my children prepared to enter the cool night as ninjas and blue multi-legged caterpillars visiting earth, my heart glowed again as I recalled my mother’s face.

This Halloween one of my sons was in the children’s hospital, weak and struggling, tended by the nurses and his mother. My other son dressed as a Frenchman. He skipped down the front steps into the night looking back at me over his shoulder. His face was grinning but I couldn’t help but wonder if the doubt I thought I saw in his eyes belonged to him or me.

It’s the first Halloween in his life that his brother is absent. A Father’s broken heart is a funny thing. One moment it will drown in sorrow … the next it will ball up its fists and curse at God for the unfairness of it all.

The doorbell would ring and all manner of princesses and samurais, ghosts and warriors, came and went. As the short night moved on they grew taller. Though their eyes still sparkled with mirth, I suspected that they began to recognize my sadness.

So I gave out candy and wore a smile that I did not believe as I thought of my sons out there in the darkness. One is a Frenchman for a while with his beautiful smile and sad eyes; the other … a ghostly pale monk looking out at me from that hospital bed … and I struggled because I could not save us from this.