Coming to Terms

Divorce was finally finalized
Their love not reconciled.
Those differences hurt most of all
José, their pre-teen child.

José had heard the arguing,
The sobs of desperation.
His innocence still hoped and prayed
For reconciliation.

The hardest part: When dad moved out,
When weekends had to change.
He loaded up his duffle bag
For mom and dad’s exchange.

Routine set in, his grades bounced back,
This cycle was his life.
The system changed when spring came round
And with it dad’s new wife. 

For mother’s day he bought two shrubs:
(He showed no hesitation)
A shrub for mom, and dad’s new wife.
Just right for this occasion. 

So can you guess these perfect plants
José astutely chose?
They smelled as sweet by any name:
The Northern pink Shrub Rose. 

The rose lies still through winter’s winds
And grows in summer’s heat.
The flowers bloom from May through fall
To give the bees a treat. 

But most of all this perfect gift,
The rose, resembles love.
With beauty deep and thorns that stab,
You sometimes need a glove.

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Will They Be Flowers?

“Will they be flowers? Maybe herbs?” As she asked her fingers played with the new leaves on the young shoots. A new leaf came off in her hand, accidently I supposed. She didn’t seem to notice; I didn’t care to comment.

“Flowers. They are coming along nicely, don’t you think?” I admired the growth, hard won over the course of several weeks.

“Yes, very nicely.”

We turned away from the window box and toward the cozy kitchen table. I poured some coffee. “Cream?”

“No thank you, Maria, I drink my coffee black. How long have the flowers been growing?”  We both sat down.

I added a few drops of cream and watched them bubble back to the top.  “I started a few months ago.” I dribbled a few more drops of cream into my coffee and took a careful sip. “A while back I found that big old window box at a garage sale. I fixed it up and brought it up here to the table by the window. The box is filled with a mixture of potting soil and the extra dirt from the front garden, carried up bag by bag. I bought the seeds and began the nurturing. This third floor apartment has the eastern advantage- fresh sun in the morning yet shaded from the afternoon heat. It took a while to find the right amount of water.” I took another sip.

She looked around. “Yes, you did get one of the better apartments here and you are one of my best tenants. But about the water.” She set down her mug. “That is actually why I stopped by. Next week, well, starting tomorrow, the water will be shut off. I have to re-do the pipes for the radiators and that requires the water to be shut off. There is really no alternative.” She took another sip from her mug.

“Seriously?” I paused, taking in the information. “Couldn’t you have given us more time to make preparations? There are 8 families who live here; no one will have water?”

“I am afraid not. You can gather water in buckets or the bathtub I suppose. You could also move out for a week. I’m not really sure what you’ll do and honestly, it doesn’t matter to me.” She stood up with an air of formalness, brushed off her blouse as if it had been soiled by its presence in my kitchen and walked the 5 steps to the to the door.  Without turning around she said, “I just wanted to let you know.” With one hand on the doorknob she turned her head and added, “Thanks for the coffee.”  She walked out.  The door closed with a click.

Stunned by the news, I took a sip of coffee and stared at her unfinished mug. There on top floated one, delicate leaf.

‘Twas Almost Vacation

Written for the teachers at my school…

‘Twas almost vacation and throughout the school
While kids were frenetic, the teachers were cool
A few students traveled but most were still there
To finish December with ganas and flair.

Assessments completed and conferences done
This last week of learning was different, was fun
ManageBac housed all the comments, each grade
The teachers drank coffee. The children?  They played-

They argued at 4-square, though no one was mean;
They gossiped of summer- The beach! What a scene!
They played (it was recess), they hadn’t a care.
They knew their escuela would always be there

Then one of the students she noticed the time
The teachers were missing, the bell didn’t chime.
The counselors, Katie and Rox, disappeared
With Sandra and Rosi and Victor.  How weird!

“Should we be worried?”
“Or should we be scared?”
Some started screaming but mostly they stared.
When up on the bridge there arose such a noise
That it grabbed the attention of girls and the boys.

First Flores, and, Dierkes then Reeves and Bené
Ms. Mincha and Uchi, Ms. Wiley, Ms. Lay,
Ms. Delia, Wellner and Page, Hollowáy
Ms. Emily, Fuller, McGlothin and Rae.

They stomped on the bridge and they stomped really loud
The rest of us teachers we joined in the crowd.
We sang for the kids and we danced way up high
They applauded for us then we chanted goodbye-

“The time is 12:20, it’s time for vacation
“Go travel! Go Read!” we sang with elation.
“Your work is now done here we’ve journeyed quite far
“Don’t’ stop and play 4 square, Go get in your car!”

The children all cheered as they said their goodbyes
They raced to their rides a bit older, more wise.
We waved to each bus as they drove out of sight-
Great vacation to all and to all a good night.

Starfish

The dreadful evening news is filled with ills
Her gleaming eyes of planes that never land
The talking heads fill space ‘tween selling pills
And finish with cute puppies in the sand

Analysis is often hard to find
The whys and wherefores hidden in a cloud
But Sunday’s sales will mollify the mind
The deals! They’ll make a killing, feeling proud

Though sometimes there’s a tone that resonates
I take a breath and turn attentive ears
A problem I can tackle for me waits
Solutions not in months but many years

One more starfish thrown into the sea
The journey matters both for them and me

Fidget Spinner

A broken skateboard on the ground
was days-old trash until I found
some greased ball bearings deep within.
Thought I’d take ‘em for a spin.

I grabbed a vice grip and a pliers
and pulled apart the useless tires.
When I got the needed part
was when my project I could start.

My sister drinks a lot of juice-
her bottle caps I put to use.
In three red caps I placed a dime
and filled with clay to save some time.

The fourth red cap- I had to cut
away the top and leave a rut
around the middle without tearing
the place I’d put the greased ball bearing.

But still my project wasn’t done
I went to get my grandma’s gun
(a gun for glue, so don’t you worry).
I pegged the pieces without hurry.

So now the part I really hate
the glue sets slow so I must wait.
My patience pays off in the end.
Participating in the trend

I rush to show it to a friend.
He laughs and asks what did I spend?
“Designed and built with nothing new!”
He pauses, asks, “Can I …
… build one too?”

Resurrection

A few days ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine.  He had recently learned that he and his mother will receive their social security cards and residency papers.  They will be able to stay in the United States.  Wonderful!  We are lucky to have them- good, caring people; hard working people.  Gentle.

This family was forced from their home country by negative situations beyond their control.  They moved to the US only to live in the shadows, experiencing violence both personal and systemic.  When you live in the shadows you cannot fully participate and share your gifts.  You live in fear – fear that you will be sent back, you might lose your job and a thousand other fears.  Those fears, though, are nothing when compared to the lived experience that sent you away from home.

Now there is hope.  There is hope of permanence and pertenencia, belonging.  Having grown up in the only city he has ever known, he will now be able to participate fully in all of the rights and responsibilities of belonging.  Moving out of the shadows.  May we hear the same positive news for many other immigrants so that they, too, may move out of the shadows.

This blog was started about 5 years ago as an Advent gift for a 12 year old.  The waiting of Advent has come full circle to an emerging from the shadows:  Resurrection.

You always belonged.  Now it’s official.