Fades to Black

Pixabay image by Susan Cipriano

A double Etheree for Colleen’s mid-month poetry photo challenge. This month’s photo was selected by Jane Dougherty.

Fades to Black

white

ice melts

in trickles

etching gullies

calving blue glaciers

until oceans submerge

gray ashes of field and farm

when birds and butterflies succumb

will we bray for justice, thoughts and prayers

proclaim false innocence, righteous despair

or rue our excuses and pay our debts

spill tears for an absent tomorrow

bewildered as our children drown

between islands of lost trees

rooted in salt waters

among dying leaves

a wasted world

of green life

fades to

black

 

 

Sunwielder: Coming Soon to Audible

enwikipediaorg

image from en.wikipedia.org

“I don’t think I can die, Estriilde,” Gryff said, his first words since the peak of the bridge.

“You’ve pickled your head in wine,” Estriilde replied. They hurried toward her tent, so close to being free of the wind.

“It’s not the wine. It’s the sunwield. I don’t believe it will let me die.”

“We all die, Farmer.” Her cloak opened as wide as wings, and she flew ahead. He plodded behind her, entering the dark tent as she fumbled to light her brazier. Sparks flinted to life, and the fire began its fight to banish the cold. He sank onto a stool as Estriilde sat back on her heels and studied him. “Every one of us dies in our time.”

He drew on the cord around his neck. The medallion rose from inside his shirt and hung exposed on his chest. She shuffled forward on her knees, close to him, and caught the bronze disk in her hand, silently counting.

“You have seventeen left.” Her gaze rose to meet his eyes. “That time may pass in moons or years. Every one of us side-steps death without a glimmer of awareness. We are a moment early or late before the arrow flies; we decide not to swim, to travel a lesser road. We aren’t hungry the day the food spoils; we leave the house before the roof collapses. We decide to ride the wild stallion the morning the placid gelding breaks a leg.”    -Sunwielder

***

I wrote Sunwielder eight years ago, and since then “sunwielder moments” have become a mainstay of my household vocabulary.

Sunwielder moments aren’t always those instances when a decision prevents unknowable catastrophe. How many times would each of us have died if not for the minute choices that led us down alternative paths? It’s a question without a reply.

Side-stepping unknowable death stirs a sense of destiny. Yet, for my husband and I, sunwielder moments tend to rise from our reflection on the choices that were pivotal in steering our lives. Each road traveled required another passed by. What if he or I had turned the other way?

There are thousands of them, long strings of seemingly inconsequential forks in the road that brought us to where we are now. Alter one, only one, and the dominoes would have cascaded down completely different paths. Even the wrong turns, the miserable things that happened in our pasts, contributed to where we are now.

If you think about it, the billions of choices made by your collective ancestors led to YOU. If a prehistoric youngster hadn’t chosen to clean the scratch on his arm, you might not exist.

Sunwielder moments extend beyond our individual lives as our power of choice impacts the lives of others. We may be the catalyst that unwittingly saves a life, transforms a future, or reaps despair. Even if ultimate outcomes rest on thousands of choices and influences, why not choose the path of kindness. You never know where that road will lead.

In Sunwielder, Estriilde focuses on the present — the past unchangeable and future unknowable. Easier said than done. As humans, we tend to spend much of our lives peering over our shoulders and inventing the scenery ahead. Randy and I are no exceptions to the rule.

Yet, as we grow, our sunwielder moments reside more frequently in our present. They appear on the cusp of choices, as we attempt to peek into the future and catch glimpses of how each decision may sway the trajectory of our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with. We attempt to live with more awareness of the gift and power of choice. For we, unlike Gryff and his sunwield, can’t journey back in time and travel the path unchosen.

Do you contemplate the sunwielder moments of your past? Do you choose with an eye on the trajectory of your future?

 

At the Mirror: Entreaty to the Sea

I’m traveling again, so I leave you with an exquisite poem by Lana. I can always count on her to mesmerize me with her offerings. Enjoy.

Entreaty to the Sea

by LT Garvin

When your grandmother

decided for care and comfort

and laid a string of pearls

across an ocean

it’s open depths

yawning the unknown

a depth you could not follow

So you said your prayers

beneath cerulean heavens

and bribed the Norse god of independence

to gather the shards

of your broken soul…

 

(continue reading: Entreaty to the Sea)

Go Gently into that Good Night

My dear sweet mother is nearing the end of her life, and I find myself suddenly dashing for the airport. I will be away from the blog for a few weeks.

This beautiful poem and the accompanying photos by Sue Vincent speak eloquently of the arc of life as expressed through flowers. I encourage you to read it to the end. I have closed comments here, simply because I would feel obligated to reply, and my heart is elsewhere. But trust that I know you wish me peace and comfort. Please enjoy this stunning poem.

Flowers

There were always flowers.

Orchids pinned upon a mother’s breast,

All lace and diamonds.

Long black gloves

And painted lips,

As she left, laughing.

A child who watched

As the door closed.

There were flowers…

Yellow tulips,

Cellophane and ribbon

A girl who blushed

As the curtain fell

Upon the stage;

She cradled them,

A first bouquet.

There were flowers

Roses and lilies

White, in hands and hair,

Their fragrance mingled…

 

Continue reading at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

 

 

Summit – #Writephoto

#writephoto image: Sue Vincent

The cane wobbled. Its tip slipped, wedged between two stones, and stuck. Morten grumbled and shuffled up a step. His grandson was born with the brains of a turnip if he thought an old man could climb the steep path in a day. “A sacred site, pretty view, and perfect breeze,” the boy had explained. Morten would need to grow wings to reach the fort’s grassy summit before nightfall.

He thrust out his cane, planted it, and heaved himself up another step. The voices behind him grew louder, the crowd gaining on him. Resigned to his predicament, he twisted aside and backed up to the low wall flanking the path. His balance akilter, he landed his bony rump on the flat rock, lucky he didn’t tip backward and tumble down the hill. His cane clattered on the stone pavers.

The younger folk—his seventy-year-old daughter and her husband, his gaggle of grandchildren and stampede of great-grandies—hiked up the path. His daughter stooped to pick up the cane. “What is dad’s cane doing here?”

Her husband patted her shoulder. “Someone must have dropped it. We’ll bring it up.”

“Ahem!” Morten protested, but the troop resumed their march, paying him no mind and stranding him where he sat. He leaned forward, rocked, and pushed to his feet. With a grunt of effort, he straightened up, though “straight” was purely a matter of perspective.

He shambled farther up the path, knees creaking and fingers inching along the top of the wall. The breeze felt good, and the view was spectacular even though he hadn’t reached the top. After a short distance, the path smoothed and seemed less steep, and he abandoned the security of the wall. He took a few confident steps, and satisfied, added a bit of spring to his gait. He swung his arms and inhaled a deep breath. His pace increased, a renewed vigor thrumming through his heart.

He considered dancing a merry little a jig but dismissed the thought as overzealous. Instead, he picked a handful of summer flowers from the bank and waltzed like a groom on his wedding day. His wife appeared at the path’s peak and laughed, the clouds framing her like downy wings. He winked at her, smiling like a fool in love, surefooted, his life in bloom. The urge to run tickled at his toes, and he leapt into a strong lope, the muscles in his limbs stretching, his arms pumping, his vision clear and soul awake.

His wife opened her arms and received him. At the summit, his grandson smiled as a gust of wind gathered up the ashes from the lifted urn.

***

The image is from Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt. Join in the fun.

Milkweed: #Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge

pixabay image

Once again, I’m giving Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge a try (honestly, it’s addictive). This time with a haibun/tanka. The prompts were (synonyms for) green and magic. I didn’t know if they were supposed to be in the haibun or the tanka, so I put them in both.

Milkweed

I spiral in a wisp of breeze, an airy fluff of seed unnoticed by the whorl of pollen shimmering in fat sunbeams. The fecund world undulates and exhales. Ribbons of heat flutter in the willow’s leaves and seduce the crickets into a sultry chant. Chaos dances with the bees, bearing me on my journey, I know not where. This masterpiece is woven of random notes and steps, yet, I perceive a conjuring of harmony, a sublime pattern of unfurling precision. I am meant to twirl in languid beauty to the earth.

Bountiful mother
Breathe a summer’s requiem
Spin me in the wind
As beguiled I pirouette
And await my spring’s rebirth

October

My backyard

I wrote this poem during my first fall in Oregon. It was inspired by the 10-mile drive from town to my home along Highway 47, one of many roads here that takes my breath away.

October

If I drive off the road of life
know I was distracted by the wilderness
gazing for a moment at gilded leaves
arched against jagged boughs of evergreen.
 
Perhaps I beheld a quilted river
of fallen crimson and vermillion
winding along the roadside
vine maples blazing in random rays of sun.
 
Had I gazed into the weave and texture of leaves
layers interlaced, sharp and dense against the sky?
Or the rain glistening, black branches of the forest bending
silhouetted by canopies of countless green.
 
Did I glimpse dry fields of weeds,
browning blades and flyaway seeds
the river meandering, my roadside companion
a tapestry of quiet color before me?
 
If I soar off the road of life
and fail to rise
know that I drove distracted by the wilderness
and my eyes brimmed with beauty.

***

Just a note that Catling’s Bane is free today until the 29th.