Yes, oh yes,
I want to do enormous favors for you,
the kind involving cash, and inconvenience,
and driving long hours, all over the state,
preferably in the rainy dark, on deer-crowded
back roads, in complicated maneuvers
involving your car, your sister’s car,
a mechanic whose garage we can’t find
in the dark, and some guy named Lloyd
who we don’t even know,
but this day wasn’t a big enough mess
so we threw him in,
because you know for certain that
when everyone else says No,
You can ask for help from one person who
may well grumble or write a poem about it,
but will eventually pick up the keys and say
Category Archives: Family
Yes, oh yes,
Silver glitter and cardboard
tacked to the window frame
suspended from a pale green ribbon
this one star is for the two of you.
For you, I place it forever
in the window, a light
so small you can ignore it
for a long time
but always shining, always,
so you can find it in the dark
and see the path home.
My beautiful aunt
with her black hair
and bright red lips
was the one
the rest of the family
told stories about.
She didn’t care.
Laughing at their gossipy ways,
she pulled them close,
told them another story,
kissed their befuddled cheeks.
On my own gray days,
it cheers me to remember those faces,
that flock of dour Scotsmen
surprised at what they made—
one red flower dropped in their midst
thriving in a field of rocks.
washed and dried
after the dinner shift.
Your work, as
necessary as a key–
to unlock our lips,
open our voices
fine bowls of soup.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—…
…the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
—- Excerpt from William Stafford’s poem, A Ritual To Read To Each Other
Here we are again
in the dark.
The farmhouse is gone
We stay in the barn
as our numbers dwindle
and I sing songs
the songs I can remember
when I get scared, again,
at how much darkness is out there
and how few we are.
Holidays are boxes
built by plaited years
to hold what happens.
Your house is an open box
where costumes and pumpkin seeds,
masks and wigs and jack-o-lanterns,
giant spiders and tiny candy bars
still tumble into the world
fashioned by a crowd of busy children
into an enormous orange box decorated
with light sabers and false eyelashes
and labeled Halloween.
When you were small,
we came here so little
you thought Santa lived
at the mall all year.
Now, taller than me,
an errand for a friend
brings us to this alien territory
where people look like us
except with better hair
and many shopping bags,
tissue paper wrapped
around their treasures.
I’m glad I hate it here.
And glad you hate it too—
glad you carry all your treasures
unwrapped and close to your heart,
spilling from your musical hands,
and your easy smile.
When it is your turn to be old,
leave a message–
and not the irritated kind of message
Where On Earth Could You Be????
Treat each message like a balloon
released into the air,
a general update:
Life Is Fine Here.
Better yet, learn to text.
Let your texts be Quirky.
Be quite clear in your own mind
that this will make no difference
to the children,
who will continue to ignore you
until they need cash or advice.
But having told them all they could handle,
and having made yourself laugh
you will feel better
in that quiet moment
when you put down the phone
and turn to look out the window.
Afterward, the whole day will color itself
into brighter, more satisfied lines.
Yesterday, a tall man
who looked just like my son
showed up unannounced
and mowed the shaggy lawn.
Under normal circumstances,
A Mowing Stranger
would have been Alarming.
But then he kicked off his big shoes
by the front door,
where I tripped on them
while he ate the last of the cake,
and all the leftover chicken,
leaving only the vegetables,
and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
Oh, it’s you! I said.
My first masterpiece,
Girl I painted onto
the canvas of this world.
She took the brush
from my hand long ago
and paints her own picture now.
With bold strokes, she fashioned wry smile,
tender curls and curves.
Humming Broadway show tunes,
she deepens the layers around
her guarded heart,
glimpsed through surfaces
while her artistic confidence grows,
while she learns to trust this beauty,
this unfolding art of her life,
her own masterpiece.