All posts by dbkerr

The place where I dump what is inside, outside.

The Scheduler

He does his job,
sitting at a metal framed desk,
surrounded by femininity –
efficiently, perfunctorily,
satisfactorily –
and yet, his eyes
look at the others,
flat, snake eyes
staring back
with no reflection,
no depth, empty
beneath the color . . .
and I feel a vague nausea
caught by those eyes
and think, this is a man
who would kill without
blinking, for beneath
there is nothing
but mechanical precision
devoid of soul,
lacking compassion,
as he fills his cases,
sending caregivers
to the care given,
without heart,
his eyes a blank surface
leaving nothing behind
but the rustling whisper
of a snake
moving through the reeds
intent on its prey.

Sibilant Murmurs

In the still, soft calm of silence,
the soul speaks its sibilant murmur
so hard to hear in the clangor
and clash of daily life –
in the quiet of night,
when the only sound
is the fountain of water
my fish play in –
I listen . . . for in those brief
moments, so precious and rare,
does the ring of truth sound
clearest – finding its way
past jangled nerves
and knotted, choked synapses
bringing the wisdom I seek,
the strength which I draw
from a wellspring of heart,
coming through to renew
my sense of vision
and lend credence to my reflections,
softly, gently guiding down
my troubled path of life

Rumpled Bed

This room is not mine
with its tousled sheets,
remnants of bathroom fixtures,
books, dirty clothes, debris
scattered about, layered in dust,
looking like a whirlwind
had swooped in, scooped it up,
and dropped it whatever –

It might not even be his –
the memories of another woman’s
scent still fills his nostrils,
befuddling his clouded mind –
making “letting go” a distant dream.

I am but an infrequent visitor
who lives in a fantasy
that one day he might look at me
with those golden brown eyes
and know that there was a love
who would not leave
when another
more tempting morsel
flavored her palette.

I looked about the room
knowing yet again
I have given my heart
to someone who couldn’t return
the intensity of feelings
in equal measure –

Seems I have spent this life
in the shadow of other women –
Their midnight stirrings
sharing the same bed
I so sparingly sleep in.

The Doorsill II

The door sill begs for recognition, for acknowledgment.  It spills out the stories of people who crossed its stone border, the echoes fading into the solid oak door and creaking, wide-planked floors.  It whispers, “Here is where a mother carried her daughter to a rocker,  lulling her quiet, to breastfeed and hold her small, precious hand, knowing only too well the time would come when she toddles away to dreams of her own making.”  But for now, in the hushed silence of the deep night, she croons out her lullabies and fills her child’s head with glorious tales of gods and goddesses, of protectors of the hearth, the garden, the home.  Each deity has its own function – one to meet every challenge, every need. Rocking softly, keeping beat with the tap of her toe, she spins the yarns of her foremothers, of lands near and far, of goddesses no longer needed and ones who voices still resonate with power.

The Mother knows, instinctively, that this daughter will not be content with the gods of her Fathers.  She is the one tied to the Moon and Earth’s gravitational pull.  From her earliest days, when she played in the garden, this young one who would lay on the earth, dig fingers deep into the crumbly moistness and draw wisdom from seasonal cycles and unspoken knowledge.

She would demurely go to Church in her Sunday best only to yank them off as she crossed the doorsill, hastily pulling on everyday clothes, to run into nearby woods where she would dance on her toes in her sacred grove, swirl with the bees, sing,  and float in the pond whose womb protected her.  She’d call out to the Blessed Ones to come join her.  And while the menfolk watchful with cautious trepidation, wondering is she was a touch daft, Mother secretly smiled, knowing the unquenchable thanksgiving which could only be experienced in the realm of imagination of the Goddess.

Men might hear the words but they would fall on deaf hearts.  Theirs was a God brimming with fire and fury.  Powerful beyond reckoning – strong enough to provide succor in the face of any challenge.  But for women, this God was one of respect and protection, certainly a nurturer.  That was the domain that existed solely in the hearts of females.

Her mother showed her the places where sacred herbs grew – ones that could heal, stop the pain, mend a broken spirit, help close open wounds, and give a sense of well being to those who knew their secrets. Neighboring farms held those with suspicious eyes and sharp tongues but who, nonetheless, crossed the doorsill when healing needed doing.  All knowledge carries its dangers but a woman’s lore of medicine and mending brought the insidious threats closed minds can bring.

It is always hard to walk the least chosen path.  But the doorsill provides safety and nourishment to those who dwell within those walls.

 

 

 

The Door Sill

His foot seeks to glide as it steps over the doorsill, easing into the grooves and pits and indentations that have formed through a century’s use.  Each foot carries a story as it moves from one room to another.

A young girl, tremulous and proud as she carries her first cake to the table, intent on hearing words of praise from her father.

The mother, with hair escaping from her bun, carrying a wriggling body, holding the hand of another, steadfastly working her way to the tub of hot water steaming on the kitchen floor.  She works to encircle each child and wash away barnyard grime and smears.  She mutters “Church don’t abide with the dirty.”, repeatedly.  “A clean body is a Godly body.” Trying to hammer those words into little minds.  Her child squirming as she scrubs rough lye soap behind his ears.

Grandfather, eight decades old and climbing, clutches his chest as he slips slowly to the floor, one foot on either side of the sill, gazing one more time at the portrait of his beloved wife, long passed from his side.  Her grave weathered and worn with a wee babe cross beside it, both mother and child passing in a mutual birth/deathbed, the last of seven pulled from her womb.

So many years past, the children sprouting, their homes popping like mushrooms on the rich, moist loam of the land.  The old homestead still ringing with young voices as they crowd about to listen to stories of past experiences, of a dear woman, gone except for memories.

And now, beyond the years of aloneness, the grandfather slips down the frame, his legs buckling beneath him, as he smiles one last time into the eyes of the woman he is going to join.  Now the childish voices have died down, the fireplace embers glow dull red and black, and wispy spider webs dance in the draft spilling over the sill and through the open door.  His remaining moments, speeding past, knowing these are the times quick gone, are of reflection – of times long gone and those to come he will miss seeing – of trouble and renewals.

He remembers dances on the creaky barn floor, tables laden under the burden of foods thoughtfully prepared with pride of the family.  A lifetime of training, from earliest times, watching his loved ones doing chores which honed them into the persons they grew to be, products of their generation.

In the moments of each morn, as the dew-kissed flowers and ferns, and steam wisped upwards in the burn off of the day, the family knew who they were, where they had come from, and what they would grow into from the stories of other times, teachers to the next generation.

Land was the place to grow one’s heart, a place to toil but find comfort in the repetitive workings of a farm – active meditation, the soul-soothing smell of animals and earth mingling into a symphony of the senses – the active clangor of day slipping into the ease of the night – the sounds and smells but a blessing to those fortunate to know its peace.

The grandfather leaned his bulk against the door, pain slicing through his chest but bringing a comfort, soon, soon it cried out, he looking out at the dusky twilight, the orchard where bees were lulled to sleep in their hive, the trees healthy and strong – planted and tended so carefully those decades ago at his wife’s urging.  “Cattle and pigs are fine for a man, but a woman needs the smell of pears ripening, the fairy dance of apple blossoms as they drift to the ground, yielding their indolent fragrance to the soft spring breezes, the wild grape vines brought from the woods and trained to grow domesticated, berries in neat patches to be turned into Winter’s jam.”

And the grandfather remembered how bewildered she made him.  The dreams of pristine beauty she held onto through driest drought and bitter blizzard storms.  Of them all, crowded thick those early years, she had been able to tweak the earth, reminding it to offer up its riches, chastising it until it brought abundant yields.

It had been a bold extravagance for the portrait to be painted.  Money was scarce the year the painter was making his way West, drawn by the untamed beauty he’d heard described. But after a night or two of lodging, grandfather asked for a picture of his beloved.  She had been embarrassed but he had held his ground saying, “As surely as the painter sees the mountains ablaze in God’s glory, so I see the heavens in your eyes, lightening my sorrow, bringing joy.  I come home to see your smile.  Til’ the end of my time I want to remember that smile and carry it close to my heart.”

Life can be a cold, dark space where eternity seems trapped in the deepest of caverns, never to know the sun’s warmth again.  The quiet reflection of her serene calm carried him through deepest fears and greatest sorrows for he knew she would always be near, in this world or the next, to lend whispers of guidance in moments of confusion or despair.

He smiled at the image of those Saturday bathing’s – each child dreading his turn because he knew he was not to leave before his skin glowed – sometimes from the rawness of the scrubbing.  The children would huddle in a group, drawing straws to see who would be next in line, those with shorter ones begging and bartering, even threatening the others to relinquish their coveted places in line.  Saturday scrubbings started early in the afternoon, extending well into evening’s dark and hell would be paid to the errant child who slipped outside for a few minutes of fun, dirtying himself after his washing up.

Mother never gave much thought to the fact that seven miles on a dusty, dirt road had the ability to wilt clothes and seep dirt back into crevasses dearly scrubbed.  “It is the intent that matters,” she would say as they covered the ground to the white-washed, steepled church. “God knows when people try to do his will, and is pleased,” she would say as she completed her last tasks of picking the freshest flowers for the altar’s table and brushing egg whites on baking bread for the parishioners at service’s end.

It wasn’t until years later, as they were dragging their own children to the tub, that they smiled in understanding at her fierceness about this one ritual.

Grandfather thinks of the long years since her death, that terrible silence that comes from being truly alone and bereft of the company of the one he needed most.  His blessings have been many. The door sill gleams with the shine of countless footprints – it was the heart of their home because each night, as they crossed the sill, they knew they had entered a safe haven where cares could be relinquished and joys celebrated.

And as he draws his last breath, straddled across the sill, he sighs and relaxes in the knowledge that he is both home and on his way to the home of his heart

Shaving

One of the sweetest commercials I think I’ve ever seen s a new release…a father shows his daughter how to shave her legs for the first time.  She nicks her leg and her dad is quick to gently apply a spot of tissue paper.

Shaving one’s legs for the first time is a rite of passage for a young teenager.  It is almost as significant as menstruation.  For me, both events were momentous. One an act almost of rebellion, the other nature’s call to a new life, both a personal emergence into womanhood.

My mother didn’t want me to shave.  She never had.  But whereas her legs were smooth, with few hairs, mine were hairy, like my Dad’s.  They may have been golden blonde but I felt like a furry beast.

I was fourteen when I shaved my legs for the first time.  It was the year of my emergence.  I had lost the baby weight, exchanged cat’s eyeglasses for wireless ones, and got my period. I was ready, even if my mother was not and wouldn’t dream of asking for help.

My family was up at our summer cabin and friends of the family were visiting. One day Mom and her friend, Bunny, went out for a few hours, leaving me in charge of six kids.  I snuck into the bathroom and furtively proceeded to butcher my legs.  No shaving cream, no water, just raw steel.  I was bleeding out.  There were tissue paper and band-aids in wide swaths everywhere you looked.

When Mom and Bunny returned, they looked askance at my legs but to Mom’s credit, she didn’t say a word.  I stuttered, “Mom, the razor fell off the shelf and fell down my leg.  When I put it back up, it fell again, running down the other leg.”  They kept straight faces.

The next day my Mom approached me, saying “You do realize you will have to shave now for the rest of your life.”  “That’s quite all right Mom.”  I savored the sweet victory, even as I winced moving around.

Searching for a Panacea

Searching for a panacea
we drift in somnambulance
seeking the respite
to this long-suffering despair
cloaked in remorse
we wrap its dull edges
about bodies
tired of futility,
from meaningless pressures
offering no consolation
and hold tightly
for fear of drowning’s end,
in morose morbidity
should even an integer slip.
Discouraged, disillusioned –
but a spark remains
always there,
lurking in shadows
of some inner force
to relinquish pain
and surge forward
onto a more brightly lit path,
one more than existence,
but rather of life.

Nay Sayer

So easily am I captivated
by your deep spring eyes
the laughter that sometimes
curls the tips of those lips
the sensitivity
that crinkles your brow

But I fear you –
dread these years
I so willingly give
will one day be cast
aside like yesterday’s
garbage –
I have not the strength
to believe your love
is real.

I dread the power
so willingly given
to your hands –
How do you respect
what is so easily given?
I am but a mouse
who creeps and crawls,
scurrying to meet
your simplest desire.

Yet, no matter
how much love
you may give
or I squander on you
there lurks a decrier
within, shouting down
each gentle touch,
disdaining your
vulnerabilities for
they may threaten my
securities –
demanding your perfection
yet waiting for
defection.

Joshua Trees

Gnarled old women,
holding on to the juices
of life,
watchful sentinels
of silent desert secrets,
holding firm
to a lore lone passed,
yet steady of resolve.
Not acknowledging
changes to the new
nor accepting
or even judging –
absorbing differences
yet protecting
the decrees of
afore gone days.
Old women watching
the passage of time,
held by fragile bonds
to a newer world,
yet never forgetting
a revered past
more precious
with its passing.

So Far Away and always Near

So far away you are
3,000 miles and then some
Long ago I drove
all that long way
6 nights and 7 days
blinking eyes weary,
rubbing my back
at rest stops
from here to there.
I am older now.
traveling is harder
but I’ll be coming little one
whether by train, plane, car
or maybe a big balloon
scattering clouds in its wake
as surely as the morning sun rises

If I could but snap my fingers
or nod my head
you would find me knocking
at your door
spinning like a whirlwind
floating on a soft breeze
in pictures or the internet
I’ll be there for you
My love roars like a lion,
is playful as a puppy
wagging its tail in sheer pleasure
As enduring as a stone

And when I finally
hold you in the embrace
of my arms
you will feel
all the love stored in them
for You are your family’s special gift
Every second together
I will treasure
for I am your Nana
and it will always be so.