Black Crow (For Jeffrey on His Seventeenth Birthday)

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“You’ll never be sixteen
again,” I said, words misting
like white doves in the air.

I don’t remember
what the weather was like
on the day you were born.
this morning, it snows—
tiny, frail flakes, drifting

I drive away, you still
sleeping

it’s hard to know when
a boy becomes a man,
switching out smooth stones
in his pocket for car keys.
you used to leave the kitchen
table smelling of syrup and
milk; now you enter the day
clean-shaven, all soap
and mint

what do you remember
of the days gone? Do you
recall when a maple seed
held all the world in its
wingspan? when a pine
cone was the grandest prize?
a flat of frozen creek, hoisted
your victory dance? the
trophies you seek now
I can’t hold in my hand.

one black crow in the parking
lot when I arrive. he pushes down
on the air with wings longer
than his body, languid in his
escape.

“where will you go?”
I ask with my white-bird
words.

Image by Dennis. Sourced via Flickr.

Weather Forecast (a poem)

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this will be remembered
as the Christmas of sixty degrees
when we went walking in shorts
and wore flip-flops as we sat
on the patio in the fading light
of day

the trees adorned with flashing
wings; morning drips from gray
branches; the meadow covered
in white mist

I have two sets of eyes, two sets
of ears; my skin holds the memory
of life hoped for, taken, healed

I am a sponge, filled with the water
of dreams, your voice strong
inside me, like the north wind,
all my worth measured by
the light in your eyes

beauty is a wild thing I stalk,
gathering fog by the armfuls and
heaping it onto yesterday

the lights on the Christmas tree
glisten, winking in reflection on
naked branches outside the window

the weatherman calls for rain.

holy ground: a poem

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the blinds were drawn
when I came upon them,
lying head to toe, in his
hospital bed, his arms
wrapped around her legs

faint light of midday
eeking through slats,
steady drip of faucet
slowing down time, her
face puffy with sleep,
over fifty years of
being at his side
molding them into one.

they told me stories
about their dog, and I
showed pictures of mine;
when she told me about
her broken heart—about
the death of their son,

a flock of birds took
flight from the tree
outside the window. I
watched their silhouettes
against the closed blind,

as bird after
bird after bird lifted
itself up into
the sky.

::

*Don’t forget, friends, we’re taking a break from the playdates linkup for the remainder of December. I’ll meet you back here in January! Praying your Advent season is sweet thus far.

Playdates with God: Autumn Longing

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Jeff and I ran away to Lexington together this weekend. It was a quick overnight, one we traditionally make on black Friday to do some holiday shopping. But this year, we will have our nest full again over Thanksgiving week, so we made the break for Kentucky early.

My husband and I always have fun exploring new places, but it wasn’t our time in the city that sung God’s sweet song to me. Driving through the Kentucky farmland in the autumn, new music tickling my ear, the beauty of skeletal trees whispering austerity to my spirit … this is where God came to me this weekend. And I sat dumbstruck in the passenger seat.

I always turn to C.S. Lewis as my companion during this season. He captures the longing of autumn so articulately. In my book I talk about how he grasped onto the word sehnsucht—that German word with no real English equivalent encapsulating a longing for home, a homesickness for a place we’ve never been. Lewis famously adored autumn as a time of awakening, a season where joy and sorrow hold hands to reveal to us that we were made for something more.

In the fall I am always filled with a sense of expectation—the hope that something wonderful, something life-transforming is about to happen. I go to bed each day in disappointment, wondering what is this churning inside of me? I should be well familiar with this by now, I wrote a book about it, for Pete’s sake. But life makes no exceptions for slow learners and my memory is surprisingly short. I mistake this feeling as pointing me toward something tangible, but I learn over and over and over again it is the feeling itself that stirs my awareness of God inside of me.

Lewis says it like this, “All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.”

This wanting, this longing, how sweetly it fills my spirit! This sense of expectation I carry with me reminds me that most of the time when wonderful things happen, they happen slowly. No sudden reveal, rather, a slow awakening like a flower opening to the morning sun.

on the bright wing
of morning
I touch the hem
of dawn;
soar through stardust
and dew as light
spreads like
spilled milk, slowly
blinding the eyes
of heaven, light
upon light,
trembling like
a bird preparing
for flight. my body
blooms until all
the sky and I are
one diaphanous
blue wing.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

 

Laura Boggess

31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: Memoir

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Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is that it allows you to come to terms with your life narrative.”~William Zinsser, “How to Write Your Memoir.”

“Remember,” she said. “Writing is discovery. You will learn things about yourself you never would have imagined as you put word to page.”

I’ve experienced this truth repeatedly over the years, but my jaded self needed reminded. I was in a workshop on writing memoir, and the leaders were giving us a series of writing prompts. Cat Pleska and Fran Simone are successful memoirists and experienced teachers of the craft, but also, they trust in this process. Writing—putting words to one’s own story—has the power to heal.

“There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published,” says William Zinsser in the above-mentioned essay.

Yes.

So we wrote. We read George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” and wrote a version of our own. Then we chose a few lines from our poems of origin and wrote some more on the three elements of memoir: scene, summary, and reflection. We listened to the brave ones read their scratchings (I wasn’t one). And then we wrote some more.

A friend once told me I must write my memoir. You have to, she said. And I felt an odd sort of churning inside of me. I will have to wait until a few people I love pass into the next life, I said.

So, when I wrote my poem of origin, I was well aware of those elements of my life that made my friend say, you must.

I am from whispers in the dark,
scratchy kisses—scent of beer; open windows, curtains blowing inside-out, fresh-hoed corn,
and Johnny Cash playing on the stereo …

The leaves are almost at peak color in our little valley and the way they scatter in the breeze feel like a slow, peeling away of all the things we hide behind. This almost-empty nest has me thinking about the nest from which I flew. And I remember: writing is discovery.

This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here.

Almost Empty