She Loved the Fog

She loved the fog, and I loved her

Born on Thistle Street in the Gorbals of Glasgow

Footsteps from the river Clyde

She took no shelter from the storms, 

The booms of thunder gave her comfort. 

She’d toss open windows to hear them clearly

Lightning lit her beauty against the shadows of the night. 

In the fog of early morning, she gazed into the dimness 

I peer into the mists this morning

And hope to catch a glimpse of her as she slips away.

Born Anew

I am a newborn at a mother’s breast
I am a novice kneeling at the good lord’s feet
I am a student cross legged on a woven mat

My memories are washed away by my tears
My life before now ashes from the burning bush
My past a blur as I center and assume my stance

I bath in the love of a mother’s gaze
I carry down the tablets, words etched in my soul
I mimic the motions of the elders in class

My first steps transform my crawl to a walk
My awe at the founder of the universe expands
My hands rise from a forward fold
to my heart in a silent prayer.
and I am born anew.

Students and Teachers

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will disappear. 

I am blessed and I am grateful. I have learned so much. My most impactful teacher was and still is my bride. For decades we studied and learned the cycle of life together; the sowing and reaping, the blossoms of spring and the harvests of autumn. After our fair share of tragedy, we built a family and bought a little house too small for the four of us but more than adequate for me and my memories today. 

Together we learned to be friends, lovers, parents and somewhere along the way adults but she never lost the child in her. Her moods were my muse and I sought with my writing to chart them like the constellations in the night sky.  She was so graceful and my heart is still inextricably connected to the image of her smile; lighting up her face, lighting up the room, lighting up my soul. 

Almost a year after her passing, I am still recounting the lessons she taught me. She tried to prepare me for this time, a time when her kisses would be memories and the imprint of her body pressed to mine would be so faint as to make me wonder if it ever happened. 

So, hard fought lessons learned, I rise early and chant a mantra to her spirit, trace the lines of her form with my poems, capture sights in photographs that I know would make her ooh and aah. I drive to the gym to sweat, grunt and groan. She used to make me run back and forth in the glassed encased rooms where a paddle and a little black ball were the instruments of my destruction. 

I keep busy at night, seeing movies, making the rounds,  outings with friends, wandering the holiday fairs in Manhattan alone, but busy. I have traveled to Newport and San Francisco, staying at the finest hotels, knowing she would have loved the feel of the robe and slippers. 

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will disappear. 

I am blessed and I am grateful. I have learned so much but still feel like I am a novice as I learn to navigate this world alone. I know that this is the lesson, the capstone of all lessons that she was trying to teach me. I close my eyes and see her, half smile on her lips shaking her head and letting me know in her way that the one lesson not yet mastered is that life is too important to be taken seriously and I vow to add some silliness, some ridiculousness and laughter to my daily routine. 

I know I still have so much to learn.

Infinite Spirit

Those of us who are of a certain age, our children grown, with children of their own, wake to find another dear friend gone, and it doesn’t take an Einstein or Thoreau to realize that the loss you suffered when she cast away her human form, is universal to all who mourn and we must rise above our own distress and comfort those whose wounds are fresh.

To all the loved ones of those no longer at our side, please hold each other in a fierce embrace and wail and cry and raise your fist against the sky and then with griefs sweet release think deep and hard about the gifts our loved ones gave to us and nurture their wondrous legacy, and add its riches to the treasure chests where we keep the mirror of whom we hoped we’d grow to be and like Nobel remake our destiny for those who will remember thee.

And if we pass this tradition on, the wisdom and the joy of those no longer here will be present in those that we hold dear and on and on their spirit will be carried through the march of time into infinity.

She’s Got Moves

The first thing you would notice about her was her smile but only because you turned your head to look at her when she laughed. She truly couldn’t help herself. She would hear or see something and she would burst out laughing. People would save things they found ridiculous just to tell her so they could be rewarded by the beautifully shaped notes of her laughter. She laughed often and it had a vocabulary of it’s own. It could begin a story, punctuate it or be the punchline. Her favorite quote was “life was too important to be taken seriously” by Oscar Wilde.

She was so full of life, after her smile and infectious laughter you might as I did feel a tug at your heart strings. She was so beautiful. She would move her hands and her body when she was in conversation and her audience was mesmerized.  I’m not quite sure how to frame this diplomatically but once she had developed an opinion about any topic she wasn’t shy about sharing it with you. She never suffered fools, 

I guess by now you have realized how head over heals in love with her I was and still am. After she was gone, I mentioned to a young woman that I thought her boyfriend had had a crush on my wife. Three people turned around and said we all did. So although I was the lucky guy who shared the rollercoaster with her for 47 years I wasn’t the only one smitten by her. 

At parties when the music began she would smile at me and grab my hand and we would walk to the center of the dance floor and she would begin swaying and gently move her hips to the beat. Her arms would move to and fro and her feet would match mine as we would move to the rhythm of a song from our youth. All eyes were on her when she danced, with that half smile on her lips and I remember hearing people say. “She’s got moves”

Empty Chairs

October 28th 2022

I sit at the dining room table that came with the house we bought thirty six years ago. The now empty chairs that belong to it, have been used as tent poles for bedsheet tents that the boys played under. They have been stacked with the boys knapsacks and school books, held their winter jackets while they pulled their boots over thick wool socks. Even on the coldest days of the year she encouraged them to “get out of the house and into the fresh air”. The oldest boy now has a little hockey player of his own and is up and out of his house in the wee hours of the morning. Latest reports are that my son’s son scored a hat trick and has breakaway speed, dazzles his adversaries and can handle a puck like a juggler. The younger son, now in The Netherlands sends pictures of his daughter and himself at zoos and playgrounds, on slides, climbing rock walls and in each other’s arms. Both my sons have embraced nature and when they have time in their busy lives have taken the old man for hikes through a nature preserve to Milton Bay or a scramble up and down Break Neck Ridge in Cold Spring. My grandsons have created games that award themselves points for the sights they see along the way. Keeping score in their heads as they see turkeys, deer and various rocks and plants. On summer hikes the younger boy squats in the tide pool looking for fish and rocks to add to his collection as the older boy skims smooth round stones with his father.

The sight of the empty chairs reminds me that I am alone. Alone in a tiny house built in 1929. The chairs bring back memories of lives well lived in a home that revolved around a whirlwind of a woman. Who’s presence was felt wherever she went. Her smile lit up the room and her laughter warmed your heart. I will visit her today in the rose garden where she rests. It has been nine months since she past. I feel like a character in an epic tale. A tale of a man living an idyllic life boasting to the world that he was the luckiest man alive to have the woman he cherished.

And like all epics stories he loses it all and sets out on a journey, a journey filled with challenges that are greater than his ability and somehow he finds the strength and fortitude to ford the river, climb the mountain and slay the dragons, but as he returns to the house that sheltered his family and sits at the dinning room table and looks across at the empty chairs, he weeps for the loved ones he once sat across from at the table that came with the house they bought 36 years ago.

People Tell Me

October 2022

People tell me that

I am doing all the right things

I have to remind myself that it is true

No longer at my side I keep her in deep in my heart

My heart overflows with my love for her

Where did you think these tears came from?

 

At her memorial my sister said that my bride could say

“oh Danny” in a myriad of ways  

 

She would say it when she was

pleased with me or when I needed a scolding or two  

 

I miss the “oh Dannys” as much as I miss her laughter

Didn’t matter if it was directed at me or with me

I miss our strolls in Manhattan, trips to Cape May or trips across the sea

I miss dancing with her, she could move, she was so beautiful

I miss her smile, when she smiled everything was right with the world

I miss our hugs and my arm around her as we would watch a show

 

People tell me that

I am doing all the right things

I have to remind myself that it is true

No longer at my side I keep her in deep in my heart

My heart overflows with my love for her

Where did you think these tears came from?

 

 

The Horizon

I once was but am no longer

A child thin as a rail

Why walk when you can run

Sitting still was just not possible

I once was

A father’s son

Who would have listened better

If he had only known

How brief the visit

I once was

A rebel, long haired, bell bottomed

Dressed for the revolution

Mourning King and Kennedy

Watched as the change we had hoped for

Ended with Weathermen becoming stock brokers

I once was

An ally working in the back offices

Supporting amazing people that

Helped the poor, the ill, the muddled and confused

Then on to clinics that cared for the health of woman, children and families

And even when I left the world of care for people

I got the chance to help those conserving the

resources of our planet

to make the world safe for the beings in our oceans, on land and in the air.

I once was

A young lover and over time

A fair husband

Bound together by kismet, love, loss and luck

Only separated by “until … do us part”

I once was

A father of young boys

Chasing the elder

With the younger on my hip

Theses days they are minding me

Helping me navigate a world

No longer familiar.

I once was all these things

But am no longer

As I look at the future

I am beginning to imagine

What I could become

And although there may not be

A myriad of possibilities

My well worn ideals, practical experience

Passion and compassion and

understanding that all this will pass

Give me all the tools I need to

make the most of what is on the horizon.

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