by Anne Porter
When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold
And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying
Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country
I’ve never understood
Why this is so
But there’s an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow
For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest
And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country
We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams
And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows
Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.
"Music" by Anne Porter from Living Things. © Zoland Books, 2006
Making Xmas cards
The pile grows
The tree towers up in the poor man's penthouse
A new trinket ornament from Tin Toy Arcade
Two other newbies from same source
a Graf Zeppelin and a disco ball
In the glow of the fire, the Yule
KD seizes a cast-off box cover
...and makes it her own - regularly sleeps within it, to date
Ben and Erin look up on Xmas Day wearing their
Xmas cracker/popper paper hats.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly rides with daughter in the Xmas Parade;
passes under our windows.
She’s gone. She was my love, my moon or more.
She chased the chickens out and swept the floor,
Emptied the bones and nut-shells after feasts,
And smacked the kids for leaping up like beasts.
Now morbid boys have grown past awkwardness;
The girls let stitches out, dress after dress,
To free some swinging body’s riding space
And form the new child’s unimagined face.
Yet, while vague nephews, spitting on their curls,
Amble to pester winds and blowsy girls,
What arm will sweep the room, what hand will hold
New snow against the milk to keep it cold?
And who will dump the garbage, feed the hogs,
And pitch the chickens’ heads to hungry dogs?
Not my lost hag who dumbly bore such pain:
Childbirth at midnight sassafras and rain.
New snow against her face and hands she bore,
And now lies down, who was my moon or more.
"Complaint" by James Wright from Above the River: Complete Poems. © Noonday Press, 1992
A woman from church
may drink only for her burgeoning
cocktail napkin collection.
She recently made over 300 coasters
for an upcoming wedding reception.
It is rumored that
she is only into the drinking
for the cocktail napkins.
Barkeeps wink and play along.
She insists she doesn't have a problem -
she's only it in for the souvenirs.
Back when a President set a precedent,
and was a prime writer, editor and inspirer,
Lincoln gave a draft of his first inaugural address to his incoming Secretary of State, William Seward, who offered this as an olive branch to seceding Southern states:
" 'I close. We are not, we must not, be aliens or enemies, but fellow-countrymen and brethren. Although passion has strained our bonds of affection too hardly, they must not, I am sure they will not, be broken. The mystic chords which proceeding from so many battlefields and so many patriot graves, pass through all the hearts and all the hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angels of the nation.'
"But it was Lincoln's revision that made this soar:
" 'I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'
Submitted by Rev/Dr Tom Bentz, Delaware, retired