Weeping for Willow

willow

 

Trees grow.

They grace our lives.

They die.

 

Every day the view from my kitchen

Has been of the small universe of the willow where:

The Squirrels of Chaos conduct their nefarious business.

Chickadees hang upside down, like fluttering ornaments.

Raccoons nest within the hollow cavities.

Woodpeckers drill holes in the bark in neat, tidy rows.

Pepe sharpens his claws on the trunk.

Moxie hides behind the tall weeds and ivy that grow around its trunk.

Branches tickle me when I mow the lawn.

 

How can I say goodbye?

 

Other hands planted this tree.

Other people cared for it; watered it, trimmed it, enjoyed its shade.

Some are gone now, the tree has stood here around 100 years.

 

But its days are numbered.

It has been slowly dying for many years.

A massive limb failed last year.

Last week a storm took a large section.

I heard it when it fell.

The time has come.

 

Thursday, the tree service will take it down.

The massive willow will become a cord of firewood,

Stacked for heating the house next winter.

The yard will seem empty.

 

A new landscape plan will take shape.

New homes for birds and squirrels will develop,

New games for Moxie and Pepe.

 

But I will no longer see the willow as I return from my walks.

I will not see its branches welcome me home.

The wind will hold no melody.

 

Through the Darkness

You stood in the darkness

Arms open wide.

Waiting in the terrifying silence of my soul.

Pain came in loud shrieks,

Shredding the peaceful blue with

Shards of Red! Orange! Black!

 

Still you stand,

Catching me as I reach out to you.

 

Hold me! I’m afraid out here on this ledge.

Your eyes locked into mine.

Our souls touching, we walk

Through the burned fields

Of my memories.

 

Months pass as endless night.

I am cradled in

Acceptance and understanding.

 

I begin to live again.

Color returns as day dawns.

Black, empty shapes are revealed

To be new, glorious designs.

Life erupts into Joy!

 

As I turn to watch the colors light your eyes,

Butterflies dance as I realize

The color I see within is

Love.

 

c. 2003, Fai Marie Dawson

Summer Gone

beach

I wrote this sixteen years ago. It was one of my first poems. Although I loved poetry, I had been too intimidated to try to write any. My fear of rhyming. My terror of rhyming. So that year, I began writing poetry with no concern for rhyme. Just thoughts, feelings. This was written in October, and I must have been mourning the loss of yet another summer.

The sleep of eternity

Whispers the love

Of a thousand summers.

Time moans and is gone.

Cry for the elaborate vision

We call life.

As Lemmings to the Sea

Lemmings

 

It is said that every time there is a population explosion among lemmings, that the little creatures band together and march to the sea. Once there, they leap from the tallest cliff and commit mass suicide, swimming round and round until they exhaust themselves and drown. I have even seen documentaries that show these depressed little things on their way to the beach to die. As it turns out, this is nothing but a myth. How do I know? Snopes.com tells me so. Ahhhhh. Yet another truly interesting myth dies. Perhaps all of the myths are walking single file to the edge of the cliff as I type this. See them fall into the surf and disappear under the foam. Nevertheless, I have always thought that we, like lemmings follow our leaders mindlessly, without asking where we are going. So for today, a poem about lemmings.

As Lemmings to the Sea

Trying hard to be polite and thoughtful,

So others won’t be uncomfortable.

We carefully hide the best of ourselves

As we march like lemmings to the sea.

 

We whitewash our hard earned sparkling talents,

Lest we thoughtlessly outshine others.

We conceal our uniqueness within, as

We march like lemmings to the sea.

 

We go singly, or in pairs, and in groups,

Alone, in commitment, in parties.

We silence ourselves while those louder speak.

Marching lemmings, to the sea.

 

We are confused about what is best for all,

We believe their countless, blatant lies.

While the rabid rant on, propelling us

Like lemmings to the sea.

 

Closer, we see the fate of those ahead,

Falling, flailing, landing helplessly

In the seething waves below. Are we but

Lemmings?

 

c.2013, Fai Marie Dawson

An interesting film on Lemmings can be found on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWuiGWkd7mM

Ode to Pink String

I found my pink string the other day, which prompted me to look up the poem I wrote to honor it.

A few things you will need to know before you read this that you might not already know.

1. I am like a magpie or crow. I find certain things absolutely beautiful that other people might miss. Usually they are bling related, shiny, sparkly, colorful. In this particular incident, the pink string was a beautiful shade of pink. I found it on a construction site, it had been used for a snap line and discarded. I approached a carpenter, and asked if I could have it. Slightly amused, perhaps thinking I was hitting on him, he said yes. I happily walked away with about 100 feet of this glorious string. I had no plans what to do with it. Merely the fact that I now owned it was enough.

2. While I was growing up, my mother would make Chili about twice a month. Sometimes in a bowl, sometimes over hot dogs, it was one of my comfort foods. She never called it Chili, however. She always called it Chili Soup. I don’t know why. But I grew up believing this was the correct classification of Chili. It was soup.

3. Becky was raised in a home where Chili was Chili. It wasn’t soup. She would correct me whenever I made the slip of saying, ‘Let’s have Chili soup tonight?’ No. It was not soup.

It soon became a fun thing to fuss about. Not that I know how to fuss, or would be any good at it if I should try, you understand. But, sometimes I would say it just to get a rise from her. It was funny to pull the chain, and push the button. Until one day. When she took my pink string from me to teach me the correct classification of Chili. I wrote this poem while my pink string was in exile. I thought that by giving her the poem, that my string would be granted freedom. It was. Please note, however, that the whereabouts of the pink string will not be published.

Pink String

Oh, glorious, shining pink string!

Oh, glamorous string in a fling.

Remove, I pray, this hateful sting,

Which pain to my heart doth bring.

When’er I remember the fateful slip

Which, when uttered, made my heart dip.

The utterance of, “SOUP!”

Which my tongue did trip

On, and slip on, and responded so flip.

To re-do, over-do, and un-do such pain

Would remove such an ugly, splochable stain

On my heart, and the string which hath lain

In exile, defeated, deplored and disdained …

Could be FREE! Oh! Misery me!

Oh that such a thing could really be!

To get to hold, to feel, and once again see,

The pride of my life, my pink destiny!

To say such a small thing, a four letter word,

In the world of such big things seems really absurd.

The pain, the anguish that around me does gird

Trouble, calamity, and distresses in herds!

Oh that the pink string could return!

And fill the great longing my heart has been yearning

To have and to hold and to finally learn

That chili and soup really makes my heart burn.

To avoid both! And in so doing

The pink string and I would soon be rejoining!

Oh joy! Oh delight! Oh heart overflowing,

My comments on chili-SOUP I will constantly be stowing!

c.2000 Fai Marie Dawson

The Canary’s Song

I wrote this a few years ago, thinking of how other people’s perceptions of us can mold our lives, turn us into what we are not.

birdcage

The room was dark, and filled with many things. Important, old, dusty objects, visited on occasion by the people in the house. Furniture, seldom used, left there to be dusted off when company came. Pictures hung on walls where no one could see them. The burgundy velvet draperies covered the windows except for a small space of about three inches left open for the bird.

 The cage, itself, was fairly large. Silver wires woven together, tarnished. It had once been designed to be beautiful, but now, merely served its purpose. Set in the corner, unobtrusive, silent.

The bird knew no other home. She had always been here, in this cage, this corner, this room. Daily, she had watched the world outside through the gap in the drapery, like someone watching TV. She believed none of it was real, but enjoyed the neighborhood dogs, cats and traffic as some kind of entertainment. But it was the birds she loved the most. She watched their dancing flight, and felt their freedom in the wind.

Occasionally people came in the room to feed her and give her water. They loved her, and she enjoyed the moments they spent with her. This was real. They filled her dish with colorful seeds, her bowl with fresh sparkling water. She would stay pressed out of the way, against the silver bars of the cage.

“Sing, little bird.

Flap your beautiful little yellow wings!

Sing your pretty canary song,

For it pleases us.

This is the reason you were made.

Fulfill the wish of the Creator.

This is the meaning of your life.”

The seeds were hard for the little bird to break, and they stuck in her throat making it difficult to sing the song they wanted to hear. She washed them down with the water, and sang for them the best she could. Puffing out her chest, she sang long and hard, until tears would form in her eyes.

“Sing louder, little bird.

Sing sweeter.

Sing your canary song!”

 She was so happy to be yellow, as it seemed to please them. She would flap her little yellow wings, and they would smile. So pretty in her silver cage. They tapped her cage as they would leave, making it swing on the chain that was attached to the ceiling.

“Fly!” they said as they left the room.

 The bird was thankful that they allowed her to fly like this. The cage spent several minutes swaying to and fro, and she held her wings out to enjoy the soaring sensation this created. How thoughtful they were. How much they loved her.

 Whenever she heard them come near the room, she would begin her song. Bringing joy to their hearts was the meaning of her life. Her heart longed to see the happiness she was creating. The dark room, the shadowy objects, the dusty curtains reflected nothing.

 In time, the little bird realized the cage was getting smaller. She could no longer flap her wings the way she had done before. Her wings, when spread, reached across the cage. Her feathers scraped across the silver bars. No one noticed this when they made their daily request.

 “Sing, little bird.

Flap your beautiful little yellow wings!

Sing your pretty canary song,

For it pleases us.

This is the reason you were made.

Fulfill the wish of the Creator.

This is the meaning of your life.”

 One day, she discovered she could sing a new song. She had practiced all day, and the sound thrilled her. When they entered the room, she greeted them with her new found song. Instead of the joy she had anticipated, she saw displeasure in their eyes.

 “Who has corrupted you, little bird?

Who has changed your beautiful song?

Sing louder, little bird,

Sing sweeter.

Sing your canary song!”

 Although she was eating all the food that was given her, it no longer seemed to give her strength. She longed for more, something besides the colorful seeds. It took all her strength now to flap her wings and sing her songs. It took all her courage to supply the joy she was created to provide. Many days were spent laying on the bottom of her cage watching the world outside. One day the sun shone through the glass and formed a puddle of warmth in the corner of the cage.

 The little bird huddled in this tiny spot of sunshine that had joined her from the outside world. Could this be real? She wondered. When the people entered the room, they saw her lying in the sun.

 “Oh, little bird!

This is dangerous for you!

Let me adjust the drapery to keep the evil sun

from damaging your beautiful yellow feathers.”

 And they closed the draperies. Blotting out the warm sunshine. Blotting out the cats and the dogs and the birds. Blotting out what was real. Sealing her in to their reality.

 “Sing little bird.

Flap your beautiful little yellow wings!

Sing your pretty canary song,

For it pleases us.

This is the reason you were made.

Fulfill the wish of the Creator.

This is the meaning of your life.”

In the darkness, the bird’s heart withered.

She never left the floor of the cage now, her eyes clouded over with worry about which of the two worlds were real, and why she was really here.

 One day a beautiful woman came to visit, and slipped in to see the bird. Carefully, quietly, she approached the cage. She held out a gift. A mirror, framed in polished silver that gleamed. The bird had never seen anything so beautiful.

“A mirror to set you free,” said the woman gently.

“Someday you will wake up, and realize what you are.

Someday you will find a way to use this key.

And when you do, nothing can stop you!”

 When the woman left the room, the bird took a long look into the mirror. What she saw there distressed her. Was there something wrong with her eyes? Did she not understand the concept of color? For what she saw was not a yellow bird. The feathers she saw were black and gray and white. She hid the mirror in terror. Why would the Creator have done this horrible thing to her?

“Sing louder, little bird.

Sing sweeter.

Sing your canary song!”

 One day, the people did not enter the room. The house was silent. No one came with seeds or water. No one came to be given joy by her song. She gathered the strength to find the gift the woman had left her. Taking a look into the shiny silver, she saw that the door of the cage behind her was open. Indeed. There was no door there at all.

 She stood in the opening, only hearing the beating of her heart. Fearfully, she stepped out into the dark room. She didn’t die. Instead, she felt stronger. She pulled aside the burgundy draperies to see the sparkling sun outside. It took time for her eyes to adjust, but she saw the most beautiful world waiting for her. She looked back into the safety of the dark, dusty room that held nothing for her.

 As she looked out the window, she realized it was open. It had always been open. The bird stepped through the window and for the first time, she flew. The rocking of the cage had not been flying, she found. Nothing could compare with this. Her wings carried her up into the sky, toward the sun. She found the joy she had for years given away. She opened her mouth to sing her song. Her own special song, that came out in a scream of ecstasy.

“Sing louder, glorious bird.

Sing wildly.

Sing your eagle song!” 

 c. 2011, Fai Marie Dawson

The Road

The Road

It was a time to live,
A time to grow
Or to be pulled up
Like a weed along the road
Of life.

The one thing to be remembered
Was what was forgotten.
Cast along the wayside
With the pressed flowers
Of yesterday. . .

Waiting, watching, wanting,
For what no one knew,
Or thought they did not know.
Truth was buried under lies,
And no one looked there.

Did we learn,
Or unlearn
What we did not know then?

So many questions,
So few answers.
Life goes on.

Too late, the answers appear
In the midst of mistakes.
Ashamed, we stumble on.

Shoulds, woulds, coulds. . .
If onlys. . .Echo within us.

Only we judge ourselves
With the harshest verdicts
From the podium of our Innocence.

How can we expect ourselves to have known
What we did not.
We were there too:
Our past selves our only witness.

We have no right to stand in judgment now,
When we could not save ourselves then.

Release the prisoner, self.
The punishment is compassion.
–Fai Dawson, c.1991