Train Ride

 All things come to an end;

small calves in Arkansas,

the bend of the muddy river.

Do all things come to an end?

No, they go on forever.

They go on forever, the swamp,

the vine-choked cypress, the oaks

rattling last year’s leaves,

the thump of the rails, the kite,

the still white stilted heron.

All things come to an end.

The red clay bank, the spread hawk,

the bodies riding this train,

the stalled truck, pale sunlight, the talk;

the talk goes on forever,

the wide dry field of geese,

a man stopped near his porch

to watch. Release, release;

between cold death and a fever,

send what you will, I will listen.

All things come to an end.

No, they go on forever.

Grant me the patience to notice grace in every ending and may strength be there too. Amen.

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The Race

Posted for all those relatives–past and present–who do everything to share those last moments with their lovely ones.

The Race by Sharon Olds

When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,

bought a ticket, ten minutes later

they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors

had said my father would not live through the night

and the flight was cancelled. A young man

with a dark brown moustache told me

another airline had a nonstop

leaving in seven minutes. See that

elevator over there, well go

down to the first floor, make a right, you’ll

see a yellow bus, get off at the

second Pan Am terminal, I

ran, I who have no sense of direction

raced exactly where he’d told me, a fish

slipping upstream deftly against

the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those

bags I had thrown everything into

in five minutes, and ran, the bags

wagged me from side to side as if

to prove I was under the claims of the material,

I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,

I who always go to the end of the line, I said

Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said

Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then

run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,

at the top I saw the corridor,

and then I took a deep breath, I said

Goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,

I used my legs and heart as if I would

gladly use them up for this,

to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the

bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed

in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of

women running, their belongings tied

in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my

long legs he gave me, my strong

heart I abandoned to its own purpose,

I ran to Gate 17 and they were

just lifting the thick white

lozenge of the door to fit it into

the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not

too rich, I turned sideways and

slipped through the needle’s eye, and then

I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet

was full, and people’s hair was shining, they were

smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a

mist of gold endorphin light,

I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,

in massive relief. We lifted up

gently from one tip of the continent

and did not stop until we set down lightly on the

other edge, I walked into his room

and watched his chest rise slowly

and sink again, all night

I watched him breathe.

Mums and None of the Expected Characteristics

I read Barbara Holmes’ book on contemplative practices in the Black Church the other month, and the book was as amazing as it was historically grounding and refreshing.  In it she says, “Some sacred spaces bear none of the expected characteristics.”

It is within the spirit of contemplation and the gift of sacred spaces that I offer this poetic piece which Nate shared with me.  You may enjoy it, but hopefully you won’t (in the best way).  There is language in this that you may not want to blast:

Poetry for the Day: Writing

Writing by Joyce Rupp

I wait out sluggish days,

empty evenings, mulish

attempts to capture words

hiding themselves

inside the undulating sea

of my mental thesaurus,

not even remotely available

for me to scoot them

onto my fingers and

into necessary revision.

So I wait, and wait,

and wait some more

while I fumble uselessly

with worthless concoctions

until

one early dawn

the tide comes in

and the first word peeks out.

then they all follow,

and like a flock of gulls

I swoop in to snatch

the sea’s latest prey.WIP

Apples Falling From Trees

Javaka Steptoe’s Seeds

You drew pictures of life

with your words.

I listened and ate these words you said

to grow up strong.

Like the trees, I grew,

branches, leaves, flowers, and then the fruit.

I became the words I ate in you.

For better or worse

the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Poetry For the Weekend

Joyce Rupp’s Greedy for Too Many Things

ravenous for too many things,

even spiritual growth,

greedy to grow without effort,

to have it all, to sit back and bask,

luxuriating in what was never mine

in the first place.

greedy for more time in the day

when I already have

all the time I need.

greedy for companionship

while I ignore the One Companion

always near.

greedy for, oh, so much,

while I miss the chipmunk

chewing on the sunflower seed,

the sound of soft July wind

rustling cottonwood leaves,

the color of azure sky as the sun

rinses morning out of it.