The Fisherman

[Yesterday’s gospel reading inspired my response to today’s prompt.]

The fisherman had left his work, his boat, his nets;
he had left his home, his family, his life
to follow this man who had filled his nets
and then called him to leave them, to follow him.
And he had gone.

Never had the fisherman felt so close to God,
never had he felt so free and yet so safe,
never had he seen such wonders, heard such wisdom.

I could follow him forever, the fisherman thought.
I am happy begging with and for him.
I am content to puzzle over his words.
All I want is to stay close to him, always and forever.

Who was this man, after all, the fisherman asked himself.
A holy man, certainly;
a prophet, without doubt;
the Messiah, perhaps;
but also, it now seemed, a crazy person.

Because now this holy prophet
who perhaps was Messiah
told them to leave him,
not to return to their homes,
but to do all that he did
without him.

“Go,” Jeshua said,
“Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.”

The fisherman struggled with pride and anger.
Pride because the man he called Rabbi and Lord trusted he could do this.
Anger because what that man,
whom he thought might be the Messiah,
asked of him, of them, was absurd.

What had been a privilege suddenly seemed like a trick.
This was more than even the Pharisees expected
and they expected the impossible.

Maybe, just maybe, with intense prayer and strong faith,
he could cure the sick
at least some of the sick
once in awhile.

Maybe, just maybe, with even more prayer and stronger faith,
he could drive out a demon or two
if they cooperated
once in awhile.

But raise the dead? Raise the dead?
His thoughts skewed into panic as he tried to picture it.
He saw himself standing in front of a grieving mother at her son’s funeral
offering hope and delivering – nothing.

Surely that is what will happen, thought the fisherman.
And yet, and yet, I have seen what this man can do,
I have heard his words of wisdom.
I believe in him and he believes in me.

Can I do this, the fisherman asked himself.
And then he remembered the words of that frantic father,
“I believe, Lord, help thou my unbelief.”

A Fearful Sonnet

[A work in progress in response to another challenging prompt from Two Sylvias Press]

I fear no evil says the psalm
As I recline on God’s green knolls
Choirs sing of Gilead’s sweet balm
To heal our sin-sick souls

But I fear that faith is but illusion
A tale told but to soothe my soul
I fear my life’s too soon conclusion
My self, my story just more burnt coal

I long for a simple fear – like heights
Clowns, drowning, living alone
Spiders, snakes, or even flight –
To be my comfortable millstone

Ah, but then, perhaps, I’d live my time
Without the need to ever rhyme

Baby It’s [A] Cold…

[The poetry prompts from Two Sylvias Press keep me writing – even when my head is too full of gunk for much thought.]

Tonight I believe in

Smelly old dogs
restless at my feet

A warm nightshirt
Warmer slippers
Warmest robe
worn all day

Achy breaky bodies
Endless snot
Used tissues
Tiredness
Hot cinnamon tea
Echinacea
ADP
Vitamin C
But also
Kroger cold and flu meds

Has anyone ever died
of sneezing?

Has anyone ever lived
with an endless cold?

Tonight I believe in
Health
despite all evidence
to the contrary

Missing Thanksgiving

[A new day, a new prompt from Two Sylvias Press, and what poured out is not entirely comfortable but probably, in the way of poetry, more true than I would like to admit.]

“I think I’m getting sick”
I told my husband
the evening before I drove to New Jersey
without him
for a Thanksgiving family gathering.

(The hardest problem
Perhaps
with a later in life marriage
when original spouses are dead
The hardest problem
as I was saying
is grown children grown possessive
after your years alone
The hardest problem
is the hard pull
over-balancing togetherness
to different children for holidays)

So it was that I sniveled
“I think I’m getting sick”
“Likely the bubonic plague, or worse”
As my bones froze
my heart stopped
my gut wrenched
Another family gathering
on my own.

“I lose myself”
I whimpered
My already melting confidence dissolving
“I can’t find my mind”

“It’s not fair”
I whined
My always shaky adultness devolving further
“Your family is easy”
“Mine is terrifying”

Brené Brown tells me
(During one of our cozy chats)
of the difference
between belonging and fitting in

A fascinating but moot point:
I neither belong nor fit in

Still, I went
The odometer on the car
proves that I went

But
terror-stricken
certain of failure
fearful of disappointing
Again
my mind stayed home
or waited, shivering, by the highway

I wasn’t really there.

From Where Such Sparkles

[If Christmas does not happen in this house this year, I shall blame it on the delicious prompts from Two Sylvias Press.]

The slight curve of the street makes it hard to park the car
just right, close but not too close, to the curb
so mom can step into the street.
With effort she pushes the car door open
just enough
so she can hold the open door for support
as she waits, more or less patiently,
for me to get her walker from the back seat
unfold it and place it just so
on the sidewalk
so she can maneuver that intimidating
step up from curb to wide walkway.

But first I grab the handful of mail
from our dented black mailbox
sitting slightly askew on its single leg
dented and askew because mom
a few years ago when she still drove
backed her car into it
when she still drove.

We make our so slow way
up the short straight concrete path
recently widened by my husband
to the three broad steps of the small porch.

Mostly mom is a treat to watch
as she has figured out how to safely
climb the three railed stairs
with the walker.

Mostly, usually, but not always
so I stand behind
ready to right any wrong.

Then the difficulty of maneuvering
on the small porch
around mom’s not insubstantial self
with walker
standing stolidly unaware.

My hands full
because I collected the mail
even though I already have a grocery bag
and my purse
and mom’s sweater
why do I never remember
the small porch challenge
of walker and woman
storm door opening out
wooden door opening in
at least I left it unlocked.

Forever and a day or longer
to cross the threshold
walk the short hall
turn into her bedroom
settle her in her recliner
park the walker
find the remote
and the phone
answer her insistence
to see right now
the groceries
if any mail is for her.

Finally, gratefully
I stand at my kitchen counter
to sort mail
knowing most will go
to the recycle bin under the sink
bills, ads, pleas for money
sometimes with a calendar or address labels
cheap socks or cheaper gloves
I like the occasional one with a reusable bag
but even then I never give in response.

Today includes the small state supplement check
the one I always forget about
though it comes faithfully every month
and is part of my budget plan
but still feels like a bonus, a gift, a treat
every month.

I set aside the utility bill,
put the check in my purse,
throw everything else in the recycle bin.

almost everything else

I hold one small white envelope with two hands
turn it over and over
as if revolutions will yield revelations.

It looks like it should hold a card
but it is too yielding for a card
it feels like it holds nothing.

No return address
local postmark
handwritten address
to me, only me.
The handwriting reminds me of my late husband
15 years dead
old-fashioned, mixing cursive and print
the 4 scribed like a typed 4, with enclosed top
written with a black marker pen
Just like he used to do.

Just like him.
The name on the envelope
on all my mail
half mine, half his
first half mine alone
second half the one I took
when I married him
the one I kept
when I married again
last year.

Though I open the envelope carefully
the dusty sparkles surge out
float slowly to the floor
enliven the air around me
a few even come to rest on my hands.

That’s all, nothing else
for the rest of the day
sparkling dust clings to my hands
sparkling dust resists being swept from the floor
sparkling dust rises, occasionally, into the air around me
as I tend to mom’s long slow needs.

For Women To Be

[Inspired by the 3rd day of Advent prompts by Two Sylvia’s Press]

Though the patriarchy circle their antique medicine wagons
Though pale men study ancient hallowed tomes
Though cries of heresy resonate in archaic templed halls

Still the veil is frayed, split
The inner sanctum opened
As it must, as it should
As justice rolls down, finally,
A woman raises high the chalice

No extra nor extraordinary revelation needed
For women to be priests

An Old Millenium

[Inspired by the second Advent prompt from the Two Sylvia’s Press]

Most of my time was a millennium ago

Starting school
Row upon row of old wooden desks
Dozens upon dozens of us
Unformed, uninformed, uniformed
Precisely perfectly seated
Soft unmarked hands folded
On hard scarred desktops

Sister Somebody fingers through the beads
Hung in the fifteen decade rope from her waist
Fifteen? Maybe more
Whatever the length, Sister Somebody’s rosary
Is longer, presumably holier, than ours

Our Father, who art so mysterious
Yet so very teachable, memorizable
In Baltimore’s catechismal certainties

We learn who made us, why we were made
The how of the making understood
Without teaching: The Who answers the how
But the how of the why: that is critical
Why were we made?
To know, to love, to serve
God
How do we know, love, serve
God?

Still, in this new millennium, the old anger surges
The answer to God is…
All answers are…
The Church!
(Unnecessary
Entirely
Superfluous
To say the Roman Catholic Church –
There is only
One true Church)

In our time, this is how we save our souls
With the Apostles’ Creed
And every other belief, rule, regulation
Of THE Church,
The one and only
True and holy
Catholic and apostolic
CHURCH

(Not for our time the later teaching
Of small c catholic universal
No, in our time it was always and only
Capital C Catholic)

The long decades slip
Through Sister Somebody’s fingers
Our Father, Glory be, Hail Mary
I believe in one and only one
God, Church, Pope, Virgin Mother
Way to save my soul

The long lines slip
Through Father Faithful’s confessional
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned
(Ah, the seemingly blessed naivety
Of believing Father and Sister sinless
We the only in need of forgiveness)
I confess my forbidden urges
Desires, imaginings
To hide the worst:
My questionings

The long dreams slip
Shod in soulful supplications
Robed in tattered efforts
Bare of unearned grace
Through my life
My faith, my prayers
My secret garden of questions

And then,
Unexpectedly
Abruptly
Into my time
Bursts puberty
One war
Three Johns
Four Beatles
And one colored preacher

Sister Somebody’s beaded rope ruptures
Father Faithful’s confessional closet collapses
Hell no, we won’t go
Church windows creak open to new breezes
A white American male scribes a circle above the earth and returns
A Catholic is President of Camelot
Lucy is in the sky with diamonds
And we imagine a world without religion too
As a black man proclaims his dream at Lincoln’s feet

Our time (though still a tired old millennium)
booms with new revelations
holy revolutions
unholy anarchy
no longer secret questions
and two new-old answers
two great commandments

Because all you need is love

Until the time of the new millennium