Speaking of Love

I say,
“I’m going to start fixing dinner now.”
Then later…
“Dinner in 10 minutes.”
Then 10 minutes later…
“Dinner time.”

He says,
“Dinner in 20 minutes.”
25 minutes later
when I go to the dining room
he sits at the table
waiting patiently.
I am frustrated.
He is not.
Just simply waiting.

Another time,
when he goes to bed
I am delayed

(answering a text from a girl I am tutoring. Panicking about a project, she hopes I can meet her in the morning before school.)

When I come to bed
I try to interest him
but he is slow to respond.
I ask softly
(forgetting his near deafness)
but get no answer.
Thinking him uninterested
I roll over with a sigh
to read.
He, though interested,
says nothing
thinking I have decided
I am too tired.

But last week he brought me
Daffodils
not yet quite blooming
so they opened their yellow hearts to me
over the week in the vase on the mantle.

Yesterday he brought me
Lenten roses
Hellebores, he taught me,
bowing their dusky petals over the mantel.

One afternoon he went
as usual to take his nap
but came out again
after just a few minutes
pulled me up from the sofa
saying,
“No miscommunication.
I want you.”

I went with him
because of how we respond
to each other’s caresses.

But more…

Because of daffodils
and Lenten roses
Because of dinners fixed
and gardens tended
Because of evenings
sitting on the sofa
when he stretches his hand
across the small distance
to squeeze mine
Because of unexpected love notes
left in my favorite places
when he is gone

Because of his love
eloquently told
every day

On Valentine’s Day

Love flows
Like a stream
Sometimes dammed
Sometimes diverted
Never stopped

Love knows
How to wait
Sometimes mild
Sometimes wild
Never gone.

Loves grows
Like a plant
Sometimes creeping
Sometimes leaping
Never withering.

Love blows
Through our souls
Like divine breath
Defying even death
Never still.

Love shows
Up every day
Not just
Valentine’s Day.

Love stays.

Death or Life

Age can scumble our dreams
Tumbling us into soft
Yielding complacency
So we stumble over
Discarded ambitions
Succumb to half truths
Live, loving less, in dim light
Until we die.

But also

Age can chiaroscuro our memories
Limning us into newer selves
Yielding nothing
Though we humble ambitions
Search for better truths
Die, loving more, in divine light
Until we live.

Communion

In golden garments,
the priest raises high
the round white bread
“This is my body”
Offered to the gathered old
Muttering, trembling
Thin hair none too clean
Wheelchairs and walkers
Stained shirts and dirty dresses

In a golden chalice,
the priest raises high
the sweet red wine
“This is my blood”
Offered to the gathered lone
Long life behind
Homes and families gone
Short future ahead
Grave faces facing graves

What is God’s body?
Who is God’s blood?
I eat their longing
I drink their pain

The Best Part

Sometimes I forget that bandages don’t heal a wound.
They only protect the wound from dirt or futher hurt,
While my body’s natural resources,
sometimes aided by antibiotics or other medicine,
do the healing.

I say only protect, but protect is not only.
If I remember my old courses in formal logic,
protection is a necessary but not sufficient condition for healing.

As security is a necessary but not sufficient condition for learning.

As repentance is a necessary but not sufficient condition for forgiveness.

As trust is a necessary but not sufficient condition for love.

The question, always and with sometimes hard to accept answers, is
What, then, is sufficient?
What is needed if past injuries, past mistakes, past identities
are not to fester, repeat, freeze into unchangeable hardness of spirit?

Some say faith, some say grace, some say insight, some say hard work, some say luck.

I don’t know. I have no big answers, and only one small answer:
Sometimes I heal and scar, and the scar does not need protection,
because it is hard and tough, less vulnerable than the first skin.
But sometimes I heal and become new, with no scar, like a vulnerable newborn.
Then, though healed, I still need protection, perhaps more than ever.

And, that, I think, is the best of growing older.

The Sound of Failure

I pray silently.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I search in myself for wisdom.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I try to find the right words.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I remember all I have been taught about restraint.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I know words will only inflame the anger.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I listen quietly as others try and fail to calm the storm.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

I feel the weight of sorry, of guilt, of helplessness.

The person hurting
hears nothing.

This is the sound of failure.
Well-intentioned
Attentive
Failure.

Now I pray silently
that I will do better
next time.

Because the person hurting
heard nothing.

An Epiphany Vision

[I wrote this after attending Epiphany Sunday Mass at a retirement home.]

Three women came
with gifts
for an infant king.

“I bring you my golden youth.
I have little experience,
almost no training,
But oh the energy I can give you,
my enthusiasm and my faith.”

“I bring you my perfumed maturity.
I have so much to do,
so much I am responsible for,
But oh the knowledge I can give you,
my wisdom and my hope.”

“I bring you my camphored age.
I have so little energy left
and my knowledge is all out of date,
But oh the memories I can give you,
my trust and my love.”