Bluegrass Friday

A small highway
Just two lanes
Avoiding the urban
Traveling quietly
Past farms and fences
Between the city

The corn maze
Largest east of the Mississippi
Second largest in the nation

Past a small market on the highway
That is only a highway officially
But feels like a country road

We stop at the market

Selling food and drink
Beautiful crafts and
Tacky souvenirs
Sandwiches, soda
Beer and wine and
“Market-ritas ”

We take our drinks
Out the side door

On the expanse of lawn
Dotted with those old wrought iron
Tables and chairs
Surrounded by white Christmas lights
Strung high
Backed by trees of heaven
Trash trees, Woody calls them
An invasive nuisance
But with pretty leaves

Off to one side
A corn hole game and a truck tire
The tire decorated for Halloween
Pumpkins and a sheet ghost
And a store bought skeleton

Under a cloud speckled sky
The musicians slowly gather
At the biggest table

As we drink our market-ritas
And eat our sandwiches
Back a-ways
At a smaller table

Two young girls,
Then a couple of middle aged men
Pot bellied and patriarchal

One of the young women takes up a guitar
And sings
Getting but not needing
Not asking for
The older men’s approval
“She can sure belt out a song…
Don’t need no microphone, her”
“And she plays a mean guitar”

A young man named Jacob
Arrives, tunes up and
Softly sings a ballad
Accompanying himself on his guitar

Guitars, fiddles, harmonicas
A mandolin
And a big ole bass
Picking up the
Rhythms and keys
Of each tune

An older woman arrives
Pulls up a chair,
Puts her guitar at her feet
She pats it, with no particular rhythm
For a few songs
Then she lights a cigarette
Picks up the guitar
And starts playing and singing
Cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth

A young woman tunes up her fiddle
Sings Wayfaring Stranger
In a clear echoey soprano

The group that is less than a group
Much less than a band
Shifts: expanding, shrinking
Playing for themselves
But aware of those of us
Sitting on the edge
Back a-ways
Maybe wishing we could
But not really understanding
That musical dialect
They speak so well

“Jacob, when are you going to give us another song?
Don’t wait to be asked, boy
Just start playing”

The group keeps going
The songs keep coming
The traffic keeps rolling

A bluegrass Friday evening
With Woody

Life fits easy
Like a comfortable shoe
Or a familiar tune


Wisdom Woman

[In dark days, it is sometimes easy to appreciate that Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine]

Wisdom Woman
Lady God
Old Crone
I thank You
I thank You for my irascible, difficult, long-lived mother
I thank You for my disappointing, luminous, strong-willed daughters
I thank You for my own conflicted, questioning, always-questing self
I thank You for You
For Your psalms that made me something of a poet
For Your hiddenness that makes awareness of You so sweet
For words, words that comes so easily
Even after three glasses of wine at dinner with my mother
I thank You for women
Though we be ignored
Though we be marginalized
Though we be disbelieved
Though we be assaulted
Still, I thank You for all women
All my sisters
Sisters who suckled at Your generous breast
Though secretly, unknown to the loud, boisterous
Powerful, commanding men
I thank You for our strength
For our share of Your Wisdom
I thank You that we know You

Be with us
Bless our days
Our comings and our goings
Our psalms and our tears
Our efforts and our failures
Bless us with Your hope, Your love
And our faith in You, Wisdom Woman God Almighty

Her Last Year

The men worry me
they come in at night to take a shower
in my bathroom
they stand over my bed
but I pray to Jesus to protect me
and they go away
The food worries me
they are putting something in my food
I can see it when I look in the toilet
after I, you know
brown specks, about that big
they look like raisins
sometimes I see them in the cereal
and in the rice
I eat bananas and Activia
I like ice cream and potato chips
but I have to be careful

For her, darkling demons, dementia’s brood
Blacken her mind, shutter memory’s flare
Fearful paranoia her only mood
Terrible conjurings her steady fare.

God promises to take care of me
If I persevere through my trials
It’s here, in the Bible
I have to persevere
The Ensure doesn’t taste right anymore
I think they put something in it
I don’t think they like me
But I never complain
People come to see the apartment
I hear them talking outside
They are going to throw me out
Our Father, whose art is heaven
hallow hollow be be bee in my bon…name, your
kingdom be done with this
on heaven
On TV, those cooking shows
They cook dogs and cats now
I don’t mind the cats so much
Not that I would ever eat that
But I won’t watch them cook dogs
I can’t the words in the prayer books
Right here beside me
I went to Bible Study but they made fun of me
in the dining room they laugh at me
because my feet are funny
and my throat makes a noise when I swallow

Each day her mind flees down steep sickness stairs
Each night’s delusions twist without relief
She wakes to troubled attempted prayers
Jumbles once familiar words of belief.

I have to persevere.
God tells me
Andi has been pregnant a long time
a year or two now I’m
waiting for that baby
My great-grandson Ruth
Woody’s wife that other one
she does my laundry and says
she and Woody are wife but Ruth
is died
Did she
That doctor, she wanted to know when I was born
She my graduation picture
I was quite a looker
I tried to figure it out
but I can’t remember when my parents
we lived in Emmaus
My father grew
strawberries I think he

All meaning lost to Alzheimer’s sly thief
Robbed of truth, mem’ries comfort no more

God does laundry when Woody
comes I’ll tell God to
The couple comes out of
their hole to watch my TV
they don’t want to pay for their own
my dogs on the                                 chair
protect me                  from that
snake under that what call                           chair
the dogs              follow me
with eyes
that’s    how
I know they’re alive
though Andi Andi Andi said                    stuffed
stuff of alive though
God Wood y
Andi came with                         ?baby?
picture who        is             that
Go way
Ipretty Joe

When she dies, deep relief buries our grief
We pack her room quickly, a final chore.

Why write, griefless, when death has set her free?
Just this, please God, send swifter death to me.

A Catholic Woman Speaks

Paraphrase of Ez 12:1-12

The word of God came to me:
Daughter of woman, you worship and labor in the midst of a rebellious church;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious church.
Now, daughter of woman, in the harsh glare of revelations, while they are looking on,
prepare your spirit as though you were one of the abused,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you worship and labor under them to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your spirit like one of the abused, in the harsh glare of revelations
while they are looking on;
in the quiet sanctuary, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those abused and driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole through their walled indifference and pass beyond it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden of the abused and set out in the darkness;
cover your face and weep, refuse their boundaries on your soul,
for I have made you a sign for the Catholic Church.

I did as I was told.
In the harsh glare of revelations I brought out my spirit
as though it were that of an abused one,
and in the quiet sanctuary I dug a hole through their walled indifference with my prayers and actions
and, while they looked on, I set out in the darkness as one abused,
shouldering their burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the God came to me:
Daughter of woman, did not the Catholic Church, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says God
This oracle concerns Rome
and the whole hierarchy within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to you;
as captives you shall go into exile.
The prince who is among you shall shoulder this burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in your walled indifference,
and covering his face in shame for all to see.


Blinded by the White

I peer
At the screen
As news and not news
Scrolls through my mind

The French Ambassador rebukes Trevor Noah
For congratulating Africa on France’s World Cup

Four Alabama policemen are suspended
For giving a down low OK sign in an official picture
Is it a childish game or a white supremacy code?

A young male blogger whitesplains that music is the cause
Of everything that is wrong for black Americans
Not the enduring legacy of slavery, not racism, not white privilege –
Their funky ass music

I think
How our eyes – my eyes
Are blinded
By our – my
White skin.

Talitha Koum

Rise up, little girl
I do try
To rise above the patriarchy of the church
To rise above the racism of my heritage
To rise above my envy of others
To float
To the top of the murky sea
Where I swim amongst my nightmare monsters
To bubble up and burst through
To continue up, without wings
Into the sky
Only to find troublesome winds
Blowing me every which way
So that I drown in the rarefied air
Of thoughts too deep for easy
Floating, drifting
How do I swim through air?
I do try
But I tire and sink
Knowing that I can’t
Until again I hear
Talitha koum

Psalm 148

Praise God! Praise God with my best and highest
Praise God with all Her angels and great cloud of witnesses
Praise God in my light and in my dark, in all my shining possibility
Praise God in my best times, my brightest thoughts
Praise God who created me
Praise God who keeps me forever and ever, secure in Her embrace
Even in the depths and monsters of my depression
Even in the frosts and fury of my doubts
From my high points and my low alleys
With my best gifts and my worst faults
With my wildness and my work
When I am flying high and when I am barely creeping
When I think I am ruling my own life
Now that I am old, as when I was young
Through it all, let me praise God
God of glory, God of wisdom, God above all
May God hold me close, may God keep me faithful. Amen