Archives for June 2016

Poem of the Week: Forever By My Side

Anne Marie Vale, Ph. D., Sarasota Branch


My mom, Rita, was born in 1920.

Money was scarce and troubles were plenty.

But her faith was strong and her spirit was stoic.

In fact, I’d say she was heroic.


You’d be hard pressed to find

Someone who loved mankind

More than my beloved mother

Whose motto was “to love one another.”


She was generous and beneficent,

Yet reserved and somewhat reticent.

You’d sense she wanted to express a bit more,

But was rather hesitant to open the door.


The Depression Era left its mark.

Her youthful days were sometimes dark.

But in those days you’d never reveal

Pain or heartache- you learned to conceal.


Mom was very bright and witty

Extremely dignified and really pretty.

Yes, Rita stood so proud and tall,

Possessing a memory that stunned us all!


Around the age of eighty-five

Mom’s spirit was amazingly alive!

But her exceptional memory that was one-of-a-kind

Was showing some traces of lagging behind.


And yet there appeared a silver lining,

Defying description or even defining!

Suddenly, my reserved and often shy mother

Took on the ebullient nature of another!


Rita just lifted her protective mask

And it seemed to be an effortless task!

Her nature was no longer shy and coy.

It transformed overnight into boundless joy!


Though dementia can dissolve into sadness and tears,

And episodes, too, of stress and fear.

I choose to remember how out-going and free

My mom became- free to “be me!”


But Rita’s carefree state would end

When she lost her husband and very best friend.

Yes, George, my beloved dad, was the true love of her life,

And his passing last December caused deep grief and strife.


Mom’s eyes now closed – no facial expression.

The doctor called it a terminal depression.

Those once bright eyes might glimmer for a time,

But they now reflected no reason or rhyme.


For the next  nine weeks, Rita barely spoke a word.

Though her eyes were shut, I’m sure that she heard

The love I’d express and the music I’d play;

But that mask of grief stayed day after day.


Yes, Rita so wanted to be with her George

And I prayed that God would quickly forge

A happy reunion between Mom and Dad.

To see Mom like this was just too sad!


Finally, one dark February night

Mom apparently saw the light!

All of a sudden, her eyes opened wide

While I expressed to her all I felt inside.


The mask had vanished as did her sorrow.

She now anticipated her new tomorrow.

We looked into each other’s eyes ‘til morn.

Rita knew she would soon be reborn.


And sure enough at 3:15,

With eyes wide open and totally serene,

Rita peacefully entered eternity,

Joining George in blissful unity.


Mom and Dad are in the presence of the Lord

With the angels and saints in one accord.

No more earthly mask and nothing left to hide,

And though I miss seeing them, they’re forever by my side.


Poem of the Week: New Cut in the Woods

Martha Steger, Lifetime Member-at-Large, Richmond, Virginia


Imagine an unattended baby-seat strapped

to a tree for thrush-eggs’ nourishment but

sabotaged by cowbirds’ sinister deposits in

this tiny home held together by spiders’ webs

along the new cut in the woods. Surreal is

the circling brown-headed parasite in my

view on this path bulldozed for human

habitation, with cribs and swing-sets to

replace fledgling thrushes that are not to be,

as the dealer wins at the house table while

the song of life goes on like Darwin’s finches

and the wildly flapping albatross flailing across

marshlands looking to plummet but uncaring

as it takes off for heights unknown. How hard

the search for my true self in Calvin or Confucius’

blades of grass and bittersweet experience,

while monks must hear the flute-like songs and

see threads of ongoing rebuilding, silken flux.


Poem of the Week: After reading “After”


After reading “After” by Octavio Paz

Diane McDonough, Cape Cod Branch


After telling myself

no day after day,

the way mother did when asked if

I could do something …


after the nos stacked on top of one another

like bricks in a wall

that kept me safe —


I mean safe as defined by mother,

meaning out of the water, off the street,

away from germs, prepared for Holy Communion.


But after today,

longest day of light,

I want to chisel out the mortar,

remove the bricks that say no,


you can’t, you aren’t capable

or, isn’t it going to rain, snow, be too hot,

dark, bright….I want to kneel here


after the rain, in the mud, amidst the strewn

bricks and create a runway that leads

into a garden of wildflowers


and accidental blooming,

and then out

to one rowdy, unpredictable life.


Editor’s note:  Octavio Paz won The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990