…releasing the sounds of spring

Sunrises through the office window as Bradley staggers through his door on this blossoming April morning. Pulling off his jacket, he sits down to realize that another season has arrived. “Here we go!”, he says to himself as he tries to energize his thoughts, emotions and actions. There was a big task to be accomplished, it would forever change the landscape of his current world. “I see we have a larger crop of females”, he mumbles as he looks at a couple of charts that are hanging on his wall.  “For every three females we only have two males, that might be an issue” and he grabs his cup of sweet grass tea with a small twist of lemon.  “This day will call for a stronger drink” and he opens his cabinet to grab a concoction with a faded label in bold black letters, SPRING TONIC.

He opens the decanter and slowly gulps three times…one, taking a deep breath, two, his eyes become glassy from the odor and three, the subtle burn he can feel cascading his gullet slowly igniting his whole being from his middle all through every limb and pore of his body. “WOO WEE, that will wake you up in the mornin’” he shouts knowing that he is the only one in the building. He pulls out a handkerchief to wipe a small outpouring of sweat as well as some soft tears that trickled out due to the pungent potation that produced a profound increase of energy.

Sniffing as he picked up the phone, his massive duty was to make the order for the release of the captive cult due to it was time. Spring was 27 days old and the nights were becoming warmer.  Celebrating the yearly festival would start tonight. “Clarence, yeah this is Bradley, the temperatures were in the upper 50’s last night and there is no sign of frost for the rest of the season” The conversation continues, “Yes I know Clarence, I know there are more gals than guys but we cannot hold back, I got the memo this morning from Old Man River, he makes the call, if you want to talk to him, I am sure…oh..you say that won’t be necessary…great, then get them ready, tonight is the night!” Bradley abruptly ends the conversation knowing he will be making that same call to over a hundred other care takers before his day is over.

Several hours later at sunset, the final call was just made by the exhausted manager. His SPRING TONIC tumbler was bone dry, as was any energy or zest that had been generated on this long, hard day. He opens his binder to the day April 17th. He checks it off knowing by May 1st he would be in charge of following up on the production of the season. Being in charge of the earth’s peep frogs was something Bradley managed for over 38 years. On the way home, he begins to listen as the peeping begins, the mating season for the frogs is on course. “I hope those ladies don’t wear those boys out!” as he chuckles while snickering in his car as he drives home on this warm Spring evening.

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…surfer

(Sometimes when you are writing you have to put yourself in a place you have never been and imagine what your thoughts would be…I started thinking what it would be like if I was a surfer and I wrote this poem about it….)

Surfer

Today is here, the time is now
I will not break, I will not bow
Rocky is the hill, the banks are so steep
Refusing to wade but will journey into the deep

Timing and rhythm barking orders to me
Conquering the roar and riding on the sea
Blood rushing through my heart as I begin to drive
Mastering morning peaks is how I thrive

Daily is the challenge that whispers my name
I go out a warrior, victory will I claim
My board is the chariot, the water is my steed
Brilliant rides at dawn will always meet my need

…the lady in the field

(I have a small fascination with Jane Austin films. In the film “Pride and Prejudice”,  there was an image where Kiera Knightley was way off in the distance and you could barely see her but she was walking in a field that was grassy, muddy and looked like a big pasture. That image sparked the poem below, I hope you enjoy it!)

Lady In The Field

Dark and hazy clouds were all across the sky
Sticky air covered everything that breathed
Trees opened their skin in hopes of a wash
All I can see is the lady in the field

Tall, fading grass begging the heavens for rain
Smells of dry earth rise to my face
Birds seeking shelter from the soon coming storm
All I can see is the lady the field

Gray, long and cheap would best describe her dress
Her overcoat was brown and in need of repair
Mud caked her shoes as she tarried on
All I can see is the lady in the field

Her eyes were deep brown in a snow covered pool
Her hair, dark and radiant and drawing me toward
I had to take a chance and introduce myself
All I can see is the lady in the field

Gasp of chance as I said my name
Feeling like the begging grass and hungry tree
Eternal silence was screaming in my ears
All I can see is the lady in the field

Suddenly a glance that tilted the balance of life
Sweet whispers from her lips simply said, “Hello”
Twenty years later seems like yesterday
All I can see is the lady in the field

…the creation from her hands

Twirling her wrists in three quarter time, it was the most peaceful part of her everyday life. I remember the tiny movement of her foot and a gentle humming in soft tones while as time worn hands and fingers would move at a far rapid rate. She was an artist with the thread and needle. Doilies, glass coasters, mittens, scarfs, afghans, rugs and on and on with different designs, colors and lengths were constantly made at the hands of this woman I knew as Mama.

I can see feet crossed and legs stretched out as her top ankle would tap against nothing while she hummed. An apron was part of her daily garb due to cooking, cleaning or just protecting her dress from the daily chores of life. She would be the home manager of four children and the unpaid accountant of my father’s funds from being on the road most of the week driving an eighteen wheeler. It would often be in the middle of the day as she would take a break from morning chores and unwind until it was time to cook dinner, this was the time to demonstrate her quiet skill.

There was her favorite chair which was a recliner that would normally have the foot rest inserted, she did not open that up fully unless a rare nap was on the agenda. Like an orchestra conductor causing everything to be in rhythm, whipping the thin thread from a single strand into a collection of knots, bows, crossovers and hoops, this was her opus. Colorful creations could be concocted in a matter of moments. Her cloth bag that was always beside the recliner. It seemed to be a bottomless source of loose lines that was waiting for her to manipulate them into art.

Mama was a lady that knew the meaning of hard work, long days and humble settings. Never having material wealth was always assumed but her heart was kind and generous. This attitude in life was constantly resembled through the crochet creations. Simple but complex, colorful but not outlandish, soft but put together to be strongly woven and most importantly, designed with a single purpose, to prove she could make the world a more beautiful place.

Whenever I hear a song hummed low, I think of her. When I see a struggling woman who is trying to do the best she can for her family, I think of her. When I look in a store and see a bin of thread, I wonder if anyone is there that has a recliner or a bag near a chair. Those memories were sewn several decades ago in this grown man’s mind. Mama has been gone many years but the love she knitted is still in my heart each and every day.

Time moves slowly

The butcher block blade rested on top of the plastic cake cover. Boston cream pie was the dish that rested below the hard dome. Coffee was brewing in the next room, aromas of hazelnut mixed with roasted java filled the air. It was almost six o’clock.

Music from the past floated softly through the dinner room. Jazz played on an old organ was the easiest way to describe the sound. In the distance, the clang of a cup against a coffee pot interrupted the elderly tune. It was now six o’clock.

A deck of cards being shuffled slowly was barely noticed. Mumbling about jokers, suits and chips could be deciphered, for those that cared. Old people doing old things in old time was all that was happening today. It was five minutes after six o’clock.

Hunger was instantly in my throat. Odors of coffee, pie, old people and something indistinct was all around me. Warmth of an open oven was pushing smells of onions, meat, cheese and more all in the house. Yearning for food is increasing by the moment. It was ten minutes after six o’clock.

OH NO, there it is, escape is rarely achieved. A long wooden handle with a rectangle face full of spikes is an unfriendly way to negotiate the time. It moves quickly, sometimes side to side and sometimes like a stabbing motion. I have to get out but I will be back. It was fifteen minutes after six o’clock and being a cat getting chased out of the house by a broom for trying to get something to eat is a hard life to live.

Simon and the Well

Hazy fog clung to the hillside. Daybreak had cracked open the day as Simon was walking delicately across the rugged field. Feeling lost, anxiety was driving his legs quicker than his thoughts that were chugging inside his mind. Unsure of his location, he looked up at the sky, there was a mixture of deep purple clouds, mingled with patches of blue sky and a few white pillows that were strewn in the deeper parts of the universe. A heavy sigh caused the confused wanderer to stop. He squinted in the distance, seeing a small structure that he could feel drawing him to investigate its purpose, he journeyed on.

Stumbling occasionally due to the stony ground, Simon made contact with a wooden post that had a spike tapped halfway through the board. Rope was wrapped around the rusty iron hook but it was frayed at one end as if it had been attached to something that was no longer there. Realizing what he had found, he bumped up against the edge of a well. Large pieces of ore and slag was molded in thick, hard mud to make the top of this watering hole.

Sunlight was growing enough so Simon was able to look deep into the well. Stagnant odors rested on his face from the hollow. Its contents appeared dark, shiny and thick. Confused by the scene, his hand braced himself on the edge of the well. Under his palm, he felt three large pebbles. Struggling with the daylight mixing with the dank image in the pit, Simon grasped the small rocks and spiked them in the water. Three rugged ripples cracked the stones into fifteen separate pieces that laid flat on the gloomy liquid face. A smell of blood instantly filled his nostrils as the sound of a sharp whistle stabbed his ears. His head rocked back suddenly as a dove flew out of the well. It rounded the area around him and landed on the opposite edge of the fountain where he was leaning. It was topped with thin blonde hair that stood out sharply against the fog that was drifting away due to the daylight which was now in full bloom. He stared at the bird, it nodded back at Simon then quickly flew away into the side of the sky that was covered in storm clouds. As he gazed at the fluttering dove, the ground he was standing on gave way, the well collapsed into the ground, rocks, post, rope and all. Simon arched away in panic. Falling on the cold earth, the rain began to pour as a tall, pale image stood over him.

A man in white nudged Simon. He had passed out in the waiting room due to a loss of blood. Laying on a gurney he was told that he had survived the crash. He heard the nurse call out that it was March 15th, the clock had just turned into the next shift as a different crew of nurses was starting their day. Simon was still dazed as the doctor looked at him. “You have a beautiful baby daughter, she has thin blonde hair and is resting fine but I am sorry that your wife did not survive the accident.” As the doctor walked away, Simon passed out again as tears trickled from his eyes.

…the cost of love

Scenic Park Elementary was a small school with small class sizes. Teachers normally would have between ten to fifteen kids per grade due to its location deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Principal Marshall Graham was proud of his school and would make sure to be at the bus stop every day to see all the students, to make sure they knew that if they ever needed anything, he would be there to help. Before this day ended, he would be the financial backer for a love that would last approximately two weeks.

Jasper Quintley was a third grader who was known for being shy, polite, friendly and almost intelligent. He came off the bus like normal but when Principal Graham looked at him, he could tell that Jasper had something on his mind. “Good Morning, Jasper”, gently stated the school leader as he glanced toward the cautious student. “Hello Mr. Graham”, he gave a halfhearted greeting due to being preoccupied with a huge dilemma. “Jasper, are you ok?””Uhh, I’m not sure, I got a lot on my mind!” replied the perplexed eight-year-old. As the bus unloaded, Mr. Graham guided Jasper over to a narrow hallway that lead to his office. There was a small bench just outside his door and he tapped the bench to indicate to Jasper that he wanted him to sit down beside him.

Jasper nervously sat down, unsure what the next few minutes would be like. “Did I do something wrong, Mr. Graham?”, asked the suddenly anxiety filled child. A long smile cracked the educator’s demeanor, “Of course not Jasper, I am just concerned because you just don’t seem like yourself, can I help you in any way?” His nerves faded into hope as he looked up at Mr. Graham, “I am too poor to be in love!” A look of confusion and amusement waltzed across the eyebrows of the elder administrator.

“Jasper, real love rarely has a monetary amount.” The proud words instantly turned to realization that the third grader had no idea what the words “monetary amount” meant. Mr. Graham tried again, “Jasper, if you really like someone and they like you back, money will really not matter, do you understand what I mean?” Jasper took a deep breath and said nervously, “You are wrong, it cost $.50 for a popsicle and Paula Grace Manitti said if I wanted her to be my girlfriend, I would have to buy her a popsicle during break and I do not have it and now she won’t be my girlfriend because I do not have $.50 because my Mama said no and Daddy won’t be back because he is in the Army and I will never be in love and I will never have a girlfriend and Bobby and Roger and Marvin and Austin and….” As he rambled off more of his friend’s names that he claims would make fun of him for not having a girlfriend, Mr. Graham easily interrupted, “Shhhh, it is going to be ok Jasper, you will not believe it but I can help you out. I was outside waiting for the buses and I happen to look down and I found two quarters, just this morning.” As he made up the story he wanted to be cautious of being a giver of money to anyone that ever needed a “girlfriend”, “I tell you what I will do Jasper, if you promise to keep this secret between me and you, just this one time, I will give you the two quarters that I found, is that a deal.” Emotional fireworks lit up the small boys face and he squealed, “OH YES, I promise Mr. Graham, I will promise.” As the educator gave the two shiny pieces to the gleeful child, Jasper grabbed them and ran down the hall to get to his classroom. Mr. Graham then got off the bench and went into his office, awaiting him was a note from the Frozen Fun Time Ice Cream company saying that popsicle prices will be going up to $.75 the next week. He pondered that the price of love usually rises as time goes on.