Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: The Reason for Fishing

Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson, copyright 2020

They understood one another then, on river’s bank.

Their rods held like diviners, green water and mud a comfort,

fish darting –savvy but still taking bait

now and then, like she did, gravitating

to his surprising presence.

She’d glance over, make sure he was still there,

and satisfaction filled her like dessert.

They always let the fish go, in the end;

it was the coaxing and waiting, respecting

both fish and fishers, words forgotten or benign

under the brave heat of early summer sun,

the lazy slap of water at ankles, faces steaming

as they stood with hum-buzzing insects and

sashaying treetops, air slipping about flush of wings.

It was freedom to be there, herself with him,

no defenses, either one–even a child knows

how to hide inside loneliness, behind lowered eyes–

and his willingness to be there, close enough.

They could do nothing more; it was all that counted.

Then one day he said

When I was your age no one cared to take

me fishing–just want you to know you have a place.

Don’t forget, muppet,

you have a place. Here. Anywhere.

And even after flick of rod and toss

of line was shared no more–

after he had gone sick, then just gone

and she was nobody’s muppet,

his words carried her, it was the shining promise

and reward at the end of every effort,

cause for another hour’s worth of hope.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Life Savers

Photo, Cynthia Guenther Richardson

She said it was only–for quite a long while–

the flowers taking up residence in damp earth,

birds at the feeder gathered as cohorts;

the red brick walkway that reminded of school

and jumping rope and at eight the Firebird Dance

she danced on stage, red chiffon whipping the air;

it was the fountain resurrected with the thaw

and the wham of hammers, buzz of saws fixing

and building, and lawn mowers growling and

dogs chasing dogs and cats, cats making u-turns to win,

children’s laughter and cries carried down the block

and sunshine sparkling like gold dust in her hands

and sky so blue it can break any heart then heal it

and songs that flee her lips unbidden

as she swings on her creaky porch swing–

–she said, Yes, this

with gaze to the mint and emerald leaves–

this is what still carries me year to year

this is what’s always saved me,

it’s what it comes down to, in the end

Saturday’s Passing Fancy: This Wintry House

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This sturdy house of seven,
how it gathered close snow and people,
the ice-light of winter a magic reveal;
how yellow circled thrumming life, a
collective heat of its dense center:
such music, affection, courage, prayer.

And she lept into the beauty of it,
dove into wide, steep snowbanks,
rode the glistening waves on her
Radio Flyer or creaky toboggan
which transported her to Alaska
or Antarctica, toward the edge of dreams.
On her tongue snow melted sweet-sharp,
water for the thirsty child
who could have been lost but was given
doorways to joy, exploratory powers to
forge freedom in December treks.

Oh, such dancing flakes sparked air, drifted
in tenderness to kiss her face,
wind sang out, trees waving bared arms;
her mittens and boots grew encrusted with snow,
feet were certain of their simple fate as she made her way.

This house with simple Christmas greetings
on door and porch goes blood deep,
felt like our hearts worn on our sleeves.

And I confess each year my spirit strengthens:

how the God of Love reaches to uphold us,
how the winters can rescue a woeful child
how wonders cannot be separated from the living
and those gone weave a music of their own

how Christmas still carries hope of peace,
a great promise of healing that cannot be undone,
a blessing of mercy folded ’round broken hearts,
how good will can reign when all else has fallen away

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Beyond the Ache is This

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To move, be moved by whim or design,
lilting, dipping on breezes, an invisible kite
shimmying, weightless in suspension,
a take off that is meant to fast ascend
like a creature of air, earthly or otherwise.
Any flight, any wings, lifting til gone.

I once so yearned for it, true freedom.
Plotting release from gravity,
shedding this tinsel thin flesh,
taking on feathers or silver scales,
then starting that vertical trip through
gale, fire or ice, into brave mercurial space.
Farthest away from this place of blood,
pain a clinging cape, and more
betrayals slinking by, misshapen things.

Yet my spirit found no passage for a final portal;
strength grew in place of bitter longings.

Where would wings have taken me safely?
What power would have redeemed all
unforgiven and unforgiving
and fill the cave of my heart?
Not one thing that is temporal.

Only deeper springs at bottom of the well.
I am older, know how to remember the good.
To take a bountiful day, all the Giver gives.
I was made futile by my youth but

live on, corralled by autumn’s
offerings: leaves innocent and vivid
while giving their last on earth;
this painterly stalk and branch
separating an afternoon sky;
happy howl and bark of dog; cluck of hen;
jazzy skitter of cat paws and tail;
bombast of notations from the crows.
Trees sing easy to one another and me
as I pass with a limp and nod.
My hope throbbing, a wild drum in my chest-
glory of joy careening in maze of veins:

bless and take every, any, all
this life this life this life

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Tempo Change

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Photo, Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Despite a dire mood I enter the world
then woody trails, carrying my slight hope.
Forward movement of shoulders to hips to feet,
arc of arms and toss of hair, face lifted.
Enveloping me is ripening air, foretastes of fall.

Ah, I awaited this as a child, the sweat to chill.
I yet long for breath deepening, musk at the edges,
that change of meter, a slide from silken to rugged,
the sharp distinction between largo to vivace 
as in a series of restive dreams.

Skin will protest, toughen from little bites
of wind boisterous with damp and cold.
But the tree canopy is already happy, leaves
soon emboldened, colors a gleeful warning.
Then the flight: twig to air to dirt like daredevils.

So soon to prepare, I will wrap feet, hands,
pull about wool and fleece, lower the sashes.
No longer made for brutal beauties of snow,
I welcome a thousand acts of symphonic rain,
shuffle of leaves breaking, ancient fade of light.
It is a bearing down and a bolstering back up.

My heart now staccato as I scale a next hill,
mind shakes free of weight, chest rises, open.
Come close, season’s genius, tang and vivacity,
wide opalescence of sky, pulsing of rainfalls.
Let loose of holy robust brittle autumn,
dance swift into lean shadows of winter,
temper and burnish me maple bronze, apple red.

Bring my soul a harvest of wild moonlight.