Forever My Love
The green earth waits beneath a whitened wing,
haunted by memories of budding Spring,
when love loosed its verdure and gathered ground
in groves of splendor by the river's sound.
Now slides the morning on wood and metal,
falling like rain in each snowdrop petal.
The bright mosaic of radiant hues
is a blinding light that each eye pursues.
The seasons change but the memory clings
and hovers around with its hopeful wings.
Search the memories and gather the green.
Lay them beneath whispers of velveteen.
Remembered, reborn, and riding the rail,
love is the wind that releases the sail.
Forever, my love, I remember well,
the glory of love before glory fell.
I sigh for the past and the future too
as tender sprigs of green start peeking through.
The green earth waits like a pearl in a shell.
A dream in a dream is dreaming to dwell.
Willow Was A Widow
Willow was a widow, who lived up on the hill,
above Little River, beside the water mill.
She lived in a cabin in Townsend, Tennessee,
bound to the forest with her spirit running free.
She traveled from Clark County to live in Cade's Cove,
where trust in God, hard work, and dreams were interwove.
Emboldened by his faith, each hopeful pioneer
labored from dawn till dusk to settle the frontier.
They worked the land and worshipped, wakened to new life --
each wife for her children; each husband for his wife.
Willow was the mother of children counting ten.
She loved with all her heart one man among all men.
He was John Oliver, a collier by trade.
He hewed their home from timbers that he cut and laid.
They arrived in the fall, past the planting season,
and nearly starved to death for this very reason.
For, John wasn't a farmer as was wont to be.
They survived thanks to food from the feared Cherokee;
and by the grace of God, they survived winter's snare
and learned to farm the land of red fox and black bear.
The soil proved fertile and the crops began to grow.
The harvest would sustain them through next winter's snow.
The vegetables and wheat, pumpkins, corn, oats, and rye
grew in abundance beneath Smoky Mountain High.
Settlers and bluecoats, by government decree,
stole land that belonged to the native Cherokee.
The Indians were forced to walk a Trail of Tears,
a thousand miles of ghostly cries that no one hears.
1838, Old Man Winter reared his head,
struck them down in their prime and left four thousand dead.
As sunrise peered over the Smoky Mountain peak,
the rose of life faded in the pale of each cheek.
What savage man is this who took another's land,
who robbed the last crumb of bread from a starving hand,
who suffered the children to walk barefoot in snow,
denying them the warmth of a cheerful firelight glow?
My lips dare not say for they do not wish to tell.
The color of this man is one that I know well.
While I share in his skin, I do not share his heart.
His crimes were a sin, and they tore this land apart.
All must account for the sins he's perpetrated,
for those he has hurt, and for those he has hated.
The willow's weeping lashes whisper in the wind
that life has a beginning and life has an end.
John died from pneumonia in 1864.
Lessons learned made him a wiser man than before.
Twenty-four years she mourned him, lonely and alone,
daily tracing footsteps to weep at his gravestone.
1888, at the age of ninety-three,
she died in her sleep in Cade's Cove in Tennessee.
On her bedside table, beside the little vase,
lay the faded tintype of John Oliver's face.
She lay as though dreaming in her flannel nightgown.
In her hands was a Bible, opened upside-down.
Psalm 23 - She had defeated sorrow's sword.
God rest her soul! She dwells in the house of the Lord.
Willow is half sleeping beneath the canopy
that weeps beside the river, hanging gracefully.
She looks up to the hill, where once in time she stood,
remembering the past and knows that it was good.
(One little footnote for the sake of history -
remember the land stolen from the Cherokee?
Well, Congress stole it back through eminent domain.
The Great Smoky Mountains are all that yet remain.)
When I first saw her, she did not see me;
for, she was lost in a world of her own.
She stared off into space but did not see
and just sat there as if chiseled from stone.
She sat in the corner of memory;
and though with others, she sat there alone,
aimlessly adrift on a sea of will,
where winds do not blow and the mind is still.
In languid silence, with her tears unshed,
she mourned the loss of the one she loved best
by cradling the blanket from his bed
that warmed him when he was laid down to rest.
Such a blanket is not meant for the dead.
It's meant to hearten a sad mother's breast.
I took her hand and placed it in my own
to let her know she did not walk alone.
The wings of an angel parted the sky,
parting the sky from the skirt of the sea.
She said, "I never got to say good-bye,"
and "Why did God take him away from me?"
I could not answer; for, I knew not why,
the why nor the way of her agony.
I only knew that no time could erase
the memories of his sweet little face.
I told her to treasure what God gave her,
and that motherhood is never in vain.
In time, she would hold her baby, Laver,
and their two hearts would be joined once again.
Life is full of moments we should savor,
both good and bad, with both flowers and rain.
We should rejoice and give honor and praise
that we loved, no matter how short the days.
The sunlight came streaming through the window,
warming her soul from a slant of the sky;
and I watched her delight in the day-glow
as the spark of life returned to her eye.
She stepped out of the shadows of sorrow,
avoiding waves and the winds blowing by.
Her glorious spirit of love and light
is a star of hope in heaven tonight.
Copyright © 2006 Linda Marie Van Tassell.
All Rights Reserved.