Lady's bowed back conformed with benching's curve
roundly arched, her long labored years preserve
exactly matching bench-back's shape on which each sat
with daughter in tendence - shared lunch with casual chat.

Both prettied-up, time spent together of sidewalk cafe
warm September day, where curb-side trees offered cooling shade
son's friend and I whiled in visit, sipping our frappe
their youth caused me to notice her, lady's health soon would fade.

Meanwhile other cafe patrons sparred their day relaxed
high-hung geraniums dangled on lamp-posts, un-cutback
rushing bustle of street's traffic, close-elsewhere hurried by
old lady sat with a flower in her hair - caught the eye.

Observing their mutual rapport ocassioned there
casual demeanor told, were a kindly pair
though mother's mind still keen, daughter's eye kept care
dribbles or crumbs quickly daubed or flicked with her kerchief
woman's back a perfect fit, curved bench offered its relief.
September 12, 1999

Drew aside rumpled apron to fetch her kerchief
tendered for her child's crying's relief
whimpering anguished throbs that would not quit.

Thence knelt on both knees, bringing both face to face
kind features cast of eyes and mouth, mien and grace
personified mother's care - for girl's crying fit.

As took back dampened kerchief, then so like a mother
re-dried eyes and wetted cheeks - love gave to another.

Before she unknelt, two arms extend with their loving's reach
clasping dried-eyed girl to her bosom, touched instead of speech
replacing hanky as she stood, then tersely told - was the end of it!
October 1, 1999

Although book still held, eyes began to close
propped against her lap, resting on her clothes
head bobbed til its final nod held at last
as sleep invades her soul - dreamed things long past.

Cat still curled at her side made no move to leave
like its mistress, slumbered midst those dreams felines weave
both to dream olden themes once again - Time must thieve.

When clock chimed out ten, lady partially woke
rubbed weary eyes, doffed her glasses then tiredly spoke
pet squirmed and stretched, at last widely yawned
mistress took time to caress - cat fawned.

After rising, placed her book on desk nearby
shooing cat outdoors to fare its night thereby
doors locked, both faucets checked - at last the light
upping steps to retire - bed down her night.
December 24, 1999

Sun reached through window, warmth doubled by its glass
bathed tabled-man, casting him one shadowed by
above booth’s high back, empty hat-hook of brass
daily came - mid-morning coffee with slice of pie.

Cup clutched in both hands, right mid-finger through its ear
absorbing both coffee's heat and light of sunlight's glare
further warmed both hands and coffee, musings brought clear
an aging man, told by meager crop of whitened hair.

Sitting there in mute silence, between sips of coffee’s brew
as patrons came and went, bid his nod to several few
brooding thoughts from years past, for what they gave
mulling former friends - late brought down to grave.

Waitress thrice came by, each time would refill
knew when empty cup came to its standstill
each time, eyes gave waitress his smile - but not his lips
spoke no words, just a gentle nod for her frequent trips.

Once found in motion, made way to counter - there to pause
fumbled coins in pocket, counting them out with care
said bye to Elsie then left, drawn by some future cause
night's spent recalling memories - his life had given heir.
January 14, 2000

Should have shut the door then walked on
put such out of mind, thence be gone
unlatch her thoughts by re-latching door
quickly leave - from what seen on that floor.

With rapid stride, out-run that vision
briefly caught by ears as well as eye
to stay or leave, was her decision
yet could she depart - not knowing why?

A quandary instantly created there
gave birth to events she could never share
when un-guessed happenstance - caught her stare.

A split-second’s worth of time told so much
simply to gently shut that door, of such
she should have done, would have if been a man
yet as a women - different feelings ran.

From afar, one could see that door left unclosed
her view held captive by what therein disclosed
porch now vacant, that she had left - not proposed.
January 23, 2000

He’d been pastor there for so long, buried most of his friends
how long really was, some knew or thought they did - all depends
for were few yet alive could call up that former distant day
when Father Clem eagerly stepped off the train - then took the sleigh.

Through drifts of snow for ten miles beneath late December’s moon
already late at night, train had long-left - for arrived at noon
no one there welcomed him, took many hours to find a driver
til Father Clem being Irish - thought to offer a fiver.

Finally one found willing to make cold trip, told he could stay
the rectory overnight, if weather suited - return next day
that’s how it all began, his stayage to out-last for three-score years
such once heard in a cafe, the sadness in their words reached my ears.

Buried him but two weeks back, seemed no other news rife
everyone grieved by his death, like heart torn out of life
a town saddened by their loss of one each knew, soul-stirred
but an hour, I ate then drove on - mused what over-heard.

Still abides among memory’s strands, sometimes comes out to play
just a sliver cafe-caught, some town - up Neepawa way.
January 28, 2000

Her daily ritual, eagerly wait til two
often watched, be sure had come and went
liked that best, but if not watched - clock gave her cue
make way across farm road - find what sent.

Her daily joy from what mail brought by
did not glance it first, held tightly clutched in her hand
pleasured on porch in Summer, first readings try
used knife husband used - to open or cut its band.

Quite neat about it all, wastebasket near
in silence read, smiled or shed a tear
after, would nod til slept a-chair
dreams mail brought - but her affair.
February 8, 2000

Gathered his feet to lift, then forward stepped
crippled joints aged, until nerves most inept
some contrived art had lately devised
awkward walk and movements - deemed ill-advised.

Much time taken to reach that mailbox each day
its placement rather flat, daily plods his way
beleagured steps crippled, arthritis must pay
seen as passing by - goings out and back each day.

Now seems but yesterday, could bet on his shuffling shift of feet
then new folks moved in, young and healthy - for them a simple feat
as daily ambled out and back to gather in their mail
an unthought chore they easily did - swiftly without fail.

But for him had been a journey, a struggled bit of toil
hip, knees and ankles, toes disjointed - like out of oil
silently, though felt you might hear of joint's creaking clank
if did not know, might presume one who daily drank.

One unknown to me, but eye-caught his walk - driving by
went on four years, then like I said - new folks caught my eye
a stray flash-back noticed many years ago when going past
one of life's varied conditions - human diversity had cast.
March 4, 2000

Her voice did not outshine among those others, yet I heard it clear
intently listened, distinctly defined from the rest
first ears then heart knew she sang, til even one's soul could hear
a natural gift simply sung, of them all - thought the best.

Sunday after Sunday heard, at least by me - enriched my prayers
if for unknown reasons did not sing, instantly knew who not there
wore Sundays for three years, then heard she moved on to otherwheres
never knew her name nor face, but beauty of her voice - one most rare.
March 4, 2000

With hat held in hand he watched them walking past
six bearing on their shoulders one whose life had fled
unknew of who, a courtesy he simply cast
as one soul to another - how should treat our dead.
March 8, 2000

Turned, looking back down behind - low
pressed skirt against thigh with her flip
measure if unequal lengths show
so know if others - see her slip.

Perhaps first noticed when walking past
briefly reflected, store window glassed
suddenly stopped, like one froze in mid-stride
innate need to know - done of woman’s pride.
March 8, 2000

She was standing there so straight, yet flat-footed as always been
little bow to back, some palsy in one hand - healthy but thin
mind firm in thought, with glasses on eyes fine - was her hearing gone dim
gently quiet as I hooked up her coat, knowing - she thought of him!
A back straighter than straight, was her walk that strutted with its waddle
eyes full ahead with some aim in mind, she - one might wish to coddle
for her eyes were bright with keenness, a smile to deepen them with
of those siblings, one I dearly favored - not as kin but kith.
First nodded then finally slipped away in sleep
long-labored hands lay at rest in idle heap
upper-plate let loose, parting lips just enough
intoned a wheezing whistle - each breath brought rough.
Winter’s blast angerly raged beyond window’s glass
stood there with vacant eyes, drifting amidst the past
recalled, re-lived - resenting or relished what brought to mind
by what facial mien vaguely cast - would have thought him blind.
March 17, 2000

Old man’s three-point sit-ture, pew-held within darkened dim
quiet silence, church un-lit - vacant except for him
hat off, calloused hands loosely clutched - brief prayer his hymn
to wonder what had brought his coming there - planned or whim?
Alone in her rocker, an afghan knits
hummed an ancient air as quietly sits
neither sobs nor sound, yet silent tears traced her cheeks
no one comes nor missive sent - no calls for several weeks.
Looking straight ahead, body held firmly tense - for was on the pot
til phone rang with its jarring blare, that quandary - to sit still or not
will it yet be ringing, after time needed to cease and desist?
Tis at times like this dilemmas develop - enough to make one ------!
With one hand, leaned against arch-way’s oaken jamb
while other hand held high, last month’s calendared page
long stood counting days and weeks - when ewes would lamb
times of computers - still relies on this ancient gauge.
March 17, 2000

Woke and felt, then finally knew her lying there - sensed life now lost
still in his night-shirt, frazzled hair - soon to know love’s drear cost
such Chance and Time often casts upon weathered wake of life-long love
body numb, of all else unaware - unknew what must be done of.
Cradled within her arms, slept like that baby held
motherhood's sweet contentment married love had swelled
both sleeping fully content, her rocker still
of what would that silent room - now wish to tell?
Basking in Spring-time sun, snake uncoiled loose - so gain more heat
as if been carelessly tossed there, like some spoiled meat
but in its fossiled eye, ancient ages of patient waiting could be seen
frozen still as unborn Time, but if demanded of - could strike deadly keen.
High on its rusty nail, length of rope held forgotten meat-hook
too light to gibber loudly in the wind, hook’s swing carved its showing arch
years of windy blows etched those scars, decaying siding often took
long after rope rotted, with hook fallen - former swings still left their mark.
March 17, 2000

Beyond distant woods, road long abandoned even by hunter’s quest
found faint tracings on old grave-stones, where families once laid to rest
their etchings revealing enough, to read their long-forgotten dates
gifts those who might chance to find - that mystery of man’s final fates.
Far beyond endless stretch of prairie waste, seldom found by search of man
here and there as parts or whole, now dried past point of aridness - like sand
ossified, fossilized, bony remnants of extinct creatures - brought to hand
yearly silently dissolving into dust, from whence came - the ancient land.
In dead dark of blackened night, clear sky unlit by moon
beyond sprawl and reek of rushing Culture - Nature’s boon
soundless sounds, sightless sights, stenchless scents, felt-feelings outgift
eternal ages crying out - one's soul might sadly sift.
Such silence shouts, unspoken by idle stoic things
sharp eyes briefly caught, until their beauty sings
true tunes everyone has heard, not by ear - but within their soul
each a treasured piece cast of life, making from its worth - one whole.
March 17, 2000

With their silent prayer each meal began
in gratitude their life be long outran
time taken to thank their Father’s hand
for one’s daily bread - simple yet grand.
Alone, aloft a weathered flinty crag
where winds would out-carry his fluted tune
there piped of his love until hearts must sag
such heard and saw - one Irish after-noon.
Although service over with faithful gone
alone he after-knelt, deep in meditation
holy practice to which was weekly drawn
Sunday service - required by obligation.
Kum mein lieben, ich liebe dich
as they both told lies each to each
of such once heard as both passed me by
left me happy - yet my heart could cry.
March 17, 2000

How long had hung there, who could tell
its lengthened rope rotted - the bell
though clapper still held its silent tongue
at one time rang, but now never rung
all because of movement - not been swung.
March 18, 2000

It bobbled there caught in constant eddy
endless circlings holding steady
unknowing when - though always ready.

Then storms a hundred miles away
rains sent downstream with growing foray
flooding awash with wild display.

Bottle ignorant soon would hurl
finally freed of endless swirl
as crested those falls, its final end comes to pass
smashed upon rocks far below - bottle turned to glass.
March 19, 2000

Humming some simple tune from times long past
wordless, yet found within range her voice still hast
hands followed same routine, her childhood taught
thirty years later still done - her marriage brought.

Ironing clothes, now but just her own to do
family flock fled, new fabrics leave but few.

Unlike many, found this chore an undreaded task
heat of iron, that smell of freshness - both warmly cast
still humming those simple tunes, names one need not ask
but an hour at most - her singing heard to last.
March 22, 2000

A lot of turf has stood my feet
duty-traveled or leisure led
again make trail, hungers bleat
one of many - my feet have tread.

Where land rose rather quickly, growing steep
saddled between two hill's enfolding sweep
early Spring trilliums up, dogwoods budding soon
briefly noticed - pressed to reach hill's top by noon.

As clambered over larger rocks strewn near its crest
mind traced back to lands leveled flat, wide prairies blest
endless horizon in all directions, like flat Russian steppes
ones easily crossed, yet here - labored with struggled steps.

When reached hill's crowning crest, high above vallied coomb
viewed far below, quaint farm-fields of English loam
fertile land fed its people, labored beneath sky’s blue dome
wherever traveled by, always a place - someone calls home.
March 22, 2000

Fear not when vultures roost or tree-gather into flocks
merely harbingers of Death's yields, dyings brought
Nature’s undertakers, only after Death finally knocks
scavenge those killed, devouring flesh - bones left to rot.

But should hawk be seen soaring, circling up the sky
quietly adrift, further widening - gliding high
know life not yet dead, but very soon might become
should Chance portend, with hawk about - but Death therefrom!

Beware if seen, when single hawk found circling very high
an omen of impending doom, portends from out the sky
and if not this time then later, now but its warning
quietly foretells a time - gray shrouds of mourning.

If amidst some trauma found, one must deal with
should pause within its throes, then chance to look up high
be not surprised, if thereof sense that ancient myth
ever circling closer - hovering down the sky.

A sudden quiet shattered with loud whistled squawk
thereafter silent waft of soaring bird, the hawk
call it eagle, falcon, kite, whatever - Death abides
innate fate of every life - raw Nature provides.

Always knows whether you do or not - be sure of this
when events wear life most extreme, they will never miss
so be alert, on guard, with one eye held to scan those skies
perhaps may see single hawk, searching with sharp hungry eyes
should observe one gliding, attend - for a hawk never lies.
March 25, 2000

How silent old homestead now felt bereft
been some forty years since children left
old couple now wearing out their final days
dim years blindly grope - midst aging's foggy haze.

When twin oak-doors shut up at Sunday noon
hush within, may echo some sacred tune
til even that lost midst mute quiet's pall
yet some Presence still remained - felt Its thrall.
Last evening, geese finally upped and left - heading South
gone, that daily gaggle loudly jabbered from each mouth
off and on their way, yet left wisps of fuzzies de-feathered
now idle at pond’s edge, lying loose, drifting - untethered.
Dog house beside old barn, shouts without its bark
still seen, for pass it daily - so sadly stark
that burst of energy once held within
late-killed by car, silent - what once had been.
Four hours after all began, then so suddenly ceased
hundreds wasting each other like crazy rabid beasts
soon scrape of shovels heard, delving soil for each plot
deathly quiet, no one speaks, yet had been loyal - but for what?

Those who made it through unscathed, now alone - each silently sat
drinking in that stillish silence of what war is - and all that.
As reddish sun dipped beneath Western sky, wanning dimly
still he stood there by fresh grave, saddened face held grimly
unhears without, but within a deeper stillness outwept his tears
a love long-dwelt, now yields but worn silence - of one's widowed years.
March 30, 2000

Cast by window’s sash, sunny days at noon
just a shadowed line traced across that room
since both paired-windows faced due South, directly
sun's shadowed line compassed due North - correctly.
April 3, 2000

Tearful eyes dampened a saddened face held low
mother stood there looking down, to inly know
her child’s grief or shame, some simple thing gone awry
stepped forward with enwrapping arms - to hold her by.

Worth of one's self-pain, shrived by warmth of mother’s love
once distant saw, blest my day - from what seen thereof.
April 4, 2000

Car sharply swerved, but then was quickly gone
missed turtle unknowingly plodded on
when reached berm-side, stopped to look about
head held up high - neck fully out.

Ascertain whence go, ahead or back
to think or decide, its brain would lack
longly awaiting there til some yearn gave its lead
then slowly shuffled on - for some dim-felt need.

With its awkward strut, zig-zagged beyond
parting grass stems to some nearby pond
travels self-learned without need for school
as submerged deep - within water’s dank cool.
April 4, 2000

As evening wasted into night growing late
dozed by warm fire burning low in iron grate
til fire banked-up for the night, widely yawning
snow outside still wafting down - gently falling.

Whence hearth screen put in place, plodded up cold stairs
thence bed the night - but not before lisped his prayers.
April 4, 2000

Book tried to read finally laid aside
glasses taken off, rubbed both eyes
his forgotten coffee left untried
recent letter told - same old lies.

T'was of it bothered his ill-mood
again tells of a family feud
already knew why been sent
petty meanness - what it meant.

Finally in disgust, threw it upon the fire
burning curled edges vented its raging ire
with that declared he rose, poured coffee out
another note would be sent - had no doubt!
April 8, 2000

Was alone when package arrived in the mail
knew why sent, he could be trusted not to fail
her eager hands carefully unwrapped what enclosed
holding it she smiled, then cried - with eyes tightly-closed.
She screamed when heard noise, turned around
saw one looking, for she'd dropped her gown
about to shout, instead - caused her to laugh
baby son, shirt only - no bottom half.
Time to get mother up, nearly eight
her birthday cake now already baked
lived with family, today - ninety years old
her smile died, for when touched - found her cold.
April 14, 2000

Finished painting pantry floor bright whitish-gray
someone knocked at door, talked with extended stay
all that while, her girl of two found a way
entered pantry, walked round and round - in simple play.
That ending coda pianist plays
freely chose by him - as how long stays.

Few a-tonic notes held, but then
played several more, so you wondered when
are these the last or but more to come
sometimes waiting - even after done!
She just had to look again, making sure
always happens when a woman’s on tour
while he waited - impatiently fumed
when one's wife's bent on buying - you are doomed.
Finished winding-up old mantel clock
key put back beneath once gifted rock
had failed to run, its winding ought do the trick
but even as he left - unheard its stopping tick.

When shop’s door shut up for the night
failed to close it fully tight
night winds blew ajar, then outright open
next morning entered, looked about - hopin’.
April 15, 2000

Off beyond distant hills, first heard its sounding whistle blow
thence a silence, since loaded be awhile - starts out slow
til heard whistle at crossing just north of Coalsburg stack
felt rumbled tripping of wheels on iron rail’s track.

Finally smoke showed above, ‘fore heard its wheels creak
puffing fumes soon seen by woods along Tipple Creek
with clicks and clanks, its steely wear on tracks felt there below
til whistle faded, iron-horse magic - heard long ago.
April 22, 2000

Nearly three years since her husband passed away
still visits his grave, each Sunday paused to pray
when service over talks with friends, then before she leaves
wends way to garth-grounds, grave-side stands - weekly greaves.

I still recalled, before found deceased and widowed out
after church both footed there, weathers foul or fair
at each ancestored tomb, paused with prayers devout
when service over, weekly done by caring pair.
Half-way through service, lighted candle fell from its perch
during pastor’s sermon, seen by everyone in church
with smooth flourish he grabbed holy water, began to pour
quick-doused its flame, continued his sermon much as before.

What was so odd about it all, he made no comment of it
picked up his train of thought, exactly where had suddenly quit.
Puts me in mind years back, when wireless microphones became the rage
our minister wore one, so all he said heard - as if on a stage
as service began, with holy water sprinkler blessed all with it
when suddenly its head went flying off - loudly heard: oh shit!
Father spoke of our need to hear that Word of God
all rapt with ears to hear, ‘cept Ned began to nod
pastor continued at ambo, preached on and on
til sermon stretched rather long - Ned began to yawn.

Finally snores were heard emanating from Ned’s pew
Father paused, about done - so silently withdrew
everyone laughed, especially Father McGinnish
had watched it all, thought it better - quickly finish.

Of course Ned woke up, saw everyone looking at him
Father told all to rise - intoned old One-Hundredth hymn.
After Sunday service, counters ledgered what baskets took in
always several buttons or metallic slugs, some thought a sin
like scripture tells, admonishes our giving be unknowing
so let not your left hand know, what your right hand is doing.
April 29, 2000

Ill-standing there, one with her crutch
he smiled as if knew of such
so held her hand with warm clutch
only after knew - said as much.
As she lay there dying, breathing weak
another stood by quietly meek
her wan smile told she could not speak
so bent over - kissed her on the cheek.
A cramping pain gripped harder than done before
stoically sitting there, waiting til outwore
knew painful agony felt deep within
so held her hand - for would soon come again.

Tender touch told of one's love, heartbroken
now beyond reach of ears
precious moment kindly done, unspoken
of such - one seldom hears.
When she slipped a step, he to be kind
quick-grabbed her elbow, since walked behind
she jerked back as if been spider-bitten
glared then kept on - he felt sorely smitten.
That risk of just when or how, if one tries
one seems to know, you see it in their eyes
though rendered with caring love to help - be wise
tendered touch sometimes goes awry - kindness tries.
May 13, 2000

Sally did not say her prayers before jumped in bed
later mother came, asked if her prayers been said
Sally said no, but sorta - earlier wrote one down
mother came back in tears, just read - on her desk had found.
May 26, 2000

Once called a daughter, sister - later someone’s miss
thence called a wife, aunt, mother - grandma after this
a friend I came to know among few on my list
died last month, but not before by me - once had kissed.
June 18, 2000

With bowed back, left-hand limp upon his knee
right hand fumbled out single notes or three
fingered brief runs seeking some idle tune
resonate a mood - his gray day had hewn.

Til found some lilt, an Irish air once heard
then other notes played, some whim briefly stirred
idle fingers drifting midst those ivoried keys
sifting through lost memories - for what now might please.

Each try, caught some song his past once taught
thence led on to other lays newly brought
fingered-keys, supple sounds now stiffly plays
echoed foregotten tunes of former days.

Brief cameos life-gathered, heart-hid and dusty
shaken loose, fumbled fingers try - long gone rusty
another attempt, further meanings - some whisp brought by
chanced upon old piano - crippled fingers briefly try.

Until his mind and back grew tired, thence limply sat
with neither sound nor tune, his happy mood gone flat
finally rose, eyed late clock - fend for supper’s need
one more day lost among those left - Life yet may cede.
June 25, 2000

As took the road, if had but looked right with her eyes
of all life’s future years, how much would have worn otherwise
but was not to be, for inner thoughts and plans held her head
as glanced evening obits, one named unknew, unknown - now dead.
Selected three books to buy, then brought to counter among its clutter
whiled with idle talk, as clerk rattled on with careless mutter
that night sought to read her buys, enjoy a read before must bed
found a fourth also wrapped, was it kept her up - from what therein read.
If could gain that train by eleven, be home by eight
but missed her aim, light too-long held - so had to wait
was after twelve when got back home, note left in the door
one unmet but once seen, came and gone - be back no more.
Sign some child twisted, now points the other way
soon one stopped, then as bent sign directed - thereby turned
unfound his aim, surmised lost - elsewhere had to stay
because of that, birthed a lady - their love soon earned.
Checked the map, compass, lay of land - knew where was at
decamped, scattered fire’s embers - re-shouldered his pack
made way across high ridge, took third stream to his right
downed the hill, found an inn - for once, full-slept his night.
October 3, 2000

As one lay dying without hopeless fear
friends and those kindred gathered bedside near
already past use of speech - glint of eyes
a solemn moment - when someone dies.
As one held, trying - til sensed it useless
no one to help, sap of strength growing juiceless
crag’s sharp flinty edge, knew must soon let go
soaring buzzards saw him fall - far below.
Too long, too tired, too weak - treading water
wife with their four sons, only one daughter
far at sea, placid waters - all else sky
she to never know of where, when - nor why.
When lightning struck, he was thinking of her
told would be back sometime near noon, not sure
hopeful she had shut that west-side window
she had done, unknowing - now a widow.
Only one of these have been present for
those others episodes, unthought before
such ventures telling of how life may end
most tragic-felt - should be one's closest friend.
October 7, 2000

Soft curled smoke coiled upward, yet his eyes looked far away
as evening sun slowly slipped behind far ridge, to end his day
as rocker-sat a-porch, inwardly surveyed full worth of life
not as gain a total sum - merely rearrange stress from strife.

Re-dealt tomorrow’s deal, past had re-shuffled up
relit pipe single-handed, patted his frolicked pup
being country-dwelt with Nature near, peace inly felt
like many once nightly did - not bed before they knelt.
October 19, 2000

Back screen-door too oft hard-flung til spring finally broke
men too busy be troubled by, for them - just a joke
but for women folk, their Summer's housework long labored by
well knew that curse and hurried chase - of but a single fly.
For thirty years, boots and shoes, kitchen-thrown in a heap
he and all their boys had never learned worth of being neat
women folk most bothered by, for were ones who had to daily sweep
til grown kids left, husband died, their boots and shoes still there - she to weep.
Calendars hung in every room, two more in the hall
annually replaced, back when calendars freely given
as years grew into scores, still hung those aging wall
displaying former years, hard labors - longly striven.
Favorite dress hangs behind bedroom door, where last emplaced
treasured necklace he made for her, also hangs enlaced
as if perchance, by some dispensation of some household god
she might someday come back, with need of such - he unthinks as odd.
Why she placed his socks in lowest drawer?
Several times complained, since seemed her chore
but never changed, a small cross his life outwore
ten years since she died, socks still placed - as before.
October 21, 2000

With wood stove dampered in tune with kettle’s croon
just below boil, its temper held since noon
when clock hammered out three, stirred from restful nap
rubbed eyes then yawned - cuddled cat jumped from his lap.

Spoon heaped with coffee placed in clay-cup at hand
kettle’s heated water decantered, then let stand
while waiting to brew and cool, he stood window by
noting weather, then rocker-sat - gave cup's first try.

During long lonesome winter days, when clock belled three
sameless ritual past years evolved, since death of she
sixty-six this year, if lived til December third
coffee gone, refilled kettle - all without a word.

Grief's glimpse of how one old, out-wears wan winter days
widowed yet healthy, until his life - no longer stays.
November 15, 2000

As she sat there rocking slowly
recalling past years, now lonely
cat ensconced beneath moving chair
despite her movement - sleeping there.

For above, woman lost in thought
midst that debris life had brought
things once did or those she might have done
as shadows lengthened - by setting sun.

Til at last, sound of rocker stilled
thoughts trailed off, drifting into sleep
sound of her rale deeply held
cat slept on - cozied in idled heap.

Shadows casting rays more darkly black
til head reached her breast, as neck went slack
when shelved-clock boomed, counting hours of eight
she slowly roused, soon aware - getting late.

Her quiet arousal caught by sharp ears of cat
likewise uncurled, stretched and yawned - then arched its back
both left together, made measured steps for kitchen
fashion food for them both - cat’s tail a'twitchen.

But oh that difference of what ran within their brains
cat sensed but the present, what its chemistry gains
while she wore evenings through, thinking of the past
brewing an unknown future, of such - cat not hast.
November 20, 2000

Nineteen-hundred-one when house far-back built
nearly a century farmed on clay and silt
abandoned when people no longer dwelt
left to disintegrate - by weather's pelt.

Til roof-timbers fell in, walls collapsed
slowly decayed - passing years elapsed.

Only chimney flung its length up the sky
where whistling winds whined sad moans, terse and dry
til one day suddenly toppled, yet left unheard
with that long eerie silence after - as its final word.
December 25, 2000

When morning's sun crests at dawn
Mary brought their cattle on
each stanchion-chained - their dairy herd
milk pail's ding - soon after heard.

My breakfast, fried eggs cooked in fat
outside with coffee, porch-side sat
as Mary's song led their cattle back
heard again - whenever winds go slack.

Knew hill below, breakfast laid
morning chores done, beds been made
soon noise of work would begin
each tomorrow - reheard again.
February 14, 2001

When asked if today had forgot
lips lied, while her eyes did not
tis such how love wears truth, when one's heart hurt
for if untrue - answer would not been curt.

Whiled a few words more, idled both between
that usual chatter, told of things routine
glanced her eyes once more as turned to go
knew love lost - what eyes and lips would not show.
February 23, 2001

When ties of apron caught as took the door
revealed her soiled skirt, not seen before
but kept right on, unthinkingly - she outswore
one of those odd moments - Time cannot restore.
February 23, 2001

Perhaps ought make visit of that widow on the hill
where when foul Winter weather stirs, winds blown with a will
sparse growth of grass, as for trees - but a scattered few
placed far back from traveled road - near an ancient yew.

There dwells alone, few seldom come to visit by
since a stranger, little known - as if one shy
arrived three years ago, moved-in cold March day
appears from what now seen - she is here to stay.

Been three weeks, since took Time's care to visit there
felt some penchant to stop by, brief words might share
perhaps ought make visit of that widow on the hill
kneel beside my wife's grave - for deeply love her still.
February 28, 2001

As stood by cut stones in that warmth of late March air
daffodils and lilacs attest by growing there
centurys past, a place once held with a family's love
ancient homestead, remaining relics - telling of.

Then, not now - place alive with hopes and dreams
families bred and reared from life-struggled schemes
memories once cherished, reaped what dwelling gave
now forgotten - lives long silenced by their grave.

Log cabin built years back, Nature chanced to save
dogwood still flowers before their leaves, after final frost
daffodils and lilacs telling, old hopes - are never lost.
April 12, 2001

After Sunday service 'ore
early sunshine seen no more
until lightning's thunder quit
inside - still one candle lit.

After rain had ceased to fall
early tree-frogs heard to call
until gutters merely dripped
from blest fonts inside - mice sipped.

After sun rebirthed next dawn
early dew withdrew from lawn
until daylight left no doubt
inside - candle flickered out.

After Sunday spoke God's Word
early worship, faithful heard
again candle relit, all night burned
inside dim lit church - those mice returned.
May 17, 2001

She had gently hailed me from afar
across ivied wall by churchen tower
June-time midday, some forgotten year
to answer her query - both came near.

Asked to know - which way to Bedlow
how far - time-taken there to go
lies just below church near by
such I told - yet unasked of why.

Her youthful beauty with eyes aglow
old age still recalls - from long ago.
May 23, 2001

Could one's hopes have held on one hour longer
thereby resolved, sustained one grown stronger
or another found nearby, lent their warning word
by what might have said - that other would then have heard.

Thence have known, just two miles more what be found
from what there heard, discerned of its distant sound
not panicked prematurely, now presumed otherwise
yet insisted all was lost - hopes held paralyzed.

After never found, unheard of in future years
as if simply vanished, 'tis such - when panic steers.
June 12, 2001

As boarded bus, she unfelt its fall
from a distance, such had seen - and all
but by time I arrived, bus departed
pictured locket etched words - love imparted.

Mere names inscribed, yet brief message hid
only years after, found locket's lid
within, gave date and place - last names too.

When revealed their hidden clue
I knowing then - what soon must do.
June 12, 2001