cronechronicler

Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Breaking Point: Clouds of Mercy

William Cowper wrote

“Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread Are filled with mercy
And will break with blessings on your head.”

I wrote before of my redemption and its alchemy.
Moving away after ending an empty marriage
And learning from my scars compassion
For many other wounded ones around.

I thought that I forgave and was forgiven.
My grieving done and quietly put away
Still sadness lingered as I remembered
Dreams of what never came to be.

I was startled when above me broke dark clouds
And drenched me with a precious gift unknown.
I learned to view my memories down-side-up
And found a vein of gold embedded there.

News that former husband and his wife
Were moving worked its way into my heart.
I felt sad because I knew the worth to him
Of life and work that he would leave behind.

I sent an email wishing him success.
He thanked me then wrote words that changed the game
“You are always an important part of life to me”.
And I wrote “Our years are an irreplaceable part of mine”.

That’s all it took. Broken dreams fell away.
I saw rise instead parts I treasured that were “us”
Understood that ours was a marriage all its own.
We have a unique and quirky history.

I sought and framed a photo that I like of him
And placed it among others of my family.
I feel so free and open to include them all.
A gift of pure forgiveness made it so.

Dungeon Prompt: Breaking Point

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Haiku: Energy Replacement

Clock ticks, candle burns
I sit in my chair to pray
God’s grace fills my soul.

Batteries for clock
Extra candles on the shelf
God’s love fuels me.

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Haiku: Salvaging Operation

Aging over time
Like persistent rain erodes.
Treasures dear remain.

These I gather up
Held high like a petticoat
Secure from the mud.

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Redemption Song: Alchemy

Redemption is a lonely place.
A conqueror bearing scars
Thinking I’m not freed from past
It pulses round me still.

Sadness but no grief abounds
Tinges nights and days
Residue of what could not be
Lingers in my soul.

Let me count my golden coin
How I’ve paid my fare
With wounded heart wide open now
To share another’s pain.

I see a world of suffering
No one is immune
I know that breathes within us all
The power to forgive.

For Dungeon Prompts: We all have a redemption song. What is yours?  The Seekers Dungeon

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Haiku: Pause Button

Summer days fly by.
Morning birdsong, early dawn
Soul lives in the now.

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Quiet Ferocity Part One: Flames and Embers

It was all so long ago. In my senior year of high school it was the tradition in my small southern town to give parties – lots of them – to honor the graduates. The hostesses paired us girls up with a boy by asking us to choose an escort. I had had my eye on the class president for a while and jumped at the chance to go to parties with him. One thing led to another and eventually he warmed up to me. After graduation his family moved to another town and we both went off to college. The end of my dream – or so it seemed to me.

He came back to town to visit friends a couple of times after that. We had fun going to Christmas dances, another of the town’s cultural delights. Nothing much was said about “feelings”. That was the 50’s. Then out of the blue I received a gorgeous bunch of yellow roses from him the spring of my senior year of college. That summer he wrote a letter saying that if I weren’t wearing the fraternity pin or engagement ring of another boy, he wanted to visit me. I was getting used to his non-verbal style and found it quite romantic. Also I could read into it whatever I wanted.

Life went on. He went off to fulfill his R.O.T.C. obligation. Those were the days of the Draft when all young men were required to spend two years in military service. I went off to find a job and became a bank teller. That Thanksgiving when he was home on leave from the Army we got together for a college football game close to his home and the city where I worked. After the game we had supper in a small cafe on the town square. He asked me to marry him. Well, I did have to think about that! Next day I said “Yes”. We bought a bottle of Champagne to celebrate and with it a can opener that had a corkscrew and beer opener attached so we could open it. The can opener has out-lasted my two marriages. It is in my kitchen drawer as I write.

We were married for thirty years in the then-traditional division of labor model. We became parents of three boys we both loved dearly. I was the full-time mother and he was the full-time bread-winner. In time we began to live separate lives and divorced.

Five years after the divorce we attended our 40th high school reunion, separately. This was only the second reunion our class had celebrated and we had missed the first, our 20th. He had a companion with him. I was by myself. A classmate I had not known well began a conversation with me saying he had been in love with me in the sixth grade. He showed me snapshots he had taken of other classmates and me with his Brownie box camera, an early forerunner of the cellphone camera. I laughed and replied that I had no idea. This was the beginning of another story and my second marriage.

Our marriage lasted almost twenty years. Good years. We traveled to most of the places I had long wanted to see. In time the same old division of labor thing intervened. I should have known that my hard-won sense of being my own woman clashed with his idea of my role in his life.

In the last few years of our marriage we began spending Christmas at my son’s house. My daughter-in-law had decided she would invite us and my former husband along with his companion to dinner. Things grew comfortable between all of us. The day after Christmas one year my daughter-in-law took some of the out-of-town guests to see a local attraction. My husband, my former husband, two of my sons and one grandchild stayed behind. My daughter-in-law, who loved to cook and decorate the dining room table for guests, was late getting back. We got hungry and decided to feed ourselves leftovers. My former husband, two of our sons and I rummaged around in the refrigerator and came up with a fine meal. We stood at the kitchen counter and ate from containers – a stark contrast to my daughter-in-law’s elegant entertaining. We looked at each other and suddenly recognized that we were acting like the “family” we once were. We were bonded by our old habits. My husband and the one grandchild sat at the breakfast table and looked on in amazement as the circle of family kept spinning.

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Quiet Ferocity Part Two: Lighting a New Candle

Four years ago I traveled to spend Christmas with my three sons and their families, including my six grandchildren. My (second) husband remained in our home to celebrate the holiday with his two daughters and grandchildren who lived in town. This Christmas separation had been occurring annually for a while. I loved my step-grandchildren but even more I longed to live close to my grandchildren on a year-round basis. I wanted to be present for their growing years. I felt trapped in a dilemma between being a wife and being Grandma. I felt that if I got to the end of my life and hadn’t taken the leap of faith to move near my grandchildren and truly get to know them I would turn into a bitter old woman. That was unacceptable to me. Still I remained stuck. Until that Christmas four years ago.

After opening the gifts and eating way too much food we decided to watch old family slides. My first husband, our sons’ father, had joined us for dinner. (He and I had been divorced for twenty-five years and had recently become friends again.) As the family photographer he had brought along nine carousels of slides. They included pictures of the early months of our marriage and the usual much beloved and sometimes pretty awful collection of photos of family events over the years. As I watched, the present fell away and I drifted back to long forgotten memories and feelings. I found myself engulfed by the intangible and unmistakable feeling of FAMILY. Even though I could remember the discord of a not-so-perfect marriage my feelings said we are nevertheless a family. I felt a powerful surge of love and determination. I felt unstoppable. I wasn’t sure how I would proceed but that was not an issue. I would simply make my move happen. I was seventy-four that December when I decided to create a new life for myself. I planned to do it by the time I hit seventy-five. The following August I moved into my own apartment a few blocks from family.

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In Other Words

I have never begun a letter with “Dear Mom”, but I’ve written countless to “Dear Mama”. Mama lived in a time when writing letters to loved ones every day was the norm. When she died over forty years ago my siblings and I found a huge dress box, another object now long gone, filled with every letter Mamma wrote to Daddy when they were apart and a lesser number of his replies. We were too young to recognize how priceless the letters were. We each saved a few but threw away a treasure trove of family stories.

I found another box of letters my mother saved that even now lives in my closet along with other boxes of “Family Jewels”. It contains every letter I ever wrote to Mama beginning with letters from summer camp when I was ten years old. It is beyond thrilling to read about the first meal I cooked as a bride (disastrous) and to read the letter describing the first time I felt my unborn child kick. My last few letters were written seven years later, just before my mother died.

My Dad tried to keep up writing letters after Mama was gone. I saved the ones he wrote me. There is a special one I keep in the drawer of my bedside table among miscellaneous odd and ends. It is an endearing surprise to run across it and read about how much he enjoyed my summer visit. He wrote that he got a kick out of my one-and-a-half year old son Fred’s attachment to his security blanket. He signed it “Love, Daddy.”

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Dinner Music

The hour before my simple meal
Indulgence now I’m on my own
Spent in playing solitaire
Accompanied occasionally
By a long-loved symphony.
Now melodies of a different sort
Flood in and wrap around my heart.

Before my leaving home and mate
But knowing then that we would part
We heard this very symphony.
Seated next to him I felt the bond
Of human touch that knows no end.
Memory replenishes my longing soul
And sings to me that I have not yet grown old.

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Journey Into Africa 1994: Circle of Words

Journey long over
Tales memory enfolded
Dormant words waiting .

Wonder of wonders
My stories now live again.
Words freshly “Word-Pressed.”

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