If Tears Were Race Horses

If I release tears like race horses

which one will fall into the lead?

 

The gate opens and they’re off!

Anger gets out at the jump,

with Dissappointment a nose back.

Loneliness makes a run for third,

edged out by Rejection.

Grief settles in between

Laughter and Loss,

While Joy brings up the rear.

The track of the tears

comes alive as dirt and dust

rise in and behind the pack.

They are neck in neck,

cheek to cheek

as the backstretch looms.

It’s any horse’s race but

Joy is on the move,

but not on the outside.

Joy is moving through

the thick of it, jockeying,

bumping bellies,

smelling sweat,

listening as the hoofs

displace earth while

muzzles move air.

The movement is hidden

within at first, but down

the wire Joy overcomes

by two lengths.

 

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Siloam. We can’t see through the tears. Prayer poem for those affected in Conneticut.

Siloam

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them roll

and fall on down

like a five year old.

 

May they collect

and form a pool of Siloam

while we wait for angels to stir.

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them magnify

our crippled hearts

in the reflection.

 

May Jesus help

us into the salt water

of our own weeping.

I Picked Up My Mom. The last time was a month ago.

She was in a thick Tupperware like container.  Black.  The black box.  I thought of the NTSB.  Was this the size of the unit found after an accident?  If I were to plug it in would it give the reasons surrounding her death?

I reached to pull her out of the funeral home gift bag.  There was no crinkly paper sticking out of the top.   How heavy are ashes?  The box was heavier than I imagined. The thought must have been the influence of too many movies.  I remember scenes where ashes were dusted on gardens, into oceans, and over cliffs where particles spread in the breeze.  It took both my hands to lift her.

In the end a full hug embrace helped her stand.  I felt bones under her skin.  Now she was contained.  Were these the remnants of the skeletal frame which was once upon in time?

Marge asked me how I was “doing.”

The black box sat between us like a punctuation mark.

I asked Marge how she was “doing.”

She showed me the giraffe material.  It was the spotty skin of a giraffe like the spots I counted on my mother’s arm.  Her ashes would be poured into cloth skin.  No Tupperware.

I thought of all the tears.  It was a small room that couldn’t contain them.  Now, a month later, I regret not sealing those drops in Tupperware. They have since evaporated.  Oh, to pour them in over top of my mother’s remains.  All our salt water sprinkled to help preserve her memory a bit longer.

 

“You have seen me tossing and turning through the night.  You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8  The Living Bible.

“Sorrow, like the river, must be given vent lest it erode its bank.”  Earl A. Grollman

 

Liquid Pearls.

It’s not that I don’t want to.

The mix isn’t right.

Too much salt.

I’m dried up…

But I don’t want to be.

 

The after burn is gone.

No tracks to trace.

No liquid pearls.

At one point in each visit

our eyes would well.

 

We sat across the table

and shared life stuff.

We wouldn’t wipe them.

We would pluck each

others, like grapes,

and set them gently down.

 

No allowing them to run away.

We would cup our hands

under each others chin

and let them fall.

 

It was then I could see

her face in my hands.

My reflection revealed

in her pool of tears.

 

She drew mine to her mouth

and sipped with a smile.

I laughed and washed

my face with her liquid salt.

 

When I was a child she used to say, “Oh, dry up!”  Yet, since we became more than mother and son, our tears often entered our conversations.  She no longer said, “Oh, dry up!” but joined with me and I with her.  I know I wasn’t the only one who sat across from her at the table of tears AND laughter!

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.

“I feel so selfish.” A mother post.

“I feel so selfish.” I said it to two of my sisters outside of the assisted living home where my mother is spending her last few days of life.  I was so glad to hear my oldest sister say, “Me too.”

I remembered back to when my younger brother Peter was saying a very long goodbye to his first wife.  He had spent 20 years of his marriage going out on dates and such with a third wheel; cancer.  They were never alone.  She carried in her body an alien which reminded them constantly of the gift of life.  Near the final days he said to me, “It seems like the world should be stopping.”  Now I understand just a bit better what he meant.  I want to pick up a New York accent and yell at all the busy people, “Hey! Stop! Can’t you see my motha is dyin’ over heeah?”

My older brother John lost his first wife years back and I remember his words at a family reunion.  “Jerry, I am just so lonely.”  The Bible says that because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ death has lost its sting (1Corinthians chapter 15).  I get that, and yet that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt like a bugger.   Those who hold faith in these verses and the work of Jesus will mourn, but not without hope.

So I say again, “I feel so selfish.”

There is a tree on my delivery route whose wound is slowly healing up.  In the first few days of being a senior in high school, her car veered off the road and struck a tree not a quarter mile from her house.  That was several years ago.  The ribbons and teddy bears and flowers are long gone.  Soon the bark will seal up with only a linear scar left.  I see her father once in a great while with a package in hand.  He looks all healed up too and yet…

“I feel so selfish.”

Within a year I watched two mothers care for their medically fragile boys.  One was seven, the other younger still.  The devotion of a mother is like no other on earth.  Near the end of each of these short lives the mother’s exhaustion was evident.  Their love was not exhausted though.  Hearts were broken open and spilling all over the boys they loved.

“I feel…”

Sixty two years ago, Marilee Barrett, daughter, sister, and wife added on another essence of womanhood…mother.  She never looked back.  Mothers usually don’t.  Ten children later she hung her heart out on the line like cloth diapers.  Again and again her love ruffled in the wind of time like white linen under cobalt skies.  Then, yesterday all of her children, whether there in spirit or in time and space, gathered.  We all stood, kneeled, and sat around her basinet beholding her as she beheld us.  My older sister wrote an e-mail that describes it so well.

“About 3 p.m., Carol (my mother’s youngest child) was with Mom, and asked to hold Mom’s hand. Mom smiled and said yes, and they both agreed that it was comforting.  Carol then told her that she would be going home (to S. Carolina) tomorrow, and Carol started crying. Mom then said to her “Then we should probably get this show on the road” – which led to more tears, and then Mom started praying. “Lord, take me” – several times.  At that point, several of the sibs came into the room, and we gathered around her.  It was a “God-blessed” awesome moment.  Here are Barb, Rob, Pat, Mary, Margaret, Jerry, and Carol (seven of my mother’s ten children) all surrounding her with love, and tears, and she says “I’m just ready for it to be done.  But I don’t know how!”  And she was crying.  Jerry read from John 14, and then prayed with everything in his heart to God to give her mercy, to give her comfort, to give us comfort, and to help her through this transition. John, Ellen, and Pete, (my mother’s other 3 children, who were unable to be there) we know that your hearts were there with us, but oh, how I wish you could have seen the power of love happening in that moment.  Not just our love for her, and her love for us, but God’s love working all the way through that room.  We shared memories then, and just little tidbits of our relationship with her, and there was some levity in our conversation.  But most of all, I think God worked His peace into all our hearts – which we all hope that you feel as well.”

Just before that blessed time I had finished a poem. It was for my siblings that had been gestating in my heart over the past few weeks.  I was going to read it to them at a family meeting last night (which I ended up doing).  The words I had written were underlined around that bed before I uttered one of them.  God hovered over all of us.  Every kind of tear was shed.  Bitter-sweet ones, joy filled ones, sad ones, happy ones, silly ones, and pear shaped ones of love were falling like rain.  Even Jesus wept.  I couldn’t help but think we were in a birthing room.

 

Our cries separate us

as broken water.

So we draw closer,

like contractions.

 

We bear down in grief

and our labor pains

begin to push her

toward the light.

 

As she endured the pains

of childbirth, we will too.

All ten of us have come

to breathe a rhythm over her.

 

Oh, time will dilate

for her safe passage,

and our prayers

will carry her.

 

God knows when she

will birth from our womb.

For now, she floats in our love.

Suspended but for a moment.

 

 

“I feel so selfish, but not guilty.”

 

 

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.

Touch

I held the Kleenex and she blew.

The temptation was to command, “again.”

She always said “again”

when I was runny-nosed boy.

 

I put a dot of balm on my pinky

and glided it onto her mouth.

She used to orbit her lips

with a red stick while I stared.

 

I touched her toes,

one little piggy at a time.

She counted all mine

when I arrived fifty years ago.

 

I held her hand and counted freckles.

Some were age spots now.

My finger touched the giraffe spots.

There is one on my arm too.

 

I combed her hair with my fingers

and she calmed down,

down like her eyelid’s slow descent.

Tears descended as I closed mine.

 

 

For my mother.

 

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.