One Week Before Kindergarten

I see you from the window
As I do dishes
Again-
Sunshine soaking your hair
Mud soaking your dress-
As you pet the cat and eat garden peas.
Crack
Peel
Chew
Pet
Again and again
For an hour or more.

You know your letters
And how to write your name.
You know what to do if someone tries
To take your lunch
Or pull you from a swing.
We’ve practiced all this.
But bells will soon ring
And lines will form.
You will try to find your place
When kids laugh and cut
In front
Before the teacher sees.

So stay outside, love.
Soak up another hour of light
And garden
And mud.
Cross-contaminate your little hands
With peas and cat hair.
The sanitizer dispenser
Will be posted
By your classroom door
Next week.
One week before Kindergarten.
So soon.
Too soon.

Slowly

SLOWLY
For Valerie
I will walk slowly for awhile,
Although I wish for quicker stride.
My spirit wants to dance and run;
My body holds that hope inside.
But as I linger down the path,
Perhaps it’s only I who sees
The subtle-colored flowers
And sunlight-filtered trees.
I will be gentle for awhile;
It seems my heart grows larger now.
And people never understood
Are loved as only pain shows how.
As mercy grows and judgement ends,
My heart is learning to receive.
I’m finding strength to look inside
And feel that gentleness for me.
I will be silent for awhile,
In case the angels find me home.
I heard that in Gethsemane
They didn’t leave the Lord alone.
For though my suffering pales to His,
I know our Father is the same.
So I will wait for them to come,
As I walk slowly with my pain.

Silent Night

Silent Night

Bedtime songs on Christmas Eve,
I hardly see him in the light-
My little boy who fell asleep
As I was singing “Silent Night.”
My thoughts go to another place,
Another night, another bed,
Another boy whose mother watched
As He laid down His little head.
He soon would know His Father’s voice
And He would feel the angel’s hands.
But as a boy, I think it was
His mother’s voice He’d understand.
I can see them by a fire,
Reading scripture, learning prayer.
As He grew in grace and truth,
I imagine Mary there.
Spirit-led, she taught her son
With faith so bright and words so mild.
He learned his mission at her knee,
As she nurtured God’s own child.
I still forget my little one
Has also walked on clouds above.
And, trailing glory, looks to me
To show him all his Father’s love.
God could thunder through the skies
And send His angels flying near
To spread His word in strength and power…
But that’s why He sent mothers here.
Like that mother long ago,
I’ll teach you truth and show the right.
So sleep my child in Heavenly peace
And know you’re loved this Silent Night.

I Didn’t Know you Slept Below

I didn’t know you slept below.

We came to visit like the rest,

Where headstones tell the history

Of those who didn’t make it west.

I said the stories; tried to tell

The little boys who climbed the stone

Of “blessed, honored pioneers,”

Not knowing I spoke of our own.

Did you listen from above,

Truly glad we finally came?

As I spewed history to my sons,

Did you listen for your name?

But we just threw a blanket down,

Played with the kids and had a snack.

We snapped a picture by your grave,

Your name emblazoned on the plaque,

Then drove away.  You stayed behind-

Your life given for my own.

Please forgive my tourist heart-

I didn’t know you slept below.

I wrote this poem after discovering that my ancestor died at Winter Quarters, Nebraska during the mass migration across the United States and was buried in a mass grave. A well-known sculpture now marks the burial site. I visited the site years ago with my husband and two sons, before I knew about my family history. I had no idea he slept below.

winter-quarters-statue
The statue that marks the mass grave where three of my ancestors are buried.