Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Daddy's Wedding Meditation

for Sarah Ambrose and Alan Haxton 
Biggleswade, England, January 17, 2019
Athens, Georgia, June 8, 2019

Are the years so short? We blink 
and decades fly. How nimbly 
the little ones move through our lives 
to catch their world in stride.


Hers was a world of neighborhood lawns, 
small dogs and swing sets, 
story books strewn on sofas and chairs, 
teddy bears piled in pillow forts.  

It was slippery slides in the summertime, 
long firefly evenings with friends, 
dancing to oldies on Daddy’s arm, 
riding shotgun with Mama out to the farm. 

There were sunny beaches running with cousins, 
tidal flats at island’s end, 
plastic buckets brimming with shells, 
elaborate castles dug in the sand. 

From holding hands while hopping waves 
to body surfing with uncles and aunts 
and twilight strolls along the strand 
under a technicolor sky. 

And those long night drives 
cocooned in the car’s back seat 
hurling up the highway to a house 
bursting with grand-baby love – 

blue silky snuggles on Grandma’s lap, 
going on a bear hunt camped on a couch, 
Grandpa reading on Christmas Eve, 
cookies for Santa next to the tree. 
    Sometimes in unguarded moments 
    a daughter’s daddy idly dreams 
    about his little girl’s groom-to-be –
    what grounds his life today? 
      He was a boy of Bedfordshire, 
      child of the gentle English terrain, 
      a quiet toddler with dimples and smiles, 
      best pals with fur-brother, Buster. 

      The sweetest smell of childhood 
      was the scent of grease on overalls 
      and boiler-room suits worn by his dad.
      He hugged those legs every day at the door. 

      His husband-potential was praised at four. 
      This earnest, curious, nursery-school boy 
      grew into comics and colorful jokes 
      which he shared for giggles with Mum. 

      There were hours of play at the skatepark. 
      This youth tattooed with amazing bruises 
      manned up enough for a pink guitar, 
      strumming riffs in a grunge-rock band.

      They hit the road in a family car 
      crammed with amps and drums 
      and dreams, four gangly teens 
      driven to gigs by a mum.

      When he ran, he aimed for marathons 
      and found his pace in life. 
      He became the grown-up go-to kid, 
      the one who never lets you down.

        The odds were always astronomical.
        A thousand synchronies seemed to converge 
        on that ugly-jumper Christmas bash.
        Neither came costumed, but he made her laugh 

        then assumed the role of ambassador, 
        guide to the culture of pub-quiz nights 
        and cozy board-game evenings with friends. 
        He even ate vegetarian. 

        And so they became a couple.
        There were pancake dinners in Biggleswade 
        and King’s Cross breakfast dates,
        goofy humor and, somehow, ducks. 

        And those long, loping countryside runs 
        through a green English spring 
        on small lanes and forest paths 
        ending with afternoon tea. 

        For her, it took an Englishman 
        with dimples, scruff, and easy grin. 
        For him, the grace of a big-city girl 
        grown out of the college-town South. 

          In this is the founding of households – 
          every day to love anew. The old 
          will glisten again with the dew, 
          the spent and withered will bloom, 

          and the love that grounded your childhood, 
          the love that united your lives 
          will incline your hearts to happiness.
          Wherever you dwell will be home.

          Photo by David Noah, Watkinsville, GA

          Thursday, May 16, 2019

          Lament for a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

          State Botanical Garden, Athens, Georgia
          April 25, 2019

          He died in the height of a Georgia spring 
          on a garden morning green as Eden 
          when the slant of sunlight warms the wings
          and lifts a feast of flying insects. 

          Far from his tropical winter retreat, 
          he had crossed the Gulf on a perilous night 
          and followed the unfolding canopy north,
          drawn toward summer breeding grounds. 

          But never made it. In a spell of delight 
          he dipped below a break in the woods, 
          swooping and swerving for food, for joy. 
          Wide blue skies were in his sight. 

          The end was abrupt. 
          He banked hard into high glass –
          dead before he hit the ground. 
          Rose-breasted beauty fell at my feet. 

          I cradled his warmth in my aging hands 
          to will his broken body back. My hope 
          was vain billions fall in the flyways 
          in a world diminished bird by bird.