Maggie and Grampa

Maggie and Grampa
Walking to the Godmanchester park

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

To Be In England

for Sarah and Alan, Maggie and Willa

May in the South is a mellow affair – 

how I fling open windows and breathe in the night, 

how scented air soothes my skin, 

how my house exhales. I let go my grip 

and sleep with whispers that drift on the breeze. 

I wake to the calls of cardinals and wrens. 

The back deck beckons. 

I take my mornings outside 

where titmice and phoebes sing through the trees. 

I crumple up my do-list, 

place my age on pause, and waste 

whole days dreaming. A gentle rhythm 

settles in as new life quickens. 

These are the weeks when springtime matures 

and I would not leave them lightly. 

But I would fly four thousand miles and more –

To be in England when elderberry blooms, 

and dog rose decorates embankments. 

The England of greenswards, copses and hedgerows, 

of white lace flowering the shoulders of roads 

that carry me back to my daughter’s home 

to slip on the role of grandpa again. 

To bask in a baby’s toothless smile 

and feel the strength as she squirms for her mum. 

To match wits with a cheeky toddler wielding 

a mischievous grin. To watch her tussle 

then cuddle with dad. To embed in the bustle, 

the banter, the tears, the staccato exuberance 

of playgrounds and parks. To be the old ‘grampa’ 

rolling a buggy down paths by the willows 

to a bend in the river where cygnets hatch 

and hew to the wake of an elegant swan. 

As nights chase days, my weeks slip by – 

One morning I rise, home to gardenia 

beginning to brown in the blaze of a summer 

come too soon where I find myself just 

another elder again wandering the aisles 

of Kroger foraging for what I forgot. 


Sunday, April 17, 2022

A Dream on Reading Bartram

Sometimes I shut my eyes and see 

a Southern piedmont stream run clear 

from the misty heights of the Cherokee 

through woodlands of Muskogee Creek. 

In dreams I hear the hymn of rills 

that whisper from the ancient glades.

I wander with Bartram through shadowy vales 

and breathe again their sweet perfumes. 

The hills are robed in Delphinium blues 

and white wavy mantles of mock orange shrubs. 

There on the banks of a hidden brook 

where vapors condense into crystalline drips 

we savor the fragrance of sweetshrub flowers 

framed by the flaming azaleas of May. 

When I wake, his world has gone 

from forest paths to asphalt streets 

where English ivy creeps from lawns 

to strangle tame suburban trees. 

Now Chinese privet crowds the sills 

of silted rivers, clay-stained creeks, 

and kudzu casts a tangled shroud 

across the red, eroded hills. 

You needn’t wonder what he’d think if he 

could only see. Beloved, what should we?