Note: We’re meandering our way toward the anniversary of a sad milestone that you will not be familiar with and do not know. Years ago, a good friend of mine was dealing with the sudden passing of her brother, and I stumbled my way through the following poem in the tiny hope that my tiny words would somehow, somewhere, help someone, aside from my specific yearning to help my friend find a second of peace.
I have shared and linked to this poem a time or three before, so mea culpa if the echoes are familiar, but as the leaves of the trees at Bonnywood began their first hints of autumn-turning earlier today, my thoughts wandered until they tripped over this reflection of how it feels when you remember when and thought it would always be…
Of Birds Having Flown
Younger then, we were
And the newness, the innocence, still shiny gifts
Sparkling in their wrapping, the folded edges sharp and clean
Each morning was another chance, more promise
With relish, we threw back the blankets
What would make us smile today?
The delicious possibilities, when age is single digits
And a sibling, a compadre, to share it with
Ah, mighty fine, indeed
Today, we will be warriors in the backyard, avenging the misdeeds done our tribe
Tomorrow, we build a fort out of sofa cushions, to protect a pale, lovelorn princess
And the next tomorrow, a spaceship, with tinfoil and cardboard
The tomorrows are plenty when first you walk, first you dream
Your brother at your side as you slay the vengeful dragon
Your sister at your ear, urging you to climb higher in the tree
And we grow with our tomorrows, as we should
New things beckon, other paths open
There are more than just princesses who yearn
Did you see that horse, with the muscles that flow, and the power?
This book I’ve been reading, I cherish it so
The stars, so many stars, where do I begin, how do I begin to understand?
And sometimes, and oftentimes, the paths we shared slowly branch
Options present themselves, small choices that veer slightly, almost imperceptibly
But the beacons we seek do vary, and the songs we hear have different tunes
So the single digits become double, and paths and songs are followed
Sometimes, it’s only a slight change in pitch
Other times, it’s an entirely different symphony
But that’s what makes us human, humane
The beck and call, and how we respond
Each of us hears unique whispers, quiet signals in the night
And because we love, we christen the voyages we do not understand, with our blessing,
With our hope, and we cross our fingers, letting the ship be sailed
For if not for a snowflake that drifted another way, we could be at that same helm
And at some point we watch from afar, still with the hope
As the ones we love plant marigolds in gardens distant and unfamiliar
Personal seeds, watered with uniqueness, distinct thumbs of green, unknown but known
Years, they tick, faster and faster, from eons to seconds
And things are left unsaid, actions not taken, because we don’t fully grasp time
Until the hourglass is abruptly dry, broken
Sudden un-rightness, the theft of a life, the void that follows
And the questions that tumble into our brain
Was I there at the right time? Did I say the right thing? Did they know?
That I loved them.
That I wanted everything for them.
Despite their annoying ability to be cuter than me at critical family gatherings
Of course they knew
Of course they felt your distant hand in the deep of the night
When dreams and life dance, a waltz of what was and could be
After all, you once saved a pale princess, with her tinfoil crown
And she thanked you for being so brave and so strong
Mighty warriors, determined and true
And the years roll back and the now and suddenness melts
And there is only the tree of long ago and ever more, with skinned knees and sap on your fingers
Reaching down to hoist your brother even higher
You part the branches of your castle tower and point
Can you see the horses running? Just over there?
It’s your turn to ride with them, fly with them, feel with them
And off they go, the horses, and the thundering hoofs of distant and near
Over the crest of with me and into the valley of without
Where the sun always shines with rays of answers that we all seek
Save a place for me, intrepid warrior, you who went where I did not,
A seat by that burning campfire, where is and was and what could be touch hands
And the stars remember all of the bits that we’ve misplaced…
Photo graciously provided by the Hopeman Family Archives.
P.S. Some of you who have been with Bonnywood for years will be able to connect the dots and realize that my friend who inspired this poem is the same one who inspired “Ovation”, with both of these pieces being two of the most humbling and satisfying things I have ever written…