Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Rarest Metal

Today is August 20th, 2013.

It’s also my husband, John McDowell’s, and my 25th wedding anniversary!

We were married in the chapel of Pitt's Lutheran Student Center, with the reception downstairs.

We have already posted on Facebook about that, but I wanted to post here some of the poems I’ve written for John over the years, those that aren’t too private.

Here is my favorite picture of the king of my heart…..

And the first poem, written when we were dating, and always his favorite:

Storm Creature

Climbing the rain-slicked hill,
I see him
flung across the sky,
maned neck arched,
echo of the earth’s curve,
vast vaned wings flecked with fire,
hooves spurning the green spume of tree-tops,
and I cry WAIT!
as the flank of another hill hides him.

I run.

Beech-leaves spin across my path.

I stop for breath.
The sky is empty
except for two salmon bars of cloud.

Love Is the Root
(lyrics from a song of mine, written in 1984, played at our wedding, 1988)

Callas and lilies white-gleamng,
   grey-weathered pillars, rose-scented water
poplars tall candles
                                pointing the way
  to Heaven above.

I stand, rapt with love

     the root of all,
       the root of All, and

Love is the fountain

    making lives flower.
Without its tender touch
     we wither, we die
we die    for
Love is the fountain,
   the fountain of life      and

Love is the bulwark,

    lending us shelter.
When it falls to dust
     we are ashes on the wind
         grieving     grieving
              grieving      for

Love is the bulwark

Love is the fountain    and
Love is the root
   of us all.

March Vision
(March, 1989)

Last night Mary Martin on wires,
Cyril Richard tangos
    --childhood link:
I watched in north Jersey,
  mad at Daddy’s reluctance
to clap belief in Tinkerbell.
You saw it in Hickory, PA;
broke your arm trying to fly.
Later arthritis attacked,
    prisoned you in a wheelchair,
       shortened your reach.

Last March we got engaged,

    part of a vision which loving people
had said  you could never have.
  Next day, up one of Pittsburgh’s seven steepest hills,
      from Fifth up Negley,
a pair of lace-toed sneakers
hung high over a cable,

One year later, celebrating
  your dozen years’ release from the chair,
going home with roses
     I see again those shoes
dancing on air
love you for your flying.

Stalking the Wild Wheaties
(August, 1988)

These hot mornings I’m an owl.
John is more awake,
   eating Wheaties from his dish.
Small black kitten 
   slips from under the napkin in my lap,
      hides behind blue kettle,
splashes into the bowl.

He’s the champ! 

John loses his cool;

I’m awake.

Valentine for my husband John
(Tuesday, February 14th, 1989)

Today last year
you brought me
a fantastic card,
a red carnation in an olive-jar vase,
the offer of a future   us.

We ate Greek,

played 221B,
 & rockets took off,
fireworks flashing behind my closed eyelids
again        still.

You are my size,  sometimes    larger.

Our hands fit.
Mostly      we      fit.
“Each can live alone,” you said,
  “and we know that. But the world is brighter

My husband, my love,
  like the Hawthornes,

our beginning marriage
 is in    C/concord.

Thank you for that offer,

for our new reality.

Youghigheny Autumn
(Ohiopyle, PA  Autumn, 1989)

Watching yellow and purple kayakers
  drive double-bladed paddles
against fall’s foam,
 drift from the rapids
    to quieter edges beside
     rocks pocked with stray pools,
you and I held hands,
   moved carefully over those brown slabs.
Casually you mentioned
     you’d gone whitewater rafting twice
        down below,
         fell out each time past the Double Hydraulic,
how you were harder to carry to your wheelchair,
    heavy with wet.

We sniffed leaf-smoke,
   eyed the tackiness of Fall’s Market,
     went back to the river.
  You were so gutsy, I said.

New camera busy, you shook your head.
     You’d been bored    foolhardy       nuts.
Then you smile.
      But it was fun.
     Wonder what kayaking is like…


(January 28th, 2011)

the Superb Bird
dances, black caped, iridescent feathergleam,
Birds of Paradise on their cleared platforms
vibrating ethereal call

Tribal elders take treasured

feathers from bamboo tubes,
lovingly kept for ritual moving to life-stages.

We courted more than twenty years past

yet those brightgleam memories
vibrate still,
platform for our lives.

Note: these are two exotic birds found in Papua New Guinea, seen in a Richard Attenborough show on PBS,

The Rarest Metal
 (August 20th, 2013)

Many tellers tell one traditional tale that
   reflects their life.

Many harpers play a beloved tune that

    resonates their life.

 “Once upon a time, lang time past….”

…there was a boy trapped in pain

   --and a girl with a heart like a beating bird

…and the boy became a man forging his own freedom

with the magic of stars & math & sharing
     resplendent with courage & caring

   --and the girl grew to a woman whose heart was torn,

            trampled by fear, doubt, & loss
     stubbornly seeking    more
with words, notes, writing

and they met.

Like Aragorn fighting Orcs and Uruk-hai

   Like Arwen defying Black Riders

banishing old shackles of who they could/should be

venturing outward to newness

until the day dawned, crowned with love

until they wed,

lived five cubed years

          entwined/supportive  as trees, growing
music and laughter
   memories and stories,
rejoicing in each other.

We are more together than alone, in that brighter world

both forged and embroidered

Not our silver anniversary, but

rarer still:   mithril.


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