Wartime Palindrome

In my last post, “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom, I mentioned my Dutch Opa, a radioman, who refused to continue working for the radio when it was taken over by the Nazis in World War Two. In doing so he risked his life. I wrote this poem for him, to honour his refusal to speak words of hate. May each of us fight the battle to find peace in our hearts, so there can be no more war in the world.

Opa,

your silence in the attic–

a defiance,

a refusal to speak false words.

Your face pale

under dusky skin,

as planes drone over Hilversum

and your children play above you,

innocently distracting the soldiers.

Under the floor boards you hide,

cramped–

radio silence.


Radio silence–

cramped,

you hide under the floor boards.

Innocently distracting the soldiers,

your children play above you,

as planes drone over Hilversum.

Under dusky skin,

your face is pale.

You refuse to speak false words,

your defiance–

your silence in the attic,

Opa.

This Life

This life–

so beautiful and terrible,

so full of horror and sunsets,

of crushing sadness,

kissable babies toes,

and mellow evening skies through the treetops.

This world of ours,

pulsing with life,

yet ever falling into death.

What is is life, Lord, without you,

who holds all things in being,

from inexpressible richness

to indescribable pain,

from grandmother’s smiles

to pizza.

You stretch our caterpillar spirits,

–too often content

to curl up comfortably at home

in our protective layer of fur–

until we become as expansive as butterflies,

wings dancing across the entire sky,

exposed to the sun and wind and starlight,

and intimately close to you–

face to face,

forever.

Dry Bones Blooming

They look like a bowl of dried bones,

cold and lifeless–

a tragic ode to time lost

and utterly incapable of change–

but look more closely!

Within their crinkled-shut hearts,

clenched in the knuckles of their bony hands,

are tiny gems

bursting with possibility!

When the sun’s warm gaze melts

the unfeeling snow

into lovely spring water,

blooms will unfurl

from these dusty bones.

After winter’s grimness,

we’ll see the world in colour again,

and the flowers will laugh

that we thought them dead.

Focused as a Flower

I wish I knew how to grow

with the single-minded purpose of flowers.

Up, up and ever increasing in beauty,

focused on the source of light and

undistracted by the tangle and clutter

of weeds and other plants nearby.

Neither thorns nor thistles

causing them to pause in self-doubt,

or think their mission would be better

if they were holding up

the heavy golden head of some other stem–

richness enough to be oneself.

Water of Life

Flowers have no muscles

yet they move

open / close

smile at the sun

kiss the sky goodnight

How is it possible?

Have you ever thought about this?

Only through their emptiness

are they able to be filled

The water of life coursing through their veins

gives them strength

Help me remember this

when I am parched and drooping

but refuse to drink

Fill me with this aqua vitae

give my spirit life

make my body rise again

to gaze at the sun

Wild and Free

I grow my garden

wild and free

I do not expect

it bow to me

My joy it is

to watch it bloom

Nor do I wish

its beauty to consume

to cut and cull

alone preserve

no longer in the wind and sun

to dance and curve

Not for me it is

to choose the day

nor the colour it shall bloom

So many shades of beauty

wild and free

Though I was the one

to plant the seeds

my garden does not belong to me