Their Hands Swinging Together

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Light shone from the back of her eyes.
He had a broad, deep laugh
that could hold anyone in its bowl of sound.
They didn’t speak of the inevitable.
Were amazed by the fire that burned in their bodies.
Had you seen their hands swinging
together down the street at dusk you’d swear
they were children walking this earth.
~Kathleen Wakefield  “They Began Late”
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To Dan, on his 65th birthday:

 

A pass of the blade leaves behind
rough stems, a blunt cut field of
paths through naked slopes and
bristly contoured hollows.

Once swept and stored, the hay is
baled for a future day, and grass’ deep roots
yield newly tender growth,  tempted forth
by warmth and summer rain.

A full grassy beard sprouts
lush again, to obscure the landscape
rise and fall, conceal each molehill,
pothole, ditch and burrow.

I trace this burgeoning stubble with gentle touch,
fingertips graze the rise of cheek, the curve of upper lip
and indent of dimpled chin with long-healed scar, the stalwart jaw,
a terrain oh so familiar that it welcomes me back home.

 

 

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Your Face is My Heart

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I talk to you as I talk to my own soul,” he said, turning me to face him. 
“And …” he whispered, “your face is my heart.”
~Diana Gabaldon from Dragonfly in Amber

 

 

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Today, Dan celebrates his retirement from public service as an attorney – over 37 years working for county government.  He will pack up his books and pictures from his office in boxes and bring them home.

This man, by my side for nearly forty years since meeting while in graduate school, and my husband for 37 years, leaves behind a legacy of well-considered and sound legal advice, maintaining integrity as a trusted resource for colleagues and the public while managing to remain above the inevitable politics.  He has an archival brain which the county will mightily miss, as not all knowledge resides in file folders and hard drives and cloud servers.

His family, the farm and I are the beneficiaries of this retirement from professional life, as well as the several boards he serves and the church we attend.  This is not a man who will retreat to a quiet life: he has many plans, much work that calls him and more education to pursue.  It is the start of his next life of service.

This face is my heart and it is my privilege to wake up next to my kindred soul every morning.

 

View More: http://karenmullen.pass.us/gibson-order

 

When They Were Young

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On the green hill with the river beyond it
long ago and my father there
and my grandmother standing in her faded clothes
wrinkled high-laced black shoes in the spring grass
among the few gravestones inside their low fence
by the small white wooden church
the clear panes of its windows
letting the scene through from the windows
on the other side of the empty room
and a view of the trees over there
my grandmother hardly turned her head
staring like a cloud at the empty air
not looking at the green glass gravestone
with the name on it of the man to whom
she had been married and who had been
my father’s father she went on saying nothing
her eyes wandering above the trees
that hid the river from where we were
a place where she had stood with him one time
when they were young and the bell kept ringing
~W.S. Merwin “Windnoon” from The Moon Before Morning

 

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Visiting the graves of those who lived and loved for decades,
now mere dust lying side by side,
their spirits risen and flown~
we realize we were young once and now
feel the weight of change and passage of the years
despite our effort to grab and hold them still.

The bells of time keep ringing in our memories.

 

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Just In Case

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All day he’s shoveled green pine sawdust
out of the trailer truck into the chute.
From time to time he’s clambered down to even
the pile. Now his hair is frosted with sawdust.
Little rivers of sawdust pour out of his boots.

I hope in the afterlife there’s none of this stuff
he says, while I broom off his jeans, his sweater flocked
with granules, his immersed-in-sawdust socks.
I hope there’s no bedding, no stalls, no barn

no more repairs to the paddock gate the horses
burst through when snow avalanches off the roof.
Although the old broodmare, our first foal, is his,
horses, he’s fond of saying, make divorces.

…he says
let’s walk up to the field and catch the sunset

and off we go, a couple of aging fools.

I hope, he says, on the other side there’s a lot
less work, but just in case I’m bringing tools.
~Maxine Kumin from “Chores”

 

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They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now…
~Wendell Berry from “They Sit Together on the Porch”

 

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We know that comfortable silence when all that needs to be said is said and the rest is shared without words.  And so it will be.

Two weeks from now, you’ll pack up the files in your desk, box up the legal books, take down the diplomas from your office wall, and close the door on a long lawyering life. The next day you’ll pull on your worn-thin coveralls, lace up your work boots, grab your cap and head out to the barn and wonder what needs fixing next.

There is so much to be done yet, so many tools to use, so much more to be lived.

Let’s walk up the field to catch the sunset, just a couple of aging fools.

 

 

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And Joy Will Find Her…

For my big sister Nancy Polis Casey on her retirement after 41 years of work as a physical therapist

When she no longer has to go to work
she won’t sleep in or stay up late.

When she no longer has to go to work
she’ll get calls asking her to share what she knows.
Her help will continue to make a difference
to those whose healing depends
on her teaching and encouragement.

When she no longer has to go to work
she’ll play with grandchildren when a daughter needs a nap
and she just happens to have an empty lap to fill.
She’ll cook a meal when a friend cannot manage it,
knowing when life overwhelms
with pain or sadness, even small acts of kindness
rescue the heart and restore hope.

When she no longer has to go to work
she will not sketch flowers on white plates
or paint landscapes in watercolor,
but instead will get dirty and grow blooms herself
to take to those who need fragrant beauty
instead of a picture on the wall.
She will trellis tomatoes
simply to share a thick slice of rich flavor
when someone is hungry and needs to be filled.

When she no longer has to go to work
she will find more than plenty to do
because there is so much yet to be done.

Even when she no longer has to go to work
Life will come and find her ready

And she will know joy.

I Will Not Wear Purple

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When I no longer have to go to work
I will not sit in tea shops
Wearing purple and a ridiculous red hat
Laughing too loud and trying too hard
To look carefree when what I really want
Is more work:
To keep busy with needs in my family,
My church and my neighborhood.

Babysitting for a young mother who needs a nap
And I happen to have an empty lap to fill,
Cooking a meal for someone who cannot manage
And I have too much for myself,
Sitting with the ill when they are lonely,
And so am I.

When I no longer have to go to work
I will not sketch flowers on white plates
Or paint landscapes in watercolor,
But instead will get dirty and grow blooms myself
To take to those who need fragrant beauty
Instead of a picture on the wall.
I will trellis heirloom tomatoes
Simply to share a thick slice of rich flavor
When someone is hungry and needs to be filled.

When I no longer have to go to work
I will find plenty to do
Though my body fades and hair thins,
Though my voice weakens, and back is curved, still
My prayers will be continually
Praising the One who made me;
Even when I no longer have to go to work,
Work will come to me.