Suffering

In these later years I’ve tried
for a transparent relationship
with suffering—
surely I don’t desire it
nor do I yet fully accept it
but for now at least
I make an effort
to ride with it
without passing it on
to all who share my space.

© 2015 Dennis Ference

Father and Son

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(Written several years ago when my father came from a distant
state to reside in the nursing home where I worked at that time.)

I did not know him as a son
hopes to know a father.
That was my thought as
I laid him to rest
in his new bed and circumstances
at the nursing home
in which I labor
for daily bread and respect.

Though present throughout my childhood,
it was an impression of absence he
   bequeathed,
relinquishing to mother
the dispensation of love and direction
and other childhood necessities.
And in her compliant shadow I grew
with no expectations of him,
only those secret longings
I could not name.

Now, he and his need,
with a minimum of warning,
have erased plotted distances
to reenter my life
like a dull thud,
disturbing what had been
a satisfying harmony
between family, job and benign
expectations for tomorrow.
And in a moment I taste it–
resentment flavored with
just a sliver of gratitude
for this intrusion
               into
complacency.

© 1998 Dennis Ference
(First published in America.)

Rhett (R.I.P. ~ 7/28/15)

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(For many, the love of a pet lights
a pathway to the Spirit. For that and all
you have meant to your family, Rhett,
thank you and rest in peace!)

He didn’t really like dogs—
at least that’s what he always
insisted to anyone who cared
to listen. Yet when his son’s
mutt would stand before him,
staring with black marble eyes,
tongue loosely flapping
with canine shivers, he never failed
to rub the dog’s head, stroke
under his jaw, pat his side,
scratch behind his ear.
And once in awhile when no one
was paying attention, and Rhett
lay some feet away, the old man would
softly snap his fingers, hand nearly
brushing the floor, and the dog
would come sit by his side
and patiently wait for him
to renew their tenuous affair.

© 2006 Dennis Ference
(Poem first posted 8/4/14.)

Winter Strains

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God of all generations,
in silence I hear your voice
echoing forth from deepest recesses
where flesh dances with spirit
and is suckled by mysteries divine.

It awakens in me a familiar longing–
a hunger for rest and peace
and refuge from angry, counter winds
that shake and rattle an aging heart
still struggling to be free.

And in night’s pause, yet I am courted
by promise of fire and light,
by treasure eager to be discovered
as gift for those who seek your love,
as love you gift to all.

It is the season, now, for deepest truths;
for surrendering fancy and fad;
for transcending hurts that bind and smother;
and listening carefully above the din
for the song that leads me home,
the timeless song of home.

© 2005 Dennis Ference
(First posted on 6/27/14 without pic.)