Going to See God

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I’m going to Illinois
to see God. Oh, I know
God is right here.
I know that as well as
I know my own name.
But sometimes I need
to have my vision refreshed,
my memory restored.
So I will look into the eyes
of my grandchildren
this weekend–the wonder,
the joy, the promise, the light–
and I will see God.

There is no other place
to meet God but here,
no other time but now.
I know that. Still,
sometimes we all need
to be refreshed.

© 2014 Dennis Ference

A Grandfather’s Musing

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How many times
would I say to them,
“I love you”?
How many times? I wonder
as I lie awake tonight.
Hundreds of times,
thousands, as often as
spring rains thrum the earth?
How many times?

If it would protect them
from all harm; if it would help
them honor themselves
to the end; if it would
exterminate the fears
that crawl under their doors and
ride the drafts that whisper
through their window frames…
I would go for the record,
of that you can be sure.

© 2014 Dennis H. Ference

Nostalgia

(Every Christmas I am visited by nostalgia for the simpler, “purer” time when my children
and, later, grandchildren were more enthralled with the wrappings than the gifts.) 

Christmas Afterthought

does
a box lose its
magic or ribbon shed its
charm or is a child lured from won-
der and why does her angel not sound the
alarm

© 2006 Dennis Ference

Christmas Fire

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The just-lit fire snaps and dances a sprightly dance,
while from the kitchen, a dissonant chorus of voices
reverberates into the last hesitant corners of quiet and calm.
Soon the festivity will all come together by the fresh pine
dressed in her holiday finest, here, next to the hearth.

But for the moment I am sumptuously alone. I settle,
coffee in hand, into a compliant, generous chair,
and smile a satisfied smile at the wooden soldiers
guarding the cascading pile of holiday spoils.

My eyes drift to the mantle, where candles, holly,
and pine cones intersperse with the latest of the grandkids’
frozen poses and smiles. How they have changed: newly
pierced ears; baby teeth multiplying; that recently assumed,
reluctant air.

In a minute or two, I will surrender solitude and reverie,
but not without the passionate sigh, not without the begrudging
nod to the transience of time turning the warm fires of our lives
into wisps of smoke escaping into some vaporous beyond.

© 2006 Dennis Ference

Life is more than feathers

My eight-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, and I were kicking back in her room and riding the drafts of imagination wherever they might fly. As this particular story unfolded, we were sitting next to her small desk and cutting up downy feathers from a craft variety pack of “stuff”. I, regrettably, was big-time antsy, a sciatic nerve challenging me to find a comfortable spot on an uncomfortable, child-sized chair. Nonetheless, I was enjoying the easy banter and the sudden twists and turns that often come when Elizabeth has taken the lead. We were cutting the feathers up into small bits, as I recall, to create a soft garment for the imaginary store we were “hired” to supply.

Well, the bag of feathers was large, and after a while, I thought that maybe we had cut enough for the purpose at hand, but she informed me that wasn’t the case, and so we continued our tedious task. A little later, again I raised the same possibility, plus maybe her room was getting a little messy, fluffy down, by then, flying everywhere I looked. I further threw in the thought that perhaps her parents would be unhappy if we cut up each and every feather she had. Not even bothering to look up at me, Elizabeth continued to cut. Finally, as we just about reached the bottom of the bag, and I had thrown out my last obsessive gambit, the philosopher in Elizabeth announced with thoughtful aplomb, “You know, Papa, life is more than feathers.” Amen, Elizabeth! Amen!

© 2014 Dennis Ference

One Afternoon with Lily

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One afternoon, she
named me “Popsidoodle,”
and I wondered out loud
where that had come from.
But she just giggled and
told me, “Hold still, Popsidoodle,”
’cause she had to put one more
barrette in my hair.

She’s my first grandchild, you know,
and I had long since forgotten
how to say “no” to big,
saucered, four-year-old eyes.

So I crawled under the table
about a dozen times that day and
dutifully whinnied while being
led from the “barn.” I consumed
scores of imaginary tacos,
drove a fleet of fanciful limos,
and surrendered meekly as she
dressed me again and again
in ways that would tickle a clown

And at afternoon’s end,
when I lifted her to my chest,
crooned a smokey version
of “Rubber Ducky”
and danced her to sleep,
I smiled and decided:
there must be a “Popsidoodle”
roosting somewhere
deep inside us all.

© 2006 Dennis Ference

The Giggles of Children

It is a sound most
sublime, rivaling
the song of angels,
the hallelujahs of temple
and church, brandishing
a power to bring
darkness to its knees,
and reminding us that
love and hope forever
flow like streams of light
through the recesses
of the heart.

© 2014 Dennis Ference

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