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

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

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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Little Pink Sock

Little pink sock on the basement stair,
Her mother dropped you unaware
You’d remain forever split from your mate,
Kept secretly by Grandma in this captive state.

Little pink sock for her little pink toes,
Only a grandmother can really know
That this is why here you must stay:
To work your magic on those dark, lonely days.

© 2007 Dennis H. Ference (First posted on 7/31/14)

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Celebration

 

She whirled before me, guileless,
eager face straining for the sky,
light rain chiseling a smile
glorious on glistening cheeks.
She extended her arms full-length
in opposite directions, flat palms
and feathery fingers seemingly
practiced in the art of soaring.
Moments before, she broke loose
from the boughs of my umbrella,
to announce an eight-year-old’s vision
and credo: I gotta be free!

Longing to join the gambol
but hobbled by an arthritic hip
and the rust of years given
to caution and conformity, I settle
for silence and reverent awe
in the presence of this young
priestess and her primal
celebration of life.

© 2006 Dennis Ference
(First posted 7/8/14)

With a Nod to Star Wars

video-game-1017856_1280~Ride together imagination’s golden rocket
and the universe can be your playground.~

Battle for the Universe

Like two frenzied birds winging
madly from wire to bush,
bush to tree, tree to window ledge,
never lighting long enough
to celebrate the sun or be blessed
by the rain—time too short, mission
too demanding: a rescue needed here,
an insurrection to quell there,
a flight to the neighboring galaxy
to stem the forces of darkness
closing in on all sides.

Each incurs wounds lethal
for the ordinary man, but these
are warriors of indomitable will;
these are heroes of mythic proportion;
this is a battle for the universe.

In the end, no final victory this day,
only a mother’s insistent dinner call,
a boy’s reluctant capitulation,
and a grandfather’s solemn
commitment to their noble cause.

© 2010 Dennis H.Ference