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

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.)

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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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.)

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
(First posted without pic 7/18/14.)