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

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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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

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.)

Pot of Gold

(Compassion is a salve with
power to heal our souls.)

She was the brightest star
in his darkest night,
first child of his youngest;
and though their stories
intersected in earnest
but a short time ago,
it was clear to all that
she now owned his heart.

Her visits straightened
his spine and swelled
his chest; and when she
kissed his bristly cheek and
intoned, I love you, Grandpa,
he heard again the old music
to which he once hummed and
danced an occasional
impromptu jig.
He decided to give her a gift,
though his station didn’t allow
for much: eighty-six, withering
parts, strangled assets, wringing
out his days in a home with
a hundred more like him.

But he hatched a plan,
executed it with equal parts
stealth and constancy,
and, when her next visit
was winding down,
anxiously steered her
to his dresser, splayed
the contents of his sock drawer
like Moses parting the Red Sea,
and removed a popcorn sack
with 49 packets of sugar
pilfered from the dining room:
breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

She received the gift
with a pooling in her eyes,
a thrumming in her heart,
and love for the old man
anchoring deep within
her soul.

Returning home
she carefully opened
the packets as in a sacred
rite and emptied them into
her grandmother’s sugar bowl,
bequeathed, shelved, and patient,
perhaps, for a day such as this.
She brewed a cup of tea,
sweetened it slowly,
and pondered how fortunate
she was to have stumbled upon
her own rainbow lavishly spilling
into a pot of gold.

© 2009 Dennis Ference

Power of Presence

(Presence—simple, spontaneous, selfless. It’s where life is affirmed and healing waters flow.)

Lying on my bed,
head propped with pillows,
reading Graham Greene’s
The Heart of the Matter
for the third time, I hear
the creaking door slowly open.
She enters, gives me
just a wisp of a smile,
brushes the hair back
from her eyes, and
climbs upon my chest,
all 22 months and 30 pounds
of her. She lies there, silent and
unmoving, face directed skyward,
fists encircling the index fingers
of hands happy to provide
a mooring for this welcome,
though unexpected, guest.
After five minutes, she
opts for another mission,
climbs down, pauses
long enough for her signature,
backward wave, then exits,
leaving a grandchild’s gift
of mustard seed planted
in the fallow garden
of a wizened, old soul.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.” ~ Matthew 13:31-32 (NET)

Poem © 2007 Dennis Ference