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

When the last child leaves home

What does one make of this time?
A time filled to the very edge
with emotions almost unbearable.
At first taste, sadness.
But then again joy,
and pride and fulfillment.
Yes, it is our son
who is leaving this time –
the youngest,
the last to go,
farther away than the first.
But in the symbol of the leaving
is also the daughter, the first.
For something deeply significant happens
this time around
for mother and father –
the close of a chapter
never to be repeated.
And we stand in awe
of what, or rather, who
has come to be.
For we, husband and wife, have loved
out of a oneness
that we have been destined to live.
And out of that oneness
has blossomed life
that in this strange mystery
that we are all part of,
has shared deeply in our union
and yet has always been meant
to branch off
into something uniquely awesome,
to find its own magic
and mystery
and beauty.

As we look upon the two of you,
as we willingly share you
with others
beyond the womb of home,
we ache to have you understand
your significance
for us and within us.
The heaviness in our hearts at this time
is a mere fraction
of the weight of our love for each of you.
It is a bursting of pride
in who you have become.
It is the fullness of our blessing
with which we christen this new chapter
that now begins in earnest.
Looking upon the two of you
we can say to ourselves, “Well done!”

And to you, our dear children,
friends and companions for ever, we say:
seek your unique meanings
with respect for,
but with freedom from, the past;
be forgiving of yourself and those of us you love;
do not expect perfection but
in gentleness call forth the good and the true;
share your blessedness
with all who enter your destiny;
do not give up your search
for the fullness of God;
and continue to drink
from the wellspring of love.

© 1998 Dennis Ference

First Grandchild

I receive her now to myself,
the weight of her
settling into the cradle
of bent arm and pliant torso.

And as this wiggling bundle
adds her warmth to mine
an eruption of passion surfaces
from some deep place
vaguely remembered.
It lights a fire in my chest
and leadens my arms
so that the whole of the world
seems to be resting
in my embrace.

I gaze into the glint of her eyes
and I am stung by the desire
to never leave this moment behind.
For somewhere in this innocence
lies the secret of the universe,
and in this presence, a call
to reclaim what rightly
belongs to us all.

© 2000 Dennis Ference

The first time

The Making of a "Popsidoodle"

baby_and_dad_sleeping_199490
ELIZABETH

It’s as if
the sun spit fire
deep into my heart.

It’s as if
a quaking earth rumbled muscle
and bone and shivered each finger tip.

It’s as if
an ocean gushed in the blood-flow
pumping passion through my veins.

It’s as if
I heard my name and was baptized anew
when Elizabeth first lay upon my chest.

© 2008 Dennis H. Ference

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