Right Questions

For most of my life
I left no stone unturned
in my quest for right answers.
I wonder now what might have been
had I known from the start
to embrace and passionately
live the right questions.

© 2015 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

Building Houses

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As far back
as anyone could remember,
the people of the town
built houses for each other,
sheds, truth be told, crafted
with the hammer of judgement
and the nails of assumed
superiority; houses too small
for a full breath, too cold
for the precociousness of hope,
secured with heavy bolts
of dark warning and fear.

Yet in this town, as in
countless towns everywhere,
lives continue to be lived,
families formed, futures built,
histories made and recorded.

Yes, but wait, you may say.
What about love?
What about compassion?
Do not lose heart, my friend,
for love, in all its guises,
gratefully knows forever,
the trick to pick our locks
and let herself in.

© 2014 Dennis Ference

This Life

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Yes, I can still laugh
though pain sometimes
grinds me into the ground.
Yes, I can still celebrate
though tableaus of misery
everywhere abound. Yes, I can
still feel a rush of warm regard
though a winter of severity sometimes
threatens to freeze this heart.
But this life, oh this life, my friend!
To have lived, to have loved,
to have laughed and cried
copious tears of sorrow and joy!
Oh my! I salute
with wonder and awe,
this life!

© 2015 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

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)