Mary’s Psalm

( Celebrating the Light ought not diminish
our compassion for those suffering the dark.

They were the benchmarks
by which she reckoned her life—
order, cleanliness, God.
Supper at five, always at five;
socks, underwear, towels,
carefully ironed, meticulously folded;
windows washed inside and out,
once a month, spring through fall;
daily mass, daily rosary, daily
invocations to keep her kids
safe, to keep her kids good.

And her house was clean, her kids
were good. Everyone noticed.
Everyone said so. Except, perhaps,
her husband who didn’t say much
of anything but worked hard,
didn’t drink, didn’t hit her, but
didn’t love her as an untidy
imagination said he should.

One day, when her kids were grown and
emptiness had soundproofed the house,
she crawled under a bare kitchen table
and proceeded to tear at her face
and pull out her hair while
her husband dozed
in the other room
after a long, hard day.

© 2007 Dennis Ference

The Diagnosis

The pegs were discharged,
one peg to each, and mine,
this time, was decidedly square.
Now, I firmly believed that
only round pegs could
fill those round holes
obstructing the path
that snaked to the goal.

Still, I worked that square
with hopeful resolve,
twisting and pounding
till the truth seemed clear:
Surely, this square peg
was meant for another,
some square-peg-player
in some square-hole-game.

With compassion and grace,
I summoned the wind
to deliver the peg
to whomever it belonged.
But the wind only laughed
its raspy old laugh, and
for the moment, at least,
the peg remained mine.
And the rules I had learned…
they no longer applied.

Such was my grief and musing
after the “diagnosis”
broke down my door.

© 2004 Dennis Ference
(First published in Journey to Glory)

The Flock of Seven

The Flock of Seven,
grey feathers, sparsely
layered on heads hinged
atop bluntly compromised
bodies and bones, alight
at their usual watering hole,
as their usual routine demands.

They have loped again in circles,
or waddled or limped, on hairless,
bowed, blue-veined, and spindly legs,
just as they have for more
than 25 years, these migrating
cranes of the waking, morning mall.

They sip, now, their steaming
brew, reminisce, hold court, and
jostle each other’s pride,
an occasional teen-like laugh
rebounding off enclosing walls.

But though all seven remain
acutely aware, there will be
no spoken reminder this day,
that less than a month ago,
              here they sat,
the Flock of Nine.

© 2014 Dennis Ference