WE ARE SPREAD WIDE AS DELTA FANS

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for Carol

We are spread wide as delta fans at the mouth of the river.

I speak only for the river,
the flooded river with a skin of mud and roots buried underneath the skin
that like to coil around the hairless ankles of a child
and hold him under water ’til he is born again or until he knows
how to breathe in water.

I speak for that river,
river of trees washed away in heavy rainfall, carried on their backs
with morning doves still nested in the branches,
until they meet a dam they cannot breach
without luck or a kind of grace that can’t be paid for.

But you are the estuary where the river and the Gulf flood
into one another.

There are wounds still sore after a thousand years,
pus filled and seeping,
that may be cleansed and healed by the salt water of the Gulf.
Three years later you can’t find a scar.

But there is someone living inside us that cannot survive
the Gulf
who cannot breathe in a wide expanse of water that tastes like tears
even if they be the tears of joy.
We swim until we grow too weak to hold back the very substance
we are made of.
Then we are washed away. Then we are gone.

I know only what I am told and often not even that
but this is what the river has been telling me.

You are the Estuary. You have a face, my love.
Your hair is a woven braid of river water and of Gulf.
As long as the One I love has a face, my face will be hers
and her face will also be hers.

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LETTER TO MY OLD FRIEND, JANE RYALS

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It’s snowing today
but the flowers in our rock wall are still blooming.
Even the geranium you left with us is outside and alive.
So little snow this winter, local pre-teen Republicans
have bolted antlers to their football helmets. I saw them
running through a clear cut yesterday, above the drainage.
They were chanting in a language nobody taught them
that boils up inside them from another life.
It’s that kind of neighborhood.

You say the cottage Carol and I built from one April to the next
is beautiful and you hope we can stay living here.
Yes, it is built of April and of May and of the first two weeks of June.
I know I should be proud of it but I am not much.
There is no home for us anywhere on earth, no matter how badly
we want it.

Your husband, Mitch, has grown his hair long and tied it in a pony tail!
He has a new respect for women, you say.
I got a new respect for women in 1983 when my first wife left me
alone with two children to raise.
Not for her so much, but for the rest of you.
Mitch strikes me as someone who has always respected women
but maybe I am wrong.
I was raised to be that way, without an example as to how.
Certainly I loved my mother for a long time, though that time is now
long gone.
Still, at 97, God bless and keep her sleeping. Let her be pleased with herself
until the day she dies.

You tell me you don’t know my friend Freddy well.
Me either, although he is a nice fellow, artistic and erudite.
I am a mostly a nice fellow too, unless you cross me. My sword
hangs always ready in the old magnolia tree, a rusted sliver of moon.

“I have my third cold of the season… not a good sign. I think it is dust causing me problems… I can’t see house dust any more… so it doesn’t get removed. achooo!”

This made me laugh.
I remember well when my mother stopped keeping her house spotless.
I was 29 or 30, which means she was in her middle 50’s.
Starting to loose her mind, I thought.
Carol still keeps hers perfectly clean and coherent, except under the kitchen sink
and one closet, which are like Venezuela.

The snow has stopped. Guess I’ll have to take a walk in the rain.
Hope your day today is a happy one, Jane, and that you see
something beautiful out there in Kansas.

Poem For My Son On The Eve Of Surgery To Repair A Shattered Bone

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By Carol Hopkins

Awake at 5 in the morning, the angels come and say,
“Look at the liquid light in this dark room.”
I stare into molecules dancing and rejoicing in the eternally unfolding
Love of God.

There is no difference between
chair, book, aging body, slipper with a tear in its sole,
and the stained  glass art my son made as a little boy.
None of this can ever be anything other than what it is,
liquid light.

How can I explain this to the child in us who wants Santa
to bring the latest game,
unaware that we are eternally resting motionless in the Mother’s lap?

Still, regularly I bend my knee and ask for Grace.
It’s the way of this world.

SHIMMERING

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By Carol Hopkins

There is shimmering between terror and bliss like the leaves of a birch tree before a powerful storm.   Is it terror, is it bliss, is it dark or light, heaven or hell? Who wants to know and why does it matter?  Shimmering doesn’t need to know to shimmer.  Content to shimmer.

YOU ARE THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR ME

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written by Carol Hopkins

You are the One who waits for me.
You have waited for eons – before I was never born.
When I cry or feel pain or despair of my lot,
it’s you whispering my name and knowing I’ll hear
when I’m weary of the dream.

How long you have patiently stood by
while I turned my head and looked away into the galaxies of my mind.
The pain that is on me now is turning my head and
I glimpse you out of the corner of my eye.

Dusk is falling on this world so I can’t quite see yet,
but I know in the morning when the Sun rises
you’ll be there as you have always been.
How fortunate and blessed to finally know
unwavering loyalty and true love.

ARTHRITIS OF THE HANDS IN WINTER

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“By the waters of Babylon we lay down and wept as we remembered Zion”

Down the little White Salmon, a body of fog exactly wide

as the river is floating.

Crows on both sides cawing to each other

choking and gargling the language of crows.

In my right hand a little wind circumambulates five swollen hillocks of knuckle bone

where fires have been built.

That’s how I feel it.

That’s how I know the sky has come down to the riverbed

where white egrets are murmuring,

and their murmuring is a twin to the sound of currents.

I am only a white man walking by a green river in a modest fog.

If there is meaning here, I leave it to debating crows

but my left hand, the color of wonder bread, is open

offering a flow of air across the palm and back to sky.

The One without a name who takes the shape of water and of air

is also present in fire.

……………………………….

AFTER READING AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY MY FRIEND, RAFAEL STONEMAN, ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR, A VIETNAM VET

for Rafe

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The name of Jesus is still powerful, even after 2000 years of depletion by religion and politics. Those who find themselves in the deepest possible need can shelter there and find themselves held in his arms. When we feel we can’t be  any more alone, God may come to us as that Aloneness which answers to the name of Jesus.

I have worked twenty years in a paint store, gotten old there, by the measurement of the young.  Once I found a sparrow dead behind stacked gallons of white semi-gloss. The little thing was dried up, its beak open wide, begging for water or air. When I found it I got angry with God. I looked at that sparrow and imagined it crying out to be saved but its voice was not heard. It died alone behind a rack of paint. Part of my anger was because I had tried and failed to save the bird myself. Found it flying around the store, door left open by a careless customer but I couldn’t catch it without breaking a wing so finally gave up and let it find its own way.

But then I recalled how so many facing death, unable to do more for themselves, just surrender. I saw that with our last cat. He was ready to go. Came in one night in October, said his good-byes, walked into the woods and didn’t come back. Then there was our little squirrel, rescued as a baby and raised back to life. A few times I saw him playing with the dog. He literally climbed into the dog’s mouth and relaxed there, lying down completely across his jaws! You don’t believe that but it’s true.  At that moment I believed he was practicing for his death in the jaws of some cat or coyote. Maybe that sparrow also found himself in the arms of Jesus Christ.

I feel that name always as a blow to my heart  and when I saw it in your article, I was reminded. You did good work, my friend, when you brought that name to life for those with eyes to read.

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https://www.mpacorn.com/articles/overcoming-the-struggles-of-ptsd-and-abuse/

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