Poem: Almost Dead

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Almost Dead

I remember being dead.
The feeling of it.
The certainty.
The strange peace of knowing
the struggle was done.

A murder, almost managed to perfection,
an almost corpse,
ready to surrender,
going through the motions,
and nothing more.

But here I am,
an utter failure as a corpse,
strangely insistent on living,
proof of an afterlife
here on earth.

About this poem

I have come close to death three times. Twice physically. Once emotionally/spiritually. And yet here I am.

And gladly so.

Tom

Poem: A Trip to the Shore

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A Trip to the Shore

You arrive with your baggage,
a working vacation,
a decision more than recreation,
a shedding as you open the bags,
pour them out,
and watch them disappear in the sea.

About this poem

The sea soothes me. I release the clutter in my life. The depression lifts. The anxiety releases. I come back renewed, even after a single day.

The picture was taken at Hampton Beach. In the off-season of course.

Tom

 

Thoughts: The Slow Work

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This is what I have been doing for the past couple of hours.

Doesn’t look like much, does it?

It is a dining room table that the woman I love and I bought a few months back at an auction. It turned out to have a wonky leg, one that just didn’t feel as firm as the others. and despite a lot of babying, last week the wonky leg broke off.

Now the table is upside down in my dining room. That’s the leg on the left of the picture, and where the leg is supposed to attach on the right. Both were a mess. As close as I can tell, there have been three repairs made to the leg. There are three kinds of glue in the mix, and two kinds of wood putty. There are also a couple of really long screws that as far as I can tell, didn’t attach to anything but glue and putty. So much glue and putty in fact, that the leg and the table don’t come close to fitting together.

And what was the solution to that? It seems that the last person who repaired the leg stuck a piece of wood between the leg and table. It didn’t exactly fit, but they had a solution for that too – pour in so much glue that it filled in the spaces.

All in all, kind of a mess.

The table is beautiful. Mahagony (a beautiful but not very strong wood). The drop leaves are two very wide boards. The legs end in hand carved claw and ball feet. It is graceful and gorgeous. Except of course, for the leg thing.

So I am in restoration mode. And it’s slow work. Restoration always is.

The first thing is to scrape, cut or pray out all the stuff that should not be there. As much of that gunked up glue and goo and putty as I can, without pulling apart any of the actual wood. Scrape out a little. Fit it together to see how you are doing. Scrape a little more. Repeat.

I’ve made progress in the past two hours, but I am nowhere near the next step of actually putting the thing back together. There’s more pulling apart to do. More tearing out a little and testing. Tedious, and I am only good for about two hours of tedious at a time.

It’s not unlike therapy, or coaching, or helping someone through a spiritual crisis. There’s lots of ways to do it fast and wrong, but to do it right, you do it slow.

Not everyone is cut out for it. Sometimes, despite having a lot of restored stuff in my house, I wonder if I am cut out for it. It would be way easier to let the old broken stuff go.  Take the table, for instance. We bought it cheap. It was near the end of the auction and the crowd was spent out. So we could let it go and there’d be no huge financial loss.

But it’s beautiful. It’s perfect, in fact, except for this wonky leg. It is hand-made, wood pegged (Not a screw or nail in it except for the screw repairs that went nowhere.), hand carved legs. Old. The real thing. Someone spent a lot of their life making this thing.

To toss it out would seem like a sacrilege.

So I am doing the slow work. Depending on how much time I have this week, I might finish it this week. It might go into next week. My love and I have company coming this weekend, and there is a real possibility our company might have to deal with an upside down table in the living room. (Fortunately, they are a good friend. We’ll be forgiven, I am sure.)

In the end, I’ll have 10-20 hours doing the repair. Most of it undoing the old repairs. That’s the way it works, be it with people or furniture. But saving wonderful things is a noble work.

That’s what my father taught me. Not by words, but by the way he lovingly and slowly restored things in his own house. I used to hate helping him. It was so slow. But like so many things we hate when we are young, we come back to them as adults. And as an adult, I, again and again, took on the slow work of restoration, at times on things, and at times on me. Now and again with people I loved.

The restoration on the leg won’t be perfect. But it will be good. It will be solid. The table will again be stable and strong along with its beauty. And I will have overcome my worst nature and done the slow work.

I will be better for it.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

Poem: And Suddenly, It Is Late

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And Suddenly, It Is Late

And suddenly, it is late in the season.
The corn is tasseling, and the wheat becomes golden.
New flowers, almost fall flowers, are in bloom.
The nights begin to cool.

There is a temptation to mourn.
Summer has come and now prepares to go
and there is so much left to do,
unfinished things, hopes unrealized.

But it is time. What is undone can wait.
Time will not be denied.
The change in seasons, as murky as they are,
are undeniable, and there is no fighting them.

Better to simply say “This is,
and I will savor it for the time it is here.”
Better to spare yourself the mourning,
anger or bitterness of what is not, and hope

for a new season, another summer
or riotous colors waving in the wind,
our God of second chances, reminding us with each season,
why we need them.

About this poem

I planted a few vegetables this summer a few weeks past when they tell you to plant up here in Vermont. They have grown slow and it’s doubtful I will get any to eat this season – the leaves in the quarry have already begun to color.

Such is life. High expectations, and too little time, or too little of me.

For too many years I spent my season changes bemoaning what I did not manage to do or do well, and missed the joy of what I actually did. Today, finally, I choose to rejoice in what is instead of thinking much of what might have been or even what should have been.

No more. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed, all by that choice.

Tom

Poem: Mending

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Mending

There is mending to do.
Things to fix.
Broken things.
Torn things.
Things that leak.
Things that almost work.

Mending.
Something of a lost art.
Easier to toss
and begin again
than taking the trouble
of repair,
and the possibility that the mended things
lose their perfection,

forgetting
the magic that happens
when a thing is saved,
imperfections and all,
each mended part a testimony
to its value.

About this poem. 

About stuff. About people. Especially about people.

Tom