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Barbara Grace Lake

Poetry & Other Crimes

LOVE IS A GARDEN

© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake

 

A look into my dogwood tree
Shows silken blossoms blinding white
A hint of green where buds will leaf
And this is love

Azaleas boldly red on green
Camellias gently pink and white
They give their all but once a year
Oh this is love

Blue skies may herald summer’s gain
But sun too strong makes some plants wilt
Then remedied by sprinkler hose
And, yes, it’s love

The next day heaven opens up
Then ever rains on endlessly
The muddy ground gives blooming plants
Yes, this is love

My orange trees give shade and fruit
Their crowns are home to squirrels, birds
Where mockingbirds can sing all day
Oh this is love

The courtship rituals are past
New birdlings loudly pipe their need
Until it’s time to leave the nest
And this is love

In constant motion back and forth
From tips of trees to wires to roofs
They fly because they love to fly
And this is love.

THE DOGWOOD TREE

© Barbara Grace Lake

 

At summer’s end my cycle starts
My leaves once green now rust and red
No artist’s pallet renders true
The wonder of my leaves in fall

A carpet laid below my crown
So softly drifting to the ground
For merry children’s gleeful play
At tossing leaves to watch them fly

I’m not bereft left unadorned
With branches tall and willowy
To dance on every friendly breeze
Or etch upon the morning sky

When all of winter graceful limbs
Induce a harmony of green
Returning life to smallest twig
Where tiny buds of white appear

Each day I watch their steady growth
A waiting game, my branches full
Each nub upon a bed of green
Until at last they open out

My hour of glory’s here, I sing
A radiant sun takes up the song
Reflecting back my petals’ fire
Explosive, blasting blinding white

Green leaves will follow, birds will come
Such songs they sing and nests they build
Till autumn turns my leaves to red
My cycled life begins again

I AM ME

© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake

 

Can I be me
Unaided and alone
Nor slave to any one
Defining role

A forest me
Erect within a field
Absorbing floral scents
And they are me

A cat is me
The puma’s steady gaze
Would daunt, intimidate
Becoming me

Still I am me
Celestial stars above
Consuming, hallowing
Envelop me

And I am me
My nature not defined
Nor Heaven split apart
For all are me

ODE TO A FRIEND

© 2016 Barbara Grace Lake

 

Long years we spent in tandem roles
Of sharing picnics, meals and friends
As single mothers, worries, cares
Our children ever welcome to
Which home they landed in that day

Then children did as children do
They grew and chose to live apart
We did not, could not choose for them
The lives, their lives, they chose to live
And our lives changed in circumstance

In time it seemed we’d pulled apart
And had forgotten how we spoke
In younger voices where we knew
Intent of thought, unspoken words
That fell unheard in aging ears.

Our years were long, and life must change
But even parted, always know
Though older flesh and grey of hair
Our younger selves are in there still
My friend, the love we had survives.

ELUSIVE PEACE

© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake

 

In time of war when still a child
I dreamt intense unbidden dreams,
Of rain-slick sidewalks full of holes
Foul demons pushed till I fell through
On each dark night I dreamt this dream
Till screams that I alone could hear
Would leave me sweating, cold, awake

As war compels, no matter when,
A nation’s needless cost in men
Who fight and die in dubious quest.
A child I was but still I knew
The horrors of a home’s collapse
Exploding guns, and bodies torn
Of men who’d not see home again

But in the end a morning comes
To bring into the world new warmth
To damaged cities, countrysides
Restored if given long enough
If given growth and peace to grow
And children dream of candy floss
Encradled safely in their beds.

 

 

2000 YEARS A TREE

© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake

 

Huge creatures crashing through my grove
Perhaps unseen they’ll pass me by
They are so big and I’m so small
Oh, no, one foot directly up
It’s coming down. It’s crushing me
Into the earth, it’s smothering

All living things are running wild
The lightning, thunder deafening
I smell the scorch of burning trees
Not me, not yet, please let me grow
A bolt of hell fire strikes the ground
My branches burn. It hurts, it hurts

The river’s rising to my feet
I send out roots to hold the mud
But can they grasp? One just let go
And now another one. Dig deep
Just hold, hold mud, hold earth, hold tight
If not our life will wash away

Two thousand years and more I’ve lived
To grow immense. three hundred feet
My shady paths give life to ferns
Green carpet grows abundantly
When looking up men cannot doubt
They’ve sensed a godlike majesty

My girth provides for many home
Ten men it took to measure me
For cutting saws? They shred the air
I hear the screams of sister trees
Now at my feet, the saw’s first bite
It slices–and it’s killing me.

 

TIME

© Barbara Grace Lake 2018

 

Uncaring, ruthless time, hold back
Conceding there is no return
I do not wish some ghostly hand
Return to life a former time
When I was less than twenty five
And time itself seemed infinite

When days, not blaming stripling age,
Were filled with fleeting, youthful craze
Of parties, dance, erotic lust
Euterpe’s waste in primal quest
How recklessly I dared each day
I’d not repeat that time again

Though when, perhaps, my first born child
Drank deeply from his mother’s breast
Or when a baby daughter cooed
Or children’s laughter filled the house
These things I’d love to see, but no,
Vignettes like this are better dreams

I could not know when I was young
How precious time would be in age
How quickly fly unyielding years
My neighbor’s children, grown like mine
And now I struggle savoring
Each hour a gift to see and feel.

 

 

GRANDPA

© 2015 Barbara Grace lake

 

I don’t remember hair. Oh, no,
I don’t remember hair at all
Although there must have been a time
When grandpa had some long ago.

I saw a picture once. Gram said
That it was grandpa. When it was
I never knew, but, damn, it showed
A lot of hair on grandpa’s head.

A thick and wavy lion’s mane,
And coppery, like dogwood leaves
Start turning as first frost sets in
Before we lose them in the rain.

I didn’t like that picture much
Grandpa looked so stiff and mean
As if a smile or anything
Might crack his face with just a touch

And there were times when gramps was stern
About my schoolwork, chores and such
And if I caused my mother grief,
Then, still, he always said I’d learn.

I don’t remember hugs and stuff
My gramps was not that kind of man
He’d ever gently teach me things
Then cover up by acting gruff.

He taught me how a piece of wood
Could be ‘most anything I’d want
If I’d be patient, carve and sand
And finish building as I should

He taught me how someone who cares
No matter what their size might be
Would see their home was clean and snug
A proper shelter from life’s cares.

He taught me every day I knew
Him how a man could show his love.
He’d let me fall–but never far,
He’d always be there while I grew.

My gramps. A lot of things are there
Reminding me I knew a man,
But only when he’d gotten old.
I don’t remember him with hair.

 

MY MOTHER’S HANDS

© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake

 

So downy soft with tender care
Returned a nestling to its tree
To see the worried mother bird
Fly home to nurture, help it grow

As gently lifting me
From cradle to her breast
To suckle till I fell asleep
And dream warm baby dreams

Accepting, loving, strong
How able as I grew
At shushing tears as anger burst
Or bandaging a knee

Black garden dirt they wore with pride
Ingrained in every crease
But rainbow blossoms graced our home
The gift her hands displayed

Long years they spent in usefulness
Till gnarled, blue veined in age
Still soft and loving, loved as her,
My Mother’s hands

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