While Not in Other News

For the last six and a half weeks, my 81 year old mom has been undergoing radiation treatments for tongue cancer, cause undetermined. She finishes on Friday a “tour of duty” of 33 treatments. Her mouth is raw; her throat is swollen; she is weary. The doctors told her she would need a feeding tube to make it through the therapy. She said “no tube.” Her friends at her senior independent apartment complex, the generous cook in the kitchen of that complex, the kindness of an assortment of drivers, amazing doctors, nurses and technicians at our local hospital, and her desire to keep on doing what she does every day–eating with 102-year-old Lenora and her other friends in the dining room and watching her soap operas–has kept her going. She has grit. Now, with one treatment to go, she has lost 6 pounds instead of the 25-30 the doctors predicted. No feeding tube.

Many headlines have splashed across the news waves this week. I celebrate in this poem news that does not make the Times but that does make a difference. My mom said today what I think is true about life in the midst of so many troubling headlines: “Things happen to us. We are human. We just do the best we can.”

“Egyptian Air Plane Crashed into the Mediterranean”
the week the doctor phoned to break the news:
“Biopsy Is Positive for Cancer”
A life sentence, headliner understated,
one of many.

Eighty percent survival rate;
Eighty-one year-old woman with an
eighty two year life expectancy.
so the doctor said.

Stubborn senior citizen
expectant of everyday life until death
is escorted on the arm of a shiny blue walker
into iron man battle.

Thirty-three excursions down Radiation Way;
Thirty-three high dose zaps to the tongue;
Thirty-three days of taste wasting away.
“Pulse Nightclub Massacre: 49 Dead”
“Zika Arrives in the U.S.”
“Alton Sterling Shooting Sparks Protest”
“Five Dallas Police Officers Fatally Shot”
“Summer Olympics Begin with
Uplifting Spectacle in Gritty Rio”
and Tina in the kitchen
down at the Cypress Gardens
apartments for senior adults
stirs up milkshakes three times a day
even though they are not on the menu
or in her job description
so mom, boosted up, loses six pounds
instead of the 30 they all said she would
with no feeding tube against all life expectancies.

Fortified by 102-year-old Lenora,
91-year-old Doris,
91-and-a-half-year-old Ruth,
and 70-year-old Mary and her 2001 Buick LeSabre
with the extra-capacity trunk,
determined octogenarian perseveres
while doctors and nurses cheer, amazed.

“Hillary Broke the Glass Ceiling” last week;
while not in other news
mom shattered expectations, gained 1.8 pounds,
four more tours to go:
“I’m with her.”

Nature Photo Challenge

A friend invited me to participate this week in the #NaturePhotoChallenge. For seven days, I posted nature photos on Facebook. This was a fun challenge. Here is my week’s worth of nature photos (I posted two squirrel pictures on the same day):

Winter Drama II
Mapping Winter
Winter Sunlight 2
Winter Sunlight
Winter Journeys
Winter Journeys
Winter Untitled
Winter Dreams
Winter Hope
Winter Hopes
Ice Faces
Winter Ice Faces
Squirrel 2
Winter Squirrel
Squirrel
Winter Squirrel II

‘Twas the Night

Silent night,
(pause)
holy night.
Stars whisper:
the earth is pregnant.

All is calm,
(pause)
all is bright.
Beneath indigo skies,
scurrying insects
quiet restless feet;
lowing cattle
lift ruminating heads;
blue-black night birds, wide-eyed,
scan the darkness.
Listen:
The earth is pregnant.

Silent night
(pause)
holy night.
We stop
wait
breathe
wonder
confess, perhaps.
Then–
a filling moon
overflows.
We sing.

 

 

 

 

Maundy Thursday: Reflections

Mabry Mill Upside Down
“Mabry Mill Upside Down,” by S.G. Hunter

Bread.
Sourdough.
Pumpernickel.
Rye.
Old standbys—wheat and white.
Bread.
The stuff of life.
We break it, eat it, think almost nothing of it.
Golden-crusted loaves seasoned by the smell of the earth
Passed from me to you to the stranger.
We cannot live without it—
The bread or the sharing.
Grace.

Green grapes
“Green Grapes,” by S.G. Hunter

Wine.
Poetry bottled and decanted.
Kiss of sweet grace on thirsty lips.
Wine.
Remembrance seasoned by the taste of the earth.
Spilled out between us,
For us,
You and me and the stranger.
We cannot live without it—
The sip of mystery or the sharing.
Grace.

Passerby
“Passerby” by S.G. Hunter

Water.
Trickling.
Surging.
Moaning.
Water.
We bathe in it, fear it, plunge its murky depths.
Washing over weary feet,
Soaking chafed hands.
We cannot live without it—
The brooding Spirit,
Sea-lapped promises on sun-singed shores.
Grace.

Bread. Wine. Water.
The earth.
Broken.
Poured out.
Stirred up
In us.
Remembering that does not forget
Hungry, wilderness people
In neighborhoods, towns, cities.
Bread. Wine. Water.
Our hands
Baking, pouring, washing.
Gifts of God for the people of God.
Grace.