Glass Orb

If you gaze into a solid glass orb, you’ll notice that the whole world appears upside down.  It’s disorienting, confusing, and in the palm of your hand it’s even sort of fun. But if you wake one day and everything appears to be that way, as though instead of gazing into that glass orb you are trapped inside staring out at everything you knew, only it’s all upside down, turned around and backwards. All the things you thought to be true and real are now all wrong, something changed and what once was is now no longer.

You ever feel like you go to the kitchen and everything you try and pick up spills or tips and you can’t seem to hold onto anything right. Or maybe nothing is where you normally set it, your keys aren’t on the table by the door, or on the hook in the hall but instead are in the dining room, or your shoes are in the living room and not by the door to the garage, as though you suddenly forgot where everything is?

Maybe you begin to doubt your reality, maybe everyone else’s reality seems different than yours, when did things change, how did they change? Why? The very words you use are no longer appropriate, relationships change and you feel like you must have been asleep for months or years or you woke up in some reflection of your own life accept that everything is just the opposite of what it was. It makes no sense and you can’t quite wrap your head round it, one day you knew how things worked and the next it’s like you totally forgot and all you can do is stand there like you don’t speak the language and nothing makes any sense and everyone else looks at you with different eyes, you run to the bathroom to look in the mirror to check and you see the same person you’ve seen all along.

It feels like a nightmare that never ends, it just keeps rolling on and tortures your mind, wrenches at your soul and tears at your heart, day after day, week after week, year after year and it’s no longer your keys that are missing, but it’s your children, one by one they suddenly look at you as though you’re the devil and they just disappear without a word, they walk away and you can’t seem to catch up to them as though your legs don’t work any longer and eventually you lose sight of them and they’re just gone.

Its like a scar or a tattoo in the end, one you didn’t want, and you can’t shake it because it’s always there, when you wake up, when you go to bed. When every holiday comes round, or you smell a smell that reminds you of the days when you sat on the couch with your young child propped up on your lap, and you’d lean in and close your eyes and breathe in the aroma of innocence and trust, with your lips pressed against their soft, silky hair.

It’s like the absence of light on a sunny day, it doesn’t make sense, and its always cold, a cold that’s forever there, just under the surface.



There is an image I can’t seem to get out of my mind; I am standing in the snow at the edge of a wood, the trees are as thick as the shadows and the only sound heard, carried on the bitter cold wind swirling around the back of my neck and off and over the tops of the tall, green pines is that of heavy footsteps in the icy snow.

I can see in the distance not too far off a girl, young and pretty, she stands in the open in a blue and white flowered dress. She doesn’t see me, she doesn’t appear to be cold but I can see her sweet breath crystallize and fade away on the breeze. I recognize her, but not as a young girl, instead I have seen her, known her as a woman, one whose lived a life of struggle, of pain and loss and sickness. But in spite of it she always seemed to be surrounded by light that shown in her eyes, it danced wildly there and in a deeper place too that she held safely, gently, as if it were a small tender puppy.

I want to offer her my coat but she doesn’t seem to be cold, she looks back over her shoulder at me as if knowing I want to help her, but with a look as if to say that she was fine, she smiles and her eyes all but disappear behind her cheeks, it’s a huge and bright smile and it made me feel swell.

Then she suddenly turned back towards the woods and from somewhere in the darkness the hefty, crunchy footsteps came louder, closer. I am afraid but she is not, instead she stands firm, tall and proud. In a moment of sudden quiet, an unkindness of ravens rushed from the trees and  flew straight for her, turning at the last instant, she, unfazed and smiling raises her arms in support and celebration of them. She seemed to see the beauty in them as they flock and swarm overhead.

Just then from behind a thickly barked Evergreen the shadow appears in the form of a wolf, its face stern and black, it’s eyes deep and mysterious, its breathe weighty and wafting, it echoes over the field in which the girl stands firmly. My heart skips as the wolf steps out in the direction of her, slowly, methodically. The deep brown, sweaty hair on its shoulders rising and falling as it makes its way to her.

I fear for her, I cry for her, and as the wolf approaches I am confused as she opens her arms in a gesture to suggest her willingness to accept it. The wolf steadily approaches her until it halts just within arm’s reach of her breast. The wolf stands facing her, it’s raspy breath, seems and cold, but she extends her arm and in a slow, gentle manner slides the palm of her small, soft hand along the wolf’s jawline to its chin. Then drops her hand to her side, and something changes, I look at her, she is aged, her skin less soft, her hair thinned and her posture hunched. She glances back at me again over her shoulder and smiles, and her eyes all but disappear behind her cheeks now wrinkled but no less vibrant.

In her eyes I am pulled in and lost, watching a history of her fending off the wolf, she battles whole-heartedly with each attack, sustaining injuries she fights on as she ages all the while smiling as if to say that no matter the wounds, the damage, she wins because she continues to fight and because she appreciates the fight, respects it and trusts it. It becomes her struggle, and though never does she control it she conquers it daily, surviving and living in spite of it, smiling always.

But today seems different; she appears tired, but not beaten. Instead she smiles at the wolf and the wolf lowers its head to her, it seems to respect her. Suddenly she steps to it and together they begin to walk towards the wood, I try and follow them but cannot move, I am not welcome there, not yet.

The two of them walk side by side, companions at rest, reverential partners in the echoes of battle they slowly disappear into the shadows. I fall to my knees and cry, I weep for her and for my loss. When I open my eyes again the moon has risen, and it is quiet but then in the distance, the triumphant call of an owl reverberates among the trees and I know it is her, it is Pennie, she is free from the pain, and she has earned her place away from the fight, she is in the presence of magic, of mystery and ancient knowledge.

Now at night, when I hear the hoot of an owl, I will know it is her, among the animals she loved so much, watching over her puppies, and I imagine her, smiling somewhere beneath the light of the moon, her eyes shining brightly from behind her swollen cheeks.

in remembrance,

Pennie Harrington 1950-2019

An Open Letter to another Father

From one father to another, shame on you Sir. You have abandoned your daughter during a time when she has made what may be one her greatest decisions, one based on love, unencumbered, selfless and undeterred love.

Don’t you know she dreams of you; she thinks of you and wishes she could be held by you.

Her days are spent sharing a life with someone she has fallen deeply in love with, someone whom offers her irrefutable devotion.

She loves this man because he works hard, seeks to be a better person each day than he was the day before and not because he has been bad but because she deserves the best he can offer.

Don’t you know she sought this man out as all little girls do, seeking someone she can trust, someone she respects, someone whom treats her to a world she dreamt of, one where she is greeted each morning with kisses, each night with satisfaction that she has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with?

Are you so wrapped up in your own sense of sadness that your little girl has not followed the path you thought she ought to but instead, has taken her path in her own hands and has become a healthy, successful, woman whose got her sights set on a man whom you have much in common with Sir?

Don’t you know, that some days when he looks into her eyes, that he sees the yearning of a daughter to be called upon by her father to witness her happiness, to celebrate with her what makes her most happy and he sees her heart breaking, everyday that her father refuses to speak to her.

I say again, Sir, shame on you. Is it not our jobs as fathers to see that our little girls grow up happy, that when the day comes she meets that guy, that you are there to hear that she loves him, that he adores her and that she knows, we as their fathers shall always be there for them, that we will always have a spot not just in our hearts but in our homes as well where they can come back to. That we must not abandon them because they didn’t fulfill some ideal we had set in our minds for them, that as women, they have stood up for themselves and taken charge of their lives to become grown, successful, healthy and loved?

Do not let her pass by without reaching out, she needs your love too, she also has fears, questions and apprehensions as we all do. And it’s your job as her father, as her daddy, to send her out with confidence that you will be ok, that you will stand behind her and support her, that you will not close your eyes and punish her for what makes her happy, or shun her because her heart has chosen a different path, but instead celebrate with her before she is gone for good.

The Sidewalk Never Really Ends

It’s not too often these days that I find myself unable to sleep; last week though was a different story. I found myself walking along a boulevard, great big Elm trees lined one side of the walk and cars, oddly silent, drove by on the street on my other side. It seemed to be a nice afternoon with the sun high above the trees and a slight breeze meandering its way through the neighborhood. I could hear birds in the background and there seemed to be no one else around except me, and that’s when I noticed a small, frail hand with delicate little fingers wrapped around mine as I walked. I looked down and saw one of my daughters; she smiled a big crooked smile up at me. Her fat little cheeks glistened in the sun and her long brown hair flowed down around her face and fell over her shoulders like smooth, rich chocolate.

I don’t know where we were going, but I could hear her voice, it was sweet and velvety like pure whole milk. I couldn’t understand what she was saying but I could hear her tone and it was pleasant. As we strolled along she would periodically adjust her grip within mine, nothing feels as safe and warm and wonderful as the delicate grip of a daughter’ hand, when I looked down at her hand again it was a little bit different, her nails were painted, messily and her fingers stuck out from my big hands now. I looked at her again and she’d gotten slightly taller.

In fact the further we walked the taller and older she became, her face changed from a look of wonder and unabated excitement to investigative and yearning. Her voice grew a little deeper and more experienced, her grip a little more relaxed. So I tightened mine just a bit.

We walked on, we laughed, then the sun disappeared and the wind swirled around us and the air grew colder and she looked at me and she was scared, I held her hands and then held her, she cried and I wiped her tears away with my aging fingers. The darkness faded and so we began walking once more, the wind died down and the sun seemed to be closer to the horizon, the light around us was more amber than before and my daughters hand slipped in mine so I held on a little tighter. We talked some more, laughed some more and she grew taller yet, the look on her face now experienced and aware.

I began to get tired suddenly, her pace was now quicker than mine and I had to lengthen mine to keep up with her, she turned and walked backwards for a moment as she looked deep into my eyes and then flipped back around and I grabbed her hand again and held on. There was an air of sadness now in spite of our smiles. There was also a feeling of impending change, I didn’t enjoy the feeling, it scared me and I worried. When I fell behind she stopped an waited for me to catch up and took my hand this time, I tried to hold on even tighter but my grip was failing, suddenly as I tried desperately to move my feet I found myself sort of stuck, she stopped and looked over her shoulder at me, she smiled a huge crooked smile at me and then her brow relaxed and her bottom lip became pursed.

She stepped back to me and took my hands once again, in both of hers, they were soft, and no longer disappeared inside mine. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but she looked a little sad, I felt desperate to understand what was happening as she pulled away. I gripped tightly around her hands, I tried to hold on but she kept pulling, I didn’t get it, why was she still pulling, I tried to tell her that I just can’t hold on and she smiled and her fingers slipped away. She stood for a moment a few feet in front of me and blew me a kiss. Then she turned and waved as she walked on.

I yelled at my feet to move, I struggled like a fish against the current and fought against my own failure to keep her in sight but she turned the corner and I lost her. When I turned to she was gone, I could smell her fragrance but I couldn’t see her. I cried and felt completely lost, I looked behind me but all I could see were places we had been together and it took my breath away. I turned in circles and looked inside my hands but they were empty.

I think Shel Silverstein was wrong, the sidewalk never really ends, and it doesn’t continue for all of us, it just changes. I found myself on an unfamiliar sidewalk now, alone, trying to catch my breath and then suddenly I found myself lying on my back watching the ceiling fan above me. I stumbled out of bed and rinsed my face off and sat on the couch in the dark. I knew when she left for college that I would be sad. She is a grown woman now and she will have many sidewalks to discover on her own, and she needs my hand no longer. There was a time when I thought that walk may never end, and now I wish it hadn’t.

The bitter Taste of Struggle

Why is it that a certain segment of society, and I am not pigeon holing a certain group, sex, race or religion, in fact this segment of society seems to emanate from all aspects of our community, and that said, why do these people insist on transposing their beliefs and ideas onto me? It seems there is always someone whom apparently knows better than I what is appropriate for…well me, what I ought to enjoy more and what I should do with my life. These people exist at my place of employment, at the coffee house I stop at and even within my own family.

The choices I make for myself are based on what I enjoy, what I like or appreciate and what I want out of my life. How can anyone else but me judge whether or not my choices are right for me. If those choices hurt no one, and directly engage no one but those involved in my choices voluntarily, how can those choices not be supported, celebrated or appreciated by the one I love?

But it happens, I make a choice based on my interests and my search for love, I am supported by the one I choose to be with, I am cared for by that person, I am free to express myself freely and openly without judgment, I fear not exposing my ugly sides and my scars and my skeletons for I am celebrated because of exactly who I am, and accepted without boundary for all that makes me, me. And even that said, judgment rears its vile, contemptuous head to go out of its way in order to lecture me, to share with me its disapproval and then go on to punish me when they struggle to understand the decisions and choices I have made, they don’t reach out and ask, inquire as to the motivations that drive my decisions, they don’t seek out insight, but rather seem to have an innate need to project their intolerances upon me. And for those not brave enough to do so, they hide; they disappear, fading away into the shade of the thorny bramble.

So I struggle, with great effort to comprehend the loss, I have gained so much, so much beauty and unrestrained love, freedom to be all of me and spend my days going on great adventures. And I want to share that with those who’ve always seemed to grapple with who I am, to show them how elated I have become but it falls on deaf ears and guarded hearts, why is it so difficult to accept the loss of things that make me sad, to turn away and face the sun and walk from the darkness that tries so hard to envelope me and hold me down under the weight of its condemnatory shadow?



The Figure in the Rain

He looked out over the parking lot through the windshield in his car. All was silent but for the heavy rain drops that pelted the sunroof above his head. He could hear his breathing, shallow, quick, stuttered. He kept trying to count the rain drops as a way of attempting to derail his thoughts, thoughts that took him down a path he knew well but didn’t want to go. In the middle of the lot there was a light, a tall, rusty steel lamp post atop a large round concrete footing. He watched as some guy walked across the lot to the lamp post, he stopped facing the post, and just stood there looking at it, he couldn’t see the guys face, just him from behind as his jacket turned a much darker shade of its natural color as it became saturated from the freezing rain.

He sat in his car watching this person, his windshield wipers squeaked across the glass, leaving a small streak at eye level so he had to hunch to see this figure that just stood there. He couldn’t see his face but he could see plumes of the figures breath waft away and get broken up by the now driving rain. He opened his car window a crack and tried to yell at the person standing there, tried to get his attention to no avail. As he sat there in his warm car he thought, he thought about the woman he loves, about how he can’t have her, how he can’t give her what she wants, how he feels like such an idiot for taking things so far with her, knowing deep down inside there’s no finish line there.

He’s embarrassed and begins to cry. His stomach hurts, his mind seems tortured, his heart aches, imagines himself tearing open his chest just to pull out his heart and throwing it out the car window into the puddle there to keep it from hurting, he imagines watching it as it tries to beat but without a blood supply its color and movement begin to wane and the puddle grows deeper and swallows it. Now he feels nothing, the pain is gone and he is so lonely, in some attempt to reach out and feel he yells out again at the person in the rain. But the person doesn’t seem to hear him.

He got out of his car, looked around the lot, it was cloudy dark, he glanced down at his Bush Nuns which were soaked, half submerged in the puddle next to his still, faded heart. He pulled his collar up close to his chin and walked forward towards this figure in the rain, what would he say to this person, why is this person standing there and what is he or she doing? As he approached the person he began to feel afraid, something was telling him to stop, to turn back but he couldn’t just walk away, what if this person needed help. So he continued, the rain was driving sideways now and his face was dripping and he had to turn his head slightly to keep the rain out of his eyes.

Something about this person was recognizable, he paused just behind them, then spoke softly…”heh are you ok, do you need help, are you lost…did you love her too?” and suddenly the person turned, he knew this person, it was unmistakable, the black framed glasses, the empty look in his eyes staring back at him, all of sudden the rain just stopped, drops hung in the air all around them, there was no other noise but one of them breathing heavily, then abruptly he could hear what sounded like a roaring fire, he couldn’t see anything but the sound was unmistakable, the crackling of burning timber, the low rumble of billowing smoke.

He looked down at his pants and saw they were completely soaked, he was shivering, he could hear his own teeth clattering against themselves, and when he turned round again to see the figure he was gone, and he facing the lamp post, alone, then something from deep inside of him, controlled him and before he realized what had happened he’d flung out his fisted hand and struck the lamp post hard. Pain shot through his hand, travelled up his arm and into his chest, it felt so good, so warm and real. He breathed deeply, closed his eyes and tilted his head back and allowed the rain to fall upon his face, blood dripped from his knuckles onto the flooded pavement and washed away.

He opened his mouth and let out a yell, a carnal, desperate yell, until the water filled his throat and his mouth drowning out his voice, it spilled from the corners of his lips and down over his ears. Then he fell backwards, all the sound came rushing back and when he hit the ground there was no pain, only water, spilling over his entire body, enveloping him as he sank below the surface of the icy water, when he opened his eyes he could see a light above him, maybe the sun, far above him, he floated just under the surface, he remained there for a long time. He felt void of pain, desire, need and hope and he felt naked, free from the binds that usually restrain him, so he opened his mouth again to take a deep breath and found himself choking and gagging as he thrust himself upwards and vomited bath water over the side of his tub. He struggled to breathe as he pulled his body from the tub and onto the tile floor. He lay there as the shower continued to run, water rushing across the bathroom and out underneath the door. He lay exposed, cold, and vulnerable and began to weep.

No Place for Regret

I have seen the dark things that wait in the shadows of the alleys we fear to go into.

I have held in my hand the most delicate of innocence.

I have spent too much time wandering in places where light cannot reach, the empty, frightful places.

And I have breathed in deeply the thinly veiled air of success.

When it is my day to step beyond the horizon, I will look forward to it; I will run to it,

I will not fear that place for it is my destiny, but I will not go with thoughts of regret.

I have lived my life; I have peered at an antediluvian sunrise with its intense, rich colors.

I have stood naked in the rain letting it wash over my body and cleanse my soul.

And I have touched love; I have let it pour through my fingers in abundance, raised it to my face and bathed in it.

I will not go from this world into the next without knowing what it felt like to hurt, to feel hunger, to experience strife and conflict of my very being, to smell the rot of guilt and then be raised by of prideful humbleness of integrity.

I will celebrate all that I am and have been, for had it not happened the way it all did, I would not be me.

I do not desire a statue or a monument, I do not require a plaque to feel accomplished, I yearn only to remain in the hearts of all those I have loved and who’ve loved me. To be shared through an embrace, a cherished hug between friends, a kiss between lovers and in the kind grip of interlaced fingers and the warmth of two hands.

Look at your brothers and sisters, your friends, your parents and your lovers, your grandparents and your neighbors, stare into their eyes and know that love is there, even if they don’t, it is always there. Rejoice in that, accept it, treasure it and value it over all else.