Otherverse

Occasionally I write poems that don’t fit neatly into the Angliverse mold because they focus not on theological matters but on the frail experience of being human, as expressed in iambic pentameter or rhyme, or both.

Stopping for Scuppernongs:
A Tribute to My Father on Father’s Day

Every summer, sometimes once a week,
Late in the afternoon, we chased the Mississippi sun
As we came flying down the road to Memphis,
Returning from the cherished past,
Filled as it was with fresh-baked pies
And cakes (but not until you eat your vegetables),
With chicken, ham, and roast (and sometimes squirrel),
But most of all with faces from my mother’s youth.
Our visit ended, Daddy gathered us into the car.
The gentle motion put us fast asleep soon after Tupelo.
Then suddenly the car would slow and veer and leave the road
Because our Daddy’s watchful eye
Spied berries sweet or scuppernongs,
Ripe for the picking. So he would have us take
The sweet wild fruit that would have gone to waste
Had we not rescued it for cobblers and jams.
Thus teaching us to work for what we ate
While giving us a taste of simpler days gone by.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The Grief of Rain

There’s the black umbrella that I clutched
As I stumbled through hospital doors.
The price it paid for serving as my shield
Was to be dropped into a plastic bag
“To keep floors dry and safe.”
Still there, it lies in remnant drops of rain,
The rain that fell the night they said you died.
They said it, and I must accept, I know.
But how could rain survive for three more days
Past that dread moment when you closed your eyes
And slipped so silently into the sky?
The cruel wall of rain that fell that night
Prevented me from reaching you in time
To say goodbye. And raindrops taunt me still.

Copyright © 2013 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Note: This was not inspired by a specific loss in my life but rather on a near loss that didn’t happen (thanks be to God). As I pondered that night on other losses in my life, all the events merged together in this reflection on new grief, which often inspires illogical thoughts as we try to process the horror of loss.


Dandelion

Once we were lion teeth
Circled tightly on a sturdy stem,
Fearing neither heat of sun
Or ravages of rain and storm.
But sun and rain and time
And gentle Providence
Changed teeth to airships,
Stem to launching pad.
Now I hold my breath,
Dreading every breeze.

Copyright © 2014 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Note: Any parent knows that we spend the early days longing for a few moments to ourselves, and then before we know it, we watch our precious ones drift away from the home one by one. The metaphor of the dandelion (literally, “lion’s tooth) seemed perfect, especially since my daughter was quite fond of the bright yellow flowers and sometimes cried when they were cut during lawn mowing.


 

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