I feel the warmth of your arms surround me
as years wash away, a long moment of grief
expressed in a hug too tight for a child,
a man without a father.

History powerful enough to tear down
walls of time belies reason.
A sepia photograph reminds of
bygone youth, shared play,
picnics at the zoo. 

Sadness and joy clash on this day,
memories well up in your eyes and mine.
Tales to tell, remembrances, laughter and love.
Shrimp, crayfish and oysters
on the table before us.

Thundering rain upon heavy limbs
laden with green resurrection ferns.
A damp night of conversation and thoughtful
stories, but no campfire.

Spring awaits summer, hot and sticky,
sweat follows the length of your temples,
beads on your forehead.
Love beats in your heart.
Family swells in your mind.

A homecoming of sorts, we gather to mourn,
remark the change in lines on our faces,
spill our absent lives into one another’s.
Four score years should not pass
before shared warmth.

Believing the other will always exist,
somewhere in the annals of our history,
part of the natural order of our universe,
a comfort zone to our souls,
does not make it so.

Create a pact, dear ones.
Share more of life in
years to come.
Let’s not wait for
the next family funeral.

—Victoria Emmons, May 2017

For cousins

Saint Tropez

Et puis un jour 
Mon cher ami 
Je serai vieille 
Et toi aussi 

Faisons l’amour 
Sous les étoiles 
Encore une fois 
Entouré par les voiles 

Parlons de nous 
Sans peur de larmes 
Mon beau visage 
Sous ton charme 

Tu m’as fait rire 
Tu te rappelles
Tu avais dansé 
Me tenant dans tes bras 

Je me rappelle 
Quand on dansait 
Dans la nuit sombre 
A Saint Tropez 

Tu m’as fait 
Me larmoyer 
Pour voir la mer 
En colère 

Mais nous chantions 
Comme toujours ensemble
Jamais en solitaire 
Nos coeurs tout proches

Merveilleux amant 
L’un à l’autre 
Le désir est nôtre

Et ce jour-là 
Mon cher ami 
Je serai vieille 
Et toi aussi 

–Victoria Emmons © 2014


How much is enough
To show her you care
How many times
must you weep

How much is enough
For a father to say
He loves his child
More than life itself

How much is enough
For a daughter to hear
That her papa is grieving
Her loss from his world

How much is enough
To tell her you love her
And kiss her brow
As tears wet her cheek

How much is enough
To say you regret
The pain and the prison
That one moment caused

How much is enough
For peace to restore
And pride to erase
The memory of a face

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014

The Legacy of the Sisters

Be that as it may
They came
With no warning
Just like the cancer

They raked
They cooked
They sat with him
In his loneliness

They laughed
At TV game shows
Puzzled through
NY Times crosswords

They worried
They fretted
They gave their time
And their love

And they brought
The small, white
Plastic trash bags
For the remains

Neatly lining
All five of the
Small, round cans
In the bedroom

They dutifully
Emptied each bag
Once a day
Of its toxic contents

Their legacy
Of love…
And then they
Said goodbye

-Victoria Emmons, © 2011

Cross Country


Race to find
Lost champions
Displaced colleagues
Beloved coaches

Forlorn friends
From an era gone by
Ring the sound
Of glory for the team

Ring the sound
Of glory to learn
The prize is not
The ring at all

The prize is you, my friend
The friend who loves you
Who cheers the champion
And finds the colleagues

Mourns the era gone by
Melts away 50 years
Holds the class as one
Even across country

–Victoria Emmons, 2014

(Inspired by the Robert E. Lee High School Class of 1968 whose track team won the State Cross Country Championship, never got the recognition it deserved until 2014 when a reunion was organized by fellow classmates and a champion ring was given to each member of the team.)