Mostly Me

Frankly it was summer
and hot.
Air wouldn’t move
and fences were blocked
so no one could enter
even if you didn’t
want to go inside.

I did. I wanted to see
what his world had been like,
all hundred or more years of it.
There he was, a stone general
frozen in thought
astride a white mount
blackened by time.

The pressure
weighed upon him,
I am sure of it.
Please the family,
children need bread,
a new nation cannot breathe
without a leader.

Easy enough to live
on a peaceful farm,
ignore the critics
and haters,
ones who shame
into leadership
those who might win.

Oh, cousin, why did
we fight to defend
a way of life
gone for the ages,
too radical
for our time,
but not yours.

Conflict need come
to an end, they say,
no war between us
or remains of vast
valleys full of blood,
soldiers no more,
only crosses on a hill.

You watch from atop
your loyal stead
new soldiers who
never learned history,
nor learned from it,
mistakes made and
lives lost, teach anew.

They do not listen,
nor will they know
that you remain a leader
teaching lessons from your day,
remind them of wrongs
gone by, not wiped away,
remembered for a reason.

Dear cousin, show them
from your Traveler’s perch
so no one will forget,
that our battles
from home to home,
brother to brother
must surely end.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Resurrection 

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

Passing

The invisible line is cast across the river,
across the canyon, or the ages, obstacles
that find us as we travel dusty roads, always
searching, forever unsure. Pleasure in
windblown branches hobbled against the slant
of a craggy mountain, predicted to lose,
yet they blossom, somehow gaining strength
from light and the occasional storm.

Rain is approaching current location
and is expected within thirty minutes.

The line reaches out, centuries compelled
to forge a lineage unbroken. The invisible line.
Our heritage. We cannot see them, nor they us.
Mere black and white images painted by the
hand of a craftsman or a Brownie Instamatic.
They smile or laugh, more often
furrow brows within the frames of their lives.
History recorded in a frown, perhaps too serious
the thought of the invisible line.

Rain is falling now.

The burden remains. Casting the line is all
too frightening, creates a link in a chain that
cannot be undone. Populate. Procreate. Pass.
The cycle begs for renewal. And so we perform.
In our innocence and duty, the people perform,
create the invisible line that stretches from
one generation to another. The line sends all
our oneness to the next and the next,
on down the line.

The wind blows harder.

Never an end of the line, just a passing
of the wonderment of life, love, creation,
knowledge, laughter, responsibility, inspiration,
thoughtfulness, caring, tolerance, joy, simplicity.
Never an end. Always a new beginning.
The invisible line is not broken, merely
reflected in the crystal blue eyes of a child,
the exploration of a scientific discovery,
the digital painting of a sorrowful face.

Black clouds ahead.

Cast your line. An ocean awaits. Sandy shores
reside amongst the clouds, no matter their color
or shape. The line must be cast. Too late for
indecision. Stretch out your heart to the next
in line. Leave your trace of glory to be retold
in story after story. The blessed line.
Follow it and find the softest space in Heaven,
find those who climbed in before you.

Rain clearing by tomorrow morning.

–Victoria Emmons, May 2017


for Uncle Jim

Benched

Resting on a makeshift
bench, stair steps to a porch
where imagination thrives.

In bounds. Our court, a driveway
whose lines dictate where
we can dribble, run and play.

Out of bounds. I teach you
the difference so you’ll know.

Too small to reach the hoop now,
some day you’ll make it look easy.

Tall and strong, smart and strategic
you are, my lad.

Bounce the ball to your teammate.
Keep defenders at bay. Run.
Breathe. Rest. Do it again.

Our basketball rolls into the snow,
wet, muddy and needing new air.
We play anyway in our
imaginary March Madness.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Dedication: This one is for you, Alex.

Circus Dog

Jump, bark, challenge 
My authority
As you enter my life and 
Try to take over

Just a dog from the 
Animal shelter 
With no place to call home
Much like me

No place to call home
Drifting everywhere 
No roots to plant
Or debts to repay

Only the circus
Accepts us 
who are different, strange
And demand rights

Yet there you stood
Begging for adoption
When everything was against us
Twilight seemed dim 

You worked out okay
Me, too, since night was day
And you wanted to rule
But you learned

So why not stay 
Circus Dog
Stay until dawn and play
With the befuddled cat

I did not know you
Would appear so sweet 
Cocking your head to one side
To draw me in, to love you

And that I did, so you won 
The game we play
Each night as you demand 
I throw your toy for a fake pursuit

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

Lost and Found

Remember the day, the moment, the loss
Perplexing, annoyed, forlorn and cross

Locked out of life, transportation and gold
Keys to the world have clearly been sold

All that I cherish resides on a ring
That circle gives access to everything

Late summer drew nigh, I prepared to depart
Thirty years of a place that won over my heart

How could I misplace so important a treasure
In the chaos of packing and farewell pleasure

My search through trash cans high and low
Revealed nothing but remnants of junk let go

Pause for a moment to think and review
Each step I had taken the previous two

Days of forgetfulness and check-off notes
Hundreds of details to fill up my totes

No wonder my key ring was missing in action
When months of planning had been a faction

I needed those keys to my house, to my car
Without them I would never go very far

Keys to my storage unit, keys to my bank
Keys to a life that seemed suddenly dank

Lost forever they were, I began to assess
My options for moving ahead with this mess

Costly new car keys, remote control, too
LoJack to replace, so much to do

Buy a new storage lock, notify the teller
Make sure car keys are there for the seller

Thank heaven for duplicate keys all around
Searching my house for where they might be found

Three hundred more dollars to replace a car key
Seems way more than needed for befuddled old me

But cost me it did in both money and grief
As I abandoned my thoughts of a mischievous thief

Surely I was the culprit of this mystery distraction
Own up to my faults and egregious reaction

I set about fixing the damage I had done
Finding or buying keys one by one

Eighteen months passed by, a thousand lifetimes ago
Lost keys were forgotten in favor of snow

Then holidays arrived, an invitation to stay
At the home of my daughter not too far away

I leaped at the chance to wake up Christmas Day
So near to grandchildren who giggle and play

My bag packed in seconds, my car filled with toys
I tackled snowdrifts to join sweet girls and boys

When morning arrived, little footsteps awakened me
As grandchildren stood in awe of the Christmas tree

Quickly washed my face, brushed my hair and teeth
Grabbed my turquoise robe and shoes to warm my feet

Reached top of the stairs, eager to join family crew
Hands dropped into my pockets to hear a jingle or two

Fate intervened, my old robe revealed a prize
A metal circle of keys that belied my eyes

Lost …. then finally found myself, if I may
Puzzle solved at last on this Christmas Day

–Victoria Emmons, © img_07202016

Measuring Love

Fat, white flakes cover rooftops, fence lines
Rain upon sidewalks and parked cars
Plant themselves in mountains of cloud-like splendor
Snow painting a merry Christmas Day

Bright sky at midnight, enough reflection to guide Santa
And his reindeer to our home where children sleep
As grandmother lies eyes open and in wait
For laughter and expectation to fill the morning light

Check the empty plate for cookie crumbs
And leftover drops of milk, evidence of parental love
While children confirm today is the day, finally
Yes, dear Alex, Christmas has arrived

Presents bear his name, a word he can spell at three
His sister’s name, too, three letters he reads aloud
On a tag that hangs from a golden package
Wrapped with silver twine and sparkly stars

Help Zoe open her gifts, dear boy, you know how
She yet too young to rip paper and bows
He willing and eager to obey
Tears into each gift for baby sister

Delve into the unknown, discover what resides inside a box
Find out what hides within a heart, a soul
My decision to move, leave all that is known
Leave behind a life, a friend, a sunny world

The real gift is me, dear children, nearby you now
Far from the warmth of a California coastline
To the land of slips on the ice, long winters
Snow button in my car, four-wheel drive

The day after gifts revealed, wrapping paper gone
Two feet of snow to shovel from my deck
Under a clear, pink Boxing Day sky
Measuring love in twenty-four inches

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

Buzz

A familiar buzz creates the strange backdrop of my kitchen, and my world. The sound of distress is repeated often in my head, but now it lives. I cannot locate the source. It continues to fill the cool air of an October morning. Where is he? I heard him in pain, buzzing so loudly that I must listen. He wants my attention as he cries for help.

I wait. I must be dreaming, my head repeats. He is gone. He no longer lives on this Earth. But then again, I want to think otherwise. I want to believe the signs that he flew my way six years past. The flutter of his wings upon my cheek. His flight was soft and gentle, aiming for me, for my face. Certain it was he, I broke into laughter. No disrespect, my love, but your wings tickled my nose. Made me smile. I knew it was you, free from pain.

So why now? Why this distress call to me? I look in every room as the sound grows in voice. That buzz remains. I cannot find you. Searching every fold of the house in which I call my home, but not really home since you are not here. Or are you? They tell me I am mad. La Femme Folle. But ’tis only folly, I know. I believe you, mon cher ami. Mon amant, mon amour. I believe you.

And there you are. Upside down, with your tiny wiggling legs. There you are wedged between the bends of a blue kitchen towel. You buzz with vigor, waiting to be freed. Who said a fly should be let free? You chose to be there, mon ami. You wanted to fly, so I let you free. Fly away now, safe to the outside air. Come alive. Don’t die. Keep flying. I love you.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Letters

First placed in a dresser drawer
Migrated to a shoebox
Burgeoned to a steamer trunk
Hidden away in a space in the wall
Letters kept safe over 50 years
Uncovered in a renovation

Home owners open them one by one
The story of two lovers unfolding on paper
Over time, through wars, marriage
And children born and died, the letters
Filled with life and hidden passion
Secrets that only lovers share

Those who discover the musings
Seek to find the children, now grown,
With no inkling of correspondence
Between mother and father, letters
Revealing struggles, patience, deep love
And devotion one to the other

Email is not wrapped in purple ribbon
Nor kept in a dresser drawer, perhaps
An iCloud drawer to be savored later
Or uncovered like Ashley Madison clients,
Not quite the same as thin Air Mail paper
With the familiar red, white and blue logo

The Box

Thirty years
More or less
Tumble away
In an instant

Tiny red sneakers
“Left” written
On one toe
“Right” the other

White tee-shirt
Snaps at the shoulder
Easier to slip
Over a wiggly head

Matching series of
Exercise books
A backwards five
Plus a rounded six

Smiley faces on
Stick bodies stand
In a crayon land of
Perpetual rainbows

Pink, smocked dress
Hand-stitched
Seldom worn
Still like new

Stuffed kangaroo
Carries joey
In her pocket
Warm and safe

Red corduroy
Slightly faded
Suits a small jacket
Quite stylish

Tap dance costume
With twirling skirt
Missing one blue
Sequined arm band

Four letters glued
On a volleyball shirt
Spell champion
For that year

Note cards with
College logo
Embossed on fine
Paper stock

Four corners of a hat
Frame a black square
Upon which a tassel
Crowns success

My Little Ponies
In a zip-locked tomb
Emerge to neigh with
The next generation

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015