Weeping Redbud

Weep not for me, sweet redbud tree,
Thy leaves will take no chances
Each heart resides most playfully
Upon thy silken branches

Dangling in the wind they sing
Hearts ready for damnation
Search for love against the wind
And hope for procreation

Young ones be the shiniest
Deep ruby red reaction
Thus what creature dare resist
So lovely an attraction

Seeds strewn about with local help
Assures that love will grow
New heart-shaped leaves thus soon to sprout
Come melting winter snow

Wouldst that my own heart sing so loud
And dance to its own tune
While suitors called upon my door
In light of harvest moon

These ruby lips await the kiss
That stirs my dormant soul
Much as the weeping redbud waits
‘Til she achieves her goal

Be patient, she advises me,
Love grows at its own pace
The kindest words, a gentle touch
That make a red heart race

When redbud leaves remain too long
Their red begins to fade
In favor of a dulling green
That hides beneath the shade

Younger leaves retake the stage
Flash colors in the sun
As older ones accept their place
Their usefulness now done

Yet hidden behind a shady branch
Old lovers rekindle a flame
Dull green, a few new dents perhaps,
Still loving all the same

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

While visiting friends in North Carolina, I discovered a Weeping Redbud tree in the yard. The tree’s red, perfectly heart-shaped leaves fascinated me. Then I noticed the older leaves were solid green, having lost their brilliant, red color. It reminded me of the joy of finding love.

Hope

Found in more than a thousand places
Hope takes on so many faces.

Will I pass my science test?
Does my father think I’m best?

Will this baby stay alive to
Live nine months and always thrive?

Will the judge be kind to me
Even I when I try to flee?

Will this flower bloom in red
Or only bloom inside my head?

Will I find sweet Allie dog
Lost today amidst the fog?

Will I finish this long race
And, win or lose, accept my place?

Will my love be always there
Even when I need his care?

Will Mom live another day
To smile with me, to laugh and play?

I hope for this, I hope for that
I hope I look good in this new hat.

Hope takes on another face
Hope I keep up this grueling pace.

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

Sometimes a Light

Passes through
The morning haze
Signals dawn
About to emerge
In tandem with
Faith and courage

A light so bright
That eyes close
Thoughts reveal
A stillness
A kind of wonder
About life

Sometimes a heart
Peers through a door
Hopes for tomorrow
And breathes anew
As solace for tears
Left behind

A heart so strong
Overwhelming joy
Random love
Kindness filled
To the brim
With tragedy

Sometimes at dusk
Night escapes
Our grasp and
Forfeits sleep in
Favor of dreamy
Peaceful endings

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

The Sting

of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the innocent
cheek, all
glowing and pink.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the lips,
the sensuous
lips, so
worthy and free.

The wrath
of the world
as it crushes
the head,
the pulsating
head, once
brilliant, now dead.

The sound
of the crowd
as it mimics
the man,
the jabbering
man, once
noble and proud.

The hush
of the wind
as it drifts through
the hair,
the beautiful
hair, all
silky and clean.

The joy
of the girl
as she opens
the lock,
the garden
unlocked, now
sodden and flush.

The birth
of the bud
as it carries
the sting,
the heart-wrenching
sting, all
hidden and fine.

The cry
of the babe
as he wants her
to stay,
the boy not
at play, so
tearful and pained.

The sting
of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the hardening
cheek, all
knowing and deep.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the heart,
the withering
heart, no
longer a part.

— Victoria Emmons ©2013

White Horse

Rescue me, mon ami,
from the debris of life
save me from the
threads that weave
my heart to yours

I need saving now and then
my head is tired and
my body aches for you
to save me some day
on your white horse

I’m not your Fairy Godmother
flying in and out of your life
to save you from yourself
I carry no magic wand
to make it all better

I can only offer one gift
my eternal love for you
wretched soul that you are
so rescue me, mon amour,
save me from myself

–by 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

Scream

A tiny scream
Inside my head
Awakens me
From my bed

What thought say I
To none but me
What woes are there
Or dreams to be

What lies within
My gentle skin
What thoughts persist
When light begins

And thus is born
A year of pain
Of restless nights
Am I insane

–Victoria Emmons, © 2012

Sole Survivor

I am the sole guest
At my dinner table
No one to please
Save my own palate

The hour is late
As work takes over
On this holiday week
With no one to share

A Roomful of Blues
Plays Solid Jam
Awakening my soul
Soul of another kind

I scour cookbooks
For fresh recipes
Savor Gouda and gherkins
With a vodka chase

My kitchen dance begins
10 o’clock piano jazz
And smooth lyrics
To hide my fears

Let me love you, baby
He repeats throughout
A tune that will fade
As love fades, too, after a while

Butter sizzles in the pan
Hot pools of taste
Wait for the main dish
Washed and patted dry

Flour encases the fillets
Protects them from harm
Wish it were so easy
To protect me, too

Wrapped in flour
Browned and moist
Seasoned well over time
Sole Meunière survives

–Victoria Emmons,  Copyright 2014

Monday Night Promise

The doorbell never rings
As expected this Monday night
The steak is never grilled
Nor the wine poured

Baked potatoes are hot
Ready to devour with butter
And peas with lemon juice
Without the special guest

Anticipation nonetheless
Expectation and longing
Planning for days and
Preparation complete

Dress is selected
Pressed at the seams
Lipstick in place
Bouquet in a vase

The wait is endless
Count seconds on the clock
A Monday night promise
Tuesday morning tears

Coyote Morning

A defiant coyote tested me one morning. Just like that coyote I remember from the cartoons my father used to read us when I was a kid. The cartoonist portrayed his coyote as the dumb one forever missing his prey. That invented coyote lived in the desert and he was very persistent. He was relentless in his pursuit of a hard-won meal. But he chased a very smart cartoon roadrunner.

What I learned from the cartoon coyote was to never give up. No matter how hard the goal, no matter how many obstacles, never give up hope. So on this one morning I was also persistent.

I trust my dog Allie explicitly. She is very selective about voicing her opinion. Once when she would not stop barking, it was because a rattlesnake was curled up in her doghouse. We had to call the animal control people to capture and remove the huge snake. So when Allie alerts me to something amiss, I pay attention.

She had given me some advance warning. The night before, she pawed at the door to be let out, whining and impatient. As I opened the sliding glass, she darted out and immediately began to bark at the darkness beyond the fence enclosing my backyard. She leaped up anxiously to the flowerbeds and stared through the wire as she continued her menacing noise.

Allie has never had much of an accent, just pure dog, a joyful blend of Yellow Lab and Boxer. Her sound is not quite as deep as her stepsister Birdie, a mix of Border Collie and Airedale Terrier, whose voice will put the fear into any creature — canine, feline or homo sapiens. Allie appeared fretful that night. She wanted to conquer whatever was lurking beyond my view. I called her back inside and the rest of the evening was quiet.

The next morning, I went downstairs to let the dogs out for their usual morning stroll around the yard, sniffing at bushes and relieving themselves. I prepared their breakfast.

At 15 years old, Birdie gets three pain pills daily to manage her advancing arthritis. She has figured out that the tasty pill pockets I bought are designed to hide the sour tasting medicine, so I have resorted to peanut butter as a mask for getting her to swallow the painkillers. She licks the spoon eagerly and the nasty pills along with the gooey peanut butter. Once all medicines have been administered, the dogs follow closely to my heels as I carry bowls filled with rations of kibbles. Their mouths salivate and barely allow me enough time to place their breakfast on the deck before they devour the food.

After feeding the dogs, I returned indoors and went upstairs to get ready for work. Then the barking started again. Annoyed at the interruption, I walked into the guest bedroom so I could get a better view of the backyard and the reason for the barking. An out-of-focus creature was standing in the field just beyond the back fence. I had my suspicions, but I wasn’t wearing my contacts. I raced back to my bedroom, grabbed my glasses, and returned to the guest-room window. There he was, now clear as could be. The coyote.

Allie and Birdie were both barking in unison at this point, hugging the fence as closely as they could get to their wild canine brethren. Still in my nightgown, I ran downstairs to see how I could affect the outcome of this early morning encounter.

The visitor was nonchalant. His brown coat nearly blended in with the summer grasses that cover our California hillsides. We are in a drought and animals seek water wherever they can find it. I am usually happy to share whatever I have with the wildlife that live around my house, but a coyote could kill one of my cats. They are to be feared.

I puffed myself up like a cat protecting its territory, trying to be as ferocious as possible.

“Shoo!” I said to the coyote, raising my arms in an attempt to frighten him.

He lifted his head from whatever he had been licking on the ground and stared at me intently. For a moment, our eyes were locked. He returned to his feast.

“Shoo! Shoo!” I tried a second time.

Ever feel like you are in a cartoon? That moment, I could have drawn a wonderful picture of coyote versus human and dogs. Coyote (1) and Human/Dogs (0).

The coyote clearly had the upper hand. He somehow knew that a tall fence separated him from the barking dogs and me. He was in his safe territory and we were in ours. So what was the big deal?

I searched around the yard for a rock or something else I could throw at him, but without success. Allie’s tennis ball was nowhere to be found. I would have easily sacrificed that. My next idea was water.

I set the hose to jet mode and aimed it over the fence in the direction of the coyote. I knew the water would not reach him, but it would be close enough and perhaps convince him to safely depart the neighborhood. The water flowed like rain into the dry grass, a mist of comfort, no doubt, to an animal seeking sustenance. He stood in the mist for a moment, relishing the rain. And then he turned and ran, but only a few feet before he stopped to look at me again.

We stared at one another. Two wild animals, loners from the pack, each of us just trying to survive.

My dogs continued their incessant barking, uneasy with this foreigner in their midst. The coyote was brave. He was defiant. He took risks.

Eventually the animal trotted off across the meadow and into the safety of the woods. I hope he returns some day.