I Believe

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Photo: Charlie Hammond on Unsplash

 

I believe the magic

That is people,

And the unremitting wonder

That is found

Undaunted

In their hearts.

I believe the small,

Persistent,

Staunch soul rumble

That continues

Shaken but unfailing

To grow

Through the hardship,

Making handholds of the worry

All the while.

 

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: magic

 

 

Not Welcome Here

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Photo: Franck V. on Unsplash

 

You are not welcome

Here,

With your

Contaminated fear.

You are not welcome

Here,

With words that hurt

And terms that mean to harm, divert,

Self-aggrandize, and

Smear.

There is a bigger risk

In hate

Than in keeping

Near.

You are not welcome

Here,

If you weaponize worry

To steer

Away from empathy,

Away from truth,

Away from the real challenges we share

As we ride great distances

On this one

Sphere.

Call this by its name.

Not by the rhetoric

Of racist,

Misinforming

Jeer.

Address it not in

Murky swamps

That deliberately

Throw mud into the

Gears.

Humanity is better

Than your insatiable need

To infect the

Atmosphere.

We’re on to you.

We see.

We hear.

We will hold steady to what

Matters.

We support the hardworking, factual and

Compassionately

Sincere.

But you?

You are not welcome

Here.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Welcome

 

 

A Hole In The Sky

dusk SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“There’s a hole in the sky,” the child’s voice rose then hushed in part-fear, part-wonder.

“Indeed there is,” his father nodded.

The boy flicked his eyes away from the luminescent heavens just long enough to discern that his father wasn’t joking. He’d half-hoped his father would be, and his chest flooded with something like alarm when it did not seem that he was. What does it mean to have a rent in the ceiling of the universe? Would something fall through it? Would the world cave in like a shattered egg?

“Will it repair?” His voice was small.

The man put down the kindling he’d been arranging in preparation the evening’s fire. He straightened to a stand and leaned a heavy hand on the narrow shoulders of his son. Bird-like, the boy was. Fluttery and slight.

His youngest had always been a bit prone to the dramatic. The first to pick up on a change in atmosphere, the first to be reduced to tears, the first to wail at even the smallest prickling. Also the first to smile a welcome, the first to notice a green leaf peeking out of the frozen ground, the first to note the song of birds or a task well done.

He worried about such a skinless child, walking a life that did not always refrain from brushing far too crassly against tenderness. There were plenty of those who had repeatedly pressed him to be firmer with the youngster. To “toughen up the boy into a man” or “teach him how to grow a thicker skin.”

“How would I change the stripes upon a tiger?” he’d find himself replying. “Can I will a doe to become a lion?”

He could not bring himself to pain the boy as means to scar him into roughness. The child was made to be whomever he was made to be, and all a father could do was try to shepherd him toward maturity. Such as when taking the boy on this father-son hunting journey.

He squeezed his son’s shoulder and the boy raised a frightened face to meet his eyes.

“The sky will repair, Son,” he said, “though it may not go back to what it was before. For nothing can. It will move on — from day to night to cold to warmth to wind to storm. It will tear holes in clouds for sun to stream through. It will shred them to no shade. It will sew the threads together to again cover the sun. It is all as it is and all as it should become.”

The boy nodded. He swallowed down the tears that threatened, and tried to still the tremulous vibration of the world inside his mind.

“Now, as the sky does what it can,” the man handed his son a water-skin. “Let us do what we must. If you will fetch water, I will light the fire in tonight’s hearth.”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

Waterfall

torrent SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

The weather was perfect. The hike had been pleasant. They stopped for a picnic on the bank of the stream as it rushed toward the waterfall. The normally bubbling brook was swollen with recent rains. The white water speeding down the creek and tumbling over the edge was energizing. The sun felt delicious on their faces. The flowering fields were glorious in early spring.

Other families were enjoying the day, too. Most stayed above the waterfalls. Any intrepid hikers who navigated down the steep slope to view the falls from the bottom were met with signs that warned against entering the water. The rocky pool was filled with unseen boulders, not to mention freezing cold with winter flow and melt.

Suddenly, the calm at the top of the falls was interrupted by a cry. A child of about ten years slipped on the bank above the falls. The wet surface, still damp from earlier rains, allowed no traction, and the child slid into the water. The strong flow quickly grabbed hold of her and she was swept toward the 45-foot drop. The girl’s mother screamed. The father tried to grab hold of his daughter but ended up helplessly in the water, too. Another man attempted to help, only to himself be lassoed by the water. The child’s mother and siblings, the Good Samaritan’s wife, and the picnickers watched in helpless horror as all three were swept by the white water and tumbled over the edge, quite possibly to their deaths.

The eldest son of the picnicking family ran down the trail along with a few others, hoping to assist survivors (or at least retrieve bodies so they not be carried further downstream and through additional cataracts). Rescue services were called. People rushed to the head of the falls to try and look down, afraid of seeing the worst.

Miraculously, all three survived the fall. The father and daughter managed to swim to the edge of the pool. The man who’d tried to help had made it through, as well. Both men were wounded. One with a broken nose. The other with an injured hand and lungs. The little girl was shaken, shaking, and freezing, but otherwise unharmed. With the help of others, all three were able to get up the trail back to the top of the falls, where they were reunited with their terrified families.

While recuse was coordinated, the girls of the picnicking family took off their sweaters, jackets, and socks and bundled the freezing little girl, who was drenched to the bone and had lost her shoes in the water, into layers of dry clothing.

It became evident that rescue personnel would need to hike the two miles in, so it was decided to try to walk out toward the paramedics. Slowly, with people assisting the wounded and carrying everyone’s belongings, the convoy of children and adults trudged along the trail, all stunned by what they had just experienced and/or witnessed. When help arrived, the child’s father was carried by stretcher the rest of the way and then all three evacuated in a waiting ambulance.

“I’m still processing this,” a witness shared later that day. “These moments while they were being carried toward and then fell over the waterfall … a mere few yards to our left … and us seeing it all happen … This could have been such a tragedy for the families and an awful trauma for all of us … It is amazing that this is how it ended.”

“How to process what I saw?” another witness wrote. “I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, that the picture I’d taken of the happy family twenty minutes before all this occurred, could have been the last photo of their complete family … I saw near-death, fear, terror, anguish, redemption, joy, awe, and lots and lots of love. I saw people who came together, oblivious of background, because we are all part of the human race and we all value life and our families … and at the end of the day want to live together in peace and harmony and make this world a better place for our children. I saw people reach out and help one another, and think only of the other, not themselves.”

 

§§§§

 

Note: When I saw Sue’s photo prompt, I knew that this one was not going to be fiction. Not when the photo she chose is so uncannily reminding of the very waterfall where the child had slipped earlier this week. Yes, the story above is true. My sister’s family was the “picnicking family” mentioned above, my nephew had ran down the trail to help, my sister and nieces had helped dry and bundle the child in their clothes. In the photo below, you can see the falls. They’d been picnicking mere steps from where the people in the photo are standing. How all three survived not just the dangerous tumble, but the sharp rocks at the bottom of the falls is still a marvel. Whew. Here’s to humanity first. To teaching children how to swim. And to miracles.

Waterfall A Levenberg

Waterfall A.L.

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo Challenge

 

 

Allegiance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They called her Allegiance.

Contract and insurance, she was. Revered and guarded, both.

So well revered and so well guarded, in fact, that with time she became almost forgotten and had turned more a symbol than a soul. She sometimes wondered if she was in that way not too dissimilar to many of her kind through time, even if they had been so for far shorter spans.

Women often were made ornamental. Used as symbolic pawns, utilized as cementers of allegiances, then blamed for those that broke.

It helped her feel less lonely, knowing that even in her immortal isolation she was still in some way a member of a community of others who’d been perched into positions, as she was, without much of a choice. Possessions and producers, keepers of the continuity of power, serfdom and thrones.

They called her Allegiance.

And she sat in her fortified tower, aware of the two rows of guards: One row looking out against any who may get it in their minds to sabotage, the other row looking in against any indication that she may get it in hers to leave.

They needn’t have worried. At least not about her.

There was enough of misery without adding heads to spikes in any kind of rebellion, where those most likely to be harmed were those least likely to have been given part in the decision.

She accepted her place. A figurehead to keep the heads of others firmly on their shoulders and their children’s hearts safer from the sorrows of orphanage and war.

So she stayed.

As centuries passed, those who’d placed her there took less care with guarding her and the promises she’d represented. The tower crumbled. The guards played cards and drank and slept and grew lazy, and she took comfort in knowing that at least this meant they weren’t in battle. Even if she shivered, windowless, her walls crumbling all around.

Perhaps, she thought, as winds whistled and the stories of her had become lore printed onto metal plaques for tourists to ignore, it was all as it should be.

Perhaps one day there will not be a need.

Perhaps one day allegiances will be built-in, rather than built-up and set with guarded fences that time and lassitude and apathy were certain to erode.

Till then, Allegiance waited.

For the moment, the ruins of her tower stood.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

In The Years

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Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

In the years full of sorrows

They held on to the

Joys,

From the years when the

Smiles were more frequent than

Oys.

 

In the years where

Frustration

Overtook hope or

Peace,

They held on to conviction

That life can evil

Resist.

 

In the years where the wrong

Bloomed in hate

Unconcealed,

They held on to the truth,

So harm may be

Revealed.

 

In the years where they saw

Order crumble,

 Laws evade,

They held on and remembered:

Hope finds way,

Light’s ahead.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: year

 

 

The Great Loss

 

“Did Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?”

“He did.”

“What made it great, Mama?”

She sighed. This place’s heaviness only settled thicker during the holidays. She’d come every year on Christmas as a child. Too infrequently since. The ocean’s breeze whipped hair into the boy’s eyes and she tucked a lock behind his ear. He so reminded her of herself.

“Grandma Rose said it was because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.”

“A lot of Christmas angels, Mama?”

“Perhaps so.”

“I think Great-Grandpa is one, though.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all who are missing loved ones during the holidays, to all who are no longer with us for they’d given their lives (or parts of their souls) for others, in search of peace, in hope of no more war or hate or greed. May we do better, as a species. Let there be true peace on Earth.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(Thank you Sandra Cook for the evocative photo prompt!)

 

 

On Hands

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Photo: Cristian Newman on Unsplash

 

To hug or to press

To hold and caress

To dismiss and impress,

To allow or forbid

To prevent or insist

To farewell and to greet,

To disrupt or respect

To allow or reject

To indulge or inspect,

To stop or invite

To instruct and ignite

To appease or incite,

To disarm and to heal

To pray and reveal:

Hands speak truth

Or conceal.

 

 

Inspired in part by Steve McMurry’s: Silent Language of Hands

 

The Blues

TheBlues NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Stand up

To the dimming of

The light

By cruel

Injustice.

Be the lone voice

If you

Must.

Hold tall

Against the winds

That wish to

Break right

Into wrong

And form

Wrong

Into common practice.

Behold the skies

In blues

And clouded

Sorrow,

Even as you keep

Fighting for

Better today

And a just

Tomorrow.

 

 

 

For July Blues

 

 

Up in Shame

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Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

When the world hollows out

And the sun cooks up blame,

Don’t forget there were times

When we’d known

The con-game,

And yet chose –

To our shame –

Truth’s very core to

Maim.

 

We allowed

A shell-game

To carve the Earth

Up

In flames.

 

 

For dVerse Quadrille Monday: Up