The Right Time

It’s not always dark at night.

But sometimes the transition between day and night is unmistakable.

The day may fade into ho-hum waves of gray-blue, but—just as one is tempted to look away–the horizon can blaze back in a band of coral and lavender before settling in for the night.  Or a city might surprise us by bathing a building or bridge in startling new colors.

And sometimes nightfall brings not a lingering, shimmering sunset rainbow, but breaks into black depths described by Charles Wright:

Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.


 . . . . And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.
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Sparkling September

prescottpark 412

My gaze starts at street level: a pair of sturdy men’s shoes.

Thick socks, suitable for winter hikes.

Stocky ankles.

Khaki shorts.

Layered over the shorts, this time, I would have been disappointed not to see . . . billowing neon orange tulle.

It was gathered at the crossing guard’s waist, fanning out into a resplendent tutu.  On this first autumn Sunday it was coupled with magnificent autumn-hued fairy wings swirled with gold glitter.

Everything sparkled.

Liquid gold cascaded in a ring-shaped fountain.  Fairy children with shimmering, swirled braids darted among bright flower beds.  The sun turned lingering raindrops into tiny strings of light and made petals glisten as if dipped in liquid crystal.  A foot-high church awaited a fairy wedding ceremony.  Fairy homes, adorned with seashells and acorns, some dusted with silver spiders’ thread, welcomed the elements.  A monarch butterfly–so rare this year that it was the first I’d seen–brushed my shoulder and tilted its head toward a flower to which it veered off to pose for me. How about like this?  It flipped itself over and threw its head back, theatrically tossing its wings and waiting for me to zoom in.  And this? It hopped to a leaf and waved at me, upside-down, so I could capture its stained-glass wings against a backdrop of violet fall grass.

Magical realism indeed.

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When September Ends


A year ago I woke from a nightmare and walked into an early fall Midsummer Night’s waking dream . . . .

Originally posted on Love in the Spaces:

Sep 22, 2013 120

Last night I dreamed that our family–including Jim and the four children who suddenly are all away at schools in four states–was at some kind of combination kids’ store and restaurant.

In my dream, I left to get the car because it was snowing and I didn’t want Jim and the kids to have to battle through the storm.  My feet were bare, however, and first I struggled to find the car.  Then I had to extricate it from a densely packed lot and re-park it without careening into another car.  As I did so I thought that at any second I’d hear the screech of metal-on-metal and there would be no warning sound: any skidding would be muffled by the vortex of white.  I’d be alone inside the car as glass shattered and the steel bent. No one would hear me scream.  Somehow, the crash did not come.


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A Thousand Mornings (Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity)

Banaras, India (c) 2011 Emma E. Glennon

Two seasons after her father died, one of our daughters took this soothing, solemn picture at dawn on the other side of the globe.  Banaras, also known as Varanasi, is one of humanity’s oldest living cities.  It rises from the holy River Ganga in southeastern Uttar Pradesh.

The same month, when everything remained so dramatically off-kilter in all our lives, one of my sisters-in-law sent me a book of poetry.  It was a gift for the birthday my husband Jim–her only brother–had known he wouldn’t live to celebrate.

I contemplated the title–A Thousand Mornings–and my mind lingered briefly on the vastness of the days and years likely still laid out ahead of me.  A thousand mornings, and more, teeming with concrete tasks I wasn’t remotely equipped to face.  A thousand mornings followed by dwindling sunlight hours in which I alone would be the one to teach a child to drive, to pack up our home and move to another, to move children into schools, to tend to illnesses and injuries and sorrow.  And a thousand sleep-disturbed nights.  A thousand mournings.

I read the book right away, and turned the page to reveal the title of the very last poem.


My daughter had just given me the gift of being able to visualize this very place:

“Early in the morning we crossed the ghat,

where fires were still smoldering . . . . 

A woman was standing in the river up to her waist;

she was lifting handfuls of water and spilling it

over her body, slowly and many times,

as if until there came some moment

of inner satisfaction between her own life and the river’s.

Then she dipped a vessel she had brought with her

and carried it filled with water back across the ghat,

no doubt to refresh some shrine near where she lives,

for this is the holy city of Shiva, maker

of the world, and this is his river.

I can’t say much more, except that it all happened

in silence and peaceful simplicity, and something that felt

like that bliss of a certainty and a life lived

in accordance with that certainty . . . .

Pray God I remember this.”

In my daughter’s photograph I see a different kind of vastness than the black hole in which I dwelled: a never-ending human homage to faith, to “peaceful simplicity,” to the “bliss of a certainty and a life lived/in accordance that that certainty.”

Jim had such a life.  In living it and leaving it, he helped me to see the larger human  picture and to try–assuredly not always successfully–to let go of the world’s more rarified worries.  Yes, I’m alone to do so many things; but how lucky I am that my children are so like their father, and have moved on to far-flung places where they, in turn, will serve others, whether teaching, researching infectious diseases, or sharing an angelic voice.  How lucky I am that we’ve all had found medical care for our assorted crises.  How embarassingly lucky we are to possess a home to fill, and a car my little girl can be taught to drive.

Since that November day I’ve lived those thousand mornings, and found moments of peace and satisfaction, of light and love, that somehow still linger in each day.




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