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Joseph E Bird

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death

altered reality

I’ve got a restraining order against me.

Ain’t that a hoot.

So I can’t go home.  But it’s not bad here.

There’s a bird feeder outside my window.  I’ve got a television that sets on my dresser.  I’ve got cable, so that’s good.  Not that there’s much to watch during the day.

There’s a little refrigerator in my room so I don’t have to walk down to the dining room room when I need a drink.  Non-alcoholic, of course.  It’s been years since I had that kind of drink.

It’s just the one room. Not counting the bathroom, complete with all the grab bars.  Like I’m set up to do gymnastics or something.  Not at my age.  And the cord to pull in case I can’t get off the can.  I don’t need that, but they have this place set up for old people who can’t get around.

I’ve been here a couple of weeks.  I think.  Maybe longer.  I have it written down in a notebook I keep.  Let me look.

No.  That can’t be right.  That would be almost a year.  I must have written the date down wrong.  Couple of weeks.  Three, at the most.

My wife never comes around.  She’s the one who got the restraining order.  Says I came home a couple of weeks ago and tore up the house.  Maybe I did.  After I caught her running around, you wouldn’t blame me, would you?  She’s been doing that for years.  Even before she got sick.  Then she was laid up in the hospital and she started in with one of the doctors.  I tried not to say anything until she got better.

The food’s pretty good here.  Sometimes I sleep in past breakfast.  They don’t like you to eat in your room unless you’re bad off.  If you do that too much, they’ll move you over to the other building, so I get out as much as I can.

I used to carry on myself, if I’m being honest.  I was in sales.  I’d go to these out-of-town conventions and there wasn’t much to do when the day was over so we’d go down to the honky-tonks. Well, you know what happens there.  Everybody did it.  Doesn’t make it right, but everybody did it.

But I felt bad about it.  I tried to keep it from Bea, but after a while the guilt just felt like an anchor pulling me under water, deeper and deeper.  So I told her all about it. I figured she’d throw me out and I know she thought about it, but I started going to church with her and after a while, things just kind of smoothed out.  Truth is, I don’t think she ever got over it.

Everything’s upside down now. Out anniversary is next week. Fifty some years. Not that it matters.  She won’t care.  I want to try to talk some sense into her.  We’re both wrong,  All kinds of wrong.  Wish we could get it worked out.

She hasn’t been here in a few weeks.  I’ve got it here written down.  Somewhere.  Can’t find it right off.  It’s somewhere.

No.  Wait.  Yeah.  That’s right.  She’s never been here.  Never will be.

She’s been gone four years now.

I wish we could have got things straight.


copyright 2020, joseph e bird

clean the ashes from your hearth

Spring is the death of death and the erasure of memory.

Who can ruminate over what was lost in the ice and snow when the brook runs free and clear? This is new life, again. Stop your brooding and take off your coat and hat. Clean the ashes from your hearth and open the windows and let the accumulated scents of stew and woodsmoke escape into the gold and blue. — Larry Ellis, from Mid-day Post, March 30, 2019.

and here comes the man

and here comes the man
with hat in his hand
and here comes the man
who can’t understand

he pleads
and he begs
and he asks for forgiveness

he’s told
to get out
it’s none of his business

go back
do your job
and leave us to dreaming

your thoughts
are of naught
don’t bother our scheming

and he tries
to be wise
and arise
through the lies
and see light
shine
above it all
.

and here comes the girl
eyes bright in the sun
and here comes the girl
with hearts to be won

she plans
and she dreams
to be the good mother

she loves
and she cares
with no thoughts of another

they see
that she lives
a life of the old ways

no job
no career
and nothing to earn praise

and she tries
to be wise
and arise
through the lies
and see light
shine
above it all

.

and here comes the thief
to steal in the night
and here comes the thief
to lead us to light

we fight
and resist
and cling beyond reason

we pray
and we know
that it can’t be our season

we push
through our pain
and battle the strife

till love
overcomes
and gives us new life

and we try
to be wise
and arise
through the lies
and see light
shine
above it all


copyright 2018, joseph e bird

Even the marble fades.

cemetery 1 for web

“Like the vast bulk of people, the captives would pass from the earth without hardly making any mark more lasting than plowing a furrow. You could bury them and knife their names onto an oak plank and stand it up in the dirt, and not one thing — not their acts of meanness or kindness or cowardice or courage, not their fears or hopes, not the features of their faces — would be remembered even as long as it would take the gouged characters in the plank to fade away. They walked therefore bent, as if bearing the burden of lives lived beyond recognition.” – Charles Frazier, from Cold Mountain

IN THE LATE 1860s, a tradition of decorating the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers began. In 1868, General John Logan formalized the tradition by declaring May 30 as Decoration Day.  Decoration Day gradually become known as Memorial Day, and after World War I, Memorial Day began to commemorate soldiers who had died in any war. In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and in 1971, Memorial Day was established as the last Monday in May. 

Although the emphasis of Memorial Day is still to honor those who died in service to their country, graves of all loved ones are now traditionally decorated on Memorial Day.

Many of my family and friends have their final resting place in Cunningham Park, a pastoral cemetery in the rolling hills of my home town of St. Albans. But as beautiful as it is, visits are always times of quiet reflection. My mother is there. My grandparents are there, and my great-grandmother, who passed away when I was 21, is there. My sisters and my cousins are the last generation to have known her personally. When we’re gone, my great-grandmother will likely have no more visitors. The memory of her, like the marble etching at the top of the cemetery stairs, once so vivid and clear, will fade away.

stairs for web

The stairs are a long, hard climb. Do they symbolize life’s struggles? Or the final path to the hereafter?  At the top are symbols of the Christian faith. But time is no respecter.  Even the marble fades.

marble plaque

Every day is a gift and every memory a blessing.

 

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