Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Hope

Winter Banquet

From my place at the table
through the leaded panes
I watch
sparrows, robins, finches
and chickadees
hop, flutter, and flit
from the cedar fence ridge
and naked plum tree boughs
to the freshly filled feeder—
its top a beacon of yellow
the only color beyond the spectrum
of wintergreens
and dormant umbrage
at the string of grey
marked in months of days
while the plump squirrel
perches and plots his plan
this fruitless season,
no time of famine.

The Quandary


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The run is over.
All the docks are lined with fishing boats,
crabbers and tenders,
and a few processors tied up at the end.
From my booth in The Bay
I look up from my mug of diner coffee
and over-easy eggs
and notice it’s
The Quandary that’s moored
in the slip
closest to the shore.
She’s securely tethered to the bollards
to overwinter away from
waves, tides, and storms
in this freshwater harbor inside the locks.

She’s tethered to the dock
as my own indecision
holds me in a place
between your dreams
and my life.

It’s your birthday today.
You would have been 60.
You loved this place, but
if you were here, you wouldn’t be
here today.
You dreamed of sailing the Caribbean
or up the Inside Passage to Anchorage
and beyond
or captaining a barge
through the canals of France.
And I would have gladly been your crew
in celebration.

But your run is over, my dear,
and I cannot sail it for you.
Some of my own dreams
died along with you.
And now my vision no longer sees
beyond a single season,
such a small space for dreams to grow
but enough perhaps
for them to sprout and bud.

Empathy for the Unborn

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“I hope so”,
was the response of the woman
at the adjacent table
after they’d ordered their platters
of pancakes and eggs.

She and her husband
had just announced her pregnancy
to their gay friends—
nine weeks on Monday.
The announcement was followed only by
her listing the technical details
of the timing
and the pills she’d taken
and allusions to adjustments he’d made
that had finally led to conception.

“We’ll be uncles!”
the friends exclaimed.

“The arrival of the baby
will change your whole universe,”
they smiled.

“I hope so,”
she didn’t.

Mother’s Bloom

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On this first day of spring
the white narcissus in my yard
hang their heads
still timid, barely more than buds,
planted so late in the fall
after the first frost
by this unskilled gardener.

The neighbors’ daffodils
and those in the park
and along the freeway through downtown
have all been aflame for weeks,
six-petaled suns
trumpeting hope
before I could feel it, before it was here.

I worried what the neighbors would think,
their late arrival
a sign of my irresponsibility,
the kind everyone notices
but no one mentions
like a baby born only seven months
after the honeymoon.

But there’s no expiration date on hope
I remind myself
after impatiently urging
my bulbs to bloom,
their pale blush and slow unfurling
now a joy that erases
this mother’s sense of shame.

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