Decadent Decay

I said, "The conversation at last night's 
party showed happiness lives in the 
minds of the decadent few."

She said, "Yes.  It also revealed the 
desperate need to create possibilities
for new pools of laughter."

Thinking aloud, I said, "The beginning
of wisdom is just a monster of a text
to digest in one gathering."

She replied, "Human beings have been
gathering for hundreds of thousands 
of years in dark spaces."

I added, "And feverishly painting animals
on the walls of caves and cheering on
their favorite teams."

She said, "Hope only appears to narrow 
when those places are closed and decay
into the ruin that time brings."

“…shall stone him to death.” – Deuteronomy 21:21

Creator of stones,
who places before us
life and death and asks
us to choose life; with stones
becoming metal shooting 
everywhere, even into the bodies 
of little ones playing in yards
and learning in schools
and sleeping in houses;
perhaps as we live in this space
between a rock and a hard place
stones in the desert need 
to be turned into bread.

What do you see?

Between running for the sacred peace
of a mourning dove cooing on the fence
and the frantic cleaning and straightening
in preparation for the arrival of strangers,
the way forward blurs into rapid motion,
into a newly awakened day where prayerful 
preparation can wait and, instead, the view
from out the train window at the rushing
cityscape and countryside gives way
to the question, What do you see?

The Lost Ages

Between hope and sorrow
found in spirituals played
in minor keys dwells a note
releasing the captives into
a sweet place of freedom.

The doe keeps her head down
eating the sweet and desired 
delicacies from neighborhood
flower beds while the owners
sleep the sleep of the dead.

A return to correct ways of living
postponed by a prodigal display
of fragile members demanding
an accounting of the lost ages
lives only in the dreams of beggars.


     "Well, alrighty then."
               - Sydney Marie Brotheridge
                  b. December 28, 1995
                  d. June 9, 2018

Is the death of a daughter a fable or a myth
Or a reality of grief that inflates one moment
And then, after enough tears have dropped,
Subsides into an uncomfortable calm
Holding a picture with my arm
Around her alive, smiling-faced body?

Is the resting of my head on her shoulder 
Outside a skating rink during a birthday
Celebration enough to protect her 
And, as often as I smile with her smile
Or her smiling with my smile, can it happen
All the time and everywhere?

Is there enough time and can it be measured
Between the first time I held this delicate child
With a lifetime ahead of her and the last time
I held her in Dar es Salaam as she breathed
Her last breath perhaps hearing me whisper,
“You are loved, Sydney Marie”?

Is there a way to find a completely different
Way with which to examine attachment
To a life filled with enough demons of despair 
And with enough angels of shining brilliance,
To find a way forward and not necessarily through
Or over the abyss of deep hurt and great loss?

Is the answer to the great question of Being
Found in the act of a tiny body laid out
On a stretcher being taken to the morgue
Or in a ceremony at the foot of a mountain
With enough gathered loved ones and friends 
Mourning a life joyfully lived and now complete?

Why not tell me?

Because we have a protocol to follow.
Because resistance grieves me.
Because I don't want to participate.
Because it is against my belief.
Because my health does not allow me.
Because someone is listening to us.
Because the metaphor doesn't make sense.
Because we are still walking the privilege walk.
Because the root cause has not been found.
Because the devotion of others has waned.
Because power has not been shared.
Because you shouldn't be in the loop.
Because I don't have time.