Monday, January 12, 2009

Ballerina Carla

During my early college days in the mid-1970s, there were several young ladies who I was privileged enough to have as my friends. The one who most stands out in my memory, however, is Carla.

To me, Carla was magical. Humble, kind, supportive and loving, she quickly found a special place in my heart where she still resides. She treated me as if she were my big sister and helped me through a tumultuous period in my life.

Carla had been an aspiring dancer and understood loss. A car accident injured her back so severely that it ended her dreams of being a dancer. The physical injury also left lasting emotional scars along with it.

Little did I know --- or, perhaps more aptly put, what I failed to consider --- was that my birthday gift to her would open those scars to such a degree that her wounds would be made fresh again, causing her to recoil from me in a flood of tears and flee from the gaze of her other birthday guests. How could I have been so blind?

It was a poem that inflicted so much pain. My poem, a birthday poem, which I wrote for her and her alone. A special poem, a sonnet, each line starting with a letter that formed the words, "Ballerina Carla." So thoughtful, so personal --- too personal, and ultimately, thoughtless.

The poem is still in my possession, safely tucked away where it can cause no further damage. Only the last two lines echo clearly in my mind.
Life is her stage; her heart has prancing feet,
And dance, she will, until life's rivers meet.
My guess is that her grief prevented her from ever seeing those two lines.

The Perils of Poetry - first in a series.

My Selene

At a distance, you would not think of her as miraculous with most of her body draped a drab, olive green. As you neared her, you might notice, if you cared to notice, the bright splashes of lemon yellow gracing the very top of her head and the tips of her shoulders, as if the very contrast beckoned you to take a closer look.

Certainly, if you were lucky enough to chance upon her as she awakened from her afternoon nap, stretching her body before you, there would be no doubt of her unique beauty. A stunning column of color, peeking from her back in a vivid, turquoise blue, would reveal itself, drawing you even nearer to her.

Only then would you see the glorious blanket of green, clothing her chest, a vision more striking than the young blades of grass in spring. Your eyes would follow that lush carpet down her full length where you could delight in yet another outburst of sunlight, as if she were adorned with a pair of matching golden anklets.

Closer still, you would stare, transfixed upon this living jewel. With the wonder of a child's eyes, you would linger, devouring every detail of her. Elaborate, ornate, you would savor the fine weave, her tapestry of color, the intricate, interlocking threads symmetrically displayed, lovingly joined together.

And, if you dared, with the curiosity of a toddler's touch, you would caress her delicate fabric, the soft sensation capturing the fascination of your fingertips. Spellbound, you would be.

Then, spontaneously, inexplicably, you would lift it, as if an individual strand of hair, almost weightless in your hand, and marvel at one, just one, of her multitude of treasures, and this, a single feather.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


It was rapture at first sight. Handsome, mesmerizing, radiant. He was all of this and more as he pranced around the paddock. His rump reflected the warm rays of the morning light with the metallic sheen of a newly minted copper penny. Surely, an Olympian; a Greek god with hooves.

"Apollo. That's what I'll call him."

A four-year-old strawberry roan Appaloosa gelding. He was one quarter Arabian with a blaze on his face in the shape of a broad dagger bearing a cross on its hilt.

Green broke and proud cut. That's what the man who sold him to us for $500.00 had said. Those terms were foreign to me, but not for long. Apollo had some lessons to teach me; and, he taught me well, often with very little warning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, My Brother

Craig, the lost soldier…

You are the dead horse, which I’ve continued to beat to death over the years. I would like to say that I’ve run out of whips, but I haven’t. I find myself searching for bits and pieces about you and your family from time to time. Your boys are grown up; my nephews, but not my nephews; at least one of them is married. I saw the oldest when he was an infant and teething, but that was decades ago.

Do you remember that courtroom hearing long ago, which changed both of our lives? You were old enough to know what I was unable to comprehend, that I was not your “real” sister, that your dad, Arnold “Arnie”, had just adopted me at the tender age of 4, that your dad was not my “real” dad.

You and I were in the backseat of the car, when our argument started. You barked rebelliously. “He’s not your dad! I’m not your brother!”

“You are, too, my brother! He is, too, my dad!”

Again, you barked, “You’re not my sister! You’re not his daughter!”

“Liar! Mother, tell him to stop! Make him stop!”

Mom gave you a look that made your blood run cold, “Craig…”

You were in big trouble. She used your full name. I don’t remember what she said that made you stop dead in your tracks, but I remember the look in her eyes. The look said, “Don’t you dare cross me, or there’ll be hell to pay.”

Only vaguely do I remember that you were sworn to silence, that you were told never to bring up the topic of my paternal descent again. And, you didn’t. From that day forward, the subject of my adoption was locked safely away; referring to Arnie as my dad remained uncontested; and, you always referred to me as your sister. Not until my twenties would you put the word, step, in front of sister, a day that I remember well along with the shock and hurt.

You are now a Master Sergeant in the National Reserve. Your days of military school, of playing Combat on the lawn with your friends, of volunteering in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) have become a reality. It’s no surprise to me. I’m glad that you followed your heart, what belonged to you and no one else, what no one else could touch, what was sacred to you.

You might think that I've forgotten by now, that I've managed to let go of you and of my memories of you, but I haven't. My heart won't let me forget. Step-sister or not, there's a bond that I am unwilling to break, a love that I refuse to extinguish.

I love you, Craig, and I wish you on this birthday what I have always wished you, only the best and all the blessings that life has to offer you and your loved ones.

Happy birthday, my brother...