Winter is about loss
of light. You’d think
our planet is closer
to the sun in the summer,
but no, Earth’s at perihelion
in winter. It’s the slant of light
and shorter length of time
the sun blazes across horizons
that accounts for the coldness.
Melissa is happy reading a good book
rather than watching television.
Hours spent on the couch, feet up, sipping tea,
a favorite pastime.
She closes the book and looks out the window.
Birds are nesting and chirping a soothing tune.
Another year has come and gone and a new one just begun.
We completed another circuit around our brilliant Sun.
As we reflect on how we fared this year,
Let’s also pause to consider what each of our relationships to us mean.
There are people that we value for their wisdom and insight,
And others who will stand by us in any righteous fight.
There are those we know through love, through friendship, and through tears,
And those with whom we work or worship or were classmates through the years.
Across all ages or stages of life we ask different questions of a similar nature. I think the most enduring questions were penned by the FitzGerald-Khayyám Rubáiyát team when they asked, Why are we here? Where have we come from? Where are we going? At each life-stage the questions take different forms. When younger we ask Who Am I? Then at midlife we ponder: Is This All There Is? and Where Am I Going? And finally in old age as we review our journey, we ask How Have I Lived My Life? and How Do I Want To Be Remembered? Of course all these questions can all be asked repeatedly at any age.
On New Years Eve, we bade adieu to one of the historically worst years of our lives. Certainly we enjoyed some good moments, but overall a darkness descended when that old suicidal devil revealed his ugly Trump face, and made appearances in Europe, the Middle and Far East, and Africa. While summing up the well-lived and terrified parts of that year, Judy asked, “I wonder if I have lived a small life?” Of course she is not asking about size, and rather if her life mattered.
Crisp autumn air
Silver and copper
The entire landscape
The deepest splendour
for she has swallowed
All the colours and
The setting sun
The gold and the orange
The molten core
Sienna and the umber
The cool clouds,
Bright and royal purple sky.
The formidable sea
SHE! The Restless Streak
The golden shine, once her hair,
long lost to age, silver and white.
The family stories of the old summer house,
children playing, and swimming,
Sunday dinner, the savory taste of roast beef,
never cooked again.
The love of Christmas, colorful lights,
and decorations, unnoticed.
Presents unopened under the glittery tree.
A generous heart for the love of family,
a gift gone forever, destroyed by dementia.
We came to America without a clue
When November rolled around and Thanksgiving, too
Stories of pilgrims sailing in hope
The Mayflower and Plymouth Rock – Who knew!
Photo credit: Greg Semendinger/NYPDT
On the day after, we walked from downtown,
from our apartment to 14th Street to catch a train
to Penn Station, but the subway was closed.
Most streets were glutted with silence, empty
of the usual yellow cabs with their impatient horns,
and people, except for one block just east of here.
Before going in for brain surgery in 2013, I feared that studying, researching and thinking too much about my condition would leave me bereft of hope. I dreaded being swept up with sadness or anxiety or both. I resolved to trust in all my doctors and in the destiny already laid out before me. To achieve that state of mind I returned to reciting the quatrains found in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. As a result, I was able to enter Virginia Mason Hospital calm, a bit exhausted, and filled with acceptance.
Capernaum, 30 AD
Four men shuffle their sandals down the dirt
and camel-dunged road bearing their friend
warped with palsy on stretched, brown cloth.
They press through crowds standing dead
in their way to the mud brick dwelling—doorway
glutted with the sick, windows gasping sultry air.
On the roof, fig trees faint, grapes grovel for cool
moist dirt. Overgrown, the garden guards entrance
to the room beneath a straw-hatched door.
Inside the house, the Healer moves among
the sick, and the frankincense of his garment
breezes the air. Radiance spills from his hem,
a cooling glow dispels fever. Thy cluster near him.
Above, the palsied man, held up by the strong
faith of his friends, waits for his touch—for the Light.
Afflicted eyes clear, cataracts fall like dead scales.
Twisted limbs grow straight as the green shoot
seeking the high sun. Obscure spirits flee.
When he is done well into the middle of night,
he goes to pray in the cool of the garden among
fig trees and vines, now lifting high in his light.
In the mauve of dawn, the fishing village is quiet,
boats bob in the ebb, and black basalt cliffs shadow
nets laying empty after sieving the platinum sea
…but only for a little while.
Near Capernaum, 2030 AD
Ziv Medical Center (Bar-Ilan University)
A man lies on a gurney, in tremors from paralysis,
waits for the good doctor to touch him with his hands,
with instruments that will bring him some comfort.
His wife and children at his side, the sweet
fragrance of prayer mixes with a hint of sea
masking the sterile wisps of antiseptics.
The physicians, gathered in a small room
before their rounds, quietly praise the Healer,
seek his guidance from a shelf full of books—
Gray’s Anatomy, Principles of Biochemistry by White,
black binders with New England Journal of Medicine,
all stacked on leather of the Torah—the scent
of Jehovah Rapha rising from its pages, faith
incandescing the darkness. The light in the room
is not dim.
Author’s Note: Inspired by the healing of the man with palsy—a paralysis, especially that which is accompanied by involuntary tremors—in the Bible (Mark 2:1-5). Peter’s house was likely excavated by Italian archeologists (Biblical Archaeology Review 8:6, November/December 1982). Also see Bible History Daily https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/the-house-of-peter-the-home-of-jesus-in-capernaum/