Tag Archives: thanks

Here, for you

IMG_5663On the day my parents renewed their vows
I was empty and tired—all I could think of was,
now you know
.

Around and around it went, inside my head,
crowding out whatever the priest,
who hadn’t known them then, was saying.
Now you know, I thought, what the reward is
when 
the burden of new
is balanced by 
the weight of certitude:
how soft it is to fall in love,
how rough those years are to carry.
Now you know as I know,
like I know now, as you knew then.

I remember standing there,
looking down at my father’s casket as it
hovered over their double plot and thinking:
there’s not much, but there is this—I made it.

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Even into the 1960’s, Newfoundland, my birthplace, was similar to the religious separation of Northern Ireland: Catholics and Protestants did not mix or socialize, and they certainly did not trust one another. Thus, my parents wedding in the late 1940’s (my mother was Protestant and my father Catholic) was a shock to the community in general and the two families in particular. It was made worse when, years later, so as to instruct her firstborn in Catholicism (a promise she had made when she married my father) my mother first took lessons in the church, and then to complete the unity of the family, converted to being Catholic.

And although with the years such religious ignorance faded and died, for much of their early marriage they both bore the brunt of religious prejudice—much from the Catholic Church itself and more from within their own families. I believe that the greater part of who I am and what I am is in honor to their decision and I am grateful that at their end I was able to stay faithful to their love and courage and bear witness to it.

This is (thus far at least) the last of a trilogy of poems about my father’s passing. I hope you have enjoyed them.

Thank you for reading Here, for you. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken last year in Newfoundland from my father’s hospital window. Sadly, it tells you what the weather in Newfoundland is usually like: dreary. Luckily, the kindness and generosity of the people there make up for it. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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And that’s just you

IMG_0637Do you think that I could ever forget the sound of your voice?
Or not remember the look of your eyes?
Do you think that I cannot stop, and in stopping, pause
and in pausing bring me back to when and where I want?

Nor do I exhume those memories, I am them;
I see the once, I feel the when, I taste the where and I breathe,
deep and long, and I am me, me then, while you, you’re my
always you—then, now and forever, and beyond that forever
whenever that forever ends. That’s what constancy
is.

swril2

The first three weeks of March is the period of the Bahá’í fast, when Bahá’ís abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Although the fast is a wonderful time of spiritual renewal, unfortunately, for health reasons, my sister, Lucinda, cannot participate in the physical side of the process, so it is my honor each year to fast for the both of us. This poem comes out of a conversation we had one night during the fast.

This poem is in thanks for the privilege of having been her brother all  my life.

The photograph was taken at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its copyright holder.

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Faith

fire

Wood to your fire,
smoke to your light,
ash from your heat—
I ponder, but you burn.

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As always, Lyn.

The photograph is entitled Can’t you hear my bread a bakin’? and was taken in Pennsylvania. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading Faith. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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Closer to you now

The slow steady pace of the slow steady stars,
the mad heady race of the hands ‘round the face
of the clock that first ticked when you were born.
This is the beast that hid in the dark
to chase you and test you and often times best you,
never once ever letting you stop.
Stop.

In the shadows of the flickering candle
the beast stalks you slowly tonight.
The fluttering pulse at your neck,
the gentle rise of your breast,
the heat of your castaway breath…
I am closer to you now
than the blood that flows in your veins.

This poem dates from when I first met my wife. In the intervening years, ”time” is no longer quite the beast it was back then.  As we age we know that we face inevitable decline, but that is the nature of the journey, and it is a wonderful journey for all of that.

The final two lines are based on an Arabic saying, “God is closer to you than your own jugular.”

Thank you for reading Closer to you now. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

11.23.12

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That tree

Older, barer, thick and still strong
is that tree which shaded my youth.
Prickly and knotted with a rough,
gnarly bark, it was always there,
if sometimes only tiredly. Rooted
in prayer and gifted with the fruit
of its many silent blessings, it is I now
who have grown and grown to miss it
although I know it stands there still—
all hard and solid, its crown assured,
the weight of its many years bowing it
to the ground, humble, as it awaits
the wood cutter’s ax, as do we all.
But in the winds that blow and swirl
and curl down through the years,
that tree will live long and live on
as long as there is me or mine
to remember it.

Yes. Older, barer,
thick and still strong is that tree
which shaded my youth, my father.

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With great love and thanks to the family’s wonderful, loving, strong-as-a-tree father, Jack Etheridge!

Thank you for reading That tree. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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In ev’ry degree

I am set a sail upon this passage
my canvases full billowed, taut and tight,
swift breath compelling me on my voyage
as I fly along with no land in sight.
Bright, sun-water gems explode at my prow
and jauntily, I, on this roiling sea,
chant loud my gladsome sailor’s song to plow
true on my compass in ev’ry degree.
O do not deny me this lusty wind
which sets me free to stand this course unfurled,
for like all true lovers I am destined
to seek the unknown limits of this world.
Fix me you ever-changing, changeless sea,
heart-a-throb, I sail, straight into thy lee!

Writing sonnets is hard stuff. The structure is tight: fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, patterned rhyming, ending with a rhyming couplet. But while the rhyming is hard, the iambic pentameter is harder and saying something meaningful is the hardest.

Thank you for reading In ev’ry degree. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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