Thursday, 16 February 2017

the lovely bubble

waking – but not awake –
I linger in the lovely bubble

where fading dreams tip-toe
into the night:  their shadows
left to flutter on the edges of light,
as the house softly yawns,
in morning’s first shushing stirs

I do not open my eyes,
for, I am in the beautiful hush …
floating on my pillow in the bubble,
of that suspended moment,
when possibilities billow,
like white cap waves on spirit winds

and in that breath, there are
no impediments to a wonderful world;
there is no hate or greed or cruelty;
or twisted dogma or persecution …
... and then, I inhale – for I must –

and consciousness falls upon me ... 
and I awaken … as the bubble bursts
graphic – W. Bourke

© 2017 Wendy Bourke 

Friday, 10 February 2017

the invitation

I knew he had, almost certainly,
been invited to the wedding –
his family having lived two doors down
from mine – pretty much,
from the beginning of time and . . .

suddenly, there he was,
in misty halation, as though
I was seeing him through the glow
of an old Hollywood vaseline edged lens –
a speck of dust in my eye, perhaps.

he noticed me then, and smiled
in that off-kilter way he had –
his head tipped in the same direction
as his lips . . . though, his eyes, I thought
– or did I imagine it  –
flashed a shot of sadness
that, momentarily, belied,
his affable howdy-neighbour grin.

I smiled back, of course,
and waving nonchalantly,
speed walked to the exit . . .
all the might-have-beens:
wide awake now,  screaming
GO BACK . . .

outside . . . I paused momentarily,
and let the smell of azaleas
waft round me – carrying me back
to that long ago sunshine summer
before we left for college, and life began . . .
for real

The Backstory (for Valentine's Day):  I’m sure that all of you have had the experience of someone sharing a part of their life with you, that you find very impactful and compelling.  This poem came out of a story that was shared with me several years ago by a new employee in my workplace (though I wrote the piece from the perspective of a woman).  He was new to the job (which was somewhat unusual as he appeared to be in his mid 50’s); he was new to the country (and as it turned out); he was newly wed.  When I remarked that that was a lot of new beginnings, all at once, he replied that it was “all good” and that he was in a very happy place.  He went on to explain that he had just married the girl he was engaged to almost 40 years ago.  They were both 17 and needed their parents’ permission.  Given the dismal statistics on teenage marriage, both sets of parents were adamantly opposed.  However, a compromise was struck:  if they would agree to go to separate universities in separate cities for 18 months, their parents would consider giving their support, if they still wanted to marry.

When you are young, 18 months is a long, long time – and, eventually, the relationship went the way of military service, an apprenticeship in another country . . . and life.  However, as their families continued to live in the same homes, in one of those, very close, old American suburbs on a street that people only leave when they die – every few years there would be a wedding, or a funeral and the two of them would find themselves staring at each other across a crowded room . . . watching the other grow older, with each reunion.  Eventually, after his children were grown, he and his wife decided to divorce.  Sometime later, her father passed away and – as he worked in the nearby “big city”, he attended the funeral.  At the end of the service, as he waited to pay his respects, a woman standing beside him remarked:  what a horrible couple of years for that family . . . first her husband and now her Dad.
Well, I guess the rest of the story, writes itself.  When he shared this with me, I remarked:  What must that have been like: seeing each other over so many years, and having to walk away, time after time.  And he replied:  every time I saw her, the-might-have-beens started up, all over again.

That phrase – the-might-have-beens – has stuck with me, ever since.  Perhaps, that is because I met my one-and-only when I had just turned 18 . . . and I never let go.  Smiles.
note:  the poem is published in the Tower Poetry Journal (Tower Poetry Society, est. 1951) Volume 65, #2, 2016.

photo:  The House Two Doors Down – W. Bourke

© 2017 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

I am the difference

I am the difference in my day … 
and like, the little Steller's Jay
– I’d spotted in the garden plot – 
took flight, not thinking it could not …
I too, am master of my way
the bird soared passed the birch trees’ sway 
and billowed boughs and lawn hose spray – 
and as I watched its path, I thought, 
I am the difference

I am the difference in my day – 
the gentle word, the kinder way, 
the meal shared, the child taught, 
the hug, the smile, the good fight fought,
with soldier-on and plug-away … 
I am the difference

notes:  This is my first Rondeau – and may, very well be, my last.  It takes its place, in my poetic efforts, as one of the toughest forms I have attempted - albeit with a wonderful compelling cadence.  (In Flanders Fields by John McCrae is a favorite poem of mine – and a Rondeau – and I have renewed appreciation for that piece.)  I found the Rondeau to be a very rigid form – with the beginning of the first line coming in as a refrain at the end of the second and third stanzas (with some sort of flow that integrates it with the piece, rather than just sitting there as a disembodied refrain).  There are - exactly - 15 lines (of 4 metrical feet – except for the 2  lines of the refrain, which are 2 metrical feet).  That – and the fact that you only have 2 rhyming sounds to work off of, made for multiple start-overs when I could not get the word I had pre-selected (before I began writing) to work (and I could not come up with another word with the right rhyming sound).  That said, taking on the challenge of a form piece is, for me, really satisfying … if, occasionally, exasperating.

Steller's Jay – The Steller’s Jay (and yes, that is the spelling - though it looks like a typo) is a Jay native to western North America, closely related to the Blue Jay (very similar in appearance, but with a black head).  The Steller's Jay is British Columbia's provincial bird.
photo:  taken at the Stewart Farm, Surrey, BC – Sept. 25, 2016 – W. Bourke

© 2017 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Night Before


The Night Before
was like many nights that we had seen . . .
warm and comfortable and, blessedly, routine.

I do not recall any portent,
that life-as-we-knew-it, would soon, come to an end.

the house snuggled in the yawning street . . .
the crazy dog rested finally curled lazily upon my feet.

the poetry dangled and swirled and deliciously hid
murmuring amongst the words as it always did.

how could darkness wake from this? 
was there something that I missed . . .
The Night Before.

at the stroke of twelve, I got ready for bed . . .
he kissed my forehead . . .
the clock tick-tocked on . . . 
the dog scratched at the door, 
and still  . . . not a hint, of what lay in store . . .

that night The Night Before.

not a cluethat such pain . . . would come the very next day . . .
when almost everything . . . was ripped away . . .

note:  This poem was written about 'the night before' job cuts were announced by my husband's employer, back in the 90's.  When we finally got re-established again (having to move - 6 of us - to another city, thousands of miles away) we had lost our community, our house (to an apartment), many of our belongings and books, our beloved "crazy dog", my job and much of our anticipated pension.  Life changed forever, though - with the passage of time - I can truthfully say that:  it wasn't all bad.  Some wonderful things have come out of that horrendous upset and, at this point, I cannot bring myself to say:  I wish it hadn't happened. 

photo:  The Night Before - W. Bourke

© 2012 Wendy Bourke