It was a long time ago that I lived in an old brick house with gray and very tall shutters and vanilla colored sidewalks where red markings told a tale of children playing hopscotch, often until dark. I was told that wasn’t wise, not wise at all. It was said that monsters lived in the dark; evil monsters that watched children play and then ate them alive.
But hide and seek – come and get me if you can, daring the adversary – was a fun little game; particularly after dark.
Then came a winter night, a bitter cold and windy night. I remember how very cold it was, even inside the house. My sisters and I were put to bed, covered with blankets all the way up to our necks. They believed in evil monsters and they always came home before dark. But I didn’t. I said it was nonsense. I dared the monsters and I dared the dark. And I remember an old woman screaming: “You will die! The shadows will take you one day, and you’ll die!”
And on another night, when the house was silent and dark and cold, I didn’t hear the usual chatter coming from my parents’ room. I just remember feeling cold and very frightened by something… a shadow, it seemed. I sensed movement in the room. How could that be? My sisters slept on. Yet something was moving about. I listened, I waited, and soon I caught a glimpse of a shadowy whooshhh going past my bed. Then I saw them creeping about the high, dusty ceilings and suddenly the whooshing stopped. Funny, it felt as if someone had sucked the air out of the room.
I looked around. My sisters were still fast asleep. I thought perhaps my mind was playing games on me.
I was to see the shadows often after that. Their visits happened at random times, but later I felt their presence almost every night. Slowly, they took over the room.
Sometimes they were monsters, and sometimes wolves. The wolves would sit in mid-air like floating statues, shifting their beady yellow eyes from side to side as if searching for their pray. But the monsters were liquid-like. They would slide down the walls and crawl across the room, and one night two of them climbed up my bed and wrapped themselves around me before I could even move. They slowly began to tighten, and I screamed and screamed. I couldn’t stop them.
My sisters slept on, despite my screaming. Was this a nightmare? Was I actually asleep?
The monsters squeezed tighter and tighter until they finally cut off my breath. I was gasping for air – let go of me. Let go! But they wouldn’t. They squeezed until I could breathe no more.
One of them crawled up on its huge belly and licked my face. Impossible. I felt suspended in space, though I clearly saw I was still in bed, covered by blankets up to my neck. I was outside myself hearing myself scream. I called my mother, I called my father, but no one ever heard, and no one ever came. And soon all was silent, except for the thread of an old woman’s voice saying: “you will die… you will die…”
I remember when I was six in that house, and I remember when I was seven; and I remember being eight, but not there. I wasn’t eight in that house, because it was then that I joined the shadows and climbed the walls at night to be with the monsters and the wolves and the dust, and from there to watch myself cry louder and louder and louder every time, in fear of the dark, and scream to no avail, because no ever heard, and no one ever came for me…
…and then one day I was nine, and then I was twelve, and then I was old and still afraid of cold and dark winter nights.
Winter: A Silent Symphony
Autumn leaves flip and flutter in the wind,
weaving as they do, a grim winter’s tale,
the yarn unravels swifter than its spin
a story of days growing cold and pale.
I watch the plot unfold in shades of gold
but its music and verse I strain to hear.
Autumn’s lips mime a muted song: I’m old.
It mourns the self I’ve barred behind my fear,
where from this prison watch the time go by,
hear the playwright’s words when the music plays
on the other side of silence, I cry
for time ill spent, my future marked by days.
How I hope to steal one last glimpse of spring!
But summer’s spent, fall yields to winter’s sting.
Lost In a Moonless Night
Through generations, the story’s been told
of a soul roaming on a moonless night;
there’re many versions of the unfold,
all of them telling her sorrowful plight.
They say she ended her own life to spite
the lover who coldly betrayed her trust
and hung to her death on a moonless night,
wind’s howling and stirring dry leaves and dust.
Her spirit abounding moans as it must;
folks say she haunts the woods where she perished
they say you can feel a whoosh like a gust
of wind, calling the one she once cherished.
They say on nights when the sky’s black as coal
some claim to have seen her wandering soul.
I pray you curse be gone from me at last.
With fossilized hands, you closed a rigid girth
a frigid grasp that held me long and fast
and stole my breath at the hour of birth.
You’ve marked my path of loneliness on earth
dark, bitter, and cold as a winter’s night.
By whose command do you rob me of worth?
Let me be! I beg you to hear my plight:
I long for days of summer warm and bright;
for jasmine filled nights and the scent of rain,
to see the eagle spread his wings in flight,
to know just once, I don’t remember pain.
I pray you curse be gone from me this day!
No. I command you now: be on your way!
The sun dips behind the row of gray and black maples;
their brittle branches smear shadows in the air,
in that space, when the sun disappears from view
taking with it, hues of orange and yellow and pink,
it is then I sense your presence very close to me.
In a winter twilight, the scent of early rain and wildflowers
suddenly lingers in the frosty air and I can feel your gaze
carrying me back in time to warm summer nights,
walks along the water’s edge and I feel your hand
leading me back to days lived long, long ago.
Amidst the shades of twilight and their winter magic,
charcoal smears of barren maples are all I can see,
and you bring the colors and freshness of spring;
but a stunning mirage of times gone by,
and they’re real, though live only in my dreams.
I will dream of twilight and shades of yellow and orange
and lavender-pink and I will grieve and long for you…
and crave other winter nights and the scent of your skin
but there’s a new sunrise, swirling pastels, and puffy clouds
I still need to see.
Don’t Whisper That Good Night
With appreciation to Dylan Thomas for the inspiration.
Don’t you dare just fade out of sight!
An ambiguous exit is not your style.
Proud, stubborn, your mind unbent
by persuasion of any kind;
inflexible, cruel – kind at times,
but you’ve always been your own;
never afraid to speak aloud.
So, how can you simply fade away?
How can you walk from light to misty gray
looking right through me as if I were glass?
Denying my presence, rejecting my touch –
crimson the rage that burns my heart!
What nerve you have to turn your back
and gut my shell with honed indifference,
oh, no! you will not melt like ice!
We’ve differences to settle – you and I.
Such hurtful words you spoke to me;
once, twice, many times, maybe thrice
and replies still hang from my tongue;
would you have listened had I spoken then?
I don’t think so. But you need to hear me now,
before a winter’s nightfall… please look at me;
hear the verses from my aging heart.
I’m not vapor. I’m not air. I’m not glass.
Like substance flows through your vessel
as it does through mine.
See the likeness in our spirit, see me first,
then face the light and claim your peace.
Stand up and shout, but please!
Don't you whisper your good night!
Something calls me. It’s easy like a whisper that softly envelops my form.
I heard the sound of stillness
I could hear the silence yet,
its timbre, unfamiliar,
I did not Recognize.
So I raised my eyes to Heaven,
searching, asking: a voice so real,
yet it startles me. Why?
Night fell upon that prayer,
and a moonbeam
blessed my Sleep.
I was weightless, gliding,
lighter than clouds,
my essence, at last, Released.
And when I rose,
blessed me with their smile.
And again, I heard the silence speak
no longer outside me, but from within:
"I am the silence,"
it said to me.
"The interval between each verse.
But the voice, to you, unknown,
the muted, unwritten words,
the sound unspoken is yours."
The Seed of Hope
An old man stood at the edge of a snowy path,
his frostbitten hands, twisted under each arm;
needing to understand his journey’s wrath.
Winter’s breeze carried the scent of charm
but he sensed different and prayed for death to come
and in mercy, end his days of earthly pain.
But he still looked back – over his shoulder.
He remembered sowing his seed in spring,
and in the summer, watching his kernel grow.
He remembered dreaming of the harvest,
trusting autumn’s gold would shine some day,
and he felt renewed as he did back then.
But on his journey’s end, the bitter winter of his life,
his heart was gouged by a blade honed with irony,
for his seed had perished in infertile ground.
And he stood at the edge of that dark, snowy path,
taking an embittered glimpse at the past. Nothing to show,
but a sack of dreams dangling empty from his back.
“No more,” he said again; closed his eyes, then turned
to the silver sky and shouted his anger with might:
“I’m tired, Lord; take me home. Take me now!”
Then, his gaze fell on a snow-laden pine. Icy crystals
trickling down its limbs, quenched natures thirst for life,
and he would sow the seed of hope, one more time.
"Let the little children come to me…..”
This Miracle – This Life
While sorting through trimmings to make my home
Bright, I found myself moaning, complaining, this night.
Ribbons too old, lights need replacement, can’t afford presents.
Nothing, nothing, and nothing! That’s what I have.
So I went on hanging tinsel and bows and trinkets
when out of the silence, I heard a man’s voice.
Startled, I turned: “Who’s there?” I wanted to know.
I heard the voice whisper again, and one more time
I asked: “Who’s there?”
“Who, is not as important as what I’m here to say.”
The voice, firm but warm, commanded attention.
“I’ve a story to tell you, I think you need to hear.”
I find it hard to explain, pragmatic as I know I am,
but I was compelled to listen to a ghostly yarn.
He didn’t begin his story with a once upon a time…
He started with the accounting of a special birth
and not the child in Bethlehem. That would have been easy to guess.
“It is a very precious child,” he said, with purpose in his tone.
And as the tale unfolded, I transcended the sound of his voice and stepped into his yarn, my fantasy, if you will, and found myself walking across a field this winter night.
It was dim and cruel – no creature could have survived.
I was cold and beginning to fade, when suddenly,
I felt a warm presence beside me. I turned to see a young man of humble portent and he smiled:
“I’m just a farm boy,” he said, “my home’s down yonder, a bit.”
“Are you the one whose voice I’ve heard?”
His blue gaze sparkled under that bitter December sky
when he looked at me and again, he smiled.
We pushed our way through frozen remnants of the harvest,
jumping over plow tracks and dry ears of corn
and the young man beside me wasn’t talking, any more.
“So, finish the story you want me to hear,” I urged.
“Soon enough… soon enough…” He said.
A dim light inside a barn just ahead, was visible now.
Just a few steps and we were there to find it empty.
I stood just outside not knowing what to do.
“Why am I here? Whose birth do you want me to see?”
The young man offered his hand to help me inside;
I took it and froze to see the puncture in his palm.
What do I do? What do I say? What do I call him?
He smiled again as if he understood my confusion.
“We’ll call this your birth. You’re the special child
who forgot herself in the midst of what you call living.”
“But why am I here? A barn with not an animal in it,
an empty farmhouse and a dead corn field – why?”
“’Cause you needed to see what nothing looks like.
A child would think it a playground; to you, it’s an empty barn.
A child would fill her stocking with dreams;
yours is filled with needs and wants; nothing else fits.
Where are your dreams in your Christmas list?”
I fell to my knees; understanding and yet, not – not.
I’m dreaming! That’s it! Why would He honor me so?
His presence pulled me in – there was no letting go.
“I don’t know what to do…” I cried.
The words I heard him speak, I knew I’d heard before
but somehow, their meaning was fresh as a newborn thought.
“Love yourself as you would a child; learn to pray as children do…”
No pause to reflect on what I’d seen and heard and I was home to see my old trimmings sparkling with a touch of fine antiquity.
And the thought of Christmas felt as it was always meant to feel:
A gift of life; manifested by the birth of that special child within.
Carmen Ruggero has sole ownership of this work, and no part of it can be copied, distributed, printed or reproduced without her permission.
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 16.12.2009
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