Magnificence in Muted Tones

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time-worn, re-scripted history
of pagan-christain conviction
petite at the distance
approached with awe, as
columns rise, grow, each
a monolith until itself
base made smooth, in spots, by
laying on of hands
where one could reach
across the centuries, touch
somehow partake, maybe perceive, a
breadth of lost chronicles
war to war to war to war
while she stands as a
sanctuary of peace

rome-pantheon-02

step into the rotunda
marbled everything
sculptured with mastery
eternal life, imprisoned in stone
ruler and artist both
entombed as to keep
some narrative alive
strain the neck to find the
all seeing oculus
gaping to the sky
somehow both perfect
and incomplete

photos and poem (c) 2016 by DC Lessoway

 

Paris 2008

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swiftly on
nearing 8 years
from 8/8/8
my wretched memory
conjures effortlessly
scents of candles, incense
a fitting tux, warm
doors flung open to
her there, bright-as-the-sun
my pounding heart, streaked cheeks

even distance cannot fade this picture
tears and tears come, joyful

those I do’s, hands clasped
at the heart of friends, family
isle of white, the blur of
dancing till 4 am
on the plane to
City of Lights

we will see you again

photos and poem 2016 by DC Lessoway

What a couple of weeks…

I do not write about work very often. Preferring it is our business, so to speak. But at these times, as a part of my own route to healing, this I need do.

Mortality: “the state of being subject to death”
How often I’ve heard:
“I’ll be living forever.”
Denial, might be
defiance of that great
and final outcome. Perhaps,
akin to, a part of, basic
instincts, survival, perhaps.

New years day, I was at home alone watching some movies when I saw on my Twitter feed that Lemmy from Motorhead died. I noticed before that his bio film was on Netflix, so I viewed it. Admittedly I’m not a Motorhead fan, but I’m sure a few songs came my way back in the 70’s and 80’s when I bashed my guitar (and bass) around. Loved the bio, he was a down-to-earth, tough talking, tender-hearted bass player. Would have loved to meet him.

Then the Sunday after new years I get a phone call. Over the weekend the First Nation I work for suffered two passings. One, an Elder with many health problems, was somewhat expected. But then, another, a good, kind man, with a big heart, died suddenly.

The grief surged through my texts, email, phone calls.

That night something happened to me. The middle of the night, laying somewhere between waking and sleep: these aboriginal, circular images came to my vision, one blending with the other, I opened my eyes thinking I was asleep and they stopped. But resumed when I closed my eyes again. Was it a vision? Of what? It affected me profoundly. But then I woke up, it was morning and the visions were gone. Truthfully I didn’t recognize, nor remember them, and not having a great drawing hand, I couldn’t recall or record them. I’m sure this was messaging, from somewhere, someone. Having happened just after the passing of a man with deep aboriginal cultural beliefs, it may have been from him. It would make sense; he was always at the ready to teach.

Got to work that week and had a heart to heart with staff about the passings of the two members of the community. We’ve been through this before, nearly two years ago a staff member suddenly passed away. Horrific. You can read about this here: “Enigmatic”.

Much the same flow of grief through the community, staff… myself. But we didn’t have time to allow the shock to find us as we have two funerals to help with. The first funeral, as it was primarily taken on by another Nation, went smoothly and quickly. However, the younger member (I’ll call him K) who passed suddenly had a few complications. K has a wife overseas whom he had married a year ago. While K was working on bringing her over here, it wasn’t completed and we had to scramble to obtain a travel Visa for her. We did everything we could with paperwork, calling our local MP, here country’s immigration, etc.

Then, January 11th I wake up to find David Bowie passed. Loved him, his music. I wept. But, I know it wasn’t specifically for him, it was one of those triggers of the emotive dam. For all that pent-up, no-time-for-crying tears to wash my cheeks, give release to my substantial grief.

Back to K, the funeral and wake were held off as it was hoped his wife could get here in time.

Then I heard Alan Rickman passed. Another flood of tears.

There are many details to tell (I’ll note the reason for privacy below), eventually we had to do K’s funeral and burial, unfortunately without his wife’s presence.

My truth is this. I love First Nation rituals and practices. I was brought up in strict roman catholic nonsense. Yes nonsense. All the hypocrisy drove me to drink, literality!

First Nation people? They take their protocol and practices quite seriously and practice it each and every day. One of the main reasons I re-connected with my Metis roots, as I knew part of me knew there was more out there than just European rites and rituals.

To witness the drumming, singing, the prayers; the hear how they look at life and death as only a part of the cycle of the world. Beautiful. To hear, no feel the drum circle and singers. I closed my eyes, allowed the beat take my heart on a journey I’ve not had before.

But that is as far as I’ll go with what happened in their ceremonies. What they do is their own private matter and I respect that. First Nation’s people of Canada have had enough of their lives, culture and people torn asunder by the powers that be.

Again though, to witness such beauty and power of belief and ritual is gratifying and made my own heart stronger to partake.

Safe travels up river my friend.

An Anvil that Never Lands

dc fade

cherub years came, as
brother’s, sisters comfortably
into their adult lives
sure somewhere there
my father too, further still
mother
friends, some
looking back, my soul
held no sanctuary
excepting reclusively in
my room, yard, travels
far off on my bike
adolescence held no
greater exuberance with
or without company, only
a longing/spurning of
the opposite sex
bringing harrowing storms, gloom, I’d
not weathered previously
blew me into corners
away from school’s maelstrom
when I could avoid it
yet dragged into participating
unable to adapt, reshape, retool
to religiosity, cliques, there I
oblivious to my truth
told, thought, believed
worthlessness, imbecilic, graceless
escape off, to strange lands
metropolis of open worlds
antipode to my small town
to higher leaning, still
grappling with myself
beating back moonless hours
often numbing my body, mind
in burly spirits, as
all around me mastered and
moved on

here thirty years subsequent, have
love, friends, craft, still
struggling with, at war with
that enigmatic foe who
keeps a hulking, shouldering fog
not too far distant
ensuring my mood struggles
to find joy in the everyday

photo and poem by DC Lessoway

A Robust, Open Heart

a robust, open heart
isn’t fearful of
saying “I love you”
a robust, open heart
is easily hurt
being imbued with
scars of grief, bliss
a robust, open heart
knows there is an end
to the pain, to the joy
in the end, there is only
a robust, open heart

(c) by DC Lessoway

Introvert’s Soirée

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invited to a friend’s party

instinctually
comes the butterflies
nerves of a wallflower
at a school dance
again, once more
onto the breach
dear friends
heart and mind
sensitivities and logic
hesitation!
at the door
bombastic welcome
hi and hi and hi and hi
wading a cordial minefield towards
sanctuary of a corner
listen, watch, observe
funny, profound, joyous anecdotes
a few words rejoined
the jaw stony
the wits blustery, oh
an admiring regard
gregarious chums
riotous glee, laughter
unabashed, complete participation
till, till
the alchemy, intoxicants
softens, melts brick
allowing greater participation
a tender balance, as copious
tallies, ushers despair
too little, a corner never
vacated
oh a craving, hunger, desire
to partake in
festivities thoroughly
longingly
eventually, swamped
inundated, overwhelmed
goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
a return to home’s refuge

safe

poem and picture (c) 2015 by DC Lessoway

Bridge

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An early fall Sunday, two men walk onto the Lions’ Gate Bridge on the west walk way from opposite sides.

Will, forty-five, looks sixty, gray haired, tall, limping due to a bad back, dressed in a thin, dirty suit jacket, no tie and his dirty shirt open, his suit pants ripped at the bottom, his once fine leather shoes worn and scuffed. He saunters onto the bridge deck from the Stanly Park side.

Brian, also forty-five, tall, fitter than a twenty-year-old, covered in lycra, only a peppering of gray betrays his age. He strides onto the bridge deck from the North Vancouver side. An old song he can’t remember the name of repeats in his head.

Will, who had been walking all night, is too exhausted to lift his head, until he reaches a yellow box on a pole. He just stares at the sign that states: “There is Help.” Nothing comes to him, his mind, a void.

Brian strides past the yellow box and wonders how many have used it. ‘Can’t be that many jumpers, they spent a lot of money on it I’d imagine. I high ratio likely.’

Will continues on, only the wind, bridge traffic in his ears, long ago numbed to the cold, stale coffee and aged donut haunts his breath. He has a sense he is floating upward.

Brian reaches the first pier and looks at his watch. Heart rate: 132. Good, right in the range. Around the park should do today. I have three hours, should be enough.

At the first pier from his side Will turns into the enclave wrapped around the pier and leans against the railing. The water below is fast with the out-going tide. He wonders if it’ll hurt. Suddenly he is hit by a wave of bleak emotion and tears streak his face and he doesn’t hear the lycraed cyclists streak past the pile.

The cyclists now fly towards Brian and as he steps out of the their way he says, “slow down a bit boys.” After they are gone he thinks, ‘maybe I should get a bike. Be a whole lot quicker to get around the park.’ He then reaches mid-point and looks at his watch, ‘if it weren’t for those bikers I’d beat my record.’

All Will sees is the water and all he feels is a dark pit. He forces his mind backward, to Tammy, he tries to see her smile, feel her kiss, smell her body, but it all returns to the arguments, fights, the last moment he saw her: closing the door to the house they bought together. Her words still in his ears: “Don’t come back. Ever!”

Brian carries on and in reaching the second bridge pile he ground around it to the right as several cyclists are heading his way. He looks over and sees a man staring down at the water. On the way down the final section of the bridge he realizes the man’s shoulders where shaking. The man was crying. Brian takes a look back. The man is still staring down at the water. He takes three more steps and stops, turns to look again at the man. He is too far away to really see anything so he takes hesitant steps forward. One thought stops him, ‘I shouldn’t get involved, what if he is violent? Has a gun?’

A chilled gust of wind brings Will out of his dark thoughts and he realizes his hands are gripping the icy railing. He can’t feel them, he can’t feel anything. It’s time. He prepares to climb over the railing but is startled by a voice behind him.

“Hi there.”

Will turns around to see a man, head to toe in lycra standing by the pier.

“Are you okay? Need me to get someone to help you?”

Will shakes his head. Brian takes a step forward and Will’s hand instinctively goes up, then down when he realizes he did this. Brian holds his place, trying to find words to say.

“There is help if you need it, those boxes…”

“No, just leave me alone, I’m fine here.”

“So, you weren’t going to jump?”

Will turns sideway to keep an eye on the man. He didn’t know whether to shake or nod his head. He honestly didn’t know.

Brian looks into Wills face and it strikes him he’d never seen anyone so sad before. Not even on his dad’s face when his mom died. He knew this man is ready to end his life. Brian looks around for the call box, but both are too far away.  He made a movement to reach for his cell phone.

“Don’t call. Please. I’m not worth it. Please.”

Brian realized, for the first time in years he’d forgotten his cell. Then he felt puzzled, remembered his own thoughts on suicide. A flashback to when a classmate took her life and how his feels where mixed, how he called her selfish, stupid, too scared to face life.  Later a casual hypothetical conversation on suicide with the same thoughts, feelings of how a person could through away their life, how it’s more a betrayal to themselves, leaving their family grieving. Selfish. The word repeated in his mind as he watched the man turn around. Brian took a step forward.

Will immediately spun around, a wild look on his face. Shouting: “Just leave me be! I’m not bothering anyone! Please go!”

Brian realized he will have to talk this man down. He thought, ‘negotiation is negotiation, whether for a car or a life? It’s the same basically.’

“What’s your name?”

Will seemed to have forgotten. His mind was blank.

“My name if Brian.” Instinctively his hand went for a handshake, but he lowered it quickly. “I live just over the bridge there in West Van. How about you?”

Will could only stare at the bridge deck.

“Well, it’s a beautiful day. Uh, not much traffic.” He cringed feeling he was going in the wrong direction. “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not good at this, please let me call someone who…”

“Will.”

“Huh?”

“My name is Will.”

“Well that is good Will. Thank you for, uh, thank you. Well, now we are on first name basis. Maybe if I can ask why you’re here?”

Will shook his head and looked away.

“Lost your job? Your home? Maybe love?”

Will looked down and shook his head.

“Who was she?” Brain waited but knew an answer wasn’t coming. “I can relate. My first wife jumped ship. Left me with a two-year-old. Oh those were longs days.”

“She kicked me out.”

“Something you did? Sorry, she have a reason?”

“I lost my job about a year before, couldn’t find one.”

“Did you try…”

“Became depressed to the point I couldn’t leave the bed for a month. She got tired of doing everything. She was six month’s pregnant with our first. Three months ago she said to go, come back when I got a job. I tried, everything, everywhere, any job. Nothing was happening. I showed up at the house two weeks ago and found her mother there. My boy was born a week ago. I said the child needs a father. Her mother said not a father who can’t put bread on the table. Slammed the door in my face and locked it. I banged and kicked the door, I just wanted to see my boy. They called the cops and I was in jail for a night. They didn’t charge me.”

Brian watched as Will broke down and cried. He stepped closer. Will didn’t flinch this time, Brian took another step closer and Will suddenly jumped onto the railing. Brian lunged at him and grabbed his jacket. It tore as he pulled on it. He lunged again, caught Will’s leg and using a foot on the railing as leverage, pulled until Will and himself came flying backward. Brian struggled to hold tight to Will. Will started beating on Brian to get him off when suddenly several hands and arms came in and separated them. It was two police officers.

“What’s going on here?”

Brian, trying to catch is breath, “he tried to jump.”

Six months later, a bright spring day, Brian is striding over the bridge deck. As he reaches the second piling he sees a man standing at the railing. Something in him is tipped off that this is familiar. He stops, not wanting to be a bother, being however unlikely the same would happen to him again. But he went up to the man.

“Nice view.”

The man turned around and it was Will. “Well hello Brian.”

“Will!” They hesitated, not knowing whether to shake or hug.

“Good to see you’re still keeping up your bridge walking, saving people.” Will got a little misy-eyed. “I can’t say anything but thank you. Just, thank you.”

“You are most welcome. You are doing better?”

“Yes, great! Had a setting of thing with the ex, visitations every other week. I’m okay with that. Went back to university, social work.”

“Oh good for you. It’s fantastic…”

Will suddenly embraced Brian and whispered in his ear: “thank you for bringing me back to life.”

 

Photo and story (c) 2015 by DC Lessoway

Winter Solace

Christmas Eve. A warm, silent snow falls in the darkness of a small prairie town. A town centered with one strip mall, two barbers and three bars surrounded by houses and beyond that, farmland.

At this hour, sixty-two year old Henry, single father and the town’s longest serving barber is closing. He takes off his smock, places it neatly on a worn brass door hanger beside his chair. As it happens each and every Christmas Eve, he turns towards the front and expects Madeline to be at the till counting money. It’s been ten Christmas’s and he still yearns for her embrace, flowery perfume, raspy voice, sharp wit, infectious laugh. A dull throb perches on his shoulders as he dresses for the cold. He reaches for the back door then remembers the gift. The one he brought last spring when prices on winter items were cheap. It’d been wrapped for months with wrapping he found on sale in July. Habits he’d learned from once having to count each penny and having little during the great depression. In the back room, he grunts as he moves a chair and lifts a loose floorboard. His secret hiding spot. A last resort to hide gifts from his far-too-curious son. Then it was out the door.

At a street lamp at the furthest reaches from town center Henry’s son, ten-year-old Wayne waits. He’d just walked the seven blocks from his sitters, in anticipation of his dad’s getting home and allowing the opening of at least one gift as was Christmas Eve tradition. Wayne stands at the streetlamp beside his house staring up into the kaleidoscope created by the snow falling through the light above him. He loved doing this and only when conditions were perfect: at night, the temperature just below freezing, low clouds, no wind, and the snow has to be falling in large flakes. And always with some trepidation: he was sure his friends would think he was crazy. But these moments made him feel good, warm.

Sitting in the idling car Henry’s mind wanders…

Madeline gets into the car. “We’re late! Let’s go, you know Wayne will be
waiting. What’s wrong?”

“I forgot to get the gift. Damn it!”

“Is it in the hiding spot?”

“No, I forgot to buy it.”

“I reminded you many times, not on me.”

“What will we get him?”

Madeline pulls out a small wrapped gift. “Always prepared.”

“Oh thanks. Saved my skin again. Did you mean to give him that?”

“Bought it for last year, remember, you misplaced the gift, but found it last second?”

“Oh yes.”

A car horn wakes him. As he drives through the intersection he looks over to the empty seat and smiles.

Henry steers the car through the maze of the new subdivision. His shoulders stop throbbing and he smiles again to see Wayne under the light, jumping up and down.