SAYING THE UNSAYABLE

How many times did he say the unsayable,

Before I finally got it?

“I’ve met the most wonderful woman

in the world” he said.

“I don’t love you” he said.

“I want to be single and free”,

saying the unsayable.

 

And the time came

When I said the unsayable.

“Fly and be free” I said.

“I am getting a divorce”.

“Oh, you say that now”

he said,

“tomorrow you will change your mind”.

But I found myself

After twenty six years

Saying the unsayable.

“I have to get on with my life”

I said

“and you aren’t gong to be a part of it”.

And now, when I reflect on those events

Which took place so many years ago,

And ponder on how much my life has changed

Because in the end

I was able to say the unsayable.

“I don’t love you anymore”.

And I knew it was true.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally written

January 23, 2009

UPDATED October 20, 2018

 

 

 

LETTING GO; AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD #26/FINALE

 

It was the youngest son, Luke, who finally returned to the homestead, on a clear March day, when winter is still present on the plains and everything is bleak and down trodden in the way that only a bitter winter can induce. There was not the least sign of a bud or blade of grass.

He had gone to the bank to see Mr. Hodfstader, the man who had handled all of his father’s affairs, and was given an envelope with Luke’s name on the front, and inside a skeleton key. The farm was still in the family; pa had been reluctant to ever consider selling it; Luke’s mother had been buried on a hillside not far from the house, where a cherry tree had grown for years to the delight of his mother who knew that cherries did not grow willingly in this region. But Luke’s mother could make anything grow, to the amazement of those who witnessed the vegetables and fruits and that mama could produce. Mama would say it was the coffee grounds she spread under the trees but no one else could make their coffee grounds perform miracles. Mama spread coffee grounds under her rose plants, too, and had the finest roses in all of Iowa. Mama really had a green thumb.

The house was shabby and bleak-looking as well. The windows had been boarded up after some mischievous boys had taken slingshots at them, breaking two of mama’s precious windows. Luke opened the front door with the skeleton key; it was dark and dusty inside, the only light filtering through the open door.

In the kitchen, it was—Luke thought—like a time capsule. There was mama’s range on which she cooked stews and soups and delicious chicken and dumplings, there was the oven in which she baked breads and sweet rolls and a strudel that she learned to make from a German neighbor who lived not far away from them. On the wooden table was mama’s big yellow bowl with a wooden spoon resting inside. Everything was dusty from the dirt blowing in through cracks and crevices. Luke looked around suddenly – seeing movement to one side of the kitchen – and then – it was as though time split – for there was mama taking a pie out of the oven, turning to him, smiling, over a cherry pie.

Mama?” he was incredulous. It wasn’t a ghostly image, she was solid.

I made a pie just for you,” mama said, setting it on the wooden table. “I knew you were coming.”

Luke’s head spun. He could smell the cherry pie, he could see it, and he could see his mother, smiling broadly.

How….how did you get here? He finally asked, standing frozen afraid to move, afraid she would disappear.

It was not easy,” she replied. “I have been saving up for this moment. All of my energy has gone into it. I knew you were coming, eventually. Seems like only a day but I know it had to be a long time. I   died….” She faltered, a long time ago. I could not bring papa with me. He did not want to come.

Luke stood, staring. Finally he asked the question uppermost in his mind.

Mama, what should I do? Should I keep the farm or sell it? Some big farmer wants the property—I could have your remains moved to another place, to a cemetery…” he stopped, hardly able to breathe. He was talking to his mother about her remains.

His mother pshhhed in a way that only mama could do when she thought something unworthy of discussion.

Bones,” she said, “do not mean anything where I am. I only came, Luke, to tell you to let go. You don’t have to keep this farm. Let it all go and get on with your life. I see you sometimes. I know there is a woman you want to marry. Let go of the past, son. Only your future matters. You can let all of this go…” and suddenly, without any warning, mama disappeared. Luke turned around, looking intently. He placed his hand on top of mama’s stove. It felt warm to his touch. And there, on top of the old wooden table….was a cherry pie, still steaming hot.

How did she do that? He wondered.

Then, another thought – was it real? He took the wooden spoon out of the bowl and dug into the pie with it. It was real. It was mama’s cherry pie. He tasted it, almost burning his tongue.

I’d sure like to know how you did that,” he said aloud. Then he took a fork out of the kitchen drawer and sat down to eat cherry pie, right out of the pie plate.

When he had eaten, he said—again aloud—“You’re right, mama. I’ll sell the property. There’s an interested buyer. Maybe you can tell papa. I’m letting go. It’s time to get on with my life…. I love you, mama…”

Somewhere, far off, there was a little tinkle of bells, something like a wind chime.

Luke washed the pie plate and the wooden spoon and his fork. Mama would have felt disgraced if he didn’t clean up after himself.

When he left, he took mama’s big yellow bowl with him, along with the wooden spoon. He didn’t look back as he got into his car and drove away.

He was letting go.

–Sandra Lee Smith

Originally Posted July 25, 2012

Updated October 19, 2018

Sandra’s Footnote: I have been saving the above as a finale to the American Childhood series. I hope you all have enjoyed reading it,, as much as I have enjoyed writing it. 😊

CELEBRATING PAGAN FEAST DAYS

We call ourselves a Christian nation but isn’t it funny

That most of our holidays are based on ancient pagan

Feast days?

Ever wonder how that all came about?

Actually, it’s simple!

In the early days of Christianity, leaders knew

It was necessary to choose feast days that

Coincided with pagan celebrations, in order to win

Converts. And so, we have the Spring Equinox,

Sometimes known as the Festival of the Trees,

But better known as the Feast of Eostara (The

German fertility goddess) and the Babylonian

Goddess Ishtar – or “EASTER” (isn’t it something

To discover the origin of words (word origins have

Always fascinated me) and to learn that the Christian

Celebration of Easter can be traced back to the

German fertility goddess Eostara?)

This is a time of perfect balance between light

And darkness , brings the first day of spring and

A time of fertility, a celebration of life returning

To earth. Bunnies, eggs and children are sacred to

This feast. Among some Paleopagan cultures in

Europe, the Spring equinox was the date of the

New Year and some Druids refer to this holiday

As “The New Year for Trees”

The Summer Solstice occurs around June 21 and is

Also known as St John’s Day and Midsummer, and

This is a feast celebrating the glory of summer and the

Peak of the Sun god’s power; this day originally

The first harvest of the year’s crops.

The Fall Equinox, often called Michaelas, is the last

Pagan holiday of the year and this is a thanksgiving

Feast and signals the beginning of the “hunting season”

In many parts of Europe and North America; it is

Dedicated to the Hunting and Fishing deities and the

Deities of plenty; it is also known as the second

Harvest Festival, Fest of Avalon and Cornucopia.

The Winter Solstice, also called Yule, Christmas,

Midwinter and Saturnalia, occurs around

Christmas, December 21—it is a day sacred to the

Sun, thunder and fire deities; Large fires were build

Outdoors and yule logs lit indoors in order to rekindle

The dying sun and help it return. Burnt logs and ashes

From the fires were kept as a charm against lightning

And house fires. AND (this last custom knocked my socks

Off) it was also a custom in paleopagan Europe to decorate

live evergreen trees in honor of the gods but cutting down

a tree to bring it indoors was considered a blasphemous

Desecration of the original concept.

I had to agree. Maybe I’m really a pagan at heart.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally composed October 22, 2009

 

 

 

 

PLACES IN OUR LIVES (Spring Break, 2012)

What can I write about “places” today?

I’ve witnessed so much and  now I can say

that life in the desert is different from most,

at times it’s a place of which I’d not boast,

but one time we drove, my grandkids and I,

over the desert, under deep, blue  clear skies,

the canyons were green, a myriad of shades,

with creeks and  lakes and deep canyon glades,

In places, we saw golden poppies in bloom,

and wondered if it were not a bit soon….

We came to the ocean and here we were met

with startling sunrises, breathtaking sunsets;

I told them the story of grandpa and me,

and the times we had spent, here by the sea.

Throughout the world there are places like this,

Enchanted places that fill us with bliss,

and all of your life, there’ll be places to love,

the kind you will cherish all others above,

In your heart  you will keep memories like these,

to remember forever, whenever you please;

“remember the time”– you’ll say to your brother,

or sister, or maybe a friend or a lover;

Remember the time we went to the beach?

and recall the memories, all within your reach.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

FOR SAVANNAH &  ETHAN

Originally posted June, 2012

Updated October 17, 2018

THE HOUSE OF SPIRITS

it was a house of spirits

but somehow we always knew

they were a gentle kind of ghosts

who never meant any harm.

They never broke things or

made disturbances

but simple made their

presence known from

time to time,

like the time

when my nephew, Ryan, was a toddler

and was in the living room

alone but talking to someone;

his mother asked him

who he was talking to and

he said “the boy in the ceiling”;

“Oh” I said “He has seen the

house ghost”

We used the term singularly

but I came to believe

we had many such spirits

sharing our house and

gardens on Arleta Avenue.

Once, a girl my youngest son was acquainted

with came to the house and walked

around the back  yard, saying

she sensed a presence and thought

it was an Indian boy.

And once, when Kelly was very

young, a voice called out to him

one night from his bedroom window,

asking him to come out and play.

When he told me about the voice

I said “Just don’t go outside at night”.

Another time, a psychic friend of mine

was visiting and as she sat in the

living room on the sofa, she said “You

know there is a cold spot here”

to which I blandly replied, “so,

sit somewhere else”

I knew the spirits were there;

I knew they enjoyed my presence

amongst them and were happy

with the changes we made to

the old house and the yard.

Everything we planted flourished

and trees grew were none were

planted – simply volunteers.

I surmised that the seeds were

flying about and thought oh,

this looks like a good place

to land.  We had volunteer

peach, loquat and nectarine

trees.

We knew that an old couple had

lived in that house at one time

perhaps when the original part

of the house had been built.

I often thought I could sense

a presence when I was working

in the kitchen.

It was a house of spirits and my

heart aches, wondering what has

become of them and whether or

not they are still happy spirits.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted June 17, 2010

Updated October 16, 2018

MY EMANCIPATION

Now my story  can be told since we got

the emancipation and Mr. Lincoln done

freed all the slaves. He died for that,

you know.  That actor fella up and

shot and killed the President but we

had already been declared free. But

this all happened long ago and that

Great War seemed to go on forever.

afore that war ever got started,

we was slaves.

There was my brother, Moses, and me

and we escaped from Alabama, you

see, with just the clothes on our backs,

but Moses had a knife and I had my

banjo. I couldn’t hardly leave my

banjo behind,  you know.  Moses

laughed at me over that.

We snuck off in the middle of the

night, goin’ through rivers and criks

to throw off the dogs and I can tell

you, I was scared of the water

moccasins and alligators but you

are more scared of the dogs and the

men and their guns and ropes

so you just keep goin’ because  you

know, sure as God made lil’ green

apples that if you get caught you

will be beat to death or wish you had.

We just kept goin’.

I hated to leave Susanna behind like

that but she was a house slave and

a’sides, she was gonna have our

baby.  Moses and me, we made it to

Louisiana but you know, you are

still not safe.  We stole potatoes in

some fields and green corn that is

not too good to eat when you have

to keep moving; we just kept goin’.

Then from New Orleans, we headed

north following the big Mississippi river.

We didn’t always know which way to go

but we just didn’t know any better.

And we had heard tell  that if you

follow the big river long enough,

you will get away from the south

and slavery.  So, that’s what we did.

We hid in the grass and weeds by

day and we trudged forward,

north, by night.

sometimes we could hear the dogs,

from a great distance.  We was both

bit up from the mosquitos.  We

was hungry and we was tired but

we kept going, doing all that we

could to keep from  getting caught.

sometimes we laid down in the river

and breathed through reeds

whenever we heard anybody

getting too close.  It was a

terrible time, let me tell you.

In Springfield, we found refuge

and when a young white feller

said he was going to California

and that there warn’t no slavery

in that place, Moses and I ast

if we could go along with him.

He said we had to pretend we

was his slaves and tho’ Moses

and I didn’t much like the idea

We could see the sense of it.

This fella knew someone who

made up fake papers for us,

and got us some better looking

trousers and shirts so we didnt

look so raggedy, and we

traveled along some more

until we made it to St Joseph

where we joined a wagon train

going to California and we all

worked hard to pay our way

and be allowed to travel

with this group.  and our

friend, he turned out to be

a good feller.

At night there would be fires

around the wagons and I’d

get out my banjo and play

everything I knew and all

the white folks on that

wagon train, you know,

they all liked to hear my

music.

Come hard times, crossing prairie

and mountains and desert,

rivers and all sorts of places

on that trail that you would

not believe unless you saw it,

and those white folk would moan

and complain about how hard it

was, Moses and me, we’d just

smile to our selves ’cause white

folk don’t know nothing about

a hard road.  We could tell them

plenty about a hard road.

Acourse we didn’t try to tell

any of them anything.

Oh, Susanna, don’t you cry

for me. I had a dream and

you were running down the

hill to greet me and when I

had that dream, I told Moses

I knew you were dead.

Moses and me, we done

made it to the promise land.

It is called California. And

that feller who helped us out,

he found gold in California and

got rich.  He gave us our fake

papers and that helped us get by.

Nobody really cares about those

things in California. Everybody is

busy getting rich.

Moses and me, we worked

for a woman who did laundry

and got rich doing that.

Can you picture it?  People

got rich doing every manner

of thing, and at night we went

to the saloons and I played my

banjo for the white folk.  They

clapped their hands and tapped

their feet.  I played  Oh Susanna

don’t you cry for me  I came from

Alabama with my banjo on my knee.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted May 26m 2010

Updated October 16, 2018

 

 

 

TWILIGHT

In the twilight of my life,

real truths became revealed to me,

and knowledge came to me

through a  series of experiences;

I wondered why these truths were not

revealed to me sooner,

and the Great Mind of the Universe

made me realize that, before,

in the sunshine years of my  life,

My mind was not ready to receive;

However–now–perhaps, I was

prepared to learn and accept

that which we are all sent here to know,

but some, perhaps, choose not to learn,

Choose not to accept.

What should I do with this knowledge,

I wondered,

and the answer came to me;

I will know it when it is the right time.

In the twilight of the passing day ,

I look to the skies, seeking answers.

 

–Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted August 14, 2010

Updated October 15. 208