Creative Writing

April 25, 2015

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April 24, 2015

Thorns

MOM

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April 21, 2014

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Beyond Oak Creek
Slide Rock, Sedona, Arizona

Beside juniper-lined trails
Away from the suffocating crowd
At each bend nature prevails
Under the cover of towers proud

Between arms of Emory Oak
Through the shade of Ponderosa Pine
Along the way red rock spoke
Of sentries posted in their design

Toward mesas rising high
Beneath guarded towering faces
With permission, I pass by
Into high sunlit sandstone places

Thankful to be given the chance,
I sat and watched the shadows dance.

*****

April 17, 2014

Obsidian

Refined in fire before your birth
In a molten tempest below the earth
A powerful force of glowing red
From an explosive rage you made your bed
Your living colors changed into black
Exposed your weakness in conchoidal crack
But in that weakness, came edges honed
With opaque fractures to cut to the bone
Mystery in darkness deep inside
Brings light to truth, with nowhere to hide

April 15, 2014

Brown’s Lake

Standing, staring from the shore
in a place I’ve never been before,
wondering how it would be
to let myself go, to be so free
to step in off solid ground
and break the shackles that keep me bound.

Seemingly clear at first glance
like diamonds sparkling as they dance.
Tips of waves play with the breeze
rising, falling, and chasing they tease.
Dragonflies join in the fun–
iridescent needles in the sun.

Here am I, unsure and small,
Longing to be a part of it all.
She’s the brave one,” so they say.
Being alone will make you that way.
Fearful of what lies below
I break the surface and in I go.

Don’t fear I hear deep inside
There’s no current here, there is no tide.
Looking down, I see my feet
Where shallow water and rocks do meet.
Some stones shift and some hold fast
So much like people– present and past.

Step by step, I see them fade
I turn back, see the progress I’ve made.
Giving in to its embrace
and gentle caresses on my face,
In this way the lake holds me
Here in its grip is where I am free.
April 5, 2014

Exploration

take my hand, come with me
we will go where the land
surrenders to the sea.
there we’ll find treasures lost–
iridescent trinkets
worn with time, turned and tossed

hold my hand, and we’ll go
where the sky reaches down
to the pines as they grow.
we’ll find a quiet place,
watch meadow flowers dance
in all their breeze-blown grace

take me to rocks of red–
layers of earth whisper
stories of those long dead.
we will seek, we will find
ancient paths made of stone
and journey where they wind

take my hand, hold on tight
we can be together
as the day turns to night.
the stars will understand
what i see in your eyes
if you just take my hand.

© Sara Jones 2014

Under the Oak Tree

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I find comfort in the shade of your arms
Like a child in a mother’s embrace.
And it was from childhood, you knew me.
Laughed with me,
Observed me.
Guided me as I wandered, discovered
The gifts you left me on the forest floor.
Gifts as precious as gems in my young mind.

I cried for you when my sister’s knife cut.
She carved her name and left you deeply scarred.
I fumed with anger when I saw you bleed,
And I knew
It caused pain.
Years later, the evidence of her crime
Remained, though faded and stretched with your growth.
In your own way, you remember my tears.

Now I have acquired scars of my own.
I, too, have bled from wounds that cut deeply.
You notice those scars and you cry for me,
As I did
Cry for you.
Just like you, the scars have faded with time.
I grow, and they become harder to see,
We share this- a bond that can’t be broken.

I am no longer the child you knew.
Yet, I return and know I am welcome.
Your arms reach wide, offering your shelter.
I take it,
Needing it.
Feeling as though I have stepped back in time,
I touch you- our souls again connecting.
Quietly, we rejoice in our union.

Your exterior beautiful with age,
Speaks of wisdom and long ago stories.
If only I could reach deep to your soul!
I would know
History.
I might see the little girl that was me
Before I became the woman I am.
A life that changed before your watchful eyes.

©Sara Jones 2014

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The Telegram

Author’s note

A couple weeks ago, I couldn’t decide what to write.  I clicked on WordPress’ “inspiration” link and below is what popped up:

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house:

Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

I love ghost stories, so I decided to take on the challenge.  The house in the photo reminded me of the little farm house my stepmother lived in as a young child in Alberta, Canada.  We visited the house a couple summers ago while on vacation.  To my stepmother’s dismay, the house was in ruins, much like the one above.

I initially thought I would write a scary story (I’m a little morbid like that), but I couldn’t do that to a house that looked so much like my stepmother’s childhood home.  The story that developed is pure fiction, although some of the names were plucked off my family tree.

Please keep in mind as you read this that, even though I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was nine years old, I’ve never been brave enough to finish a story and then make it public.  As with any written work, changes could be made to make it better.  I could spend my whole life trying to “perfect” something I write, but I know I have to stop somewhere.

Please feel free to leave a comment, if you’d like.

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The Telegram

I held the Western Union telegram in my hands and read it for the third time- as if the message would somehow say something different.  The words were the same, as I knew they would be.

The Secretary of War desires me to express his deepest regret that your husband Private First Class James C. Brennan was killed in action 17 December in Belgium.  Confirming letter follows.

I stared blankly at the piece of paper that brought my world crashing down. My vision narrowed until the telegram was all I saw. It seemed so far away, as if at the opposite end of a long tunnel.

My knees started to give way and I sat down hard on the doorstep of our little house. The house James and I shared for only a few short months.  I could hear the baby crying through the open door, but his wails barely registered.

“Etta, I’m sorry. James is—was—a fine young man,” said Len Allen.  “His pa and I knew each other a long time.”  He kicked his worn boot at a clump of wheat grass then cleared his throat.  “I can stay a bit, if you’d like.”

I shook my head no.

“I’ll send Emily over tomorrow to help with anything you need.  I know she’ll want to.”

“Thank you, Mr. Allen,”  I said without looking up.  My voice sounded small and strained to my ears, but it was all I could manage.

I listened as he started up his old truck and drove down the road.  I knew it wasn’t easy for him to deliver this message.  He and James’s dad had been close, having grown up in the same small farming community.  I learned later that Len had been in town that morning and been enlisted to deliver the telegram to me.  He didn’t need to read the telegram to know what it said. I wasn’t the first widow of the war and we all knew what receiving a telegram meant.

As I sat on the doorstep, I expected the tears to flow. They didn’t.  I don’t know how long I stayed there waiting, but the baby’s cries grew louder, bringing me out of my stupor.  I stood, brushed off my skirt with my free hand, and did what I had to do.  I carried on.

The tears did come, late at night after I put Thomas to bed.  I allowed them to flow silently and in private.  I remained strong during the day because I had to. Although the farm never had the chance to grow as big as James and I had dreamed, it took all my time and effort to keep it going.  After putting food on the table and providing the base essentials, I somehow managed to scrape enough money to pay the farmhands each season.

Sometimes, in the quiet of the evening, after our quickly growing son was sleeping peacefully in his innocence, I would think about James.  I relived in my mind the first time we held hands, how he kissed me on the porch swing of his parents’ old house and told me he loved me. It was in these quiet moments I could feel James’s presence.  Sometimes it was in the way the candle flame danced in the absence of a draft.  Other times, it was in the warm breeze that caressed my face as I sat on the front step and searched the heavens for answers to questions too painful to speak.

I grieved for the dreams we lost to the war.  I wept for the boy who would never know his father—and for the father who never had the opportunity to see his son grow into a man.  I wondered when—if—my heart would ever stop hurting.

I was still young, so I knew it was expected that I would marry again.  In our small community, older women often told me I would have to stop living in the past at some point and find a husband.  The few close friends I had tried their hand at matchmaking, without success.  I knew they meant well, but I was not ready … and wouldn’t be ready for many years.

I married Samuel Ganhart six years after I lost James. He was a good, honest man and I loved him for that. Our marriage was one of convenience and practicality. He needed a wife and a mother for his two young daughters. I was tired of being alone and my son needed a father. What our marriage lacked in romance and passion, it made up for in stability, comfort, and familiarity.

Thomas and I moved away from our little house the day I married Samuel. The house and its property had been sold to the son of a neighboring farmer. As I gathered up the last of my household items that day, I whispered good-bye to our little house and the dreams it represented. I shut the door, descended the step, and walked away without looking back. I was afraid if I did, I would see James’s face watching as I moved on without him.

I learned years later, that the little house had been abandoned and became derelict. The owner built a larger house to accommodate his growing family not long after Tommy and I moved out. It was what James and I had planned to do, as well.

I made the long drive out to the house only once—the day after I saw my second husband laid to rest in the ground. That was in June of 1969. It was a much older woman who stepped up the front step than the one who once sat upon it searching the stars. I made my way around the debris gathered inside the doorway and entered the sad skeleton of a house. The glass in the windows had been broken out, the door was torn off its hinges and missing, and the wooden floorboards appeared to be rotten in several places. The litter scattered everywhere was evidence that it had been used often by the bored youth of the small town.

Although there were birds singing outside and a gentle wind was teasing the tall grass, the sounds did not seem to carry into the house. I was afraid to venture too far across the weakened floorboards, so I stopped short. I could see my old home in its entirety from my vantage point.

Then, as if a floodgate had opened, the memories and emotions of the years spent living in this home poured into my mind: the first few months filled with hope and joy, the years of pain and loneliness, the fierce love I had for my son, the hard work, the struggles, the joys. The impact of these memories left me lightheaded and breathless. For a moment, it was as if I had been transported back in time.

I closed my eyes so I could savor the feeling. It was then that I felt the lightest touch of a hand brush across my check. I wasn’t afraid; I knew it was James.  His hand came to rest along the curve of my jawline. I dared not open my eyes for fear the moment would abruptly end. His whisper was more felt than heard. “It won’t be long, sweet Etta. I’ll be here.” I opened my eyes, startled at the clarity of the words that saturated my soul.

A slight chill embraced me for a couple of beats of my heart, and then let go. I stood, transfixed in wonder. The longer I remained, the more I questioned whether the experience had actually happened. Gradually, the sounds of summer filled the space through the windowless panes and open threshold. I knew it was time to leave, but I also knew I would see the house again.

Three months after that warm day in June, I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I was blessed in that I had time enough to say goodbye to Thomas, my beautiful stepdaughters, and my eight grandchildren. I was ready to go. To let go of the pain cancer had visited upon me. I was ready to see loved ones who had already passed. I was ready to see James.

I left my body in January of 1970. One moment I was sleeping soundly, thanks to the painkillers I was being fed, the next moment I was released. I drifted away from what was once me and watched as my family cried over my passing.  I left them, knowing their tears would cease and they would move on.

Time no longer had meaning. There was no fear, no pain. I was free and that freedom led me to our little house. He was there, waiting, as he promised. The house was whole again, just as it was when we first moved in. James was twenty-two, handsome, and dressed in his wool, olive-drab uniform. He smiled as I found my way into his arms.

As he held me close, I felt lighter and my waist was the size it was before I became pregnant with Thomas. My hands were free of the wrinkles and pigmentation that comes with age. I didn’t need to look in a mirror to know my face was that of my twenty-one-year-old self.

I also knew we were not meant to stay in this place. This world was no longer ours; it belonged to our son and his children and they did not need us. There was another place for James and me. Taking my hand, James led us to the door of our little house. I stood beside him as he turned the handle and opened it. Together, we stepped off the front step and into eternity.

© Sara Jones  2014

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