Outside on this cold autumn day,
I am drawn to plants that have retained
a bit of red or orange
against the greys and browns around them.
The oak leaf hydrangea is all the more stunning
because it has the stage mostly to itself.
The prairie grasses go from green to gold to brassy.
It is encouraging that our eyes and sensibilities
adjust to the changes of the seasons
We become hungry for different sights and smells and tastes
than we were in spring or summer.
It is the same with a long love.
It would be a waste to spend time wishing ourselves young again.
Better to learn daily a desire for the gifts of the season.
Fragile etched lemonade glasses passed down
from great-grandmother to grandmother
to mother and now to me
Flowers and leaves
catching light on the tall sides of each glass
curved and opening gently at the top,
a delicate round handle says to hold the glass with care.
These glasses have lived inside of cupboards
behind glass doors.
Recently I took the glasses out to dust them.
They spoke to me of gentler times
and warm summer afternoons in the shade;
of time passing far too quickly,
of garden parties we never had.
It occurred to me finally
that I was meant to use them.
When summer comes
and my children
and grandchildren are gathered
I will take the glasses out of the cupboard
and fill them with fresh yellow lemonade.
We will take the glasses outside
hold them up to the sun
and toast generations past
and generations to come.
We will celebrate the fragility and beauty of life
and we will not be alarmed
if one or two of the glasses should break.
This National Poetry Month writing prompt was provided by my son-in-law: Incorporate the following lines from Marie Howe into a poem of your own. Then, and only then, read the original in “What the Angels Left.”
“It occurred to me finally
that I was meant to use them.”
Cari Shields is a self-proclaimed “dabbler” in the arts. She considers the time that she takes to write, draw, sew or take photographs as part of an exercise of living mindfully in the world. “For me it is less about the finished product and more about practicing the discipline of observing and being present in a given moment.”
Professionally, Cari is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who spent most of her career working in clinical supervision and program development in a non-profit. Currently she works as an individual and family therapist in a group practice. She believes that combining the best clinical skills with a strong sense of creativity and presence sets the stage for people to heal individually and in relationships.
Cari is married with three grown children and two grandchildren who bring her daily joy. She loves being outside with her husband and their dogs, spending time with family and friends, and helping lead the Taizé worship at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn.
Cari Shields is on the board for Anawim Arts and coordinates the work on our website.