Friday, January 18, 2013

Homeward Bound                                                                                                         

If we leave right now the tide table says we have an hour and a half until the morning high.
We are filled with apprehension for we know not what awaits us.
Always prepared, we pack our boots, our chest waders, the camera
And so we set out, full of hope, and homeward bound.

It has only been 24 hours, the traffic lights are still out, the stores are still closed.
There is not much to see as we enter the neighborhood.
Piles of broken Phragmites, pushed half way up the matted lawns by natures fury.
So we drive on, still hopeful, homeward bound.

Heading ever southward on the neighborhoods main road,
The scene grows steadily worse with downed wires and the roots of fifty-year-old trees
 forming the ropes and poles of natures new grass carpet tents.
We drive on slowly, picking our way through the wreckage, homeward bound.

We must stop. The road is still closed by flooding with a half mile yet to go.
“You better have waders.” Came a shout from the house beneath a downed tree.
“The water is up to here.” He pointed to his belt. “Come. Sit on my stoop to change.”
And so we did, as hope faded and stark reality settled in. Then we went on, homeward bound.

It is a heart-straining trudge in ice-cold water. A waist-deep-half-mile of North Atlantic Hell. 
My legs grow numb, my heart pounds in my chest with every step I take, and the tide is still rising.
My mind replays the news reports of so many men having heart attacks. 
Pace yourself.  Don’t die now.  She needs you.  We are homeward bound.

At 50 yards we can see the high-water mark, half way up the bay window.
I shout commandingly; “We’ll only have 20 minutes to look around, or the tide will cut us off.” 
There will be no time for precious memories, there will be no time for tears. 
But at least we are together, and homeward bound.

I unlock the door and I must put my shoulder to it to push it open.
Yesterdays prized possessions, are today’s debris that floated to the doorway, and blocks our way in.
I find a figurine that belongs in the den, in the mud of the living room, and I instinctively clean it.
The first small step, of a very long journey, homeward bound.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hope was born under the harvest moon, as a long tailed comet was streaking across the hollow bowl of the big dipper.  The superstitious among us called it a sign, a good omen sent by the gods.  Hope was a rare jewel, born with ten fingers, ten toes, and two eyes. According to tradition we waited to see if she lived for the passing of three days before she would be examined. So many of the babies do not live that long.

I dared to thank God for His gift of Hope even though the God of Adam and of Isaac and of Abraham had gone out of fashion long ago.  There were a dozen or so of us in our small community that still believed.  We still had hope, and now we have Hope, with her ten fingers, ten toes, and two eyes. 

The faithful prayed over her crib for the three cycles of the Sun, and with the rising of the sun on the fourth day, the Elders and the Wizards of the community came to see for themselves this child with the ten fingers, ten toes, and two eyes.  They came, and they saw for themselves, that Hope was still alive. 

Hope. People from a different community, driven by jealousy, envy and covetous hearts might hate her for her name alone, for jealousy, envy and covetous hearts are the destroyers of hope.  We must shelter her from strangers.  If it is discovered by the local Warlord that a pure one has been born to us he would seek to hunt her down and killer her before she grows, before Hope can become a threat to the world’s darkness of spirit.

Here at home she will be loved and nurtured by our community of survivors.  As she grows she will learn to read from the Bible.  Her Mother and I still have one.  My forefathers refused to burn it for light or heat that first horrible winter so many generations ago.  I will teach her the difference between straw and hay.  Her mother will teach her the difference between weave and woof.  The Bible will teach her the difference between right and wrong.  The petulance wrought by mankind, to afflict mankind… will teach her about pain and suffering, about life and death.

The medicine woman, wearing an ancient white cap, came and examined the child.  Hope was found to be without spot. Glory be unto God, the mark of the petulance was not on her.  She would keep her ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes.  The Elders spoke to my wife and I.  They asked that we have many, many more children in the hope that more, like Hope, would be born into the community.  They wanted to know what magic we had that gave us this wondrous child. I showed them the Bible and said, “Hope. Hope sprang forth from the pages of this book, from the hearing of the words herein by my wife and I.” 

From that day forward at the dawning of every new day, all the people of the community gathered at Hope’s doorstep, and listened to the reading of the book.

Hope. ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes.  Perhaps she is the Savior we have been waiting for.