Mauretania

Have you ever watched the sandpipers at Marina Del Rey?
Their little bird heads bob back and forth. The thinnest
bird legs you’ve ever seen move them quickly across the
sand.

All kinds of boats paraded by making their way slowly
up the channel, seemingly unnoticed by the sandpipers.
It was the mysterious Mauretania that really caught my
eye. It was from another time.

I pictured Bogie and Bacall at the piano bar below.
I can see Tracy and Hepburn looking out over the stern.
Fred and Ginger dancing and singling their way around
her romantic deck. I can hear Norma Shearer’s laugh
echoing from the quarter deck.

I could see my dad on the Mauretania. Wearing a soft
white skipper’s cap with a shiny black brim. Sharp
white trousers and deck shoes. He was a snappy dresser.
In my mind’s eye, he looked the same as he did in the
pictures I remembered of him on his family boat going
up and down the Hudson.

Dad during the Depression cleaning the twin engines.
Skippering the boat for party rentals. He, grandpa and
family out on the boat. He seemed happier then.
I never knew him that way. My memories of him were
better in pictures.

After making its way past me through the channel, the
stately Mauretania turned out to sea. I watched her
until she was no longer in sight. I sighed, paused, and
reflected. So many mixed memories.

When my dad had nothing left ahead of him, he moved
to Nyack where he could see the Hudson from his
apartment. I think he was trying to recapture the joy of
life that somehow evaded him. He died there.

I turned and started to walk back to the car. But
movement on the sand caught my eye. Those little
sandpipers were still at it! I smiled at them. Nothing would
alter their quick pace or keep them from their destiny.

Nor would anything keep me from mine.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Weeds and Flowers

A weed lived as a flower
in the eyes of the child who picked it.

That is, until it was cruelly thrown
away by the one to whom it was given.

Her wet cheeks dried as she waved
goodbyes to the beautiful weeds and
flowers through the car window.

When you grow up, I hope you will be
able to forgive. You see, my sweetheart,
weeds and flowers grow in all of us.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Macbeth’s End

Once upon a time, there was a dark prince who
waged a protracted war against the people.
He delighted in ambushes of the mind.

While swords clashed in the heavens, chaos and
confusion oppressed the people in the light of
day. The enemy sabotaged our highest hopes
with deep despair.

Our lives became deserted battlements where hearts
smoldered in ruins of rage. And so the story goes.

If this was fantasy, wouldn’t you want to know
how it all began? If this was a mystery, wouldn’t
you want to know who did it? If this was a
comedy, wouldn’t you want the laughter to linger?
Certainly, you would!

Lean close. Let me whisper. Macbeth’s end would
be too good for this dark prince! I know how this
story ends. The dark prince will come for a time,
then go, but a people will rise out of the ashes.

How? By the power of Him who breathed life into
Man. By the power of Him who raised the Lamb of
God. Hear the name of truth and life being spoken
softly to the ear of your soul. It is the name of He
who was, when history had not yet happened,
and the future was fully known.

Like the “emperor with no clothes,” we think we can
cast shadows in a dark room. In the light, the scars
of our hearts mirror the scars on His hands and feet.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Makeup

There are scars people can see.
They don’t hurt as much as the
scars people can’t see.

You wear them well. For now.
We all have scars. I guess it just
depends on what we do with them.

Time will pass. Some will still
stare at your figure. Others will
gawk at your good looks.

Most won’t see past the exterior
glaze. I thought, “Sexy. But looks
pretty hard. Not for me!”

Can’t you see that the makeup you
wear doesn’t cover up a thing?

As we get older, our bodies wear
the character of our souls.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”