I put the suitcase I borrowed from
my mother in the trunk and got in
My father drove and smoked. And
smoked some more. He is usually
lecturing nonstop by now. I cracked
the window open to get some air
then closed it again. His visible
nervousness made me even more
nervous. He started talking. After
each cigarette, he’d open the window
just enough to flick it outside then
close the window without interrupting
his monologue. He never wanted to
hear anything I had to say, so I
listened to his World War II Army
stories again about his basic training
in Burlington. No post there now.
I think he was trying to give me advice.
He pulled up to the front of the AFEES
building in Newark. As I got the small
vinyl suitcase out of the trunk he asked
me to please write. We sort of hugged.
I started up the steps as he drove off.
Seems like just the other day. That trip
to Newark ended with a late-night bus
ride to Ft. Dix for basic training.
It was fifty-five years ago yesterday that
I enlisted in the Army. Thank you, my God,
for your protection and care. You are my
refuge and strength. You alone are God.
The rest is ancient history.
all things are forgotten
except for the memories
for they are our own
they made us who we are
maybe not who we thought
we wanted to be
and what of the other memories
they cast light on the shadows
in life with hope for the life
just like the knowledge of God
cannot be listed as a memory
Hurricane Laura hit us about one in
the morning. The noise and the heat
awakened me. The power was out.
It sounded like there were two big
powerful locomotives moving at top
speed. One flying past the front of
the house and one in the backyard.
The two large elms and giant oak
in the front cast elastic shadows.
I sort of slept from three to six or
so. A cold water cleanup. No shave.
No electric but the stove is gas. I used
a lighter and boiled water for coffee.
I went to the top cupboard and took
down my old Bodum French press.
It was fine for the two of us. We moved
into the TV room where I opened two
windows and the side door to get some
air. Hot air is better than no air. A light
breeze crisscrossed the room. The rain
stopped. By dusk the wind started to
die down. We talked back and forth all
afternoon. I cooked as the light faded
from the windows. We ate by lantern.
Back in the TV room, she shrieked.
Her fan came on. Power was back on.
God is good. The gift of another day.
our cross on the wall
is simply a reminder
of God’s faithfulness
I can’t be having the thoughts I’m having.
The thoughts of past abuse never go
completely away. I understand that.
Those thoughts spawn other thoughts.
And before I know it, I’m back in a place
I don’t want to be.
Pain and pleasure converge once again
and I’m in touch with the confusion of
the eight-year-old that was me.
It is Satan’s fuel fanning the fires of past
abuse freezing my thoughts for today.
Fiery arrows aimed at the heart to destroy
whatever is true. The breath of an angel is
all it takes to quench this Hell fire and
bring me back into God’s grace and truth.
Light and darkness can never occupy the
same space. All it takes is a candle of faith
to dispel the darkness.