Anciens Part II - We Stand
by Denise Berry
White bones on warped and crooked frames hang elegaic and heavy, with storied groanings and countless lessons. We hear only the crack and pop of frail limbs breaking- We do not hear their voices or see the beauty of the fragrant dogwoods yet to bud and bloom. Why can we not recall the heft and sweet fragrance of their mature timbers, all around in the shadows of the temple? The lean-they wait-they endure-and bear ice with grace. The icicles drip down the seconds, hours and minutes of our very lives- the cool water we will not drink. For these riches-are these anciens to be despised, cut down? Left for firewood to be consumed and forgotten? Perhaps we have forgotten who was always there to shelter us from the rain, Or in whose mighty laps we sat, Or who was there to point our way out of forests dark. Is is too late to ask them What they witnessed before you came? Even though they are weighted by snow and clasped by ice- ideas teem within, concepts, memories, of battles fought and lost-or won- and faint-oh so faint memories of why. Do not hate the snow, it, too, is a promise. Perhaps before these charcoal-anointed trunks are bent down and burnt, we will not rush to the next attraction- the larger parade- or try to read the last page first to determine the outcome of their story, but breathlessly wait for the Spring.
By Denise Berry
The young woman ahead of me, form-fitting trenchcoat and fashionable shoes;
nevertheless could not stand straight; her back hunched under the weight of a…papoose?
No papoose; but one mimicked; faux lacing of a backpack.
Heavy textbooks, lessons learned but not yet assimilated.
Oh, but you will carry a papoose too, on your back or strapped to your front,
My daughter’s consuming desire for the future bundle-the precious cargo.
I feel it immediately, consumingly.
How do I tell her the carrying cannot end there?
The burden is life-all of your seconds, minutes, hours, days-months-
–years inexorable; ones experienced-ones imagined-and the ones which can’t be borne.
When you are done carrying baby [she will talk, crawl, walk, learn, drive, fly!]
and just when you mark and marvel her progress, [it is done!]
Then-you will carry another.
You will carry your mother.
She will fall, she will break, she will stop talking, she will suffer and endure.
she will suffer and endure.
She will grow tiny and fragile.
You will take her arm-then push her wheelchair.
One day you will not have to push-she will not need it,
Confined as she is to bed. And then she is gone.
Light as a feather she is when you hold her, hollowed out, soul and essence vaporized
and as you hold her you realize
she will never feel your heart beat again.
You will not realize what you lost until much, much later and
that too cannot end…then the cycle will begin again.
Just when you think you cannot bear it, again you will carry.
again you will carry.
You will carry life:
a mewling kitten, a rescued plant, a beautiful new baby,
a book of poetry you birthed as surely as your own daughter;
you will realize that what you carried is now inside of you,
carried more lightly yet carried still:
Mother, you are an unending mountain stream,
a ceaseless whispering waterfall of words,
a forest full of lofty thoughts-
nonending opening doors for others,
kind smiles for hundreds-even on bad days,
compassion for people worldwide,
people you do not even know and will never meet.
all this carried, secretly or not, treasured, borne royally
my very own Ark of the Covenant,
carrier of all carriers.
Denise Berry's BIO
Denise Berry currently has 20 years in public health administration and international humanitarian relief fundraising. She has also worked with CARE USA, Carter Presidential Center, and the Centers for Disease Control in International Health. Denise and her family has lived and worked in the US, Germany, and The Netherlands. She loves learning. Her current focus is deconstructing American history to discover TRUTH: researching WWII and international history. Denise loves writing and languages. She is planning to write a book from the manuscripts her father left. Most importantly, Denise is working on the legacy she will leave for her granddaughter Amelia and her daughter Sydney; one that incorporates truth, faith, and justice.
Listen to Denise Berry's SOREN LIT interview: https://anchor.fm/melodie-rodgers/episodes/Denise-Berry--SOREN-LIT-FALL-ISSUE-2021-e1ardnh