Long Ago, Friday Nights in Texas
Light explodes from darkening skies.
Yet, light unleashing elemental forces.
The fragrance of recently mown grass
As would be remembered by a thoroughbred
Not so long ago a colt
Building muscle and endurance
Running like the wind through the grass just because
You were meant to run like the wind when you are a colt.
Cold seeps up from the turf
Capturing breath in small clouds.
Flesh trembles, not in fear, but
Chilled by expectation and by evening frost.
In that moment, Summer dies…
And not the imitation of Fall we know in Texas
Where leaves turn brown (maybe yellow) and fall to the ground,
But the Autumn of New England
In which colors erupt and the change of season
Does not merely mark time,
But defines it.
Self-induced pain of preparation
Excites the spirit
Providing a point of reference for what is to come;
Showing the other colts the stuff you are made of, and
Convincing yourself you are of that stuff.
Murmur turned roar
Filling ears and hearts.
Rush and clash.
Exquisite pain and dull ache of
Real injury and perceived failure
Imagined glory and true courage
Victory and loss
Fading colors diminished by sweat, mud, and grass.
There are those whose colors remain pristine
Having not crossed from outside the lines
Yet also brothers, not yet baptized by sweat, mud or blood
Wearing the colors with pride
Ready and willing to share accomplishment and pain
Even though not blessed with the skill or luck or desire or genes
of those between the lines.
Embarrassed only if someone is cruel or thoughtless or neglectful
(As is too often the case when hormones or tradition are involved).
The same muffled explosion that heralded the brightness
Calls forth darkness.
But not nothingness.
Rather existence subdued
Glanced, not fully viewed
Slowed by exhaustion
Warmed by effort, physical and emotional.
Joy, measured by relief. Or,
Disappointment, muted by the expectation of another day.
I am not asking you to laugh or cry;
That you think of this as silly or heroic….
…It did feel this way on Friday nights in Texas, long ago.
A Train at Night
Before you hear the whistle,
Your ear feels.
The rumble separates itself from ambient sound.
Mind recognizes “train” when the rumble changes pitch;
Locomotives struggle in tandem to pull upgrade,
Or stagger as consist plows forward.
Heart recognizes “train” when the whistle blows . . .
Such a sound . . .
The noise longing to be gone makes.
The noise wishing she was here makes.
The noise the past makes for those old enough to know trains.
The noise the unknown makes for those just coming to know trains.
Silence seems, at first, to follow the whistle.
But it is not true.
For what follows the whistle is what follows the power first felt by the ear.
The train’s heartbeat.
Two beats, two beats, two beats, two beats, two beats . . . .
A rhythm to rock a child to sleep.
A rhythm to whisper a song.
A reason to count the cars that pass.
A reason to forget what you were fretting about
Before your ear felt the coming train.
No matter the length of the train
This goes on and on—interrupted maybe once, maybe more – by a dying whistle,
To the point where your ear feels no more
But your mind and heart long for the pulse to never die away . . .
Love for the rocking child.
Echoes of that whispered song.
Fretting you forgot to do while a train passed in the night.
Not merely the opposite of sadness.
Profound, deep happiness.
Peace, not the absence of violence, but the presence of well-being.
Connection with creation, and thus with the Creator, a shared experience.
Our souls thirst for joy like our bodies thirst for water.
Without water we cannot live.
Without joy it is too painful to love.