Observations from a Porch of an Aging Southern Farmer

“Aging is a process of understanding. It is the collective journey of all emotion fed by a thirst for knowledge, enlightenment and meaning.”

It was a hot Southern morning in the heart of August in the Carolinas.  Humidity was already taking a toll on old Mason.  Sweat dripping from his leathery forehead and the sun up in the sky high enough to cover half the front porch.  His wife, who affectionately has called “ma” for the last 67 years was bringing a steaming cup of coffee; black just like he always drank it.

Mason nodded and continued his stair at the trees covering the sun just enough to make these summer days bearable.

“I reckon the farm hands be coming by soon.  Strange seein’ them whites and coloreds walking the path together.  Sure seen some changes round these parts.”

Mason turned to ma, resting comfortably in her rocking chair continuing to deepen the groove in the wood base below.

“This some good coffee ma.”

He struggles with his sentences now.  Some shortness of breath forces a slowing in his speech.  The deep southern drawl very pronounced.  For this old farmer, now retired, the porch is passing the time reflecting on a hard life until his inevitable demise.  The years are documented by the wrinkles under his eyes.  The blue sparkle now faded.

The creaking noise is soothing.  It is one of the few sounds still audible to Mason.  Familiar and constant.

“The cotton crop ain’t what it used to be.  Nothing but Yankees, colored and fancy cars.  It’s hard to be proud ma.”

“You are an old bitter man Mason Chapman.  Old and bitter.” She exclaimed.

Once, an affluent cotton farmer, Mason is the only remaining child of Emma and William Chapman.  The youngest of seven children, his heart beats last.

“What will we leave behind ma when they find our crippled old bones?”

“What are you talkin’ about, we?”

With all the muscle strength in his face, a smile reared itself.

“I gave you a good home didn’t I ma?”

“You did.  From the time you carved our names in that oak tree 68 years ago, my heart belonged to you.  You give me a good home and a good bed to rest.”

“I’d like to see Will today.  Reckon we can see Will?”

“Yes, love, yes.”

Mason tried to life his body with his thin boney hands.

“Now you stop you hear.  You will break in two.”

Ma got up from her rocking chair and lifted her 110 pound Mason upright.  Arm in arm they walked slowly down the three steps and walked to the side of the house.  Surrounded by layers of autumn colored leaves and pine cones stood a small unassuming tombstone.

They stood two feet from the stone and stared down.

“Oh Will boy, we miss ya.  You dun us proud.  We really miss ya being around.  He was a good boy, ma.  A good boy.”

“He was.  Polite, hard workin’ and a true Southern gentleman.”

“He was, ma.  He was.  I may be ready to see him soon.”

“You hush up Mason.”

“I’m tired.  I see folks walk by, young and full of hope.  I had my hope.  Now I’m ready to rest.  Let’s go back to the porch.  It’s safe there.  I’ll tell ya about the great crop of ’52.”

“I’d like that.  I’d like to hear that story a lot.”

Together, hands intertwined like a million other times, Mason and Ma walked around the house and sat on the porch.

The chairs rocked, and Mason told story after story until the warmth of the sun lulled him to sleep.

Ma smiled.

 

 

One Day – Original Poem

One day a boy met a girl
No fanfare.  Just a look in her eyes, a glance, a stare back
A secret smile shared

She grew up on Cinderella hoping to lose her slippers along the way
Him on tales of adventure
They both ran away through the fields of possibility
Wild flowers, grains and warm sun to guide their way

With passion flowing through their veins, they pursued dreams of a better place
To live a life of virtue and render a legacy of hope

One day a boy met a girl and then a lifetime of wandering with their life bag on their backs had meaning
The words were defined
The paintings overflowed with the colors of greens and blues

One day a boy met a girl and it all would change
A life of many shrunk to two

He breathed for her
She yearned for him
They both stood naked; stripped of their inhibitions and fears

Raw, honest, fresh
Each unlocking their box, exposing two hearts with a lifetime of scars
Each day, a healing process

With the touch of a hand, the secret smile now shared with many
No more hiding
In the open, they danced
They danced to the music of the night
Loud and thunderous; soft and slow
They danced
A life of music discovered

One day a boy met a girl
Both confident and independent, now shy and insecure
Goosebumps on a warm fall night
Unusual; memorable; extraordinary
On that day, they visualized a lifetime of love and locked it securely in the back of their minds
Always to come out in dreams

One day a boy met a girl
He found love; he gave love
She accepted

Tasting Life – Original Poem

She made me feel like I was ten
A little boy curious about love
It was a strange tingle; in a good way
In an innocent playground of concrete we stood

Romance blew me over like a locomotive train

When you held my hand, I was safe
I found comfort in your smile
Across the table, I saw us forty years from now through their eyes

You were secure in my honesty
I, in your insecurities
Your flaws so enchanting

When you introduced our date I giggled shy and blushing
I was proud to be by your side
That moment was the type of perfection I never could have scripted

I kissed you goodbye
Without hesitation; without delay
It was so comforting

Soft lips embracing

Right in that moment she was here; I was there
A modern princess in jeans and sparkles

I wanted to dance to the beat of your heart under the lunar crystal ball

The next rendezvous would have to wait….

I Cried Today – Original Poem

A child died today
In an instant, the pain went away
For the living, it only begins

The blood was poisoned by an intruder
Masked and anonymous

She sleeps tonight, wrapped in a blanket so fresh
Forevermore

Under the tent, sheltered from the rain, we weep
The book of life has turned its final page

We are all to young to know
In the clouds, we seek answers

A wedding ring never to be worn
A baby never born
A fathers dance now filled with empty arms

A child died today
Scared
Feeling alone

One last dream of a life complete
In her final moments, she was grey
The sun warmed her wrinkled skin
Just a fantasy; a silly fantasy

She felt the kiss from a stranger she would call love
The dream is over
Life gone
A child died today

I cried

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – Original Poem

Nobody feels anything
Why am I afraid to love you

When I was starving, you fed my soul
When I thirsted in the dessert, you quenched my need with your kiss
Your healing only hurt more

I must go now
Please don’t look for me
Forever with me you will be

Under this Manhattan sky hidden between towers of steel as high as the heavens, I will think of you
Fondness
Simplicity
Reflection of a time that was right
When a perfect storm met perfect harmony

You were a hurricane
Forceful and fierce
In an instant you spun me around, swept me into you spiral

I closed my eyes and accepted without resistance
Swallowed alive, but so safe in the eye

To hell and back I rode with you
Fire in the engine
Lucidity
Blurriness disappear
Clarity like sharp crystal hand blown from the mouth of a divine spirit

Now it is time to say hello and wave goodbye

With fondness, I trail the footsteps of the past imprinted on this road of heartbreak

So Close – Original Poem

In a world of light and darkness
Fate and free will
There was you

Please forgive me

I know not what I do; what I fear; what I say

Once upon a time, I penetrated you
Did you hold back your love?
Life a stone to a glass house, it all shattered

To feel the pain of this loss, I walk a half a mile on the sharp edges of the glass
Bleeding and screaming, I hope you hear my call

Why did you have to say goodbye?

We were windmills spinning in circle
Turbulent winds increased the intensity of the spin

There is no wind now
Dormant and still
In rain, snow and sleet we stood

I wanted to seek shelter in your dreams
I couldn’t see you in the darkness

Why did you say goodbye?
Did you get what you deserve?
Do we all get what we deserve?

Was I your disease; your cure?

So close we came, yet so far away

Fear Goes Away – Original Poem

It’s a mistake

We are moving backwards
General, we must retreat
The troops are perishing
Who is the enemy?

In the mirror I see a gun pointed at me
Guilty by a jury of my peers
Sitting and laughing with their horns pointed to the clouds

I hear the sirens
Warning lights blind me

Can I find comfort in the life I have led?
Mistakes I have made?
The classic fool

Betrayed by the life I trust
But driven by a conscious pursuit of inner peace

Should we all die to eradicate the fear or journey through this fragile corridor translucent with a mosaic of past and future?

Yes
Yes
Yes

The fear will go away
Slowly
The fear will go away

Soon, we will all understand