Loving Little Arms

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HUG.
In response I’ll offer this poem from Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, who was born in Ontario about 1892 and lived in the Melfort, SK, district.

TO MY SON

Two little arms and two little legs
each night would kick and toss;
ten little scratchy finger nails;
all these belonged to Ross.

Ringlets and curls on a high-set brow,
with blue eyes peeking through;
little stub nose and flushy cheeks
as fair as heaven’s dew.

A loving heart in a wee broad chest,
reserved a place for me;
stood near the gate and waved good-bye
as far as I could see.

Two little feet ran down the lane
to meet me coming home;
those happy thoughts I’ll treasure dear
wherever I may roam.

A little brown pup close by his side
would wag his tail in glee;
each night when I came home from work,
they’d want to play with me.

Two little arms around my neck
would start to scratch and tickle,
saying, “Dad, I’ll give you one big hug
if you give me a nickel.”

At close of day he’d climb my knee
and cuddle in a heap,
saying “Daddy, tell me a story now
before I go to sleep.”

Brunch for Mother

The Haiku Foundation Poet’s Dialogue is doing a series on Food and the Senses. I’ve been inspired with that idea, but tend to miss the submission deadlines, so here’s the family brunch I’ve put together.

cutlery clatter
Matthew sets the table
wanted to crack the eggs

thunk thunk the wooden spoon
Jenna stirs the grape juice
pop goes the toaster

Brittany sneezes
Father performs the frying
sprinkling more pepper

Cole opens windows
tries to hush the smoke alarm
mother’s to be surprised

brunch is ready
Mother expresses delight
smoke alarm hiccups

He Had It All Planned

Last week’s Crimson Creative Challenge was the picture of an old bridge with a tunnel underneath. See it Here. I wrote this story in my head, but only now have I got it in a proper file.

It’s a modern romantic tale — a bit silly perhaps. Sadly, it violates Crimson’s 150-word limit by almost 600 words, so I’m going to use a different picture and post it as my response to today’s Word of the Day prompt: CAREFUL. Nevin’s plans were carefully made, but he didn’t factor in one little unknown that made all the difference.

 

Tunnel.Nuremberg

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE

“Here we are.” Nevin and Wendy got out of the car. “Let’s get us one of those paddle boats and sail away.”

Wendy’s eye sparkled. “I love paddle boats.”

Ten more minutes, he thought, smiling. Everything’s set up and the operation will be in full swing before she catches on.

But Wendy had stopped and was staring toward the dark opening. “Umm… Is that the tunnel you want to go through? It’s so…dark.”

“That’s the idea, sweetheart. Couples do a little smooching in the shadows before they come out the other side.” He kissed her cheek. “And I’ll be right beside you.” He took her hand and tugged her toward the paddle boat rentals.

She turned to him, her face pale. “Uh… I don’t think I can do this.”

Nevin raised his brows in surprise. “Why? You’re not scared of the dark, are you?”

“No. It’s just that when we were children my brother and I explored a cave one day. We didn’t know bats were roosting in it and our light scared them.” She shuddered. “We were so terrified. All those bats flying around us…and that awful squeaking. I’ll never forget it.”

“But there’s nothing to be scared of here. You can believe the River Council won’t allow any bats to roost in their tunnel. Come on. You’ll like it inside.”

They walked closer to the tunnel’s mouth and Wendy peered in, just as several high-pitched squeals drifted out of the tunnel. “Ack,” she shrieked and jumped back.

Nevin groaned. What’s he doing in there anyway? Tuning the thing? I’m gonna have some sharp words for him about his rotten timing.

Wendy was clinging to him now. “I’m sorry, Nev. I just can’t go in there.” The desperate note in her voice tugged at his heart.

Nevin pictured his careful plans sailing south. “Okay, I don’t want to force you to do something that terrifies you. You go back to the car, Wendy. I have to make a phone call.”

He pulled out his cellular as Wendy walked back to the parking lot alone, probably still thinking about bats. He kicked at a protruding cobblestone. Bats. Rats! Once he knew she’d be out of hearing, he dialed and waited for Cole to answer.

“Plans blew up,” he said. “Who knew she’d be scared of dark tunnels. And bats.” Nevin gritted his teeth. “It didn’t help that she heard some squeaks from the tunnel at the worst possible moment.”

“Hey, man, so sorry about that. I had no idea. Just doing a bit of…never mind. I’ll still get paid, won’t I? It’s my time. I need the cash.”

Nevin blew out a sigh. “Yes, you’ll still get paid. We’ll work something else out.” He ended the call, shoved his phone back in his pocket and headed for the car.

“Who knew,” Cole grumbled, replacing his violin back in its case. He brushed the strings lovingly before closing the lid.

“Women!” He yanked at the balloon strings he’d wrapped around a loose stone. And what was he supposed to do with these? The neighbour kids would probably like some balloons. They wouldn’t care about the writing… But they couldn’t be left floating around; he’d best just pop them.

He frowned when several strings pulled loose. Before he could grab them again, a capricious breeze swept the two bobbing balloons out of the tunnel. Cole shrugged and took a better hold on the others. Picking up his violin, he headed out the other exit.

“Look, Nev!” Wendy, standing beside the car, pointed. “Those balloons just blew out of the tunnel! Hey, there’s even some writing on them.”

Nevin slapped his forehead. He was so going to have words with Cole. Maybe I’ll only pay him half what he asked for.

If the breeze would at least move the things away, but no. The balloons dipped down and bobbed toward them; now Wendy was racing to catch one. Talk about the best laid plans going awry.

She succeeded in grabbing the end of a dangling string. “It says… Oooooh,” she squealed. “It says, ‘I love you Wendy. Please marry me’.” She turned to him with a huge grin. “Oh, Nevin, you’re so romantic!”

“At least I was trying to be,” he replied. “Things didn’t work out as planned.”

“Oh. You had these in the tunnel…and I spoiled it. But these balloons popped out at just the right time. And my answer is yes!” She flung herself into his arms. “I would be delighted to marry you.”

He grinned and wrapped her in a tight hug. “Then we have a perfect ending.”

Visiting the Home in Haiku

Visiting Grandma at the Nursing Home

I don’t remember, either
I told her
companionably

We play Yahtzee
even though she can’t read the dice
she can shake

holding Grandma’s hands
I should let go — but
her fingers are so cold

“Flower Garden” quilt
walking the winding trails
of her memory

I never told her
it rained last night
Grandma’s somewhere else

She tells me
Prince Charles visited today
bladder infection*

in the twilight
she folds her tired hands
one last time

* She really did. Bladder infection tends to cause nursing home residents to “lose it” temporarily. 😦

The Children’s Hour

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1820) was a prolific poet who became famous during his lifetime, unlike many other poets.  One of his poems, “The Day Is Done,” I memorized twenty years back and still recite in my mind at night when I can’t fall asleep. I find poetry much more relaxing than counting sheep.

In his own autobiographical book, Clive Cussler relates an incident from Longfellow’s life. Delayed in New York by his editor, the poet rushed to to dock to catch the ship that would take him home. By the time he got to the pier, however, the boat was pulling away from the dock and a gap of several feet was between Longfellow and the deck of the ship. He almost could have jumped it, but didn’t.

That night the ship went down. (In his book Cussler explains what caused the disaster.) The next morning newspapers along the Eastern Seaboard carried the tragic story and when Longfellow’s family read it, they were grief-stricken. Henry himself was shocked and immediately sent his family a telegram to inform them he’d missed that fateful ride.

In my National Poetry Month verse for today, the poet shows in a unique way how he would always treasure his children.

The Children’s Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!