Poetry

By Mildred Barthel


Beginning with Today

Empty pages of the journal
glare in pale anger at me,
as I quarrel with words:
Words—to be the legal tender
for all my private and public debts;
words—in pots watched toward the cautious
boil, so no one is burned;
words—blunt, cold, and drab in notion,
without a chuckle beneath the
strain of recording;
words—unguarded startlers, contaminators
contributing to shortened lives
into the next generation.
No wonder the pen is silent!
Opening the journal,
I stop worrying words
and write from love.

A Lesson in Adversity

Traveling by bus,
those around me slumbered,
yet sleep eluded me.
I thought how fortunate
my companions were,
oblivious to the aches and pains.
They missed the tedious hours.
They missed the pouring rain.
I envied them so—
until they missed the rainbow.

When Time of Parting Comes

Does a person newly dead
Indulge in tears
When pausing for a moment
Just beyond the veil,
Beholding loved ones overcome by grief,
Retreat from what was once a bed of pain,
And murmur sad good-byes?
And does the newly dead
Rejoice that mortal agony is over,
Mingling tears of thankfulness
With sorrow for the parting from the loved ones:
Mother for her little children,
Father for beloved wife and family,
Child for loss of earthly home …
Can the spirit thus released
From all the heaviness of earth
Forget at once the happiness
That came from friends
And all the beauty earth life
Sometimes held …
And leave with no regrets
Or backward glance?
Must the leaving differ greatly
From those poignant moments
When we say good-bye
To take our leave at any time
And be without the company of those we love
For many days of longing loneliness
Or for an interlude of years?

[photo] © 1997 Digital Stock