20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers

Life After Death

She never quite had what others got so easily, it seems. She worked twice as hard and got half as much. Still, every summer she would find a way for a seed or two to curl their heads into the sun, sprout fuzzy, perhaps a bit prickly leaves that soon became a bud.One day, the bud would begin to open, showing its crimson soul. For a few days it would magnify itself, command comments on it’s beauty, then it would begin its trip home.

 Fall would come, she would hake her brown fluted bowl of seeds in the wind and finally succumb to winders cold and wind, break open and spread her seeds. And then spring would come again, and season after season, she would struggle to produce those lovely, fleeting blossoms.

 One year, someone mowed down her beautiful blossom, but she fought on for many years. Sun, rain, wind, cold, her strength lie somewhere inside that tiny seed. One autumn, it seemed no pod had formed,

No one noticed the one hidden in the soil. The poppy no longer bloomed in the place it had always been, But in the spring, a child scratched out a tiny patch around a new plant by her sandbox. She lined it with stones from the creek and soon, a beautiful red flower appeared.

 “What is this, mommy?” she asked one day.

“Oh, my! A poppy!” mommy gasped. “My Aunt Carol used to grow them! Be sure and save the seed pod.”

And she did.

In loving memory of Carol Johnson, November 5, 1948-August 1, 2013


I wish that I could be a prowling cat
or, ghostlike in the wall, hear pieces, bits
of whispered conversation. Oh. He quits?
How can this be? I feel my heart fall flat.

I wish my dad had not deserted us.
I wonder what we might have all become
if he’d not gone away and left us numb.
I felt a big subtraction, never plus.

I wish my father had approved of me,
shown his encouragement or his support.
Instead, he and my mom wound up in court,
their marriage then dissolved. He, fancy-free,

married again, then two times more. I saw
him try for happiness. O, how I begged
for his attention, but I had him pegged
right, and I sadly saw the fatal flaw

that kept him locked from free and easy back
and forth relationships. And how I wish
than cancer hadn’t spilled its nasty dish
into his lap to emphasize the lack

he must have felt. I stopped my wishing then,
forgave him, overlooked much, and calmed down.
He, after all, had shared his writing crown.
He’d lived Days One through Nine. Soon coming? Ten.


My Father’s Last Birthday

At the juncture

of life and almost-death

I saw him,

89 years, old,

surprised him on his birthday.

Balloons couldn’t cheer the room,

the gift bag too heavy

with its weight for what was to come.

We pretended cancer had not stabbed

him in the gut, but all around

the ghosts of Future leered.



A week or so ago I posted that a neighbor had been told that everything possible had been done to treat his cancer. His wife brought him home when the doctors had given him about two weeks to live.

He died this morning. I think he was in his early 50s, and was a husband, father, grandfather, and a dentist, a well-liked and respected professional in our community.

It’s a strange thing to consider. He was alive, and then he was gone. Such a presence…and then a voice stilled. That’s how someone’s death affects me, as a voice that’s been stilled. It’s a sad day in our little town.


A Sadness

Last night we learned the sad news that a neighbor, who has cancer, has about two weeks to live. He is about 50, the father of six, a dentist who is well-respected in our community, a strong Christian who does mission work on a regular basis. He is home because everything that can be done has been done. What courage this man is showing. He makes sure that others are taking care of their spiritual business even as he is about to be, as his wife says, “graduated into heaven.” Our community is in shock.

Every day is precious. I will look at my own frustrations as blips on a screen when I think about N.

Semblance of Symmetry….For Awhile

“Symmetry (from Greek συμμετρεῖν symmetría “measure together”) generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection. “

A lovely fountain, offering a quiet impression of balance and perpetual motion. It sets outside the elevators of the Oncology Wing. The elevators take you up and up to a floor that only offers a lack of perfection, an end to perpetual motion. You can sit by the fountain and gaze into it. Your mind escapes reality….for a little respite. It serves it’s purpose.


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