Poem for Dan Brown (and Rogier van der Weyden)

Crucifixion by Rogier van der Weyden

“Poem For Dan Brown” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Unhidden, open, pouring from the heart
Of more than one medieval work of art
Lies truth revealed: Jesus, hands apart.
No hidden wife, no secrecy, no grail.
Only blood and water. Human. Frail.
His mother and some friends still hover near,
Half-sensing truth that’s only hinted here:
A ripping sound; an ancient law repealed.
And mystery at dawn: the tomb unsealed.

June 22, 2006 (rev. 08/22/14)

Poem for my Grandmothers

wchair skeleton
photo: Wheelchair Skeleton | by cindy4752 on flickr

“Poem For My Grandmothers” by Sharon Rauenzahn

The nursing home smells
less bad than they usually do.
Someone has cleaned up the urine,
hung potted plants,
made an effort to make the place
a little less hospital,
a little less un-home.

The sane among them knit baby caps,
carve wooden trains,
take dance lessons this week,
web-browsing the next,
or merely sit and watch things grow
in the courtyard sun.

Others keep their own pursuits.

The smiling woman waves,
says “That’s my grandson.
He’s taking me home tomorrow!”
of every man who passes by.

The angry woman slams her wheelchair against the wall,
backing and slamming, until a nurse materializes,
wheels her back down the hall.

“I don’t like this hotel,” my grandmother complains.
“They change the rooms around,
And then you miss breakfast.”

Behind an open door, a man shouts
“Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!”
at the top of his lungs
to an empty room.

Across the hall, my grandma the pastor’s wife
lifts her hands again to lead the singing,
all this endless
Alzheimer’s Sunday.
“That poor man,” she whispers,
between verses.
“He’s lost his dog!”

January 1, 2008 (Rev. 6/17/13)

And the word was

dulcimer strings“And the word was” by Sharon Rauenzahn

In the beginning, God spoke a word
And the word was love
And the word was power
And the word echoed
Still echoes
Vibrating the eternal strings of chaos
The strings of order
Of order into chaos and back again

If we could tune our ears to the deep invisible bellow
Of the cosmic microwave background radiation
Would we pick out that word?
We look backwards toward Creation
Listening to darkness
Looking at sound
The first bell and the last trumpet together
In infinite ring

Let there be light!
And there was light
And it was good
And the light is power
And the light is love
Word without end

Nov. 6, 2015

i love you, she says

Amy Rauenzahn crop

“i love you, she says” by Sharon Rauenzahn

i love you, she says, climbing up sleepy into her bed
and she does love me
see you in the morning, she says, closing sleepy eyes
and she will see me in the morning
and she will see me at 3am too
the creak of a door, a rustle by the bed
mom i had a weird dream, she says
and i will hold her a while, warm, hair smelling of sunshine
and then i will walk her, sleepy, back to her bed
i love you, she says, eyes closing against her pillow
and she does love me
and she will see me in the morning
all the certainties of childhood inhale and exhale with her
and they return to me too, in half-forgotten faith
that love lasts forever
that kisses cure
that mom & dad are stronger than any nightmare
that every morning is a new morning
and every day, highly likely to be a good one

Nov. 5, 2015

Office visit

doctor-1228627_1920“Office Visit” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Stuffy nose, toenail fungus, digestive disquietude.
This tired feeling, that little wheezing cough.
Worries about my husband, worries about my kids.
That checkbox for heart disease, on my father’s side,
Or thyroid, on my mother’s.
Surgeries, injuries.
All the bits that used to work better, when I’d used them less.
You know you’re getting older when you still check
For health that would have appalled your younger you,
Some other office visit,
When doctors were old, and you weren’t yet.

Oct. 29, 2015

These days, those days

rearview mirror crop “These Days Those Days” by Sharon Rauenzahn

A hundred years ago
I’d have died in childbirth
Five hundred
I might have been a nun
Or died, probably
Of an ear infection gone wrong
Or something vaccinatably
So when my mother
In the profound certainty
Of later years
Shakes her head, says
“The way things are these days”
Or even better
Tells how this country has gone
Down hill since
Her days
Those days
Without flush toilets
Or a hospital to go to
When her own mother nearly died
Of three days labor
For a fourteen pound son
Undiagnosed diabetes
When even white help
Had to knock at the back door
Mom, are those the days?
You nearly died of Whooping Cough!
But these days
Even on the good days
Remembering days
She sees it all turning dark
And so will I
And so will you
When those days are these days
When I am old and certain
That these days are the
Last days
When the strange woman in my mirror
Tells me I’ve lost myself
I will wish it all back
To the past I live in now
Those days, these days

Aug. 31, 2016

Seagull Children

Morro_Bay_California_seagulls crop

“Seagull Children” by Sharon Rauenzahn

The children flap across the playground
Wheeling and turning, wild in the spring breeze
Their voices the calling of seagulls
Ocean echoes on a blacktop sea
Jackets flapping, backpacks flapping
Soon they will take flight
Headlong into the wind
Wheeling and turning
Lofting up over the lunch benches
Over the monkey bars
Over the classrooms, the library
Even the flagpole
Out will come the office lady, shouting
“You come down right now!”
But it’s too late
The warm air lifts their wings
Sails them higher and farther
Out of reach, out of sight
To some other beach
Or a job they never thought of
I taste the salt air on my lips

March 29, 2016

Winter Sonnet


“Winter Sonnet” by Sharon Rauenzahn

I set my calendar to match your moods:
Cold times come to you more days each year
Than all our neighbors know. Though sitting here
Away from you, I feel your winter’s chill:
Despite the springtime air, some storm occludes
Your voice. In that despair, no green can thrive;
Frail seedlings planted here may not survive.
Despite my care, an early frost can kill.

But every winter passes, and the spring
Must visit soon, whose sweet renewing rains
Will melt your ice-bound heart, refresh the soil,
Make earth again grow eager for our toil.
With thaw, I soon forget the winter’s pain:
And love, this while, feels warm, a summer thing.

May 13, 1993
(rev. 8/24/2016)

Muscle Memory


“Muscle Memory” by Sharon Rauenzahn

My hands recall the road.  Despite the storm,
these fingers follow lines my eyes can’t see
now all the world’s gone grey; they turn the wheel
just so against the curve, make tires conform
despite the washing rain.  Just so my cheek
recalls a certain touch, that certain warm
not-quite-caress that makes my stomach wheel
in sudden rush of nerves, despite the steel
I’d thought encased my heart.  A sudden swerve:
a patch of ice, and tires lose the curve
to race, unchecked as heartbeats, spinning free
against the shoulder (will I lose my nerve?)
and back to road (familiar as the feel
of rushing water) as my hands, now weak,
recall the road, despite the tears and storm.

February 7, 1992