The Reed Flute’s Song

“Language and music are possible only because we’re empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home.” ~ Coleman Barks

The Reed Flute’s Song

Stay where you are

inside such a pure, hollow note. ~ Rumi

The last few years, perhaps because of Covid and the enforced isolation, each time I say good-bye when family leaves after a visit, I am filled with sadness. The scale of the sadness is in direct proportion to the joy I just shared while we were visiting. There are no words to convey the depth of my feeling. There are no words to hold all the love I wish to pour onto my loved ones. Although I have just spent a wonderful afternoon or evening with my children, or siblings, or cousins, I immediately long for more time with them once the door is closed and they are on their way. Is this even close to the longing Rumi is expressing?


Acknowledging life’s gifts

Grace and wisdom
Dignity, beauty, poise
Large family gatherings
Laughter and noise

Pumpkin pie and turkey
Gravy poured with ease
Cranberries as elegant garnish
for abundant dinner, so tasty

A prayer of thanks
Recognizing all that has been given
Appreciation for life’s bounty
All that makes life worth livin’

Grateful for life’s blessings
Goodness all around
Thankful for friends and family
Whose support and love know no bounds



(image credit:

Family and friends encircle
bestow comfort, warmth
add protective layer of strength

My heart swells with gratitude
reservoir filling
to nourish and quench in times of need
times when heartache withers
times of miscommunication or drought of silence

Yesterday’s troubles remain
not willing to leave without a fight
but they cower
in the presence of hope

My Baba with the Babushka

My Baba with Babushka

Comforting aroma of fresh bread
beaten, kneaded, punched down
frustration of monotonous existence
Sticky dough serves as punching bag for emotions
allayer of mood

Metallic tang of well water
dipped from pail on counter
smacks of earthiness and strength
necessary to draw it forth
to sustain others
How many pails have you hauled in your lifetime?
Buckets balanced in each hand
scales of impartiality measuring judgment in your mind?
Sloshing, spilling despite effort to save each precious drop
Water for washing, drinking, cooking
lever pulled and pushed
pumped up and down
brought back and forth
dogs nip at heels
white geese with orange beaks
honk indignantly as you cross their path
oblivious to your resentment with this plodding, repetitious task

Sweat on brow
hard working hands
calloused, hardened from toil in
garden and field
yet soft and welcoming
ready to lift and embrace
a teary tot or boisterous child

Mother Goose apron
fashioned from flour and potato sacks
full of seeds
or hand picked eggs
fresh from chicken coop nest
warm to touch
fodder for family meals
base of nutrition

Surrounded by relatives
Baba quietly goes about her business
stirring pots and pans
on wood burning stove
As she listens to conversations
raucous children
scurry about like
field mice underfoot
dart here and there
rustle her skirts
swishing movement
as little hands grab food
off the table
before dashing back outside
wooden door swinging in their wake

She patches clothes
sews patterns
in a mud chinked room
lit by kerosene lamp
electricity a luxury that she did not enjoy
until late in her life;
labours long after dark
heavy breathing, soft snores of family
nocturnal accompaniments
for this tiresome composition she is

Ukrainian accent held in check
broken English strange on the tip
of her Slavic tongue
hair held in check
by her dark babushka
sombre color
an echo of her
dispirited mood
stray locks of hair
attempting freedom
are pushed back
with weary hands

Her family grows
one by one leaving her behind
to pump water
and knead bread

Returning with their own families on weekends
a growing brood gathers
continue to drink metallic water
continue to eat fresh baked bread
flour dust clouds
Storm gathering behind Baba’s eyes

While the world progresses around her
her environment remains bleak and unevolved
pump and hold
pump and hold

Dimly lit
slowly fading
until one day

She leaves

She walks away
Her shift is done

She enters a home
for seniors
for those unable to care for themselves
for those unwilling to care for others

Some say she snapped
call her crazy

She grew tired
this beautiful “Aunt Jemima” Baba of mine
Tired of serving others
Tired of the well
Tired of the back and forth, up and down,
punching and kneading

It was time for her to be served
and that’s how it was
until she passed away
No more time on her primitive farm
Her sentence had been served


City Park Springtime

City life glimpses:
shaggy grey and white fringe
hangs in its eyes; patiently
waiting for owner to finish reunion
friends not seen since winter hiatus

Mama and papa geese stand guard
over brood of goslings who
waddle and stumble drunkenly
along muddy river bank

Green herbs outside busy restaurant
fill small wooden garden boxes
wait expectantly for use in
fresh salad or to add delicate flavor
to delicious entrees

Pedestrians amble
jackets and sweaters unzipped
tied around waist
wrapped around shoulders
air warmer than expected

Young lovers pose along bridge
spontaneous selfie
quick kiss
lingering embrace
self consciously pull apart
as others approach

Toddler whizzes by on wooden strider
oblivious to any danger
excitement alive on his face
His mother several paces behind
awkward on roller blades
her staccato movement
sharp contrast to son’s
blithe freedom

Cyclists zip along
warning bell heard second before flash past

Dogs on leash
dodging other park users

A flurry of activity
as city dwellers shed winter cloak
welcoming spring


(the photo is stock footage from the internet)

I have a blended family
we live in a blended world
all part of the same fabric
same cloth of life

any barriers or walls
denied access

are artificial

truth bleeds through division
seeps into awareness
permeates everything
if eyes are open to perceive

We are One
a colorful tapestry
a world of ideas, knowledge, talent


My Reality

As I release my disillusionment
Morgan raises her sleepy head
and sits up on the warm, moss covered rock
where she lay
She cocks her head
and looks quizzically in my direction

My hands are raised in supplication
tears fall silently down my cheeks
I am abandoning what I thought was
and I am facing what is
It hurts

Morgan says nothing
watching in silence

My heart is breaking
as I release my idea of what a family should be
media driven ideas of mother, father, children and a dog
social ideas of a nuclear nest that is warm, nurturing
a source of comfort

My reality is a reality of divorce
not amicable
custody battles
fighting for my children
fighting for my sanity

I look at Morgan
she remains silent
but I see compassion in her eyes

The emptying of my hurt continues

My reality is a reality of new beginnings
re marriage
step parenting
Welcoming more children into my life
I cry as I am accepted by these young people
but continue to face rejection by my own

My reality is a reality of joy but also disappointment
it is with the disappointment
where disillusionment lies
hopes and dreams dashed

Reality is hard to face
I want to hang on to what I want to believe
not the reality that is in my face

To have a child facing jail time is a harsh reality
what happened? where did we go wrong?
the blame game explodes to the surface
and is difficult to quell

To have a child feeling so distressed
they try to take their own life –
that is a much harsher reality

Morgan gasps and comes to my side
her silence continues
but her presence is comforting

The desire to help, take away the pain
make it better for my child
is consuming
but ineffective
I am rebuffed, accepted, rebuffed again
I can no longer hold any illusion of my world
Reality is before me and cannot be ignored

Morgan embraces me and holds tight
I feel safe, secure, protected
and wish I could do the same
for my family

As I embrace Morgan
I embrace hope
hope for healing of tormented minds
and restoration of severed relationships
I hope for loving kindness to prevail
for peace and well being for myself and my children

I hope for a new reality