Posts Tagged 'memories'



At the 9/11 Temporary Memorial

So many gods, so many creeds

So many paths that wind and wind

While just the art of being kind

Is all this sad world needs

                       Coexist

We recently visited the temporary 9/11 Memorial in New York City and were haunted by what we saw there. Across the street they are building the permanent memorial and you can sometimes hear the sounds of construction.

A few minutes earlier we had been in the small church a block away from the World Trade Center buildings that had acted as the first trauma center, helping victims find medical help. It had been partly covered in debris from the collapse of the buildings, debris that took almost a year to completely clean up.

Here in the memorial are twisted beams and recovered shoes and combs and other personal items (including cell phones). In the basement is a bulletin board where the staff posts the comments of visitors from many lands who visit the memorial. Among the comments I found the above poem and copied it down. I don’t know who wrote it but it carries a brief but powerful message that resonated with me. It is a poem I wish I had written.

We will long remember the event, but unless we stand in that place and feel what the victims must have experienced, we have missed the most important part. We don’t have to hate each other. We will never all agree on anything, but we can agree to respect each other’s lives and grant each other the choices that God grants to all of us. Until that happens, we will continue to hurt and be hurt.

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

 

Today I planted both my feet

On Gettysburg’s broad, grassy hills

Where Mister Lincoln once had stood

To speak of deeds both brave and bold,

To honor men now buried there

Who fought for what men dare to seek:

The freedom and the liberty

To chose a way in which to live.

What thoughts were there in Lincoln’s mind

As he looked out upon that field

At circles of the myriad graves,

And knowing what his hand had caused?

But in his heart he knew ’twas true,

The value of our nation’s light:

Our constitution’s guarantee

Of rights for each and every man.

Is this the cause to make a man

Resort to killing other men?

Is there not any other way

To solve our petty differences?

The sadness in the spoils of war

Surely lived in Mister Lincoln’s heart

As he looked upon thousands of graves

Of men whose lives exist no more.

Hal C Clark

July, 2010

On July 1st and 2nd, we were in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania touring part of the battlefield and some of the museums connected with the battle. This was the anniversary date of the battle (July 1-3, 1863) and lots of people were about. I especially wanted to see the National Cemetery that President Lincoln dedicated on that November afternoon (November 19, 1863).

The markers were arranged in semicircles and as many were marked as they could identify, either by name or by the area they came from. It is a quiet place with lots of space and trees for shade. I sat there for a while, trying to imagine that day.

History records 51,000 casualties there in those three days: 8,000 killed on the battlefield, 6,000 more died soon after from their wounds, others taken prisoner, some unaccounted for.

Later I went to a house in town where President Lincoln spent the night and prepared the final draft of his address. The featured speaker was Edward Everett, a noted speaker of that time who spoke for about two hours. When he was finished, the President stepped up. He had been invited as an afterthought, to give a “few appropriate remarks.”

I have included a copy to the address in this post. As you may notice, President Lincoln had a very concise and complete way of speaking, saying more with these few words than Edward Everett had with all of his (By his own admission).

As always, I would appreciate your visit and your comments.

Executive Mansion,

Washington, , 186 .

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal”

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow, this ground– The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedica-ted to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, Draft of the Gettysburg Address: Nicolay Copy. Transcribed and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Available at Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division (Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, [2000-02]),

At the Grocery Store

At the Grocery Store

 

She’s not very tall and

She’s probably nine,

She looks up at me

And I see the first sign

Of a smile on her face.

It starts as a grin,

Then it moves to her eyes,

As wrinkles form thin

Little lines in the corners

And across her small nose.

I wink and she laughs,

Thinks I’m strange I suppose.

She and her mommy

Go on down the aisle

And then round the corner,

So I shop for a while

Through the cereal boxes,

Then, from a yellow-box cave

I see two smiling eyes

And a small, timid wave.

Hal C. Clark

May, 2010

Being a retired elementary teacher, I enjoy the interaction with kids wherever I am, and this is often at the grocery store. I get different reactions to a smile or a funny face. Mom is usually comparing prices or engaged in other serious endeavors and the child is looking for any kind of distraction. This poem is a playful treatment of such an encounter.

We are on the road and have had a busy ten or so days – In Newport, PA for an autoharp gathering and workshop; in Gettysburg Pa for July first and second (the date of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg), and then to Washington DC for Independence Day. I have missed my writing time and blogging time and I apologize for the long time between posts. I will try to do better. I am currently working on two poems, one of them concerning Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address which I also plan to post on this blog. As always, thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you will post a response.

Silver Angel

Silver Angel

Her frame bent like the cane she trusts,

The weight of years then bows her head,

In shuffling shoes she creeps along,

The squinted eyes cast toward her bed.


No daughter’s touch guides shaky steps,

No children’s laughter cheers her face,

The silent roar of nothingness

Dwells with her in this dark place.


But count the keen lost memories,

The golden grace her soul must hide,

And never share the tales of loving

Life when she was once a bride.


No diamond crown or noble court

Reserved for woman such as this,

’till God’s bright welcoming embrace

Shall bring her home to glorious bliss.

Hal C Clark – March, 2010

I was in a grocery store one day when I noticed an elderly lady pushing a shopping cart who seemed to be alone. She was using the cart for support and moving slowly. The lines of this poem began forming in my mind.

When I got home I wrote down my ideas and began putting them together. I have no idea of this lady’s circumstances, but this is the image my mind produced. In our fast-paced society, we are not always aware of the needs of our seniors, who try to maintain some dignity in spite of their handicaps.

It isn’t pleasant to be forced to ask for favors from others. I try to remain aware of the people around me (as, I am sure, all writers do) and make myself available whenever it is called for. But I must remind myself to allow them their space so they can feel that sense of independence. It is an important balance.

Serenity

Serenity

A scent is wafting on

The winds of my mind,

Faint and distant:

Memories of a sun-filled

Summer day long past.

Silver colored lichen rocks,

Clear tumbling streams,

And I in the middle,

In the company of

My thoughts.

Elation buoys me in

The purity of all

Elements surrounding me.

God shows His face in

Every perfect part.

I am at rest in

The serenity of

His arms and

I am assured of

His presence

Hal C. Clark

Summer 2007

I love sitting out on a pleasant summer day, soaking in nature through all my senses, being free of all man-made noises and objects. I have had only one true solo experience, high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, hearing no human sounds, seeing no man-made structures. It is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything about that trip, but this poem was written sitting beside the Poudre River, sitting near a group of pines, soaking up the warmth of the sunshine.

Some people feel the need to be around others at all times, but my heaven is blissfully peaceful and quiet. I like to exist only as an observer and see nature as if I weren’t there, as if I had no effect on my surroundings. Impossible? Sure, but I can dream, can’t I?

I am thankful there are still a few natural areas around the United States. I hope and pray we can save a few for my grandkids in case they, like me, look for serenity.

Memories

Memories

 

Fly away Sam.

Let your spirit soar and

Explore the wondrous world you once knew.

Your spirit is free,

But your memory lives in me.


Sam was a neutered male Siamese cat who once lived with us. He came to us fully grown, long and leggy, having a personality I instantly admired.

We had a female Siamese already in the house and she guarded her house with a passion. She would hiss and growl when Sam walked by and he would simply look at her as if to say “Who put their galoshes in your lemonade” and walk on. That was typical of his attitude. He ignored conflict if he had any choice about it for as long as he lived with us.

The female eventually moved with my daughter to an apartment and Sam stayed with us and he was a delight to have around. But there came a day when he was less active and wasn’t eating. The diagnosis came back: feline leukemia.

I didn’t want to let him go. His illness came at a time of transition in my own life, and this was my first real conflict with death. This was a conflict I couldn’t avoid. I tried to give him the medication and get some fluids and nutrients down him, but with less and less success. He seemed to look at me and ask “Why are you tormenting me?” He didn’t understand that I was trying to help.

We came to a point where it was obvious death would win. It was pointless to continue distressing him, so I took him to put him to rest. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I hated losing to this disease.

After we buried him, I just couldn’t let it go. All the conflict was still inside, churning through my mind. From somewhere came the small verse above and I was thankful for it. It gave me a sense of continuity, a partial victory.

Over the years, I lost track of the poem in my notes and couldn’t remember all the words until last night. In the middle of the night, I woke with all the words in my head just as I had written them so many years before. I got up and wrote them down. Why did they come back to me? I don’t know, but I felt I should share the story. Maybe someone else will identify with this story and be helped. I invite and welcome your comments. Please share.

Hal C Clark, March 2010


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