grandfather: a poem

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month, so I’m finally posting a poem. Better late than never, right? ; )

I wrote this the day after I came upon my Grandpa sitting in his rocking chair in the sun room, peering toward the outside beyond the window, and quietly singing “Amazing Grace” and “It Is Well with My Soul.” It was a beautiful, simple moment in which I felt overwhelmed with love, respect, and reverence. Grandpa gave me a gift without compare. I’ll never forget it.

grandfather
by Courtney Cantrell

he is ninety-four years old
and much has changed

he has set aside the politics
he has rejected the lies
he has turned his back upon the old ways
that once told him

     grace is conditional
     deity is wrath
     love depends on the boxes you check off

          tradition becomes less necessary than Truth

he is ninety-four years old
and can barely see

old retinas give him darkening blurs
where faces used to be
and yet some Sight remains
and yet he can still recognize

     the children of God
     the house of the Messiah
     the bride of the Savior

          clarity becomes less important than Compassion

he is ninety-four years old
and the musica universalis is his symphony

his rocking chair creaks
like his voice as he lifts it in praise
“sometimes i just have to sit and sing a little”
his wavering melody weaves peace into the heart

     cruel death has no power
     he rests in amazing grace
     it is well with his soul

          proficiency becomes less significant than Passion

     simplicity is his father’s wont
     love is his father’s Word
     these are his father’s world

          and he adores his Lord.
 

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.

–Maltbie Davenport Babcock

When The Salmon Speaks, Do You Listen?

This made sense when I drew it. I swear.

Or: The One That Got Away

Last night, Trish and Becca came over to help me select a few of my paintings to donate to the Consortium’s art fundraiser. Afterward, Becca and I chatted about all things artsy, including noveling and blogging.

As I was replacing paintings on my overloaded art shelves, Becca said, “I almost had this great idea for a new story…but it didn’t quite materialize, and now I can’t remember it.”

I nodded in sympathy, having experienced such non-remembering of ideas more times than I care to not-forget. For a few moments, we discussed the merits of Writing Things Down, and then I remembered something.

“You know,” I said, “I just remembered something. I read somewhere that if we don’t quite remember a story idea, then maybe it wasn’t a valid story idea after all. If it really is The One, it’ll probably pop up again, even if we don’t write it down.”

Story Ideas Eat My Worms

Grandpa used to take us kids fishing every summer when my parents and I congregated with aunts, uncles, and cousins at the grandparental home in Oklahoma. We’d go out to a family friend’s property and fish from this rickety, ancient, sagging wooden bridge (which was okay for the ’80s but probably wouldn’t hold water [ha ha] with any safety standard of today).

Sometimes, we caught a fish, and there was much rejoicing, since Grandpa would be the one to clean it. Most times, though, we’d feel a twitch on our line, yank our fishing pole back, and reel in nothing but a soggy, half-eaten worm who was definitely not having a good day. Those crafty fish knew just how much to nibble without getting themselves in trouble. Which goes to show that a catfish is smarter than a 9-year-old human.

Last night, after Becca went home, I had an absolutely cramazing idea for a blog post.

I didn’t write it down.

This morning, I woke up not to a bright, sparkly new idea — but to a half-eaten, soggy, grumpy worm.

Big Fish Story

No! It really was that big! I promise!

I remember things about that blog post idea. It was gonna be smart, it was gonna be snarky-funny, and it was gonna give you dear inklings some great how-to-do-something info. That unwritten, now much-lamented blog post was going to be one of my best yet. It was gonna be The One.

It got away.

So now, I’m asking myself: Was that really The One? If it were The One, wouldn’t it have stuck around? Since all I ended up with was mangled bait, does that mean the Big One is still lurking out there somewhere?

And that thought leads to the image of me, wading out into the deep and getting half a leg bitten off by something that I wouldn’t have wanted on my line in the first place.

Ideas can be scary. Some of them have sharp teeth and are big enough to swallow you whole. They wait out there where it’s dark and deep, and oh, they move fast. I picture them as deep-sea angler fish the size of a VW Beetle.

Gone Fishin’

So, if you clicked through to that angler fish picture, you’ve now seen one of my greatest fears. Angler fish fascinate me — mostly because I find the sight of them terrifying. (Imagine my surprise and relief when, a few years back, I found out they’re about the size of my hand. Or smaller. No VWs, thank goodness.)

But, in spite of my fear, I still go fishin’. No, I’ve never fished out on the ocean — but even when I’m standing on the bank of a placid Oklahoma lake, my imagination supplies the endlessly deep water and the lurking, fishy creepazoids, thank you very much. Those shiver-your-spine thoughts don’t deter me from fishing…

…but still, let’s just say I’ll never become a noodler. ; )

Gone Writin’

So, what about this write-it-or-lose-it thing? Honestly, I can’t tell ya. I carry my scribblebook with me almost everywhere, and I’m always jotting down something. Are they all viable ideas? No. I’ve stuck a few soggy worms in there. Sometimes, the simple act of writing myself a note tells me that I won’t be looking at this idea again.

But still, I write ’em down, even if they’re nothing but water-logged mush. Because if I don’t write it down, I’ll always remember that flash of fin, that brief flick of a tail, and I’ll always wonder,

Was that The One?

______________________

And you, dear inklings? Do you keep a scribblebook? How faithful are you in recording those half-glimpsed ideas?

Or do you prefer the scribble-on-scraps technique of trapping those elusive ideas?

If you don’t capture an idea, do you choose to believe it wasn’t viable in the first place?