Restless wolves

Hearing the restless wolves

of imperfection

prowl the dark hills of my mind

I take aim for the point

at the exact center of the opening

of light

that should ease

their endless thirst for perfection

for a moment


Three women

In the last few days I had three disturbing encounters with three different women. I am haunted by the faces of these women.

Today, on the bus, I had a brief but surprising exchange with a woman I sat beside, by “chance”. We traded comments about getting around by bus and not driving anymore. She told me that she had to stop driving because she had a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I replied that I hadn’t driven for two years due to an epileptic seizure that led to an accident. Then a silence fell and questions kept coming to my lips but I couldn’t speak. She seemed young (maybe forty) and healthy and strong. Was this an early stage of Alzheimer’s she had? Was she frightened? I would be. It’s one of my worst fears. Then we came to our bus stop and I will likely never see her
again. Very unsettling and disturbing. Did she want to talk about her condition?

A couple of days ago I took the bus to Costco. The bus leaves me a few
blocks to walk. In the first half block I met an older lady (ok, not much older than me, I’m sixty-nine). She was pushing a walker and she looked distressed and a bit lost. She told me she thought she had seen her son passing by in his truck, but she wasn’t sure. If it had been him he would have waved. Her voice and her eyes were telling me she really wanted to
see her son, she wasn’t seeing him as much as she wanted or needed to. Mostly, she wasn’t sure if it was him that had just passed or not. I told her I recently had an experience where I thought I recognized an old friend. I went right up to him and told him I thought he was someone else but I could see now that he wasn’t. He understood and smiled. He wasn’t at all bothered or offended. The lady told me he wouldn’t be. I wished her good luck and continued on my way. My words “good luck” seemed to hang in the air. That’s not what I wished for her. I wanted to wish her love. I hoped she would see her son when she needed him, that she would receive his love when she needed it. What more could I have done?

After my brief shop at Costco, I returned by the same route, towing my trolley cart behind me. About a block from my previous encounter l could see another older woman walking in a very strange way. She looked like she was shuffling along very slowly, tentatively, wearing what looked like bedroom slippers. She had an older wooden cane and after taking two or three steps she would stop and wave her cane to the edge of the sidewalk, first to the left, then to the right. It appeared as though she was clearing some sort of imaginary debris or obstacles from her way. When I caught up to her I turned and looked in her eyes. She seemed lost. I asked her if she was alright. When she saw me she laughed and asked if I had heard her talking to herself? I assured her that I hadn’t and I asked her again if she was okay. She said she was fine. She wasn’t. I wanted to ask if she knew where she was going, did she know where she lived, did she know her name? I left her there but I still see her lost eyes in my mind.

There is something about the location where this occurred. Most of the block is taken up by a large apartment complex. It is a very nice place with several buildings, lots of trees and flower gardens around them. I’ve heard that there is a waiting list to get an apartment there. A previous neighbour, tired of living alone, had sold her mobile home and moved there. I have formed the idea in my head that she had moved there to die. Every time I pass by this complex, Woodgrove Pines, I imagine going there to die. Sooner or later I think, all of us will go to live somewhere and never move again. This will be where you go to die. I imagine both of these women I met as living in Woodgrove Pines, going out for a walk and finding their way home.

The face of the lady with the cane won’t leave me. I keep thinking I shouldn’t have left her there. She seemed lost. What were the imaginary obstacles she was trying to clear from her path on the sidewalk? Was it her past, her present, her future? Should I have made sure she made it home? Does she live in Woodgrove Pines? Did she move there to die? Where will I move to die?

What can words say

The song of heart that hums to heaven

is not in words

the moan of grief and loss

is not in words

the joy that leaps with love and light

is not in words

the cry of broken seeking whole

is not in words

what is it that words can say


Two choices one life

Two choices one cliff

what if you came to the river

and you had to choose

though you didn’t know

if you went upstream

there would be a challenging

but very scenic path

till you came to a high cliff

you could never climb

so you would spend the rest of your life

trying find a way around that cliff

or you could choose to go downstream

there the scenery would be excellent

as you glided easily with the current

in your comfortable canoe

till you came to the very high cliff

where before you knew it

you were flying through the roaring air

towards the distant rocky bottom

and that was the end of that life

A sense of shore

My anchor doesn’t reach

the bottom

but sometimes it catches

on a snag

a sailboat with no rudder

does not bring me closer

to the source of hunger

where missing dreams are drifting

near the sense of shore

Add and subtract

Photo by Dan Fraser

Every day is one less day

of living

every breath is one less breath

of life

every hug is one more hug

of living

every love is one more love

of life

Hunger in the night

Photo by Dan Fraser

The hunger in the hollow night

is not satisfied

with the memory of food

tonight when I open

the hidden door

and search within the place

that calls my name

I come back empty