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Sunrays

Excerpt from Finding Friends

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"Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others."

Booker T. Washington

"Strong people don't put others down. They lift them up."

Albert Einstein

Chapter VI

Rosie!

          Shortly after Nana and Chloe got the Friends inside, Mateo’s mother returned to take her children home. Elena told her mother what a good time she had. Mateo chose not to say anything about the thing that happened, but whispered to Chloe that he would check in tomorrow to see if there was anything he could do to help. Chloe was happy to hear that and thanked him.

         

          When they were gone, Chloe sat down next to Nana. “I’m so sorry this happened, Chloe. I wanted this to be a perfect weekend for you. I’m so sorry.”

          “Don’t be sad, Nana,” said Chloe. “It’s not your fault. Like you said, it’ll be all right. Only one thing, though.”

          “What’s that, Chloe?”

          “Rosie.”

          Nana realized when they were in the backyard that Rosie was missing. She did not say anything to Chloe, because she did not want to add to the shock of the moment. She now knew Chloe was aware all along. Nana was amazed that Chloe had the strength and self-control to keep it to herself, to wait until this quiet moment to say something.

         “What do you say we go out and take a careful look all the way around the house?” asked Nana.

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Excerpt from Pea Soup

EMBERS

 

There was a wood-burning stove in the kitchen,

the one she used for more than fifty years

for cooking food and thawing mittens. She let me fill

the fire box under the heavy metal plates where pots

would boil and frying pans sizzle. A simple stove,

cast iron strong. It’d warm the house, the first floor

and most of the second. Talk about lasting value,

I couldn’t see how it’d ever break down –

nothing to plug in or hook up, no wires, gauges,

gas lines, or built-in electric clock. A gaumy egg-timer,

mason jar half-filled with wooden matches,

and wind-up clock sat in the center of a chrome

and Formica table that was flanked by matching chairs,

duct-taped and old as the stove. No way that stove

could fit through any door in the house (Back then,

I thought it was there before the place was built.).

Still, it was the only home I knew that had a wood-

burning stove for cooking, a perplexing semblance

of our family’s privation (Back then, I didn’t know

the meaning of the word or how it could apply to us.).

Even we had a used electric range, stained as it was

with a bad element. Funny how the things she cooked

smelled so good and tasted even better, how stoves

and people go away, but their value stays behind

and swells like when she let me stoke the embers.

Excerpt from Finding Chloe

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Chapter I - "Surprise!"

   What a surprise was waiting for Nana and Pop-Pop later that day when they returned home. Every chair around the table in Chloe's room was empty! Rosie, Big Bear, Cherry Bunny, Little Bear, Big Dog, and Baby Bear were gone. Nana gasped and pointed to a message on the floor. The letters were formed using the colored, wooden blocks Chloe used to play with:

 

"F I N D I N G   C H L O E"

   They rushed out the front door of the house to look for her stuffed animals. They ran around the house and looked in every direction, but the Friends were nowhere to be found. 

   As Nana continued to look, Pop-Pop ran inside to call Chloe. The phone rang but there was no answer. The voicemail came on and Pop-Pop left his breathless message:

   "Hey Chloe, this is Pop-Pop. Sorry I missed you, but they did it. They really did it! I don't know how, but when we got home from work, they were gone. Rosie, Big Bear, Cherry Bunny, Little Bear, Big Dog, and Baby Bear too. Nana and I will keep looking for them. We don't know when they left, or how they got out, but we will find them. I can't believe it, stuffed animals, but they even left a note using your colored blocks that they had gone to find you. This sound crazy, I know, but probably not to you. Please let us know if they show up at your place. Listen, don't worry if they don't. We'll find them and call you when we do. We love you. Bye."

   Pop-Pop ended the call and went back outside with Nana to help look for the stuffed animals. Little did they know the Friends were just a few hundred yards away behind the houses on the other side of Sugar Maple Drive. They had crisscrossed up and down and back and forth on the streets near Nana's and Pop-Pop's home. 

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Excerpt from Spirit of the Adirondacks

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"Adirondack Nights"

Sleep comes fast

in my North Woods cabin -

back among the spruce and sugar maple,

where dark is that and darker,

where silence tucks me in

and sends the world to another room,

where rapid tap of tiny feet

across the roof brings closure

to my thoughts and cares -

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Excerpt from Straining to Catch Every Leaf

"Boxing Up Your Universe," p. 24

In a bag in a box (too small to fit

the book we sent), your ashes

on the guestroom bed.

The velvet throw hides the box

but not your smile, the one

that peeked from your earthly crevices.

It fails to smother sounds you made, 

the voice of one no place to go but when,

portentous walker clumping through the night

to the sink, the cups you rinsed that clinked. 

It can't sustain the warmth that grasped

my hand - your hand now dust,

my helping hand a rotting leaf

beneath a sudden drift of snow.

We've filled your home with boxes.

You filled your home with what you heard and saw,

what you tasted, touched and smelled,

feelings of love and hate, your thoughts,

your hopes, fears and every sense of loss,

the spirit of what deserved your cheers

and spawned your tears,

what you made, changed, and threw away,

most every breath you took,

and it's not enough.

I was not enough.

So quick we quit and mark

the point of our retreat

with fresh cut stems and stale cliches,

thoughts we try to tuck between

the cushions of your couch.

Yet in a bag in a box, too small to fit

your beating heart,

we think we have what now remains.

How do the days stop

from crashing into one another, piling up,

mounds upon festering mounds

of mangled memories?

Maybe they don't.

Days of the heart don't.

The neighbors pass by out front,

walking, jogging, biking,

or in their cars that almost stop

at the sign in front of your corner lot, 

not a gulp or sideways glance

toward what we're boxing up inside.

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