As the slip of paper emerges from the cracked cookie
My eyes focus on words that can only be
Someone else’s fortune
The words may have fitted any number of the possible lives I’ve grieved
Sure, they are supposed to be generic enough to fit many lives
But the particularity of my experiences transgresses the boundaries
Of Someone else’s fortune
This simple sentence of a throw away piece of paper
Becomes a mental pathway to the present that never was to be
To dreams stillborn and paths that receded into the past
An invitation to rumination upon hopes I thought long buried
Of the someone else that those paths would have created
If this wasn’t someone else’s fortune, but mine
Dime sized toads hop across the pavement in the early morning light
While hot air balloons in their brightly colored tops float by slowly
A rabbit peaks up from its morning meal as the traveler passes through
Warily watching this newcomer passing through its dining room
On the edge of a wheat field hidden behind a tall wall of weeds
A small refuge from the ever-creeping growth of the city
So much life missed by those who fly past in their cars
Starting their morning tasks, blind to the world around
But the solitary traveler stands in a moment of rapture
Whistling a traveler’s tune seeing with eyes tuned to wonder
As the world slowly awakes to the warmth an early summer day.
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2
Hiding behind our English ‘vanity’ is the Hebrew ‘hevel’
It is the name of the victim of Cain’s murderous rage
Abel (Hevel), the faithful one whose blood the earth drinks
Protesting to the heavens over the violation of its soil
By this fratricide to appease Cain’s wounded pride
Hevel is an evanescent word for vapor or mist or emptiness
It is the emptiness of a politician’s hopes and prayers
As more children are sacrificed on the gunmetal altar
It is there in the men who grasp after power
While they steal the innocence away from children
It is there as grocery stores become slaughterhouses
And houses of prayer become places of sacrifice
As ‘never again’ becomes ‘yet again’
As hope dies to despair in the vapid vociferousness.
How many Abels must die for us to turn from the emptiness
Before we look for something more substantial than smoke?
How many tears must fall upon the ground to wash away the blood?
How many broken lives and broken bodies before more is demanded
Than empty vanity? Words that vanish into thin air like smoke.
Words that taste like an ashtray as their cancerous residue remains.
I would rather scream into the abyss than speak the empty words
To grieving parents and broken communities in a shattered world.
Yet, these vain words are spread like fertilizer over the tomb stones
That populate the fields where the innocents are planted.
Spoken by men who are satisfied with a society
That sacrifices its children so that nothing has to change.
Where vanities are laid upon vapid vanities and all remains emptiness.
Staring at the coin plucked from my pocket Mentally engraving my deepest longing on it In the moment before if flies from my fingers Landing with a subtle splash in the wishing well A dream committed to these still waters And the whimsical will of the universe The ripples slowly make their way on the surface Words unspoken, only a small plunk into the silence Some small offering to the luck and chance of this place And I stand, for a moment lingering on this hope This strange ritual of longing and magic A gift from today for a desired tomorrow I turn and begin to walk from this space Returning to the world where dreams go to die Yet, something causes me to stay a last moment At the edges of periphery, I see movement I hear rustling among the trees lining the path There is movement at the wishing well Someone else stares at a simple coin they carry A token to carry her wishes into the well Another desire that travels from her fingers Plunking into the waters, disturbing the surface Radiating outward hope, desire, longing, chance Perhaps in the depths our wishes will meet
As the sweetness and smoke of the story’s savor
Fades from your tongue and your thirst returns
Drink deeply my friend, for there is sure to be a story here
That will quench your thirst for a time, cool and sharp.
Perhaps you want something that burns as it goes down,
Or something to make you forget the troubles of your world
I’ve got just the thing for you, take a taste of this
Drink deeply my friend, it has been aging and waiting for you.
It needs to be shared, and tasted. Enjoy my friend.
And maybe one day the story we share will be the one
You are brewing in the dark corners of your imagination.
With all endings come the possibility of new beginnings
A new tale waits to paint the opening brushstrokes
Of a new map in your mind as you take the difficult first steps
Out your door on a journey into the unknown without knowing the end
New companions to build relationships with that may befriend or betray.
Unknown lands with their peril and promise lie along the path.
Stenographer get out your pens, a new world awaits.
The story ends, as all stories eventually do
A door closes, a world comes to its conclusion
And I stand watching as the words that conjured it
Sink slowly into the deep sea of memories.
Its characters who became my companions on the road.
I have known their names, I have shared their dreams
I supped at their table and walked their winding way
But they now recede with their world as my path diverges
Their story ends and mine continues forward
And I have been changed on this journey through their world
Rarely do I walk out of a story unaltered by its magic
I’ve seen another world and talked with its denizens
Yet, other worlds beckon from the shelves invitingly
There is a beautiful, tearful, strange magic in these words
Which invoke such vivid reactions in my mind
It’s time to close the book, maybe someday I’ll return
To share this journey once again, to rekindle friendships lost
And rediscover the people and place in these pages.