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Friday, May 06, 2005


to poets everywhere

I've often been startled by the poetry inserted in an ordinary conversation--and the poets who utter them.

Once, while watching a documentary about farmers in a dying farm community who couldn't seem to attract or hold enough women to keep the town going, I heard the interviewer question one tired looking man.

"Why don't you just move somewhere else and find a wife?"

The farmer looked at the man and said, simply, "You can't pack a thousand acres in a suitcase."

Exquisite poetry.

My own grandmother was such a poet. I discovered this one afternoon as we sat together staring out a window and missing Grandpa.

He seemed too strong to ever die, so naturally, we expected him to live forever. Grandpa was the kind of man who filled a room; a man whose strength was overshadowed only by his gentleness. He could hoist me to his shoulder in one fluid motion, carry bags of grain and toss bales of hay and wrangle stubborn milk cows, but he was equally adept at delivering newborn calves and picking flowers for Grandma.

The man was a life-long boot-wearer; you’d never see wingtips or tennis shoes on those cowboy feet. He drank his coffee thick and black, laughed fully and often, knew and sang all the best old ballads, and rose at dawn Monday through Friday to deliver gravel in his burly, white dump truck with the words “C.A. Hill Trucking” painted on the doors. So when, at the age of 61, he went into the bedroom one morning and died—his heart exploding in an instant and dropping him to the corn-silk colored carpet below—we weren’t ready.

For weeks, our family moved around each other in a foggy blur. Dave understood when I told him I needed to stay with Grandma awhile. He’d come out to the farm in the evenings after work and sit in silence with us for an hour or two before she and I headed for bed. Sometimes, when she thought I was asleep, I’d hear her cry.

“Clifford,” she whispered once, in the darkness. “Oh, my Clifford.”

During the day we’d sit together in the kitchen; a room now emptied of his presence and filled instead with grief. Through the sliding glass window we could watch the highway at the far end of the farm. I’d see her eyes travel from one vehicle to the next and I’d wonder if she was waiting for Grandpa’s truck to file past, waiting to see him turning for home.

We could sit like that for hours—her watching, me waiting for her to speak. And one afternoon, in this quiet space, she summed up the enormity of her anguish with a single, heart-rending sentence.

“The world is full of white trucks.”

Listen today, and hear the poems that will otherwise drift unnoticed. Let me know what you hear.

Adapted and excerpted from Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility, ©Shannon Woodward 2006, Cook Communications. All rights reserved.

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18 Comment:

At 5/06/2005 7:12 AM, Blogger ddddddddddddddddddddd had this to say ...

Yay, I'm first.....

You brought back memories of my own Grampa Joe. Not that any of that was him, but he was strong like that. And such a jack-of-all-trades. No tears today, but lots of smiles of happy memories.

And the boots and coffee, you are talking about me.... I never wear anything but my black boots and the coffee, is strong, black and smells so good.

Life is simply good. Hearing the poetry is nice. Like the crack of a baseball, or a son's voice raised in song with mine. Or the small arms wrapped around your neck while they whisper "Dad you're my hero."

 
At 5/06/2005 7:16 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Nice words, Joe. You're starting us off well. :)

 
At 5/06/2005 7:32 AM, Anonymous pjs had this to say ...

I love the way you write Shannon, your words paint such a clear picture. What a sweet experience to share.

 
At 5/06/2005 9:28 AM, Blogger Nancy had this to say ...

Shan,

I miss both Grandma and Grandpa, they weren't mine for very long, but they both made me feel like I had been their granddaughter from the beginning.

I had the pleasure of riding in that "White truck" one summer with Grandpa Clifford. He also used to eat a 1/4 gallon of ice cream every night!

 
At 5/06/2005 12:12 PM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...

I don't have to look far to find poetry. That's the beauty of love, marriage, and family. Bill is a poet not just in the way he writes but also in the way he lives.

One evening after dinner he wrote a poem that has completely changed the way I look at preparing a meal. While he was growing up mealtimes weren't prepared by loving hands or shared by warm hearts. He wrote of our dinner: "A simple meal, beans, ham, and peas...giving strength to muscle and bone atrophied by ghostly harassment."

 
At 5/06/2005 7:00 PM, Anonymous Susan - Another West Coater had this to say ...

Are you in cahoots with the Kleenex Tissue company? Every time I come here , I get teary.
You sure brought back some memories of my own grandparents, mostly happy ones!
But then I read Joes comment where he said to you "I never wear anything but my black boots..." And I had to laugh at the picture that brought to mind!!!!!

 
At 5/06/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger Tammy had this to say ...

Shannon,
I want to thank you for causing me to stop and reflect for a moment. (How easily poetry can slip by without us taking notice.) I closed my eyes and wondered what I had seen today. At first I didn’t think I had seen anything. So, I thought harder. And there it was as clear as the white truck I saw while reading your post.

I helped a friend clean her house today. Her little three-year-old daughter played with my green latex gloves for a few minutes, then pulled them up her petite arms. Even with the green fingers sucked inward, the gloves still hung off her tiny hands.

I thought of my hands compared to God’s. I want to be his hands and help those I can, yet I’m sure he often sees green plastic fingers fumbling through this world. I know his hands swallow mine completely, and the work that is accomplished is for his glory not mine.
God Bless you, Tammy from Cody

 
At 5/07/2005 8:16 AM, Blogger CafeRg had this to say ...

Shannon.. one thing is for sure, you could open a suitcase and pull out a thousand acres.

Always looking for exquisite blogs, such as yours to exchange links at Rollin Thunder Art & Poetry.

Please let me know cafeRg@gmail.com

 
At 5/07/2005 11:55 AM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, you've done it again.
I know how the suddenness feels, because my mom went to bed last August and died in her sleep the same way. God has a way of lifting us above the blur and helping us do what needs doing after such events.

I understand what your grandmother meant by this, too: "“The world is full of white trucks.” I spot elderly ladies with soft white hair everywhere I go now.

I would love to review your book & help you get the word out - drop me an email, please!

 
At 5/07/2005 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

ok shanny, you did it again I teared up!! I didnt have a grandfater but I am so glad my kids will have those memories of my father. diana

 
At 5/07/2005 9:49 PM, Blogger thequeen had this to say ...

When I first read your words I couldn't believe it, I say that all the time! I think the most poetic thing I ever heard was my 7 year old daughter say to her grandmother, "you have miracles in your eyes grandma". ( there was a time when she had miracles and spectacles mixed up!!)
I am visiting for the first time from Cowboy Joes, he told me of you and so I just had to come check it out. I am so glad that I did!:)

 
At 5/08/2005 7:53 AM, Blogger Monica had this to say ...

I remember being in a store a few weeks ago and hearing an older man tell his grandchild "Don't worry about the mule, you just load the wagon." That was a phrase I heard often in my youth from my uncle, a fire and brimstone Holiness preacher who raised me at different times in my life when my mother was off doing her thing. For that brief time I could hear my uncle's voice, I could hear the excitement in it as I went on his walks with him--the ones I did because I have always loved walking and he did because of his diabetes. I could smell his scent and see him standing at the pulpit. The day I made a comeback of my own he told me I was ready to face the world.
Thanks for the memory, Shannon. I think I'll do a post about Uncle Charley when I get back to blogging.
Happy Mother's Day.

 
At 5/08/2005 7:42 PM, Blogger Wardo had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,

I enjoyed reading some of your blog. The "simple poetry" of the farmer appealed to me because of my family background...thanks for the images.

-A

 
At 5/08/2005 10:00 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Thanks so much, Pam (PJS), Susan, Tammy, CafeRG, Bonny, Diana, The Queen, Monica and Argus (So sorry for the mass thank you--I'm very behind in these matters!)

Nancy, they both loved you very much and I know they wished you'd been theirs from the beginning too.

Glory, tell Bill he's a poet. :)

Susan, your comment about Joe made me reread his words--and then I had to laugh. I'll be he didn't realize how that sounded.

Bonnie, I'm going to email you about that. Thanks for the offer!

Tammy! Good to see you're back blogging. I've missed your posts.

And Monica, we're all waiting for you to finish your deadline so you'll start blogging again. But I do understand the pressure you're under. Thanks for taking time to visit.


If I missed anything ... so sorry!

Argus, nice to meet you. Thanks for coming by.

 
At 5/09/2005 8:47 AM, Blogger Lori Seaborg had this to say ...

My grandfather, the missionary who founded Youth for Christ in Brazil, knew plenty about hard times, including the death of his wife at age 40-something and the death of his only son at age nineteen. When life dealt him a blow, small or large, Grandpa could be heard saying, "Well, praise the Lord anyway!"

 
At 5/24/2005 11:08 AM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

I was just blogging through and had to stop at yours and read. I love your writing! I love words and how they paint such clear, crisp, almost romantic pictures. Thanks for sharing.

My grandmother, who is in her 90s and still alive and very active, has been dealt many bad hands: cancer several years ago, a broken pelvis 2 years ago, heart problems, a marriage to a sometimes bitter, angry man that has lasted more than 60 years. Through everything she always says, "It's just another adventure that God had in store for me." I am always amazed at her strength and beauty that she finds in her Lord.
Keep up the good work!

 
At 6/04/2005 2:07 PM, Blogger Lee had this to say ...

That was beautiful to read. My hope is that you might enjoy some of my poetry at http://leedman.blogspot.com

and thank-you for such an inspirational read.

Best wishes, Lee

 
At 3/10/2008 3:29 PM, Anonymous Davis had this to say ...

I love to read inspirational poems from sites. I very praise God thru writing.

Keep writing from your spiritaul heart that is the root of it all.

Bless you in the name of Jesus.

 

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