When Morning Comes

Russian Sage 1


Russian Sage 2

bee on jewelweed

The sun makes his way yet again, and I remember. I said I will write my gratitude into lines and breaks, pauses and still places of poems.

Where to keep these scribbles of awe? Maybe here. Even though I started there. All right then... the second of my "for" poems...

"When Morning Comes"

I open my mouth and breathe the day,
wish for a kiss like the one this golden
trumpet of jewelweed is getting full
on the mouth. Furry bumblebee embraces

her like there's no tomorrow. And I remember
to hold the day because it's true, there may not
be a morning after. And this is why I pause when
rusty shovel unearths rotted pit, peach long gone,

her hope for progeny emptied but now home to
red ants, tiny thousands pouring forth like honey,
spilling onto cocoa shells newly lain beneath
the hyssop, soft pink and pungent. Now I trouble

the bronze-suited honeybee who is fumbling Russian
Sage, tickling her purply-blue tongues, riding her
shining silver leaves that curl and sweat in rainbowed
mist. Shall I forget the three-leafed red maple fragment

on the stair, its green seeds like outstretched arms
now blushing dusty rose? Let me not forget these
seeds, nor the catbird who delights to echo each
whine of my clipping shears, nor the Bible leaf

relieved of yellow flower but fragrant still when I
break a spear and press it to my face. Let me not forget
the white carnation, purple aster, and the stars who
shut their eyes and sleep when morning comes.

Jewelweed and Russian Sage photos by L.L. Barkat.

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What We Give

The Stone, by Sara

Since the time my girls were little, I tried to teach them how to give.

Not just stuff, not the cursory item picked up at the mall, but something from the soul.

It's not easy to do this, and we don't always have time. But there are these moments when it happens and I catch my breath. A little piece of soul translated into a picture, sculpture, poem, story, necklace, something or other.

My Littlest just had her birthday. For over a month, my twelve-year-old secretly prepared a gift. First she wrote, then illustrated, typed, photographed, learned basic desktop publishing skills, cut-folded-glued.

I smile at the title, of course. The Stone. But more than that, I smile, even weep, at the poetry of the story. So beautiful, I think, I must share a few snippets with you...

It was round and sort of ovalish and it was purple, most of the time. Sometimes it decided to be blue, or orange, but mostly it liked to be purple. And that's what color it was when someone found it. Someone... special. Only someone special could find it; that was the way it was made. But at first glance this person might not look so special... but it knew. It had been found, so this person was special, very special indeed...


She put the stone in her pocket, stepped towards the door... and fell through. Oh!, thought Tina. For she was nowhere she knew. She was on a cliff, above a sea, with a fog around her, and it was snowing in little gusts but the wind was pulling it off the edge of the cliff. This seems lonely, she thought, sat down and hung her feet over the edge. I do believe I'm dreaming.


Tina was feeling lonely. And tired. And scared. And tired. And alone. And— her thoughts were going around and around and not going anywhere.


The color was Dragons. Every inch of it filled with dragons. Dragons all sizes and colors, some as small as your hand, others bigger than mountains. There was no describing it. Maybe, maybe a painter could capture it, but even a photo would look pale and dirty beside the real thing. It was so beautiful none of them remembered to be scared.


Tina was not eaten. She was not killed, and she had not spontaneously combusted, which is supposed to be impossible, but impossible things were not being that reliably impossible right then.


The dragon was about the size of a yardstick and very purple. It walked forwards. It stared at Tina majestically for a moment with its deep purple eyes, cocked its head and blew smoke into her face. Tina started to cough. The older dragons looked disapprovingly at the little dragon. The little dragon looked at the ground. But its expression showed it was not sorry at all.


The sky was dark and grey and ominous looking. Suddenly it started to pour. Everyone rushed inside as the rain beat down on the house and the grass and the island. It washed away all the dust and the dirt and the still air and brought with it a coolness that only happens in a rain.


"Shhhh, I'm thinking," said Tina quietly. Aaron drew some pictures in his notebook the man had given him. A mountain with a castle on top, a misty woods, the sea. He decided to go to the beach on this side, the only place the island didn't end in sheer cliffs, to do something and get away from all this arguing. Alice saw him get up and followed him. He didn't mind her. She would just start walking next to him, looking at something, occasionally leaning down to pick up a shell or an interesting piece of driftwood. As they walked along, a fragment of the conversation drifted down on the breeze. "The heir..."

Excerpts from "The Stone," by Sara, 12. Photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Baby, You Made My Decade

Sara's Dress sculpture

On the Fridge

Sonia's Flower Gift

Sara's Greenhouse

She stopped eating. Just like that. The childcare workers were frantic. Babies don't go without food for ten hours straight. But my girl did.

The doctor told us, "Some babies will go on a hunger strike if they're unhappy. Then the doctor asked, 'Has something changed in Sara's life?'" Well, yes. I'd gone back to work, and now, in her baby way my girl was saying, "Mommy, come home." Seven months old and she forced me to stand at the crossroads and choose: let her suffer, or quit my job.

How could I explain what she was asking me to forfeit? Could her infant heart understand the concept of identity and passion, needs and wants? I was a teacher. I loved my job. I went back to work, because I couldn't imagine life without this career I'd prepared for, prayed for, struggled to obtain.

For two weeks I faced the awful truth: my baby wanted me by her side and I could not be there if I kept my job. It was one of the hardest decisions I'd ever faced. But in the end, I couldn't ignore her plea.

I wish I could say that I quit my job and everything was joy from that day on. But no. I missed work. I missed my friends. I missed the social respect that came with having a "real" career. For three years I faced a new kind of loneliness that was only partly balanced by my love for my little girl.

Now the years have gone by, and today I am a home educator. Yes that's my refrigerator (above), cluttered with Greek and Hebrew letters. The feathered dress sculpture and the greenhouse are the work of my Sara's hands. The forsythia placed on my mug and photographed lovingly is the artistry of my second daughter Sonia.

It's been twelve years since I left my job as a teacher; but no, I didn't leave teaching at all. Still, I didn't know this when I stood at the crossroads and chose. I didn't know that encouragement was on the way and that sometimes it takes years to unfold. But I can say to my girl today, "Baby, you made my decade. Thank you so much for calling me home."

This story is offered to welcome the new site InCourage. Check it out; maybe you have a story to share too. The story is also told (albeit in a different form) in Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places.

More dress sculpture photos here.

Photos by L.L. Barkat. Dress sculpture and Greenhouse made by Sara B. Forsythia on Cup by Sonia B.

Coming into Wild Roses, at Love Notes to Yahweh
Nothing in Return, at Seedlings in Stone

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I'm Gonna Win the Nobel

Happy anniversary

Eight years dating. Seventeen years married. A quarter of a century?

So I cleaned the fridge. For the man who has everything, it was just the thing. (Kim, I know you're reading this and will agree. ;-)

Besides, I'm set to win the Nobel for Fridge Science* now. Which isn't a bad way to begin my August.

*for the discovery of primordial soup, petrified garlic, and life in the produce drawer.

Clean Fridge photo, by L.L. Barkat.