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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Ivy on the Path

I just stepped in from checking
on the empty house next door.
Our neighbors of four years
have moved away.
Whispering last goodbyes,
they asked if I would keep an eye
on pipes and pumps and such
that cause men’s minds to fret
when houses are alone,
and so I did just now.

There was a hollow echo
as I walked the wooden floors,
a hollow ache in knowing
that they’re gone.
Three years ago, you see,
our house began to lean their way.
I wish I were speaking figuratively,
but it literally settled a tad in their direction
and as God would have it, so did we.

That year they learned their son
(not yet the age of three) had one
of the many forms of leukemia.
Soon began the long hospital stays,
lost hair, sad eyes and sullen days.
Ours became a second home
to their other young children
left to wait and wonder
through long nights and passing play.
It was our joy to have them
through the cycles of hope and care
and returning tufts of tasseled hair
until his happy eyes rejoined our own.

And just when all seemed slightly well
for them, the tables turned for us.
On an icy afternoon
in a sterile but uncertain room
we watched things go from good
to bad and bad to worse
until the eyes of a tender nurse
foreshadowed what we later learned
from a doctor's diagram—
"single bypass best option"—which turned
out to be a twist of providence:

‘Twould be our neighbor’s gifted hand
to ply the scalpel, saw and suture
for a window to Julie's beating heart;
and when all was finally done,
‘twas he (in sweat-soaked scrubs) who told
us how it went and what things meant
and what the days ahead would hold
but not to worry after all,
since he was just a house away.

So it was... through faith and fears
and a fleeting blur of shortened years
we learned what it meant to be neighbors
reaching out and drawing in
and reaching out once more,
'til life was gently tangled…
like the ivy on the path between our doors.
Our neighbor Ike was called to another team of physicians in Idaho. He went there ahead of his family two months ago to begin work and find a house. He returned last week to finish the move and return with his wife and four children. The moving van pulled away early yesterday afternoon, and the yards seem strangely quiet. Our kids really did wear a path in the ivy between the houses. We'll see if it grows in.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Sorting through some attic shelves
(in search of something else)
I came upon a book I’d left half-read
some summer past.
A memoir of a life it was
that evidently held less interest than my own
once the clock began again.

In truth it seemed not long ago,
and though I do not know
whether I passed time
or time passed me,
dust is a kind reminder
that some things settle on their own.

And as I brushed away the proof,
my finger caught the corner of a bookmark,
a photograph I must have used
to hold my place
those many years ago.

How strange to find it there—
a snapshot I’d forgotten
of a memory all but lost
I took the bookmark in my hand
and, happily, it took me back
and made me laugh again.

© Copyright 2007, TK, Patterns of Ink
I wrote the above lines a few years ago, and while I can't imagine them being sung on New Year's Eve, they may just be the closest thing I'll ever write to Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne." We all know the song. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played it once a year, but I know it best from "It's a Wonderful Life" (Last scene: front room full of friends, laundry basket full of gratitude--and everyone knowing the words...)

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang
For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne."

It's a happy song with just a touch of sadness that makes me feel the way I did in college when my mom and dad and little brother called to sing "Happy Birthday" from far away.

My mom called to sing it like old times a few minutes ago. My sister called and did the same just before that. And my brothers and others called throughout the morning. A long-lost college roommate called yesterday morning. LOL. Our middle and high school threw a big surprise "Geezer" party for me at the end of the schoolday in the cafeteria--they really got me! [And later Saturday night Julie tricked me into one more surprise gathering with a dozen friends at one of our favorite restaurants. Life's good. Thanks, Julie.]

So I guess that's it. I'm now officially 50 years old. Six-hundred months as one friend pointed out. Wow... I remember most of them, but mostly I remember who I've shared them with. Many thanks to you all for cards, emails, phone calls, etc. that "took me back and made me laugh again." Here's to Zuzu's petals!
I feel like Jimmy Stewart!



Friday, April 14, 2006

Still Loved

Sad that some things can’t be mended
(in a world that's likewise broken)
battered by the endless waves
like shards of glass...
until in time,

frosted smooth
amid the surf and sand...
and rescued by a seeking hand...
held tight like something treasured.
Still loved will do ‘til hope can be restored.

Good Friday, 2006

When I was a small boy at Lighthouse Park in Port Huron (see post below), we’d swim until we shivered in the blue water—I’m not using “blue” figuratively; ask anyone who’s been there, the water is the deepest blue you’ve ever seen, hence the name of the bridge that arches to the Canadian side—anyway…

After hours of swimming in the cold waves (about the time our lips matched the water's hue), one of us would finally declare, “I’m going in,” and the others followed suit. With arms outstretched, we'd "ouch" our way across the stony mote that gathers at that shore, then scurry to our sun-soaked towels. Mom was usually sitting there to wrap us up and pat us on the rump as we fell face-down on the blanket, our teeth chattering like stacked plates on a train. When we thawed and could walk without the palsy, we’d venture north along the beach. (The other way leads straight to the St. Clair River toward the bridge.)

We walked along a seascape of small craft against a backdrop of the huge freighters in the channel of southern Lake Huron. If there were no ships, we'd study the cottages and beautiful homes whose dry sand we could not step upon. But with one foot in the water we could walk the wave-washed line my father called “public domain.” (A rule I’ve never enquired about but still rely upon when strolling beaches.) Always when we walked, our eyes scoured for shells or special stones or the sundry things that surface in the sand. And as is true of all beaches within a mile of human life, we’d sometimes come upon bits of broken glass. My brother Dave once stepped on an unseen jagged edge and the cut required several stitches. (My Aunt had the same thing happen at a reunion near Port Crescent Beach up in “the Thumb.”)

It seems like broken glass on beaches is less common since cans and plastic came along, but even back in the late 50's and early 60's, pieces of beach glass were not always dangerous. Often we’d come upon a rounded jewel with edges warn down by the sand. Sometimes it was colored (e.g. beer-bottle brown; the light green of a Coke bottle; or the white of a porcelain cup); sometimes it was clear but frosted from friction; but always such glass was a “find.” I once picked up a beautiful blue piece probably from a broken medicine bottle or a Vick’s Vaporub jar. It was smooth as driftwood but shined translucent in the sun. I held it tightly in my hand and later slipped it in the little pouch inside my swimsuit (which little boys know was made for just such treasures).

I wish I still had that piece of blue beach glass—I’d find a way to frame it with the lines above (whose form I hope suggests the roll of waves). It would remind me that we’re all broken—some in spirit; some in grief; some in body or mind; but all in the flawed sense of the fall. We’re broken in a broken world, and we sometimes hurt each other with our jagged edges. Many things in life feel shattered; some choices cannot be undone; some mean times can't be mended. But with God’s help there's hope that (in the meantime) the edges of our brokenness can be smoothed, and those willing to reach out, willing to embrace, can in their time remind us we're still loved.
Romans 8: 18-22... "(18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now...." Still Loved: the still implies a familial love that remains to be true--"in spite of" not "because of." (i.e. "loved anyway...and always" as Christ loves us till all else is restored).

Our Childhood Beach

[See post above.]

We did most of our swimming and beachcombing at Lighthouse Park near the mouth of the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan. From there you can see the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Blue Water Bridge(s).

My youngest daughter's middle name is Clair (without the final "e") in honor of this spot. The water here is refreshingly cold even in mid-summer, and there are always plenty of smooth stones to hold a blanket in place. (Something there's much less of on the west side of the state.)

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