Valentine’s Day


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It snowed all afternoon and evening–big, soft flakes which fell slowly and quietly, drifting straight down from the sky, shrouding the house in solemn silence.   I made several trips out to the wood pile up near the garage, and near my little St. Francis statue, who lives in the woods to protect the animals, I frightened a family of deer who were snuggled down in the snow.

There was no protection on Valentine’s Day at the high school in Florida.  I wonder if there were valentines in the backpacks left behind, as terrified students ran for their lives.  Don is with our family in California, and when he called, I told him that I hoped the grandkids didn’t know what had happened, while they were celebrating Valentine’s Day in their own school.  Joy sent me a photo, yesterday morning, of the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and valentines she’d set up on the kitchen table, to surprise the kids when they got home at the end of their school day.  I hoped that they don’t get breaking news on their smartphones.

Lying in bed last night, I focused on the cheery Christmas tree outside the window, trying to quiet myself into sleep.  My phone vibrated, and I saw that Mary had sent a group text with a photo of her twin grand babies, who were sitting side by side in their high chairs, twinkling in excitement.  Tini responded, “we have to keep thinking of all the goodness for these two adorables in the days ahead.”

My very first blog post, five years ago, was on the day of Sandy Hook.  I wrote then, in ‘Looking for Light’, that I could not bring myself to read their names and see their photographs.  In Florida, the names and photos are only just beginning to emerge, and, I cannot bear looking now either.  It is oh so hard to focus on the light, in these darkest of moments.

Boy Shooting at a Statue by Billy Collins

It was late afternoon,
the beginning of winter, a light snow,
and I was the only one in the small park

to witness the lone boy running
in circles around the base of a bronze statue.
I could not read the carved name

of the statesman who loomed above,
one hand on his cold hip,
but as the boy ran, head down,

he would point a finger at the statue
and pull an imaginary trigger
imitating the sounds of rapid gunfire.

Evening thickened, the mercury sank,
but the boy kept running in the circle
of his footprints in the snow

shooting blindly into the air.
History will never find a way to end,
I thought, as I left the park by the north gate

and walked slowly home
returning to the station of my desk
where the sheets of paper I wrote on

were like pieces of glass
through which I could see
hundreds of dark birds circling in the sky below.


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