Blood on the Rose, Part B

John stood next to the mahogany coffin casting his gaze first to his beloved Sophia, then to the painting erected on an easel behind where her head lay. It looked as fragile as his beautiful wife, except there was power in the pictures – the bright red petals, the solid green stem with wicked little thorns … and the blood. It was his blood in the painting, dripping from one of the thorns. Sophia had performed quite exquisitely in this, her last painting.

The rose he had plucked for his soulmate had died. The flowers in their garden had all died. Sophia had died. Everything around John was death … except, perhaps, for the artistic creation that, for some mysterious reason, seemed to speak so resonantly and compellingly to his heart. This was probably an emotional response to the fact that this was her last painting … but no, John knew better.

This is iconic of life, John thought to himself. This is an exquisite representation of Beauty and Life, but for this reason it hurts … it hurts like hell. There is life in this world, but life is like wax in the fire: it melts away and is gone. John turned back to his beloved. Or maybe that’s not quite true. Even wax, when melted, still exists; it simply exists in another form, melted instead of solid.

He paused for a moment as another tear may its way down his already tear-stained cheek. Maybe life is like that. Maybe we do go one, but just in another form or manner… At any rate, one day I’ll rest with you, whatever that means. I wonder, will we know? Will we be conscious? Will we finally be able to live Life? On the other hand, ‘It’s not death that man should fear; rather he should fear never having lived, John remembered reading somewhere. Ah, but how do we really begin truly to live? Am I living now, or is this simply existence?

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep,” so said Leonardo de Vinci, “so a life well lived brings a happy death.” Yet to John nothing seemed happy about Sophia’s death. And as he remembered her in her last hours, she was not happy. What could have made her happy anyway? John turned back to the painting … back to the blood on the rose.

With all assurance now gone and the future empty ahead,
We sing another dirge while for Hades we make our bed;
Though true it is we fight long to belong to life ever-living,
Yet death stalks us and keeps us from ourselves deceiving

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Blood on the Rose, Part A

Sophia was sitting in the warm and cozy breakfast nook sipping on her Earl Gray from a delicate china cup, with a half-eaten bagel in front of her, while she looked out the tall windows at the astonishingly beautiful flower garden, focusing first on the day lilies, then upon the s-shaped row of monkey grass, cream-colored magnolias, azaleas, and so many other growths of glory stretching toward the brilliantly shining sun. Colors bright and vivid flowed in and out, entwined like one marvelous tapestry.

Sophia placed her cup back down on the fine, hand-crafted saucer, and picked up her sketch pad from the solid oak table to resume her work on an artistic rendition of the roses, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and all the impressively beautiful variety of flowers outside. Her pencil sketch of the garden she and her husband, John, had planted and took such great pains to care for, was more than half completed, and this simple knowledge brought a smile to her angelic, but worn and tired face, as it forcefully occurred to her that her drawing would long outlast her and the flowers as well.

Cancer is such a terrible disease, she thought, cutting me down in the prime of life … but, then, life ends in death, does it not, which is why we strain to create beauty and sacrificially fight to preserve it.[1]

Why even this? After all…

Our life is short and dreary; there is no remedy when our end comes; no one is known to have come back from Hades. We came into being by chance and afterwards shall be as though we had never been. The breath in our nostrils is a puff of smoke, reason a spark from the beating of our hearts; extinguish this and the body turns to ashes, and the spirit melts away like the yielding air. In time, our name will be forgotten; nobody will remember what we have done; our life will pass away … dissolving like the mist.[2]

Meanwhile, out in the garden, John reached out to pluck a rose for his soulmate and immediately felt the pin-prick, like a tiny sword opening layers of skin, followed by a swift flow of blood and throbbing pain, yet he thought it somehow quite appropriate. Love often brings pain, and pain often gives rise to beauty.

His particular suffering this morning brought in its train an image not only attractive by way of its own natural, living glory, but attractive to something “higher,” something enduring and almost overwhelmingly mysterious – perhaps Beauty itself. And so John could not help but think what an elegant and powerfully simple painting it would make: the stem, petals, thorns … and blood on the rose.[3]


[1] Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just, 5 – 6; cf. also Aristotle, “Poetics,” On Man in the Universe, 423

[2] Book of Wisdom 2.1 – 4a, NJB

[3] Scarry, Op Cit, 3; also, “the material world constrains us, often with great beneficence, to see each person and thing in its time and place, its historical context. But mental life doesn’t constrain us. It is porous, open to the air and light, swings forward while swinging back, scatters its stripes in all directions, and delights to find itself beached beside something invented only that morning or instead standing beside an altar from three millennia ago.” Scarry, 48

Radiant Beloved

You are more radiant than the sun, my Beloved,
And I have only begun to sing of your beauty
When my voice takes wing in duty to our love

You deserve more adoration than bright roses
And the light reflected off the mountain lake
At the sight of which I but tremble and quake

You are fairer than ten thousand doves, my Love,
And from above the stars finely shine upon you
So wonderful and true — their service your due

And the moon sings in tune with all the heavens
So leavened with your presence, O my Beloved,
So I dare throw off every care for I am yours . . .

Welcome to the City of Light

Welcome to the City of Light where bright rules the day
Every step along the way, where the soul can safely stay,
Where one can rest in an extraordinary nest of serenity,
Where there is plenty of love and peace that never cease
Here in this place, where the pace is slow and beautiful,
And joy dutiful to attend every step and the mind is kept
From all alarm as fear is dispersed by the light ever near
To the heart with no false start in any part of joyous day;
And where the night is absent of all fright and very calm,
Which is a healing balm to the soul … in the City of Light

Good Morning Life!

For the streams and hillocks and sweet dreams,
Fountains of water, and flowers and mountains
That rise, and blue skies, how could I despise?
For fireflies, moonlight at night, and the stars
That shine from afar; for my friends and family
So near and dear, where is there room for fear?
For perfect love from above casts out all fear!
For riverbanks and the quiet time, I give thanks;
For sunrays and bays and child’s play in the day,
And ballets and bouquets, how could I be hateful;
No! I am grateful … grateful for this and more…
And so I say, ‘Good Morning Life! Good Morning!’


Note: First published on March 12, 2017

Desire: To Want You More . . .

Do you know what it is like to want someone
More than anyone else in the whole world?

Your ways and the ray of your face
Fills the horizon of my day . . .
And there is something in the stillness
Of the night that pulls me tight to you,
And there seems to be all too few
Of these moments with you, too!

Do you know what it is like to want someone
More than anyone else in the whole world?

I look deep into your emerald eyes
And I spy eternity in fraternity with you,
And how else could it be for you and me?
And you look in my eyes and spy longing,
Deep longing to belong only to you, too,
And you knew it would be this way, true?

Do you know what it is like to want someone
More than anyone else in the whole world?

I would have frozen had I not been chosen
By you in love above all love . . .
When I was so sick, you picked me up
And carried me home, your home, my home
And I could now write a tome about you,
Beloved, ever hovering over and covering me

Ah! Yes, of course you know, and know that I know
What it is to want someone as much as I want you . . .


Note: Originally published in January of this year, now republished due to some renewed interest as well as for the reading pleasure of new (and old) followers. Blessings to one and all!

Flowing Into One Another … Your Love

Oh I prayed and thought you didn’t hear, my Shepherd so dear;
So I screamed and fell, yet you still felt so very far away.
I cried, lamented, and my very soul was gripped in abject fear;
In oppressive darkness I laid down with my own ending so near.

Ah, do we embrace before ere we touch? Sweet kiss
In the Eye of the Mind before lips ever meet?
Like the oceans and the river and the mountain
Springs, do we flow into one another, fulfilling?

You awakened me from my deathly slumber and enabled me to see;
You moved in the night in heavenly light, and answered my plea;
You opened my eyes, breathing in me life in timeless eternity,
So your Spirit rushes in, and in your love is my only safety.

Ah, shall we laugh and cry like the wind and the rain?
Play like the moonlight across sweet mountain lake?
Shall we belong to each other, both giving and receiving,
Never living apart, no more than branch without tree?


Note: First published in June 2015, now republished due to some renewed interest as well as for the enjoyment (and inspiration?) of new reader-followers. Blessings to one and all!