Before the End Draws Near
by Lu Sobredo
Only four days ago on Sunday, June 20, 2021, my best friend and literary sidekick wrote this in a message: "Sis, one of the best ways to rest after completing a first novel is to write a poem--or two---or three---or so I've been told---besides restless spirits never listen to our entreaties for rest and calm. No matter how humble or earnest they may be . . . much love to you . . . "
My friend and brother Ken Miller sometimes knows me better than I know myself. And here I am, on Thursday, June 24, 2021, having finished writing a poem that would not leave me alone, stunned about what else is left unsaid. It's only fitting that I dedicate this poem to him, and to the shared paths of our common journey.
Before the End Draws Near
“To be or not to be” was not a question I entertained upon waking.
For years such question was comforting only when illuminated
in a play by Shakespeare, from a soliloquy I could parrot
since age ten yet was ignorant of its meaning for years.
“To be or not to be” conjured not a perplexed state of mind
but an audacity I possessed not at all well into adulthood.
Spurts of rebellion manifested periodically
as my dear mother now in Heaven could surely attest.
But the rebellion was often situational, short lived,
momentary and hardly natural. To ask, do I do this or that,
purports huge freedoms of choice
that neither beckoned at me nor lived in me.
Something that would have taken courage. Courage
I surely did not have even when life confronted
loss, spiritual drought, hunger for something undefinable.
I rejoiced burying myself in work with a false sense
of excellence when accomplishing milestones for fulfillment.
But fulfillment so unlike the sense of movement in dance
when innocence cared not if swaying and leaping to idyllic tunes
in my head or from a phonograph gained recognition
or reward. The adult reward I had come to know were words
from diplomas, certificates of accomplishments
and public accolades from powers to be that left a hunger.
The conscious self was oblivious to the malnourishment
I nursed. The unconscious self of its adolescent spirit
took years to take the reigns to relocate to a vantage point
of no return. Its timing uncanny. A life-altering event
redefined the self. Sad that it would take life’s remaining
years to be threatened to wake up or else,
and to dare to dream before the end draws near.
Before the end draws near, and decades into the making
I have gotten to know the self. I have forgiven, accepted
and rejoiced in all the imperfections. Heart wrenching lesson
learned that kindness applies to kindness to self,
first and foremost. The rest of humanity are simply
benefactors to such act like the dewdrops on the grass
that at first might look like tears glistening in the sun.
Tears like no other moistening, nurturing and quenching
a parched Earth; tears uplifting and comforting the soul.
My dewdrops in the grass are those
friends who are fully present without judgement
and even strangers taking the time
to nod, smile and wave without expectation.
Acts of unconditional love from family
have sustained me cushioning
minutes, hours and days of psychical and physical toll
brought on by age, immunodeficiency disease
and so-called medically prescribed assistive solutions
and simply of those called life’s circumstances.
In my advanced years the pain is real,
not hurled by ill-equipped, abusive
and malevolent bosses in the workplace, or false friends
and foes with their incidental or purposeful insults.
The pain of age and illness made life real.
Made courage necessary. Made dreams
something of urgency. So, I dream.
In both daylight and the hauntingly deep darkness
of night before the soul tires altogether.
Before any of the glow that remains grows dim.
To you, the awakening self, I salute thee
who achieved much while sleepwalking it seemed—
As though the universe opened up the heavens to rain
dreams, spark joy and raucous laughter.
Before the end draws near much poetry oozes out
from the heart. Some pirouettes and a distinctive
three-step sequence as in a waltz—
there are remnants of those left in me.
With love and courage, I will do my small part
to shine the light on social injustice and the need
for our world to respect the Earth
and honor its People so they could live in peace
and in days not marred by violence or excruciating uncertainty.
And I swear I will appear on stage in a concert
and unabashedly render songs I’ve long embraced
and guarded closely since my youth. And the Heavens
shall smile in triumph—the ancestors and elders all
shall ask, "What took so long?"
I shall share poignant and meaningfully pulsating moments
with my beloved—our toes wading in the cool waters
under the moonlight by the shores of the Bay of Biscay.
And more poems will leap out of me. And the written words
with all the life I’ve breathed into the many pages whiling away
the pandemic will become the novel
it was meant to be before the end draws near.
Poem ©Lu Sobredo
June 24, 2021
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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