Voices of Valley Women 2012

Summer’s End

Blossoms dried on the little rose bush
but then a bud appeared
and I watched and waited
for it to bloom.

Yet the morning of its opening
it disappeared
along with the tomatoes, tall phlox,
hostas and begonias.
Mingled with the cricket’s song
a deer belched.

© Carol Toba


Some weeks ago‚ we met as strangers seeking solace.
As we sat‚ waiting for something…anything‚
The room seemed almost stifling…pain emanating in a quiet roar.
Suddenly‚ acknowledgments streamed from everyone…
releasing unbelievable emotions‚
Tears streaming from eyes that could withhold no more.
This was the beginning of our journey in search of the precious gift‚ grief.

To think of grief as a gift is more than foreign to one who mourns.
How does one process the loss of a child‚ a husband…one’s soul?
The pain‚ the vacuum that prevails and lingers in the darkness‚
Is almost impossible to bear until the realization…
Our despair is rooted in love; there is no grief without love.
Precious is the life filled with love for it truly never dies.

As we sit here today‚ in the hour of our separation‚
We feel a bond‚ a joining‚ that is glorious in its form.
These moments will never be forgotten‚
Nor will our gift of comradeship.
May we never forget; may we forever be thankful‚
For the remarkable revelation…this precious gift of grief!


© Sheila Lamonzs

For Mary Ellen

For two nights now I have dreamed of you –
of long empty halls, echoing rooms, one table holding
the picked over and discarded remains of your living.
Our lives, so full of the business of days, moved on
until we arrived here, with only your empty chair
and the hollow sound of a door closing.
Now I am left with tears and heartache, realizing
too late that you have gone and will not return.

Then, oh joy! Another dream –
neighbors and friends gather to honor you.
We present to you a gift – a flowing coat
of silver fur, a coat to warm and protect you,
a coat to match the radiant crown shining above
your own splendid face. Like the brief glimpse
of fox racing through green meadows, you came
into our lives flashing here, then over there,
only to disappear as quickly as you appeared.

We wrap you in our arms for your new journey,
give you a necklace of roses, a red garnet to light your way.
My dear friend, you are gone now but never forgotten.
In everything before me I see your hand. I see
The good works, the changed lives, the beauty
and life you always created around you. You took
your sun but left so many gifts scattered in your wake.
For now I say, adieu my friend, until we meet again.

© JoEllen McNeal


Two Haiku

Spring. First snowdrops seen
January 28th. 
Crocuses bloom next.


Your warm smile does not 
reconcile with your church’s 

Our laughter belies
the fatwa, discredited
by friendship. Love rules.

© Leslie Fiddler


Today let’s come to an agreement.
Today‚ for a few hours‚ let us leave behind
our costumes and our trappings; let us
lock them in the closet and throw away the key.

You can put down your crusader’s shield‚
your banner and your cross. Your horse and
sword arm must be tired. The chainmail can
be oppressive in these warmer days.

I will rise up from my knees. I will
take off my wimple and my veil. I’ll
drop the scapular‚ the tunic and the book
and repent my sins another day.

Let us meet naked and soft‚ our bodies
vulnerable and free. Let us join hands and
walk together through the door into this
newly shining day‚ open and waiting.

© JoEllen McNeal

Voices 2012