Life in One Breath by Mary Lou Meyers

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

The flowers that accompany this lovely poem by my classmate were taken at Longwood Gardens, outside Philadelphia. This is where Mary Lou & husband Dave celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and where Mary Lou read her poetry. So the flowers & the poem are linked.


I have lived long enough to taste vintage everything
from wine impressed on our lips on our wedding day, put away,
to resurrecting clothes once the newest rage,
to the silver setting my mother gave to help me wait,
a bribery instead of a hasty wedding date
while my fiancee was home on holiday leave.
In time it tarnished like my hair and face,
though silvered with care and grace till erased by the grandchildren,
the oldest, who said, “my hair is the same color as yours,”
though burnished gold, but they bounced on my knee,
Elena, Ben, Addie, and Hildy,
“huppa, huppa Reiterlein!,” free to be a rider of destiny.

Men were the beginning and end in that long ago,
my mother nourished me, but we geared our lives
to the coming and going of working men’s traffic. 
My father would bend, my mother amended
and circumvented,
I learned to reinvent my own sense of being,
writing saved for me alone, a mosaic of tiny-shatterings.

Conscience-raising was something other women did, I had 3 kids, two resourceful boys, a sought-after daughter, not an after-thought.
We are all imbued with bits and pieces of Truth when pulled together
form a quilt of unified wills on route to liberation.

We’ve lived long enough to remember World War II years
when everyone seemed to be on the same side of sacrifice and victory
with rationing to curb our appetites.

I’ve lived long enough to know disappointment,
but grow out of it, to find
beyond the fears and tears of every day,
something unexpectedly rare will come along
as long as we are ready for it.

I’ve lived long enough to learn rainbow hues soon fade away,
but what I’ve yearned for can be replaced by thoughts that elevate
raised to the sublime in my own ornamental vase.

We’ve lived long enough to learn along the way,
they won’t be playing “our song” always,
but still the echo remains to accompany our days,
one place-keeper to embrace emptiness for your sake.

We’ve lived long enough to learn along the way,
to meet children more than half way,
and grandchildren, divide ourselves in as many pieces as they need
to accomplish whatever deeds they believe in,
and find us worthy enough to need them
as we once did their fathers and aunt before them.
It would grieve us to think we missed the ship
which catapulted them into accomplishment.

We’ve been married long enough to know,
marriage is not encapsulated, impervious to intent,
but it must grow in spite of the erosion of time and events.
Diseases come and go, we don’t have to claim them as our own.
We’ve been measured against the storm of controversy,
the tide of resistance, stayed together fortified by this
taking turns to lead and follow, reacting with action,
fast talker, preacher, one who reaches far above for support,
even fantasy that sets forth on an imaginary horse.

Silver and gold anniversarys [sic] come and go,
star-cast events, I put it altogether in memories as vital as a song
to carry me along the rest of my life as bold as my soul on awakening.

Now the candles on the birthday cake crowd out the icing
until there is little to say except “birthdays come and go,”
but the only thing I really know is that life is a continuum,
except when you shut down, so you might as well stay around
long enough to save all those crammed poems and notes on envelopes,
to write the story of a lifetime which is made of so many tidbits,
smiles and frowns, upside downs, and right side ups
which is the way I always try to land no matter the circumstances.

I’ve lived long enough to experience life in one breath,
to taste the pure and unadulterated, not the genetically-modified,
to treat the new day as a gift I loathe to relinquish.
I’ve lived long enough to understand what “tip of the tongue,” means,
when it never comes, but what I fear most is the weakening of will power,
the leaking of brightness from my eyes.

I’ve lived long enough to say ruination can come and go in a day,
but mind, body, and spirit must be fully inclined the same way.

This is a photo of Mary Lou reading her poetry at her 5oth anniversary party.

Subscribe