July 7, 2016

A poem by Jude Walsh Whelley: "Loose"

Jude Walsh Whelley has been journaling since she was twelve years old and has more than 90 journals to prove it. After loving her 33-year education career, she is now mining those journals and her experiences to write personal essays, poetry and memoir. Her work has appeared in the anthologies: Real Women Write: Sharing Our Stories, Sharing Our Lives (2016), True Words from Real Women (2010, 2015), Anthology of Tragedies & Triumphs (2014), Anthology of Christmas Memories (2011), The AWW (Antioch Writers'Workshop) Collection (2014, 2015), and the literary magazine Mothers Always Write (2016). More of her writing can be found at: www.judewalshwhelley.com




The oddest things bring a surge of clarity.
Today, on a nature walk with a small group,
we veered off the sandy path to a small freshwater pond.
The water in the pond was red
from bird droppings.
This secluded pond with live oak, wax myrtle, Loblolly pines
right to the edge of the water,
and partially submerged fallen logs,
one not a log at all but the resident alligator,
is where the birds roost after a day over the ocean
filling their bellies.
There are nine of us:
a father, mother,
three boys and eldest girl
on a family vacation,
a husband and wife in their sixties
recently retired and savoring couple time,
and me, the lone single.
It’s the couple’s shoes that do it.
I am wearing sandals and
must stop often to shake out the sand.
They’re in Tevas, rubber soled shoes
with solid heels and toes, open sides.
No stopping for them,
that vulnerable open toe spot is covered.
I am struck by an image of them shopping,
chatting about this trip and their new life
and what shoes would be best.
They settled on green and tan for her, gray and black for him,
different colors, different sizes, but the same purpose,
birding together.
I am alone,
the water of my marriage fouled red by infidelity and lies.
I no longer roost there.
I fly free over oceans, mountains, the whole of the planet.
I shoe shop alone, and if I chose the wrong shoes,
no worries.
There are more days and choices to come.
I’m shaking loose more than sand.

~Jude Walsh Whelley

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