Things that Drift and Flutter and Twirl

I love things that gently drift
and flutter and twirl around me –
tawny maple leaves in autumn
and glittery snowflakes in winter,
cherry blossoms that pile up
in pink drifts in the spring
and butterflies flitting
among alpine flowers in summer.

But it is hard to get a picture of drifting,
fluttering, twirling stuff. So words are all
I’ve got. The end.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell


To the Cottonwood Tree

To the cottonwood tree near my work:
I listened to your brothers and sisters
as their leaves sang in the breeze by a river .
I met your cousins in the Grand Canyon –
they gave me shade on a blistering day.
I know your kin well. They are my friends.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Only Half of What Makes America Great

We’re all twisted-up logic-wise
like a bunch of guys
who can’t stop telling lies
My veteran friends went to fight
for our citizens’ first amendment rights
but now we’re told to honor their service
we can’t use the rights they fought
to preserve us
If we honor the person who’s kneeling
somehow that dishonors the feelings
of the veterans who fought so they COULD be kneeling
But why can’t we honor both?
Why do we have to make an oath
to only honor half of what makes America great?
Is forcing people to stand going to get rid of hate?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, proud daughter of a WWII veteran

Places, everyone!

What magic will we find between the book ends
of today? What adventures await between sunrise
and sunset? We’ve been gifted another day
to love, to learn, to live, to care. Let’s make it
happen, people! Places, everyone! And… action!
– Karen Molenaar Terrell




The Other Night

The Other Night

It was a strange and beautiful thing
I’ll try to describe it
I’m lying in bed at 3:00 in the morning
and my nose starts running
not like with little feet
but the kind of nose-running that involves
snot and toilet paper
So I get out of bed, blow my nose,
and settle back under the covers
again, try to fall back to sleep, but my
nose is still running, and my throat
is starting to feel scratchy, and I’m like
No! No, no, no, no, no! There is no
reason for me to be sick. No cause
for this, no purpose to it, no time for it.
And I do my mental prayer-thing as
I’m falling back into slumber. Praying in
my sleep now. Knowing myself as the
image and likeness of Love – whole and
perfect – the expression of Good. I say that
“There is no spot where Love is not”
thing. And I feel a breath come through
the curtains, through the window – breathing
on my face – like the breath from my babies
when they were newly-born and lying
in bed next to me. Or the breath of my kitty
with her nose on my skin – only this
breath doesn’t smell like cat food.
This breath is clean and cool and blows
over my skin with the touch of Love.
Comforting me. And I feel Love
tucking me in. “Rest in the arms of Love”
a healer once told me, and I remember
those words now, as I settle back into sleep.
And when it’s time to get up there is no trace
of the scratchy sneezes. Only Love remains.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Recognizing Our Kinship

Walking through the waking waiting area
at Pittsburgh’s airport – a kaleidoscope
of faces zooming in, zooming out – a mix
of colors – cedar, cinnamon, and taupe,
peach, pink, carob, caramel, and coffee –
his face stands out – he looks like Ram Dass
in The Little Princess – and he’s looking at me
We smile towards each other as we pass –
recognizing our kinship in the mass
of humming, hustling, hurrying humanity
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Man in the Fine Suit

I saw him standing in the waiting area of the airport
He was in a fine suit, silver-haired, fit, nicely-groomed
He looked successful
A man came up to him – a colleague, perhaps – and they
chatted and laughed together for a while
I filed the silver-haired man away in my mental
bank of characters

On the plane I discovered him again – seated on
the opposite side of the aisle, one row up –
in economy class – I hadn’t expected that

In the same row as the one in which I sat –
on the opposite side of the aisle – was a young
family – father, a daughter of two or three years
with pink ribbons in her hair, her mother
The trip would not be an easy one for the family
The little girl was cranky – tired, screaming,
crying, unhappy with this turn of events
The woman sitting in front of me covered
her ears and glared at the little family
I turned off my hearing aid and settled in

I am a mother
I could relate

Our plane landed, rolled down the tarmac,
parked in front of the gate
I leaned over and asked the little girl if she’d
just had her first flight on an airplane
She looked back at me with big eyes, quiet now
Her mother said no, she’d been on other flights,
and she’s usually such a good traveler…
“You did a good job,” I assured the mother
“You did what you could. Your daughter
is precious…”

The mother laughed in relief – I think she’d been
expecting me to speak different words to her
“We’ve both been sweating,” she said, glancing
over at her young husband, who smiled back
at me and nodded his head in confirmation
of his wife’s words – I think I saw steam rising
from their armpits – it had been a rough ride

And then the silver-haired man stood to grab
his suitcase from the overhead bin
He turned back to the mother and quietly spoke
to her – I saw her smile up at him and heard her
thank him – and he nodded and returned the smile

And that moment told me everything I needed
to know about the man in the fine suit
– Karen Molenaar Terrell