Wings Will Come (Collection)

Table of Contents

Part 1: Where did you go?

Prologue: Late 2015

I remember sitting across from a friend at a familiar pub, trying to explain the past few months to her. How my dad had taken a new job across the country in Arizona; how he, my mom, and my grandfather would all be moving out there; and how my little brother and I would be staying behind and renting the family home with some friends. Besides that framework, to my regret, I poured out all the bad stories. The stressors, the annoyances, the worst moments, and the conflicts. I hardly mentioned the good things, and I am pretty sure I didn’t mention God at all.

I needed perspective.

Though the change was still raw, I wanted to tackle my tangle of emotions and memories and go deeper. God was constantly at work in my life during this time, stitching blessings into a transforming tapestry. I recognized it, but I hadn’t claimed it as the greater truth yet. Sometimes we have to look backwards with a critical eye to see around the turmoil. My venue for this was poetry.

In this collection, I tried to narrate the events and emotions of my closest family moving far away and to seek to see where God was working. I move (more or less) chronologically through the story, culminating with a poem that is a prayer of hope for continued growth, love, and peace for both myself and my family out there in the Wild West.

“Where did you go?”

The beginning

where did you go,
old days? better days,
rosy days, good days?
new days, stale days,
gray and cluttered days
pushed you away.
late at night I hear only
tension in your voice:
a strain of loss as you
buckle further under
the more, more, more.
as you stand sad and lonely
at the divide between
you and now.
those nights I prayed for
the joy that drove the beginning
to rise up again anew.
I prayed it for a long time:
save what is good here
before it is ash and
empty silver years.
God answered when
I wasn’t yet ready.

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Part 2: Shore

When big change calls us unexpectedly, we have a choice to respond. In this second poem from my collection “Wings Will Come: Journey,” I reflected on a night that my father started to feel a call for a change in his life. It made me think of when Jesus called his disciples from their familiarity – and how they had a choice to take the leap of faith to join Him.

“Shore”

Foreshadowing

I won’t forget that evening
in the yellow glow of the kitchen light
casual after-work conversation interrupted
as you stepped into the room and asked,
“What do you think about Tucson?”
We loved it, of course. It meant southwest
desert vacations, grandparent visits, good cooking,
and fond memories. You say, “I think I’m going
to move there.” Find a job and go.
We laugh. You’ve said that before, when
days are hard and long hours pile
on you with a backhoe.
Tonight, we entertain the idea. We toy with
what-if and wouldn’t that be and can you imagine?
It’s that moment on the shore when God calls
and you’re in your fishing boat, dragged down in the
daily muck, and you wonder: what if I go?

and then you do.

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Part 3: Origami Wings

When my dad accepted a new job offer across the country last year, I learned to celebrate the journey even though I wasn’t the one embarking on it. It isn’t easy to do, but whether you are watching a loved one move, a child go to college, or parting ways for the final journey of all, I believe that in the Spirit’s grace and wisdom, we can find the strength to say our farewells with hope and love.

“Origami Wings”


To Dad
 
the job offer is an origami crane
that can’t move,
a shelf ornament made in dreaming.
then, echoing through cool spring
air, I hear 
the wings move.
      you move.
 
I sit still, suddenly 
the shelf-sitter,
fragile as rice paper while you
take to the air and shake off
the dust.
shock flattens me.
I am a paper leaf, 
blank and white.
 
I want to fly with you,
I want to stay, want you
to stay,
but your wings are finally
moving and right now life
is what matters.
so I muster a breath of air
to lift you off:
Dad, that’s great!  
but weighing me down is
Daddy, I will miss you.

 
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Part 4: For now

My mom started packing as soon as my dad accepted the job offer that would take my parents and my grandfather across the country to Arizona. The transition from the old status quo of the house to “Box World” was a constant reminder of the change happening around me, and it retaught me a lesson I thought I’d known: the home with which God blessed me is not in the building, but in the people by whom I have always been surrounded with love and grace.

“For now”

To Mom

each time I step
into another room of the house,
another familiar piece is
missing. your hands move quickly,
snatching the clutter of knick-knacks
off shelves and tabletops. When I blink,
the statues and ornaments and little
pictures have vanished into packing paper
and cardboard boxes.

it is this piecemeal transition that tricks me.
I prop up yet on
my heart in an open locket I know
I’ll have to give away someday.

as the boxes pile higher over the furniture,
shadowing windows and the old ways,
I realize no knick-knack matters,
the boxes become the new familiar
because it is you and your love and
generosity that fill the house,
covering boxes and empty shelves.
you are still home
for now.

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Part 5: Typeset

When my parents moved to Arizona, my grandfather went to move in with them as well, unseating one of the steadfast people in my life. This change shook out both memories and new stories from him, reminding me of the long years he has been there for me and sharing in words his deep, but quiet love for me and my family. It reminds me, too, of how God’s love worked for my family during this time: often quiet, but always steady and always strong.

“Typeset”


To PopPop
 
you’re going, too.
for some reason this
     feels the most surreal 
so far.
 
you are a
      solid, stoic rock I remember
      from my tiniest days as I 
soaked in the world
      and every story from the old days.
you’d tell them letter by letter
to us like type set into a printing press.
     roll on the ink and another tale
falls into curious hands.
     but your stories are going
away now.
 
in the months to come I’ll hear
so many stories from you: 
      some I know well and
      some I never did.
as you step outside your pale green
home on the hill and look westward
       toward unknowns,
you speak your once-upon-a-times,
your questions, your joys, and your worries.
 
your love has long been quiet and thick as
snowfall, tucked in around the landscape
     in a generous quilt.
unexpectedly around the kitchen table
your love makes it into print like your
old family stories,
              and perhaps this is your greatest family story
                yet.
I will remember these pages,
      read aloud in your deep, rich voice,
when you said we are precious,
      you are proud of us,
      we’re your world. 
 
I put my inked type beside yours in reply:
       you have been our world, too
and though our worlds are stretching now
     to make room for change,
we share the same skies and
the same stories, in new chapters.

  
 
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Part 6: Heralds

My parents began to get ready for the move, but the enormity of the task soon made us question this decision. It was in those moments God spoke to us in unexpected ways, encouraging us forward. In your dark times, listen hard to the night, and you may find the message of hope you need.

“Heralds”

Doubts

preparations chew into
busy hours and restless weekends.
tasks climb on top of each other
to beg our attention.
exhausted, we stare into the shadow
they cast over the dream.

in the shade of the movement,
questions stitch themselves
to our skin and hide the
true muscle and bone beneath.

in a weary ride home
of a shadow-day
you speak to my father
in a radio song calling
for change.
When he looks ahead
he sees a license plate
for his destination
hanging in plain view.

today a song of change
and Arizona-tags leap to the top
of the shady mountain
to proclaim direction.

we follow unassuming heralds
and shed our doubting scales.

(For more on the doubting scales reference, see Act 9:1-19)

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Part 7: False Bottom

Too often we face challenges, realize we don’t have what it takes, and then cave. When my parents began the transition of moving to Arizona, leaving my brother and I behind, I learned that weakness is a window to God. We must learn to look past the glass and out in the vast world of His love beyond to find what we need to press on.

“False Bottom”

The weight of change
 
years, jobs, and classes
tugged us thin in places.
on the taut cloth falls
a stone.
crying in the car on the
way into work, I have to 
wonder if we have enough
in us for this.
 
       in the whirling spring and 
       summer months of that year
       you surprise me, God,
       with a lesson about us
       that I didn’t know I needed 
       to learn:
 
our strength was a 
false bottom.
You are the well
beneath us.
 
         It is now 
         that we learn
         to draw from it.

  
 
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Part 8: Crossing

This poem describes the night that we emptied all manner of furniture, tools, and other household items out of my grandfather’s house into two storage units, a task that had to be done that night due to schedules and availability of the family. It was hectic, with carloads of items to take to the units before the place closed at 10 pm. Looking back, it reminds me a bit of the crossing of the Red Sea story in Exodus 14 – a rush across a sea of unknowns in a time of great change.

In the midst of that stressful dash, my mom and I sang praise songs in the car ride, and for a moment the impossibility faded as we remembered our God and His power and love that was greater than our troubles. It’s a reminder I continue to need and often look back to.

“Crossing”

Preparations

afternoon blurs into dusk
as we tape, wrap, box, disassemble, and
carry a collection of a lifetime.
the curator watches with a breaking
heart. the sweet and acrid blend of old
pipe smoke hovers around me
in a cloud of memory.

my grandfather’s house is a
monument in my mind, as fixed
as its keeper. but now
it, too, moves: a parting sea
in the journey to new places,
and like Your ancient people,
he is afraid to cross.

movement rushes us, dragging
us, our fear, and the collection into
dashes to a storage unit
that closes at 10 pm.
every circle back for more, the clock
squeezes time tighter.

impossibility will not be our master:
windows rolled all the way down in
humid sunset air, my mother and I
cry out to You in song, as loud as we can
over our turmoil as we drive in
darkness.

we remember that You give
dry ground for the crossing and that
we are in the keeping
of a Spirit who moves
and a Man who shepherds.

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Part 9: Refuge

Amidst the challenges and scurry of moving my parents and grandfather out to Arizona, another blow struck our family. My grandmother had cancer. New pressures and worries poured on top of our pile of concerns, but my mom was quick to call out the blessing in the whirlwind: that she would be moving out to join her mother in Arizona at a time when her mother needed her the most.

I do not believe God orchestrates every happening in our world, but I do believe that when we listen to His call, He pulls us toward paths where we can help others in ways we never imagined.

(P.S. from 2019, my grandmother beat her cancer and has been cancer-free since)

“Refuge”

News of cancer

the news is cannon fire:
I hear the explosion
distantly, watch the shot
coming toward me but still
feel the hard shock of the impact,
and I fall in the rubble
of the ordinary.

in the talk of diagnoses,
next steps, surgery, and treatments
for your mother out west, who has been
excitedly waiting for your arrival,
you ask aloud: why?
but you are brave and steadfast
no matter that our outer walls
have taken blows tonight.
You pause to say: it is good we will
be there.

I don’t understand the Lord’s timing,
nor the whys of the world,
but I know He moves us
where He needs us, if we will go.

we stand back up,
face ahead, and wave
an ever-bold banner.
this far in, we know
He keeps our walls.

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Part 10: Phone Line

My parents and grandfather moved out to Arizona in stages, and my dad was the first to leave. The first few weeks without him were surreal, but reality settled in slowly but surely, and the separation seemed enormous. Looking back on that time, though, I am now able to see that God continued to connect and sustain my family despite the new distance between us.

“Phone Line”

To Dad
 
You leave first.
on a sunny summer morning
     we stand at the top of
     our driveway, your Prius packed
         to bursting for your journey.
I pretend you’re leaving on
       a business trip
     or a vacation.
I pretend you’ll be right back.
 
then you’re sending pictures
    of the new house,
telling us about your day
     across a phone line.
I desperately fill in the distance with 
      shovelfuls of it’s not really happening.
 
but when it’s not really happening
   suddenly becomes it is
my strong front crumbles
       into rainfall.
 
Change can be ignored
     but transformation consumes.
When pretending runs dry
     I look for deeper waters
that will sustain.
 
The phone line and the pictures
     tutor me, one on one,
that I have focused on the divide
       and not the connection.
God does not make the miles
      between us shrink, 
      but He shows me that our bonds
                       are growing and stretching
              along highways to unknowns
       and don’t come untied.

  
 
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Part 11: Just Us

My brother drove west with my father to help him get settled in my parents’ new house in Arizona. After a few weeks, I flew out to meet my brother for our friends’ wedding in New Mexico, after which he and I flew home together. It had been almost a month since we’d seen each other, and the weekend trip in New Mexico was full of catching up and then looking ahead at the last steps of the move. One thing I know for certain is that my brother was one of the greatest blessings God gave me throughout this time. Without his calm, wisdom, faith, and support, I don’t know I would have gotten through. This poem is for Duncan, brother and friend.

“Just Us”

To Duncan

sandy-bright glare of
New Mexico highway flashes by
while brother and sister
fill the rental car with stories
from East and West,
swapping tales like trading cards.

it is just us out here,
rolling on to celebrate
the new beginnings
of our friends in the mountains.

it is just us going back.
we don’t feel ready.
we don’t have answers.
in the pitch-black drive
winding out of the mountains
to a morning flight out
we figure one thing:
we are going home.
what that is has changed
and will change.
we are half of our family,
East to their West.

Even unready, I
am at least not alone.
we won’t have the answers,
but we will have enough.
We say to each other:
we have gotten this far.

brother and sister
take flight home.
what that is has changed
and will change
into new beginnings.

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Part 12: Family Photos

My PopPop was the next person to move with my parents to Arizona. My dad flew back from the new house to fly him out to the west. For a little while, we were all back together again. We took that time to crowd together in a family photo in our house of boxes and change, remembering what had been and looking ahead together to what will be. God blesses us with moments of memory, and He strengthens us to keep walking into a new present with new possibilities.

“Family photos”

To all my family

the five of us cram together to
fit in the camera lens
one last time before the house
is different and father and grandfather
spread wings to the West.

after the flash, we peer at
the tiny digital screen
to make sure we’re all there.

what fills the family photo frame
will change.
even as the takeoff still roars
in my ears I see different faces
crowd around me, put hands
on my shoulder, and smile.
some are new and some
are as well known
to me as my innermost bones.

I display the new photos and the old
side-by-side in my heart.
Under this sun, they each take
their place and their time:
equal jewels to hold.

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Part 13: Traveling Bard

My mom was the last of my family to move out west to Arizona. As the number of days to her departure dwindled, we spent time together reading, watching, and discussing old favorite stories. My mom has always been a woman of stories, and she instilled that same love in my brother and me. Through books and movies in the last week, we found strength in cherished memories and encouragement in the tales that had shaped our imaginations and philosophies since childhood. In these hours, I believe God helped ground us in familiarity and then gave us the grace to turn to the next chapters.

“Traveling Bard”

To Mom

you and I have been reading
a story together while you
flood recipe cards with ink.
we sit amidst boxes, boxes, boxes
and share a tale of hellos and goodbyes.

you, my brother, and I have been watching
one of our favorite old films of action, wit,
and adventure while we huddle together
remembering decades of our everyday journeys
that have tested our courage to the quick.

you, my brother, your soul-sister, and I have been playing
a trivia game that dredges up details from one of the oldest
stories that unites us: one of a long way forward
to great change. before it is over, we four
crowd in the dark around a TV screen to see a preview
of a new start to another cherished story that we’ll see completed
from different corners of the earth.

you have been a storyteller to me
since I had ears to hear.
you are off to be a traveling bard
while I keep by the fireside
until sun comes and I go
to live out the lessons nestled in
your tales.

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Part 14: The house will fill again

This poem is about the first day my brother and I were alone in the family house, which we would be renting from our parents as they moved to Arizona. It was a surreal day, but we promised ourselves that however empty the house felt now, we would work to fill it with the same love and hospitality that our parents had in their many years there. Sometimes God asks us to stay behind to be the new light.

“The house will fill again”

The first day

hello, empty house.
we do not want to face you yet
but here we are.

we come back from the airport
confused, just waiting
to see Dad at his office desk
working too early already
or Mom bent over her sewing machine.
every hour is another rain shower,
but we push through.

we build and move,
and pray and learn.

the house will fill again.

together, brother to sister,
we promise that we will
keep the invisible spirit of the house
alive: open doors and safe haven,
a legacy of hospitality our family
embedded into the foundation
of our house and our hearts.

Come to the nest
where we keep safe
as we learn our wings.

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Part 15: Wings Will Come

The last poem of my collection about my family’s move to Arizona ends with a poem I have shared before. In my family’s journey is sadness and joy, challenges and blessings. God has been with us through all these things and will continue to transform us as we go forward.

“Wings Will Come”

Reflection
 
it is invasive and clings
    around me, a constant reminder.
trapped: changing and no way
      to chew free of bindings 
            I spun myself with wishes and choices
         that I never knew could lead here.
but in the gauzy darkness i
know the wings
    will come.
 
you have been hoping for your own day
         in the open 
     for even longer than I have.
I cannot see you anymore,
     but somewhere in your own cocoon
  you are growing colors like 
      Arizona sunsets
that are outlined with your bold resolve
     like an inked sketch of
     your future.
 
let’s meet in the air,
you and I.

 
 
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