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The First Last Dance – At Last

Ma Riley horseshoes

her life she lived

by choice

to live

humbly

within the hills

and hollows

of the only place

ever

she called home

a life lived

long

and a long life

lived

upon the land

she labored

and the home she made

with such love

and though life

at times

was not so

kind

in kind she did

respond

With love

for eighty years

and then two more

she lived each one

so well

and she lived them all

within the shadows

of such glorious hills

yet her light

would rise

to unimaginable heights

by the love she shared

and humble way

she cared

her spirit carried

around the globe

ten times more

and One hundred-fold

chicken coups and pigs

in pens

the cows she milked

each day then

again

butter churned

by churning

calloused hands and

peeling

crisp sweet autumn apples

cooked in kettles

hovering over pits

of open fire

burning

her brand and blend

of magic poured

onto biscuits and bowls

filled to the brim

with that certain

and special

kind of love

found only

in the rhythm

of a heartbeat

raised higher than the highest

of hills

and mountains

of love

she bound

into every needle and stitch

of thread

until a quilt

would cover us all

in the warmth

of sweet rising

breads

she baked

and pies and cobbler

too

many jellies and jams

fudge brownies and

cookies galore

and a dozen times

more

birthdays made special

and artistically

sweet

homemade whipped icing

spread in delicate

waves

beautifully bound

to bring only joy

like only

she could

her castle

a tiny country kitchen

secure

behind the skeleton

keyhole door

dim lights flicker

as winters

pass

then passed once more

buried in banks

of snow

could neither hinder her

spirit

nor dampen the soul

of one so at peace

and peacefully so

she passed each

day

like the first

pristine

morning of spring

into the deep

hold

of a cool mountain

summer night

free

falling into the strands

an autumn’s blend

of colorful chorus

yielding

only to the chords

and strands

of her love

for life

and those she

loved

to gather and give

a spoonful

of mountain berry

jam

each one picked

by a thorn-pricked hand

when nary snake

nor thickets of thorns

would impede her

path

to the best

berry patch

torn down the steep

narrow way

without pause to cross

the crackling brook

she would run

and go

for the sweetest

and golden apples

to harvest

and back home

she strode alone

a bushel in

tow

yet never was she ever

alone

for each bird

that soared the sky

and every critter

covered in fur

they were all

known by her

and the winds and gentle

rains

and the crumble of

leaves

and the bite

of bitter cold

she embraced them

all

and they in turn

held her safe

to yearn

for one more

day

she loved to learn

and forever longed

to learn more

but nine years

was enough for a girl

to learn

so her father said

but what’s said

is not all

from those mountains

still

she would rise

with unshakable will

and never will her strength

be denied

and never will

I

nor any that ever

knew her love

and grace

that beautiful smiling

face

on the winds

beneath

an angel’s wings

she breathes

evermore

and that day

I remember

her last day was

near

and her last breath

would pass

but not until

we danced

barely could she stand

and no longer could she stand

alone

we needed to move

somewhere

she needed to go

from here

to just over

there

every move was a chore

how would we

ever

reach the door

how would we

manage

one so proud

and full of grace

she managed it all

as only she could

with a smile

that could erase time

and space

her beaming face

never failed

and lit every room

and touched every soul

until the end

she never lived

more than a mile

from where she was born

but no one I know

lived more

her life was full

much fuller than

most

and from such

a tiny abode

her love circled

the globe

she touched the lives

of all that she knew

she was the one

that no one dare dispute

was beyond measure

she was beyond

compare

yet in all of her

years

never did I hear

or did she ever tell

a story

of a time that she danced

so in that moment

as the last sands

slowly sailed

through the hour

of glass

into my arms

she rose

and I asked

“may I have this dance”

with a lifetime

of grace

slowly we strode

a mere shuffle

of warm embrace

that last first

dance

was at last

our chance

Forever her smile

that never will fade

and into forever

she danced

Ma Riley horseshoes