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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 4

"Surgery" and "Two Memorable Dawns"

written by

Wesley D. Sims


One turning point

  is all it takes to take

    one road diverging.

      One day, one minute,

        one moment,

          is all you need

            to change your path.

Can you hear

  the loss of hearing?

    Can you hear

      the verdict surgery?

        Can you hear

          him say it’s urgent?

Can you feel—

  a team of doctors,

    taking turns for ten long hours,

      penetrating, probing through

        both linings of the brain?

Can you sense

  the loss of balance,

    learning how to walk again,

      can you feel a lasting headache?

Can you, after all

  the work is done,

    after all the healing comes,

Can you walk alone,

  not staggering?

Can you, smiling, still say, Blessed?

"Two Memorable Dawns"

The sun beams strong this morning

glinting on the dove-white marble

tombstone of my great-great-grandfather,

my centerpiece of the cemetery.

Two wives buried on either side of him,

the first worn down by sacrifice,

war-time burdens, and deaths

of three young children.

I cannot fathom the trouble he tasted.

Endured deep darkness of the Civil War

living in Alabama woods

to avoid conscription and killing,

and to help feed his family.

Like the veterans of that war,

he didn’t talk about those lean years,

those mean and trying years—

living on wild game and hard tack,

avoiding rattlesnakes and soldiers,

seldom seeing his children.

Near war’s end he brought his family

to Tennessee for a fresh start,

a place to forget lost family members.

A quiet man, gentle soul, conscientious

objector, his eyes held deep compassion

and the blue of a summer sky.

Perhaps it was the war,

or the loss of his children

and father to measles and small pox.

Or maybe the voice he heard

near a rose bush ablaze with healing

sunshine one desperate dawn

after losing his only son,

that shook his soul and warmed his heart.

He claimed the promise, kept his vow,

became a Methodist minister.

To share good news and offer hope.

To teach others how to embrace love

and transform swords into plows.

Wesley Sims has published three chapbooks of poetry: When Night Comes, (Finishing Line Press, 2013); Taste of Change, (Iris Press, 2019); and A Pocketful of Little Poems, (Amazon, 2020).

His work has appeared in Artemis Journal, Connecticut Review, G.W. Review, Liquid Imagination, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Novelty Magazine, Poem, Poetry Quarterly, Bewildering Stories, and several others.

He lost hearing completely in one ear and has severe hearing loss in the other.

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