Twin Fiddlers

Twin Fiddlers0001Daddy took his little girl everywhere,
Especially when he went fishing and fiddling.

Once a month on Sundays,
At the Washington Old Time Fiddler’s Association,
They soaked up some toe tapping,
Mountain music.

One afternoon,
While sawing on his old fiddle,
With rhythm guitars and a bass strumming at his side,
Daddy’s little girl toddled up to the stage and tugged,
At his pant leg for attention,
To everyone’s delight.

He loved to play,
“Bill Cheatum,” “Arkansas Traveler,”
And “Bully of the Town.”

Just as Daddy conspired,
The fiddle bug did bite her,
At the age of three.

Three months of begging,
Sufficiently coaxed her determination,
And she solemnly promised,
To practice every day.

Her eyes gleamed,
As she was presented with a tiny,
One sixteenth size,
Fiddle.

True to her word,
She practiced,
Day after day.

Then one cold dark evening,
With fiddle in hand,
She walked into the room,
While Daddy fiddled away in front of the fireplace.

She meekly announced,
With great disappointment,
Her fiddle was broken.

Astonished,
He carefully examined the fiddle,
And asked, “what’s wrong with it?”

With a long frown
She took a deep breath and said,
“It doesn’t sound like yours.”

© 2013 M. Tsai

A Father’s love, joy and sorrow

Naomi Cannon BeachThe doctor said my life will most likely
End in months not years,
Unless of course I get run over by a bus tomorrow.

The cancer invades my body,
Spreading as it pleases,
I take chemo twice daily to slow it’s progress.

Watching my daughter graduate from college,
Walking her down the aisle,
Teaching my grandchildren how to fish,
All seem to be an impossibility,

My daughter is so precious,
Sparkling like Sirius in the heavens.
I could not be more pleased
With how she has applied,
The passion and talent that burns within her,
In twenty years I have witnessed her amazing trajectory,

I have told her that I will always love her,
But not nearly as much as I do now.
I am as proud as any Dad can be.
Yet I struggle with finding more to say.

I am not a hugger.
But hugs feel especially good right now.
And all the love from my family and friends,
I drink up like a camel.

There is nothing left on my bucket list,
Except to live each day to the fullest,
Until I hope to have the strength,
To greet Death,
With grace and dignity.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Second Cut

1-IMG_1023
36 glistening staples punctuate my belly,
The incision retracing much of the scar.
From my prior liver resection.

Lucky am I to have another operation,
Pregnant with hope and opportunity,
More quality time.

My bowels are frozen,
My abdomen gradually tightening,
Like the skin on a timpani drum,
Over the last six days.

I have reached the tipping point,
No more food can be packed in.

She sits exhausted and anxious
In the cramped emergency room chair,
While I lay in the gurney,
IV drip into the left arm,
My index finger pointing my heartbeat,
Into the monitor.

Waiting for the doctor,
to review the x-rays
With my surgeon.

The levity of narcotics slowly wearing off,
I begin to feel,
The searing pain of my incision,
And the tightness of my belly.

2-IMG_1027I wait anxiously,
Until 4:30 am,
To get all of my medications,
My heart beating
Loud,
Steady,
Strong.

Carpe diem

© 2013 M. Tsai

Puppy Love

1-IMG_3441The cream of the crop
Traveled to the 1979 Congress of Strings
At the University of Washington,
Including the musical genius from Calgary.

We all had scholarships,
For an intensive musical experience
Performing every two weeks at Meany Hall.

All college students except for me,
Heading into my last year of high school.

The camp had an extra spot,
So they asked my violin teacher,
A professor emeritus,
If he could fill it.
He selected me.

For the first concert,
I was assigned to sit
Next to the girl from Oberlin,
Destined to be a concert master.

She was the section leader
Of the second violins,
We shared a stand,
Making rapturous notes together.

Tall and lean,
Her dark wavy hair framed her aquiline nose
And sultry brown eyes,
Her long dexterous fingers moved effortlessly
As she played with fierce intensity.

Drawing me in like a Gypsy Air,
Under her mysterious spell,
I gathered all of my shy
Awkward courage
To ask her out on a date.

As we walked across the warm summer campus,
She told me she had never dated a jock,
But I persisted.

In the evening
We went out to University Ave
I forgot my wallet,
So she paid.

My heart sinking
As we neared the elevator at Haggett Hall,
Reluctantly I said good night.

She stepped toward me and leaned in for my very first kiss,
All was going exceptionally well,
Until she thrust her long alien tongue,
Into my mouth.

Tumbling back on all fours,
Bewildered,
I watched her smiling
As the elevator doors
Closed.

© 2013 M. Tsai

The Battle Continues

Over a year after my liver resection, my cancer has returned in my spleen.  My surgeon will remove my spleen this coming Friday.  It will be another big abdominal incision.  The past year has been filled with many firsts.  First time I could not do a single sit up. First time I tried with all my heart to show my wife and daughter how much I loved them.  First time I read a poem out loud at an open mike instead of playing the fiddle.  First time I tried to reflect on my life and actions.  First time to blog. 

The trained engineer in me wants to analyze and build structure.  Words do not stream from my consciousness to paper.  I know I have more to share.  But for now my posts may become quite rare.  Rest assured that I will be doing a lot of reading during the weeks ahead on WordPress.  A place where I can meet amazing people, learn through our common struggles and joys, and also learn how to open up and express myself.

 

Living the Dream

Wisps of steam rise above the Red Square bricks,
As they soak in the sun rays,
after a sudden downpour.

Thousands of footsteps merge and converge,
Creating random paths,
Overlapping and intertwining with each other,
At different times during the course of the day.

College students blur before me like the sifting gray clouds above,
I spot her golden hair and yellow rain coat across the square,
I make my way to cross her path at the steps.

Time stops as we each reveal our pleasure,
Her green eyes smiling deep into my soul.
Though she is pursued by a marching band of players,
I hop, skip and jump right into the fray
to gain her affections.

Emotions long forgotten like waves on a Mexican beach,
Resurface as I inspect old photos with happy poses,
And smiles that have lost their way,
A proud father and a young husband,
When did I grow so old?

Now in the midst of life, a dream momentarily shattered,
We struggle with a dark hour,
But the darkness reveals many miracles.
Time feels compressed, it has no dimension.

As my chrysalis of death begins to harden,
Her penetrating love blazes within my cocoon.
I am not alone as I transform,
Not yet ready to emerge into another world.

I will fly into death with the lightness and passion,
Of a an unseen butterfly,
I will flutter about and through her,
Filling the infinite dimensions with my love,
My energy will warm her.

Our dreams will intersect,
In another place,
Where we will awake together,
To discover ourselves again.

© 2013 M. Tsai