A Piece Of Wood

by Madeleine F White

It sits on the palm of my hand
Resting there
Once a honey-coloured ochre
it’s been rubbed into submission
by care. 
Often too much.

In the pink-plumped nest of flesh
Wooden warmth pulses
Even as it stills.
Holding me as I hold on
While assuring me there’s time enough still
To be safe.

My fist closes over the edged crossbeam 
Fingers curling around the comforting geometry of stillness.
Dipping under my fingers, its Vertical 
the rack my lifeline is stretched across. 
Defeater of fear. 

There are veins in the grain.
A veil rubbed thin 
Darkened by the oils of my skin.
Touch burnishing the dull sheen
Of the opening door I seek
to empty my day into –
allowing me to wipe clean, make good
what’s gone before.

The dialogue of skin and wood
Whispers reassurance
Tomorrow will be good.
I’ll know what to do.
The solidity of that promise
Helping me understand that my worth
Isn’t defined by Works.

This little cedar cross I hold, 
a reminder of a gift unearned. 
My place in the sun a given.
It is Here. As I am Here.
Reaching out, it reaches me.
It’s light a lasting presence. 
Surpassing any lingering darkness 
As it signposts the way beyond the door 
I’d only nudged before.
A life regained.

Madeleine F White was born in Germany, with roots in Canada and the UK. A magazine publisher and editor, she has produced national and international web and print magazines, creating a voice for those without one, such as the successful Nina-Iraq, a project she worked on with the World Bank to reach out to Iraqi women everywhere. Since 2019, she has been founder/editor of Write On! magazine and Write on Extra e-zine and Write On! podcast, published by Pen to Print, an Arts Council NPO organisation.

Her novel Mother of Floods is available online and in bookshops in the UK, US and Canada and through Amazon and other online retailers. Sisters Of Storms, a companion novel, is due for release in 2024.

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