Miss Betty

She was beautiful, her white hair appropriately cut, her large, round, gold framed sunglasses reflecting the few clouds hovering above Parker’s Lake in the otherwise clear blue sky. Her thin, pale hand pulling on the pretty little leash attached to her small Bichon mix. She walked in her comfortable shoes towards me along the asphalt path. I had stopped to photograph a turtle sunning itself on a rock just off shore, and when I turned and saw her she smiled a crooked smile and wished me a sunny day. I responded with “me and the turtle wish you the same miss”.

She paused, she didn’t know me; I wore a blue t-shirt exposing my tattoos and faded jeans and cheap, dark sunglasses. Then she turned full round and stepped back towards me only a single step and threw her tired arms in the air and said “who couldn’t enjoy a day like this”. I introduced myself and said “indeed it’s a beautiful day, almost as much as you miss.” She stepped closer this time and stuck her hand out, I grasped her hand gently and gave her my name, she told me I seemed like a nice guy to which I replied…”my fiancée seems to think so” and she slapped her knee and whipped around and said “oh darn it’s always the nice one aint it!” I laughed and she asked about my fiancée.

Leaning against a rock wall along Parker’s Lake under a strong and warm spring sun we chatted about love and politics and travelling, OCD, addiction and recovery. I was already late getting back to work after lunch but I didn’t care, she was sweet and funny and we quickly became friends. She had spoken about a book she was reading called Switching on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf and how it had transformed how she saw things. She said it showed her how to be happier…by choosing to be happy, she has OCD she said and her husband is a recovering alcoholic and she spoke about how sometimes we just need to decide to be happy and that it doesn’t matter what others believe or whether or not they accept us as we are, it’s up to us whether or not we choose to be happy on our own terms.

She patted me on the arm and said that we were meant to meet today, we saw eye to eye on some things and not so on others but we both enjoyed each other’s company for a little while on what had already been a beautiful day, but now had become much more than that for me. When we allow ourselves to remain open to what’s around us we invite opportunities to be rewarded, sure that means we can be hurt too, there’s always an innate risk there when we make ourselves vulnerable, but I’ll take that risk any day! Thank you Miss Betty.

Saint Margaret

That year was the year
I fought my way
out of a dragon.

Let me start:
I grew up banished to strangers
outside Antioch.

When I had to,
I chose purity
over expediency.

That explains the dungeon.

But not the tiny exquisite pain
in my fingertip
nipped by the green devil,
emerald-eyed, ashimmer.

That was my own story.

That year was the year
I let the devil swallow my body
into darkness.

That I gave my own breath
for the dragon’s flame.

That year was the year
that let me
sense light
through the belly.

A year
that faith
made sharp
my cross.

That year was the year
that I fought my way
out of a dragon.

That I sliced
through the
thick skin
severing scales
that fell away
like tossed coins
and crawled out
one toe at a time.

By the time I breathed
my own breath again,
and drew my soul
back in,
the dragon
was split
and wilted
at my feet,
temptless,
but for the
glitter
of white teeth.

– Copyright Kay Winter
written New Year’s Day, 2016