Category Archives: family

Read to the End–newly rediscovered poem

Forty-seven years ago May 25 fell on a Saturday (Memorial weekend) and Stephen and I got married at Queen of Peace Church. It was 3 weeks after my graduation from the University of Michigan and 1 week after his first year law school final exams. We were both 22 years old. We were so glad to be together we held onto each other and grinned through most of the ceremony. Even after this pandemic year, that is still true.

Here is a recently rediscovered poem from 21 years ago. When I read it to Stephen he didn’t remember the incident, but really liked the poem, so here it is.

6/29/00

Read to the End

Where can you be?
they are calling
desperate in their way
to find you

in the middle of negotiation
you walked away
stepped out…to where?
Is that when you called

me and left a message
“Talk to you at home”
two hours ago and
you are not home.

Where can you be
run off, run over
leaped off a bridge
into swift green water?

Wandering lost
down familiar, but faint
Chicago city streets?
Sudden flash of “must get out”

sudden loss of stamina
to keep on such a hard
“responsible” course
you set for yourself

thinking your sacrifice
was for us?
Where could you be—
come home to me—and talk

it through, like we always do.
Take this line I throw out to you
hold fast as I pull
you back to the safety of my arms.

**
And now the rest of the story:
You left for a meeting,
an estimate on hail damage,
and came home smiling after.

No danger, no need for worry
who knew? All that energy
wasted except to realize
once again how I love you.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2000

Recently rediscovered from my poetic journal

Cutting our wedding cake, 1974

Margaret and Stephen, Door County, WI

#poem #anniversary #love #poetry #lovepoetry

Prompted by Blake’s Question

4/5/20

Prompted by Blake’s Question

in this time of mandatory stay at home

For Stephen

We do what we can
to laugh, to love
to live another day.

And when we learn better
hopefully we do better.
How have you and I stayed

together 48+ years—still friends?
Once the question is out there
I’ve been thinking back

to the roller coaster
our constant notes written and left
to find, funny, sometimes thoughtful

sometimes informative, touching base.
The times we might have split
but worked through it

the relentless medical challenges
job stresses, raising two kids
personal growth, changing, not always

in perfect parallel aligned
“and if I fall behind, wait for me.”
But here we are together

almost half a century after that first January
when we sat side by side in the front row
the first day of a college literature class

had our first conversation of countless many.
Here we are still interested
still laughing, watching out for each other

still loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2020

From my poetic journal, a reminder that this week (Jan 17, 1972) is celebrating 49 years together. The quote is a reference to a Bruce Springsteen song.

Unexpected Wave, CA Beach, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

After the Wave, taken by Stephen Mikus 2013

After You Left

Shortly after we dropped our daughter off at her new college dorm she asked if I missed her. In response I sent her the 14 poems I had written to help me cope with her leaving. Later these poems became the seed that grew into my book Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey.I also included the poems from when her older brother went off to college and photographs I took of the campus. I realized that when one phase of life ends, another begins and those poems are part of the story as well.

I thought it was finished in 2006, but more poems came when our two children returned home like many of their generation. All of us were adjusted to our separate lives and had to adjust to living together. And then, once again, the leaving.

It is a mystery why certain poems pop into my head years later, but this one has been quite insistent lately. Perhaps it is the opening lines…

For you, here is this poem from Letting Go and New Beginnings:

2/24/08

After You Left

Constantly
I am watching out for you.
Even when I am not watching,
I am watching.

I cannot say why this is true
or when it began,
it feels like forever
my love.

So do me a great favor
and become…not less carefree
nor less careless,
nor even more careful,

for being full of care
is not it exactly.
Be more aware of your choices,
more in tune with your inner wisdom.

For you are wise
dear one.

And if I am selfish
and want you to stay with me
when it is clearly time to go,
forgive…

and go.
Call me when you arrive.
I will be waiting.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2008

Inspired by Tom Prasada-Rao

Heading Back Home by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

For me, the past year has been a “Twilight Zone” of one medical crisis after another—a new “surprise” before I’d even healed from the last one. From heart problems, possibly related to cancer treatment 23 years ago (with talk of a pacemaker) to 6 excision biopsies and 4 subsequent surgeries for melanoma, with an extreme allergy to the hypoallergenic tape, which caused blistering of my skin. Extended vertigo. I was hit by a motorcycle (no serious injury). A kidney stone (not my first, not the usual composition) led to a sudden jump in blood pressure. The procedure blasting the stone, went awry due to an equipment malfunction, which led to a whole array of ongoing problems including, bizarrely, a strained knee, which months later, is still debilitating. Interspersed with a sprinkling of other “issues” just for spice.

Not to whine or complain, but really? As it turns out, I’m doing ok. One moment at a time, remembering to breathe. Remembering I have healing tools and support. Remembering to ask for help.

Over and over again help has come to dig me out of the depths. My loving husband stepped up big time. Very few days have we both lost our “cool” in all this mess. Family and friends and my support team kept me going. Doctors who listen. Nature to rebalance. Books to escape with. Music to uplift. And the moving stories of others going through their own big-time challenges.

Tom Prasada-Rao is a gifted musician with a healing story. He is a lovely singer/songwriter who went through major cancer surgery this past winter. He wrote about it on Facebook, showing a photo of his long scar. Normally I don’t really care for post-surgery photos, but his story and attitude about his “bad ass scar” “increasing his street cred” was potent healing medicine for me as I headed into more of my own surgeries.

These are the 3 poems inspired by Tom and his music and courageous, loving, healing presence. My heartfelt thanks, Tom Prasada-Rao!

2/4/19

“Badass Scar”

Thank you Tom Prasada-Rao
for changing my anxious mind
in one heartfelt line
about your long surgery
and re-emergence into the light

As I face another visible scar
another 2 surgeries, not nearly
as complex or dangerous as yours
my troubles lightened and lifted
a smile appeared, no lie

Each scar—of the many—
a badge of survival
And the pain that comes still
even after months of healing
is nothing to what could have been

if cancer had won.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/13/19

Wounded Healer

of T P-R

Sometimes
stay very still
in one place
quietly breathing
and listen.
It is hard and
it is your job
to receive.
Not at some point
to restore or resume
or even to refresh
but to find
the new threads to weave
and then follow them out
of persistent darkness.
Tell your honest story
invite in those needing comfort
not to rebuild what was, but
to create who you are becoming.
To trust more
to be patient more than ever before.
To befriend darkness
to release and reveal.
To fully inhabit
this body with scars
measured in miles
in tears, in fears.
To go away, to dive deep
and come back
deeper still
loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/23/19

Doing Healing Work

from Tom and Eric and Karla
who have never met as far as I know

The hardest
when traveling
through and past
abject darkness
it to not become
dark
soaked in it
through and through
no matter how
it may damage you
and then spraying dark all around you
unaware, even unwilling.
No
I tell you true
do not choose to
go behind that door
in this life game show
we are creating.
Even if a dark dip
choose love
choose light.
Begin with you
let dark slide off you
“like water off a duck’s back”
as my mother used to say
to her sensitive daughter.
Or let dark overtake
temporarily, feel fully
and remember to release.
Or find your own metaphor
your own goal to aim for.
No matter what has happened
is happening
let go of fear
let go of mindlessness
remember you are a wondrous healer
think of all the scrapes and bruises
you no longer have, inside and out.
You are headed somewhere.
And if this is it
this black bottomless pit
where no light escapes or enters
remember
this is not who you are
only where you are.
Find a bird singing somewhere
or a leaf falling in the flowing river.
Find a cloud of any shape or color
or a clear cloudless depth of azure sky.
Find a song that uplifts
already written or write your own
maybe from your re-formation.
Look anywhere, there is a thread
or beginning of an idea of a thread
that can be woven into
a rope to shape into a ladder
to climb back out on.
Not avoiding the rich loam of life
the shell or armor of protection
as if nothing harsh or fatal
will get out or in
but consider
allowing the possibility of
transformation and transcendence.
Without change there is no growth
without growth there is no life.
Why else did you come?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

One more bit of inspiration by Tom:
Although I’ve often read my poems to groups of people, it took years for me to record my first poem-video—just after my birthday in 2014. I was painfully shy about it. My willingness to make that first recording was inspired in part by Tom Prasada-Rao and his deeply heartfelt songs that he posted on Facebook. (I now have almost 70 poem-videos on my YouTube channel.)
Here is the blog post with my reading of that first poem, “I Know That.”

Or is you prefer, you can go directly to YouTube:
“I Know That”—on YouTube

Photos of the Children

6/10/18

Photos of the Children

from many stories posted on Facebook

I refuse to be sad and helpless
as my only human choice
I refuse to be angry
burning to impotent cinders
when I see the children
lined up in orange rows
stripped of mothers, protectors
young innocents in cages
When I see freight cars
mentioned in titles
clearly to remind
I refuse to be hopeless
Every day, something…
some kindness, some donation
a call, a signature, a conversation
some antidote to poison
even to remember who I am
who we are
I have lived this long
and refuse the comfort of
numbness or amnesia
What is being cruelly done
to dismantle, to diminish,
to disturb, to disrupt
to lead to apocalypse, I refuse
to go along with that narrative
a story whose ending is yet unwritten
I cannot undo what is being done. I am one
I cannot re-weave what is deliberately torn
but we can, everyone
bring to this pot luck what gifts we can
We can keep each other
from cliff’s edge of despair
not soak in hatred and fear
We can transform the energy
we are immersed in into love
that unconditional endless food
undiminished by grasping greed
true power to heal…
yes, even this.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

I responded viscerally to the photos of children, some quite young, taken from their parents who were trying to come into this country, many seeking asylum. Some children were in cages or lined up in orange prison garb or held inside a dark building. They had no legal representation, no one to speak for them. I had to write something or explode.