Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Russell screamed a lot for a four year old. 
Five older brothers and sisters, 
Russell found high-pitched and extended screaming 
the best and most effective repellant to their control.

When Wooden Woman’s Dog was Cute Puppy, 
Cute Puppy would not go on a walk. Walks were a drag. 
Sitting down effectively 
quashed Wooden Woman’s attempt to control her. 
Cajoling that escalates to wild gesturing and loud commands 
only made Cute Puppy cower more. 
Fine. No walk for you tonight.

Little Boy Who Screams 
eventually ventured across his family’s acre 
and traversed the road to Wooden Woman’s house 
where children close to his age spent the summer 
digging in The Big Hole and jumping off the shed, 
grocery bag wings ballooning off their backs.  
Skinny little towhead quietly stayed as long a possible 
each evening that summer. 

Russell was not abused. 
Wooden Woman wants you to know that. 
He liked to play.

In the fall he arrived with the kids after school.

And he would go home when asked…

…except one midwinter evening. 
Russell hung on the counter and watched his mates 
empty the dishwasher and set the table, 
he shadowed them 
while they gathered backpacks and homework. 

Russell watched from the floor by the wood-stove 
while Wooden Woman greeted Engineer.

Didn’t he think he should be heading home to dinner
he was urged for the forth or fifth time. 
Russell sat down in the hall 
the way Cute Puppy did on a walk and hung his head, 
nudged his coat and drippy boots with a toe.

Engineer came over to help, wriggled wet sox into drippy boots and fished thin arms into a damp coat. At the final zip of the coat Russell grabbed Engineer around the neck and whispered in his ear.

Engineer called to Wooden Woman 
as he elbowed back into the sleeve of his coat 
and gave it a final shrug 
called out that he’d be right back. 
Russell and Engineer left together.

Shortly, Engineer slipped back in the house.

I drove Russell home, he said. Wooden Woman almost laughed—they were the closest neighbors, a long block away at most.

Russell asked me to, Engineer continued,

when we pulled in his driveway Russell grabbed my hand,

kissed it,

and jumped out of the car.

Wooden Woman wants to rest with that Kiss for a minute,

go outside in the perilous darkness
with that Kiss.

So many nights now she rests in the dark with the Screamer
and Cute Puppy.

Wooden Woman thinks courage is
A Little Whisper
that does not forget the hand that helped you
nor fails to Kiss it.


There is a mystery in hope 
because we do not know how God will intervene. 
―Ravi Zacharias

Courage is not simply one of the virtues 
but the form of every virtue at the testing point, 
which means at the point of highest reality. 
–CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


PS My Dog knew all about kissing the hand…




Brian Miller said...

its a cool story...and heartwarming at russells appreciation in being taken home on the shortest of rides but...obviously it meant a lot no matter what his story was at home...and he felt safe there..

Craig and Bethany said...

A kiss in the hand, I still do that with my kids. Something about a token of affection in the palm, invisible and present, stills fear. And the wings of courage, a breath lofted in the wind, just enough to fill a grocery sack and send it sailing, one act of courage reverberates. Maybe every good thing, somewhere, deep down, began with courage.

Craig and Bethany said...

I love this post. LOVE.

S. Etole said...

"Hand, hand," as my little boy used to say when frightened.