Royalty Arrives in Richmond


Four separate varieties of Daylily greet this sultry June morning—pale peach, bright yellow, tiger striped purple and blazing orange. Each one is given only a day to live, and yet they explode with joy at the living of it on my little hill.

So happy they are to find their beauty set off by Queen Anne in the midst of her tea party. She has invited all of lacy white dressed up ladies in Richmond, it seems. They rest on a bed of sedums that are getting ready to turn the ground lavender.

The gathering is just enticing enough to coax reticent Iris along to show off her ruffles, wallflower that she is. She missed her own spring party. Her other Iris buddies began showing up indecently early in April instead of their usual May. But now, she sits on the edge of this well attended affair, all white and lavender herself, with a sweet scented heart of deep purple, no less royal than Anne and her maids in their lacy finery.

And speaking of lavender! Atop the hill the birdbath is dressed in a crinolined skirt of fragrant, long stemmed lavender in bloom—a skirt so attractive that the bees simply can’t keep their hand off it. Mr. Robin tangles with the Sparrow family to taste her watery kisses.

Queen Elizabeth Rose is making a show of it in the front garden down below, surrounded as she is by her Rosemary and Sage servants, she burst forth with a crown of cottony pink blooms there by the side walks edge. She taunts Anne with her privileged placement.

Meanwhile, sweet Rose of Sharon, Daisy and stalwart Black Eyed Susan hold down the other corner. They thrive on the underground water supplied by the upper rain garden now covered in Coneflower and Milkweed, twisty Horsetail, Gardenia and Camellia. I do hope the ladybugs will arrive soon to carry off the aphids that threaten the Milkweed. I so long for the grand and most royal of them all—the Monarch Butterflies—to arrive.

Only three years ago this bit of earth was none but an eyesore—overgrown crabgrass and weeds of ever kind. And now a regal gathering fawns at my door. Who would have guessed—especially me, and the bees—that such abundance could be mine?

© JEHW 2017

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The Ladies at the Happy Table

The ladies at the happy table are not themselves tonight. One of them passed on last Saturday.

She went down pretty suddenly—dehydration; a trip to the hospital; back to her room at the retirement center for a day or two, and then she was just gone.

They are somber, quiet, all in pastels tonight. The weight of their own, not too distant, futures hangs heavy on them, dragging their usual gaiety down into their plates of uneaten food.

It’s not just the specter of imminent demise that’s got them. They just plain miss her. They knew she was kooky, but it was in the cutest way. She war her hair jet-black to the very end (but for the unseen white roots along the cowlick in back of her head). And there was not one single pastel item in her wardrobe—no ma’am—that hair always sat atop a veritable July flower garden of fabric winter, spring, summer or fall.

They just can’t believe she is gone. If she could go so easily—so quickly—which one of them will be next? They look around the table silently and conjecture, wondering what’s worse—to go suddenly, with such little pain; or to be sitting here slightly more alone each day, more isolated from the world, more focused on whether or not the dinner is edible.

Because frankly there is not much more to entertain you in this place. Amazing how the relative temperature of the tomato soup can become such high drama in the life of a former emergency room nurse, mother of six, college professor, CPA.

I know these things because Daddy’s dementia has progressed beyond the constant chatter stage into the occasional inappropriate comment stage. And Momma has pretty much stopped talking, or eating, or hearing much at all.

And it generally only takes me about the first 10 minutes of our endless Monday night dinner ritual for me to tell them the only parts of my life that they can comprehend anymore.

So watching the ladies at the happy table has become a major component of my salvation during these affairs.

Only, tonight my thoughts are giving way to which cliff in the Blue Ridge Mountains I am going to throw myself off of at around age 79.

I don’t think I have these ladies’ courage—or my own parents’ for that matter—to stick it out to the ugly end.

© Jane Ellen Holliday Wilson

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I Am Published Again


Make No Assumptions CoverI am published again.  My new anthology Make No Assumptions is now available on Amazon in paperback and kindle versions.  It is an anthology of short stories, poetry and memoir.  click here  You can read more about it on my new page on this site.  It is fourteen interesting and fun short chapters written over the course of a year with my writing partner Glenda Kotchish in our weekly writing group.  Celebrate with me by purchasing one today.

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Tie me down
Tie me up
Tie me to the river
The ground

I am grounded
I choose this grounding
This earthliness
For a time—an age

My home now—a tether for
My spirit
My soul
My body

I will learn
What I am able
During this particular

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One Reason I’m a Little Nervous Lately

One day a few years back, I was worn out, and beaten up, and feeling sick to my stomach, and I had to get home from wherever I was, so I thought it would be a good Idea to stick to the back roads instead of getting out onto the interstate and fighting traffic. I was taking myself off the big road for the safety of myself, and those around me. I also wanted to see the James River close up because that always sooths me.

So I am slowly gliding down the ramp to quiet little Riverside Drive when I see a motorcycle policeman rocketing up the road in the other direction. I slow down even more to give him plenty of grace to go wherever he is planning to go, and when he has passed I glide to an almost stop and slowly (maybe five miles per hour) ease on into my right turn.

Next thing I know, I am hearing a siren behind me, and I look up in my rear view mirror to find that motorcycle guy behind me. I think, I better get out of the way so he can do his police business, and I pull over, only to find that the man is pulling me over for something. My heart starts to pound. What on earth could it be?

He is coming over to me in a rage. Really what on earth could possibly be wrong, I think.

I roll down the window and the guy starts screaming at me, “Ma’am do you realize that you didn’t even stop at that stop sign back there? Do you understand that that is how motorcyclists get killed everyday by thoughtless people not paying attention to them? Do you realize that someone just got killed on a motorcycle up the road from here on the interstate?” (Which I pointed out earlier, gentle reader, I chose not to take for fear of inattentiveness.)

He continued, “If I had just been a few minutes later you might have killed me.” (That would have been hard to do since I was going in the other direction, but lets not point that out to this hot head right now.) “Do you understand the rules of the road?……”

At this point, I must admit that I stopped paying attention to him, because, during his diatribe a yellow jacket had flown in my window, and I have a life threatening allergy to yellow jackets, and the policeman had my drivers side door blocked, and he was lecturing me at a mile-a-minute, and I was trying to figure out what to do.

Seeing my distraction the guy got even madder. “Lady, are you listening to me?”

“I, I, there’s a bee in my car…and,” (look of disgust on his face, as if to say, “Stupid woman afraid of a bee”) …”and I have a life-threatening allergic to bees.”

Finally this registered, and the man moved himself and his bike out of the way so that I could get out of the car. So my life was at least saved.

But still, it was futile to argue the fact that I had actually made driving choices that were in the best interest of the public, had actually seen him, and had slowed to give way and had, yes not quite rolled to a stop, but been very careful in many ways about my driving. And as Maya Angelou would say, I had done then what I knew how to do to make the roads safe. Not to mention that no one had suffered as a result of my decision.

The ticket was served and I was left, even more worn out, and beaten up and, feeling sick. And now added to that, I had to figure out how to get he deadly yellow jacket (and a few of his friends who had smelled fear and come along to explore) out of my car before I could get back into it.


So, what is made clear by the fact that I am writing this missive is that somehow, I did survived my ordeal with barely a scratch. (Of course there was the ticket to pay, an increase in my insurance and my feeling of indignation to deal with, but essentially it was without a scratch.)

But lately—with more enlightened eyes—I wonder what the outcome would have been for my friends of color.

What would have been the first challenge? Would it have been simply rolling down the window and asking what was the matter? Would my friend have been accused of being a smart-mouth just for the asking?

Would the officer have thought that my friend made an inappropriate face at him in the middle of his diatribe, prompting him to pull his gun and order that friend out of the car, and on her knees, as those driving by watched in judgment?

Or would it have been at the moment that my friend realized that her life was in danger from the yellow jacket? Would she have had to endure some indignity like, “Damn fool, afraid of a bee. You’ll stay in that car ‘til I tell you to get out”?

What if my friend, fearing for her life, had jumped out of the car? Would she be alive today?

These are the thoughts that torment me now as I watch Jeff Sessions arrive in my state and promise massive quantities of money to police. Does this just mean more money for more bullets and bullies like the hotheaded guy I encountered that day?

Does it mean more of my friends living in impoverished communities can look forward to even more hassles, challenges and incarcerations than our already deplorable record demonstrates?

Or does it mean that my hard-earned tax dollars will be spent to help police learn to be better, more just and more helpful in their efforts to keep our communities running smoothly?

Mind you, I know that there are many hardworking, thoughtful and truly good people working in the police force—like the really loving police people who care for children at the scene of a traumatic crime; or the crossing guard at the school across the street from my house. He used to be there every morning to help the children across our busy street. He knew all the children, and their families. But last year they cut the budget for him to come and do this. The man was heartbroken, I tell you. For a few weeks, he showed up anyway—that is, until they figured out what he was up to an put the squash on that.

If that sort of thing is what Mr. Sessions is referring to—more police at more crosswalks doing more good things—I’m all for it. But something tells me that he is more into more bossy guys on motorcycles yelling at more people, deporting more parents and arresting more African Americans and hassling as many poor people as possible.

And I have to tell you that, lacking more information about what is about to go down, I am feeling a little sick to my stomach.

Jane Ellen Holliday Wilson

March 21, 2017

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When you look at her
With different eyes
You see that she was
The prettier one
Sad expression even then though

Perhaps her older sister
Denied her education
Because she couldn’t
Bear her to be the
Smarter one too

Her eyes reveal
A depth of character
And a longing for life
For adventures
She will never know

Perhaps her society
Her family, her husband
The oppressive overlay of
Moral female obligation
Denied her such self expression

You think of the years extracting
Their un-payable debt
The Depression, The War, the deaths
The betrayals,
Her dreams ripped away—abandoned

Perhaps it simply couldn’t be bourn
Perhaps you—or I—
Would have been found
Standing at the window
Screaming too

Or, Perhaps it was just menopause—
Intolerable, unspeakable,
Miserable menopause
The offense must be addressed

You learn of the massive crackdown
Imposed for her sin of expression
Drugs employed to shut her up—
Keep her under control—after all—
She was crazy, you know

Over-treated by over-zealous doctors
Who likely knew nothing of
A woman’s heart
A woman’s soul
A woman’s denied potential

Perhaps her children
And we, her grandchildren
Never really knew her
Never saw her as
She truly was meant to be

And perhaps she—
The real she
Was simply,
And finally

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Stardust and Playdoh

The planet spins round and round in a galaxy of other planets
A universe of galaxies
And we are nothing but stardust formed together like Playdoh
All petty hatred and greed and striving for greatness is none but
All that matters really—all that means anything at all—
Is love.

© JEHW January 30, 2017

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Gigantic Feet

A little girl
Once learned to dance
While standing on
His gigantic feet

He whirled her
Around and around the room
As she giggled down to
Her own tiny toes

Numb now
These immense and precious plinths
Are devoid of feeling
Of any kind

No matter this unnerving truth
No dearth of sensation
Resides in his heart
Nor hers

© Jane Ellen Holliday Wilson 2016

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Will You Listen?

Will You Listen?

I am speaking
To you
Will you

Through the starry
Goddess in the sky
Is she Mary?
Mother Goddess?
Or just me
Calling you out
To play?

Through the cool
Shady stone of
This seat
Hands folded
Breath in and out
Sounds of the planet
Be present, my child

Through the
Song of the
The cranky crows
The feuding jays
The plaintive
Mourning dove
Do you hear me?

Through the roar
Of the waves
Upon the earth
Tamed by the
Shore, they
Gently trickle
Over your feet
A soothing balm
Do you feel me?

Through the
Sweet succulent
Aroma of
Blooming still
In spite of this
Punishing heat

Can you breathe
Me into
Your senses
And know
That I am here
All around

© Jane E. H. Wilson

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What I Want for My Children

Upward mobility—of course
Don’t we all?

But not in the form of things
Like cars and jobs and houses

The evolution I crave
On their behalf

Is upward mobility
Of the soul

The square toed repose
Of nirvana

The sacred heart opening
Of the mystics

A more elevated stature?
Why, yes of course

A better home,
Who wouldn’t?

But, the home I crave
For my darlings is

The next where they can be
At home with themselves

No matter the place
No matter the circumstance

May they understand what
Love is…and isn’t

And recognize such when
It presents itself in human form

May they accept the frailties and failings
Of us older beings

And honor us less enlightened ones
By seeking to evolve beyond us.
Toward the next,
More settled dwelling

June 28, 2016

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