finding the motherlode

– mining for a vein of truth in the stuff that matters –

Category: poetry

the name of this rose

Rose 1


Call me Fullness


after the last petal got crushed

these wilted hands

poured forth oil

into the night

against birds of prey

close by


nipping at my toes

while I was pleading

smoke arose:

“…I make whole the broken soul.”

Rose 2



perplexity’s anthology

a coda in a symphony

the exile’s proclivity

in faith abiding


shaped by the will of the Father

cupped by the hands of Another




bowed low

Rose 4



does not skimp

on strength

made perfect in weakness

where rationale takes a seat

behind honor

“…here’s a towel for your feet…”

— the kind of love that looks after things.

 (Great is the stature of Abel’s portion, it does not measure; I tend to compare)

Patience too is an offering.

How else does a thorny crown

become a headdress

of silken tassels

and linen velvet?

Cain’s temptation gives way

to joy and gladness

at the table of washing

away the mudstains

where I confess

in deference to the rest

these, my welcome guests

— holiness, truth, justice,

and let it be said,

 not my own righteousness —

if such hope be offensive

this high praise scandalous

Apropos is the name of this rose

Apropos is the name of this rose.


©2014 Elizabeth DeBarros 

this road whereupon we agree

DSC00405John Wolford Road


 Let me walk with you,

this road will take us places.

“But it’s long, my view is obscured, I cannot see…”

Then we will take turns following.

 (And we also have found this to be true: Agreement is formed in times of need)

 If you have borne the burden in the heat of the day

driven like a madman for mercy’s sake

 gathered up a bowl of ginkgo leaves

 and seen winter’s bruisings pass into spring

— and if I witnessed your faith when you prayed,

“Perhaps healing will come anyway” — 

then you have proven something to me:

Persistence is a hand that reaches up

and guidance too is a term that forms,

burrowing deep in the conscience —




Where, at last,

faith is home 

 and this then is our evidence: 



Such were the steps we took

(intentionality can be painstaking, if not starkly beautiful)

knowing we’ll meet again

 but for now

these walks 

at dawn

as we watch the swan circle

and the sun through the willow

as it weeps

after dusk

locked at the hip

moving like Jacob

holding hands

until the road parts in two.



Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

— Amos 3:3


 ©2014 Elizabeth DeBarros


keeping time

Anthony, Corolla 2013



There you go

stopping to stare

shovel in one hand

birds in the air

dreaming of nut trees   

“— maybe the tomatoes will be even redder this year —”

feeling full,  

knowing crops do better from tending.


And the boys,

used to be everything was a race.

Now, in tandem —

hardy maples, taking shape 

while you listen to the rhythm

of the lapping waves,

keeping time for the rest of us.

Is it me or do you look younger, though twice the age of when we first met?

Maybe it’s your smile

so easy, free

like that day on the altar

when our eyes

espied a glimpse 

of what began as the braiding of a sturdy cord.

Three strands:

love, our vows, and the face of God.

A marvel.

How those tiny bits of metal embedded

and where knots had once been 

instead have become 

a strand of smoothed pearls and colored stones

  nothing left between us 

but gold refined  

  in this silver cup of time. 


© 2014 Elizabeth DeBarros


This poem I wrote for Anthony, my beloved husband of 25 years. I recited it to him before a small crowd of witnesses this past Saturday at an intimate ceremony where we renewed our marriage vows.

(An excerpt from the vows we exchanged)

 It has only become more evident, after these 25 exquisite years, that you are God’s chosen man for me, my Adam, the one I’ve been called to love and live with, to bear fruit for God, that we might glorify Him.

Today, it is my wholehearted desire to affirm the vows I first made to you on April 8, 1989, and to fulfill them all the more from this day on. As I stand here now before you and these witnesses, I am ever mindful of what took place in the Garden, and with a far deeper appreciation and keener understanding of this momentary gift, this mystery, this glorious picture of Christ and the Church, I, by God’s grace, promise to love you, honor you, help you, submit to you, and serve you all the rest my days, so help me God.

I love you, Anthony.

no diamonds of dull worth


Gather up your sorrows

put them in a cup,

pour them on the altar

watch the fire lick them up.


Give to God what is God’s,

to Caesar, the rest –

in Him find solace

your portion will be blessed.


Fret not for tomorrow;

today has enough trouble of its own.

Should God send more sorrow,

 O, diamond, know this:  

 He cuts a brilliant stone.



©2014 Elizabeth DeBarros


these, our hands



I rush to the water’s edge

without fear of falling in 

eternity has consumed me —

 Is this what love is? 

These, our hands —

still, I didn’t recognize them as ours.

The lines seemed untraceable 

to an earlier time

when the riverbed was full of stones 

and of all that lay ahead.



one on top of the other —


but not beaten,

sanctified by scars

we could not do without.

Testament to what’s been wrought: 

a generation’s worth of work,

for better or worse.


These, our hands —

once full of prayers

now answered

trace the lines

where no moth consumes

nor rust corrupts 

my treasure, my heart — 

 this is love.



©2014 Elizabeth DeBarros

This poem was first presented to my husband, Anthony, on April 8, 2014, in honor and celebration of our having lived twenty-five years together as man and wife. A milestone we share with you for your encouragement and for the glory of God.

Someone once said it takes twenty years to get to know someone. I say it takes twenty-five. And that goes for the both of us. A few things known to our minds we have come to better understand only through experience, and what are now cherished in our hearts:  

Marriage is a gift, a vestige left over from paradise. It is a crucible, where the refining  fires of God take place. And it is a cup, meant for overflowing. But grapes don’t appear overnight. The vine must first be tended, and watched. The fruit must mature and is then harvested. Time is involved.  And a winepress. So much mess! But the fermented wine is worth it.

Wine must first be mixed, then stored and aged, and finally, poured out to waft strong, imbibed as lovers and friends. And shared among friends. Over and over.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. 

Soli Deo Gloria.

onto dry land

Fortitude, Acrylic on linen, 24 x 36, Kathryn Abernathy


Acrylic on linen, 24 x 36, Kathryn Abernathy

Exactly when I sank I can’t say • Overnight, this stowaway lay sequestered • nine days silent • sentenced to the bottom of the ocean floor  Squid ink disorients the brain, I could not think • tempest set against me, no way of escape  Gravity led the procession (this imposition became the assignment) with crushing force, until my walls shook • Irony delivered its verdict: “In her absence, cords were cut, men came forth • out of her dilemma a stand was taken: ‘Struck down, but not destroyed.'” 

 What of these aching arms? • Better yet, how heavy is dead weight? • Good questions expose things like roots and debris to the material witness of stale courtroom air • flesh and blood are bound to fail, every breath comes from Him.

Quake, little mountain; roar on, billowing sea. Faith opens doors and my mouth utters this confession:

He is LORD, fear Him.

At last, this, my only offering: in yearning to go home came my remedy: “I have declared peace.”  spit out onto dry land • I’m picking up these bones as fast as I can • learning to walk again coram Deo • informed by this:

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

©2014 Elizabeth DeBarros


Fortitude, Acrylic on linen, 24 x 36, Kathryn Abernathy

For further meditation

Jonah 22 Corinthians 4:9Philippians 1:21

when the moon hangs low


4 a.m.

moon hangs low

clearer than clear

backside in his easy chair

as if to say:

“I’ve done my part,

worked hard, time to rest.”

Honey dribbles from his chin.

And I think to myself:

Who will catch it?

This help, this golden muster —

the kind that gives strength in the night,

muscle to my bone,

reparation when I am weak?

(And God knows I need sight to my eyes.

Can’t see a thing without my glasses.)

If that’s my complaint,

then this is my boast:

I am no greater than the moon.

Every season, phase, tide roll — 

around and around

waxing and waning

in and out 

just like it did last year and again yesterday

except the waves don’t crash exactly the same way

and in the same place twice.

That man does not tell God what to do

but hangs listless,

waiting —

until the mouth of Him who speaks 


“Take another turn

lift up

turn around

hide behind the sun

hang low,


I formed you to give light,

hang low tonight.”

And the honey that dripped from the chin of this faithful witness 

was mine to lick. 

In this thin air, I am sustained.


©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros


when seeds split open

Ginkgo tree                                                        Photo courtesy of Blandy Experimental Farm


How fleeting are the years

they pass under the mistletoe

like steam

rising off the lake

— or was it just a pond?

The ripples,

there are so many now.

Some snows we waited for

never came 

Burning sands underfoot,

our lot.

Fall is a jaunt through the leaves,

telling us what kind of 

summer it’s been.

Of all the faces

none do I recall

so vivid

as when faith took root

and hope appeared

when love formed

in a moment’s time

and eternity’s seed split open

giving birth

to something beautiful.

And time is His, not mine

every ginkgo leaf that falls

is golden,

remembered by the limb

upon which it hung.

If sap then runs in spring

and the redbuds

a little fuller,

Can He not whistle in the wind

and work a wonder for you?

Can He not work a wonder for you?

©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

summer bids adieu

lemons and limesCherries and Mangoesmangoes

Mangoes and cherries

lemons, limes

steamy mornings

chill of night

mugs of tea, hot

and iced

I was long in need of refreshment

I was

treading oceans

scaling walls

fixed positions

scrape and thrall —

Making things right

takes time

So, we took the time.

Order comes

as chaos bends

before the Maker

Who descends.

 Watching and waiting — 

Shoot the stars,

 hasten the sun,

collapse the moon:

“Your will be done.”

God didn’t enter our world,

it was rather the other way around.

Beating our wings

 summer bids adieu

a hiccup, 

a laugh,

brief interval,

a curtain or two.

More than order

gone is grief

 Arose in my hands

   (thorns asunder)

rest and peace —



©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

sin’s flower

Removing the Grave Clothes


I stand in anticipation

of your sun’s rising

I wrestle

to breathe

to manifest your glory. 


Yet in my quaking

I writhe

to loose the chains

to free my neck

to submit

to the dawn of your breaking

to the swallow of death

to the sting that is no longer there.


I wrestle to walk away from the strips of linen.


What is this oil


from my fingers

staining my feet

perfuming my skin 

 fragrant of myrrh and aloes?


Removing the Grave Clothes



©2005 Elizabeth DeBarros


I wrote this poem some eight years ago, at a time when the axe was falling at the root of my shame. Though I had been a Christian for 26 years, shame was still a viable part of me, restless and powerful, the drivetrain of so many hidden faults.

Deliverance came over a long season of dissembling and disintegrating — where God in His wisdom arranged the fires of purging and sent His arrows into my heart until I buckled under the weight of His undoing. The process found me uprooted from the place I knew so well — in servitude to chains of fear, discontent, self-absorption, and doubt — the many-headed phantom of my selfish past that kept me hobbling around in the lowlands.

And because self and shame clasp hands, surrender doesn’t happen without a fight. They each get an odd payoff. One doesn’t leave without the other. The seed of self has to die for shame to go.

See, God didn’t just wash away the crimson stain of sin, He rid me of the sticky resin of shame too.

He takes it all away.

Soli Deo Gloria.