Charlie of the Valley

While Anne-Marie is fulfilling her life long dream of penning the greatest of works, she has honored me by asking me to guest blog for her.   This is a first for me, and although tempted to try and find some long forgotten work no one has seen before, I thought I would attempt something fresh and new, so there you have it or rather, here you have it.

Charles is a friend of mine, single dad, who lost two children in a fire in the winter of 1996, in their home in Northwest Arkansas.  This is what he shared with me happened the following November, in the valley, it’s what I now share with you. – Daniel


Charlie dons the valley, like a coat of sunset colors, as he sinks into spring waters past his knees.  Above him climbs the maple, in November where his Able, thought his first look at the stars helped him believe.  Charlie stares at water, that is colder than hells hotter, and he bends a little closer just to see.  Was it just this summer that he moved into the meadow, where the tall grass met the stones that bore two names.  Was it just the ghost of fire that came down from the hollow, was it grief delirium, was he insane?

That was just a skimmer, swimming through light growing dimmer, as he sits up in the water to his waist.  From the leafless bustle in the maple comes a rustle, and he looks up, as if he hears his name.  Airless for his trouble, as his eyes close to the struggle of the pictures that his Shaland drew that day.  Daddy, I am near you, when you’re eating your cold dinner, when you’re not in the valley, when you’re away.

Charlie stares at dead land, cross the meadow grayer, colder like disease.  Hattie’s woods are glowing, cross the bottom, ghost are showing, children moving in degrees.  Up the valley stands a chimney, ravens flying, waters cold as it slips beneath his sleeves.  Able stirring, his hair moving, summoning the November breeze.  Shaland flying, moving dead grass, her essence, beckoning creations relief.  Charlie screams into the water, crying louder no more please.

Death cannot make death go away, winter storms do not hold fire at bay, when the kingdom sums, a child’s breath does succumb, not one but two a valley view, cannot control this man of grief this day.

Charlie of the valley, less his children in the vale, bones melted as they fell.

His head slips in the stream, what darkness love can bring, he floats beneath, to end the final day.

Charlie dons the valley, moving water, moving water, and she blesses him with the parting of the waves.  He reaches for someone, two arms glow like the sun, the judged of man, has risen from his grave.  Charlie walks the valley, Hattie’s woods upon the border, watching ghost so full of order come to play.  Able moves his way, Shaland wants to stay, their arms still wet, they smile and fade to grey.

Charlie dons the valley, like a coat of sunset colors, as he moves into his life from dusk to day. – דָּנִיֵּאל


Published by

Daniel Swearingen

I have wondered about too many things. Kept too many things inside. Distanced my dreams, until years have caught me. That time that catches us all eventually, where days go by so fast. The going to, becomes the meant to, the words of future, becoming like faded yearnings, hunger that no longer exist. So though the hour is late, I will write, though the minutes speed by casting quick shadows on my mind, I will maintain. I am a lonely writer, who has everything in this world. Everything, but the ownership of time, the deliberation of years. So of reflection and everything I shall write. Of dusk and resurrection, I will think, and when those items become beyond my containment I will be finished, and that will be enough. Thank you for reading. - Shalom - דָּנִיֵּאל

15 thoughts on “Charlie of the Valley”

    1. I am always reticent to write about someone else when the subject is grief, and especially someone else’s grief is the subject matter. I probably should have included in my description of this piece, that I had obtained my friends thoughts and permission to write and publish this. I am happy to say that Charles spends his time these days as a Rabbi, and yes he works with children. 🙂 Thank you for your reading and comment.

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  1. I hardly know what to say to this, Daniel. It is so beautifully said. But such grief your friend has known. My heart aches for his loss. I can’t bring myself to imagine what he must have felt. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.
    Thank you for sharing with us so that we may too offer our condolences with yours.x


    1. Thank you Anne Marie, it was a pleasure to write it this for my friend. It should be said, as I don’t want anyone making assumptions, that this piece had his full reading and approval before submitting. Thanks again for the opportunity to guest blog on your page!

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  2. It is fitting that your friend is now a rabbi and works with children. I can’t think of anyone who could be more qualified to fulfil the role he now has.
    His approval of your dedication underlines his qualities as a spiritual teacher and only a friend could have written of his loss with such compassion. It is an honour, Daniel, that you have guested here and shared your mutual love and understanding. The thanks owed are to you and your friend. Please, if you will, convey my sincere thanks and admiration for his permission and his faith. You are both blessed. We all are who will read this. And pass him a hug from me.x

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  3. Heart-wrenching piece, Daniel! Grief and loss are not easy to cope with. I am very glad to learn that Charles is in a much better place now and making it his life work to help other kids. When we turn our pain into beauty, we make the world a far better place for us and everyone else. Most inspiring! Thank you for sharing this with us. Please send Charles my best and a hug too.


  4. Daniel (Babbs) this is so tenderly and beautifully written. Your words grasped me and took me on Charlies’s journey. I cannot imagine what he would have gone through, but he found strength to continue and also to help other children. The imagery was amazing and words well chosen. You are right death won’t make death go away. I wish Charlie the very best and he has a very good friend in you. 😊


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