This came from a time of feeling spiritually decrepit; mediocre and apathetic. And those aren’t just nice multi-syllable words; those are the things I deal with.

I’ve never been the kid who “acts out” to get attention. I think I’ve always understood consequences too well. Sometimes I think I’d like to fall from grace – just for the chance to be picked back up again. Just to have someone say to me, “Ruthie, you need help.” But there’s too much at stake. My children’s whole future hangs on me remaining solid and sensible and continually growing. And so… that’s what I do.

Sometimes being ordinary is frustrating. Being in the background is comfortable for me, and I don’t like standing out in a crowd, but in my average-ness I have moments when I wonder if there’s a point to my life, and when I’ll ever find it. And unless I do something really grand or really horrible, I’ll just continue to blend into my little corner of sky.

But… that’s just me feeling sorry for myself. I really do know that raising these kids of mine is important and not a waste of time or my potential. I’m guessing that every put-together, well-adjusted person you know has these moments.

I debated on the spelling for this title. I like both meanings equally well. You pick.


In the jigsaw puzzle on your basement table
(the one you started by candlelight last winter)
I’m the piece that belongs in the corner
over by the edge,
one in a myriad of
bits of cloudless sky blue.
If you notice me at all,
it’s because my cardboard layers
are slowly separating,
loosened by a toddler’s slobber,
nervous red fingernails, or
maybe the spreading condensation from a neglected glass of iced tea.

The first pieces placed are the obvious ones:
the horse’s face, the flashing scarlet of the woman’s dress,
the stable, solid lines of the edge.
And then the frustration of placing the commonplace:
using as a reference
uncertain, looping edges
that don’t complete an object

In my tumbled pile of blue i wait
for eyes perceptive enough
to make me fit.

If i could urge my paper fibers into motion
creep to the edge of this endless plateau of tableland
-wood grain showing conspicuously through the blue sky pure
in the hole that i leave-
and drop quietly to the
stains of the dusty second-hand carpet,
try out that existence for awhile…
Maybe then,
with the near-completion of a picture perfect scene
above me
might drop to their knees,
crawl around in the grime
and with searching fingers
…..find me.

Whenever the power goes out in the winter, I get the urge to pull out a card table, set it up by the wood stove downstairs, and work on a complicated puzzle. We don’t actually own a card table, so this never happens. And oil lamps don’t give the best light for working puzzles anyway…


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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3 Responses to -scene(seen)-

  1. mennodave says:

    Ruthie, I don’t have words to describe how I feel when I read this poem. Like the story of Joseph in the Bible, it moves me every time. Deep, insightful, moving, poignant … you choose.


  2. rachelwissink says:

    sometimes i wonder if my child’s whole future and stability actually does depend on me being able to depend on grace and acknowledge that i need help. when i look back on the times when i felt seen in the midst of the humongous scene….either I was putting on a show and getting noticed or i was being painfully vulnerable with someone who cared. the latter memories evoke much more rich and satisfying feelings. what a beautiful reflection of a deep human desire. i like my mind to be provoked in creative ways! thanks ruthie.


    • joycemoyerhostetter says:

      Sometimes I think I’d like to fall from grace – just for the chance to be picked back up again. Just to have someone say to me, “Ruthie, you need help.”

      That’s kind of amazing, Ruthie! I am way too proud to want to hear someone say I need help!

      Your poem brings to mind a few other beloved women who like staying in the background. {my daughter. your grandmother (maybe both of them) }

      I love women like this and often wish I were one – you all seem so quietly wise and wonderful. Your presence keeps the frenetic world in balance.And you manage to get a lot done too!


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