Mud River Monster

I have been finding it difficult to write this week. So I will share a blast from the past with you this morning. I wrote Mud River Monster in either 2009 or 2010, my notes are sketchy on the date I finished. It’s the first piece of any length I completed. Though I have been writing since I was fourteen, I have always had dreams of finishing large projects that never quite work. It was a blessing to be able to look back and see how much I have grown in the last 2 years since taking my writing more seriously. I hope you enjoy the fun read. (I grew up in a family with 8 children and my early inspiration is pulled from those memories.)

Mud River Monster

Jay was Lord.
Nea was Queen.
Over the bank of
Mud River they leaned.


Nea had her staff
Jay had his bow
but little May cried,
“I don’t want to go!”


She sat in the grass
jeans stained green
thinking her brother
and sister QUITE mean.


“But we can not beat him here!”
They said again, and again,
Then through the sparse leaves
HE began to descend.


A grey gunny sack was
thrown over his large head,
and eyes darted wildly as
he passed the flowerbed.


As he stepped off the deck
May jumped up with a shriek,
and cleared the Mud River
in one quick, desperate leap.


Jay and Nea now
hot on her tail
splashed through the water
their faces ghostly pale.


Then he began howling as
he raced through the garden,
and the children knew he
would give them no pardon.


They reached the tree line
on the opposite shore,
but he gained ground while through
some piled leaves he tore.

As he charged the mud river
Jay turned to ready his bow,
Eyes shining brightly as he
prepared to meet his foe.


Nea stood behind Jay
her staff held so tight.
May hid behind a tree
overcome by the sight.


Jay loosed an arrow;
it flew straight through the air
to land in the muck,
missing by a hair!


While the monster’s great boots
splashed onto the shore
Jay and Nea hurried
to retreat once more.


They grabbed little May’s hand
as they passed by her tree,
but in one step she tripped
and grazed her tender knee.

Her small tears sounded
so loud through the air,
while up puffed the monster;
OH it was so…SO unfair!


Nea knelt down, took
May in her arms,
then turned her back
to shield her from harm.


But as Jay fumbled
to reload his bow
the monster’s advance
had begun to slow.


He huffed a great sigh,
and sat with a loud thump,
on the cool moist dirt
before the tree clump.


“I’m tired and hungry.
Is it dinner time yet?
Oh little May I would
never hurt you, don’t fret.”


At the sound of his voice
Jay’s bow just vanished,
Nea’s staff became a stick
May’s tears were banished.


The grey gunny sack he
now pulled off his head,
and in that moment, Jay’s
cheeks turned a bright red.


“The game can’t be over
until the monster’s dead!”
Jay exclaimed as
reality spread.


The monster shrunk
right before their eyes,
to their own brother Jo,
no longer in disguise.


His pants were muddy,
his hair stuck on end,
with a runny nose
to sum up the trend.


“My boots are full of water,
my socks go squish when I walk.
I think it’s about time
we started a peace talk.”


Jo looked up at Jay
Jay then looked to Nae;
they weren’t quite sure
now what they should say.


“I guess the monster
doesn’t have to die.
We could always say he
turned in to an ally.


Oh, he was just chasing us
to warn of an Evil King…
Who wants Nea for,
his brand new queen!”


“Then we better run home.”
Nea jumped to her feet.
“I KNOW I won’t marry HIM.”
And she led the retreat.


Back down to Mud River
just a ditch and a stream,
and up through the garden.
They made quite a good team.


For on the way home they
had to battle a bear
that once soundly defeated
turned into a lawn chair.


Little May sighed as
they reached the front door.
“I DO like Jo better this way,
always running is such a bore.”


So the four went inside
where was spread.
They ate like Kings,
and that’s all to be said.

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Water Painting

Original Photo by Mary Grace van der Kroef

The colours in her mind
by them, she’s not defined
vision unrefined
but still a mastermind


Look! The way she moves
painting through the groves
uncaring who approves
every step limits disproves


Just water on the ground
to her, colours abound
spreads it round and round
make believe so profound


Footprints in her wake
dreaming while awake
unafraid, never fake
as they fade, just more to make


When the fun is done
water drys in sun
tears? Not a one
for she’s the one who’s won

© Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Water Sport

Water splashes up with joy
Bottoms down in playful ploy
A splash is meant as a decoy
The failing grin just makes her coy

Water sparkles on the skin
Drips from wildly grinning chin
Eager for the game to win
Awakes my child deep within

Join her game and water sport
Sidelines leave our fun to court
Don’t doddle, life is short
Come and join a child’s cavort

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Rainy Day

Painted rock. Named “Rainy Day”. Hamilton Ontario

She found a Rainy Day
With it, had her way
Added to her play
Then carefully tucked away
Her treasured Rainy Day
For another soon to play
Skipping walked away
Down the path made her way
Wave goodbye to Rainy Day

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Dirty Floor

Original art by Mary Grace van der Kroef

Dirt upon my floor
I know it as much more

Within the scattered mess
Hidden proof I’m blessed

Dried play dough there
A moment without care

Bread crumbs careless brushed
Bellies filled, hunger hushed

Sand tracked all this way
Hearts a brim with play

While I push a broom
Do not now presume

As I cast it out
There is not a doubt

The memories I’ve saved
In my heart, they are engraved

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Sweet Little Toes

Little toes, ten in a row
Through fraying cloth, they peek
A wriggle, a giggle, off they go!
To dash and then to sneak

Those little toes will not be tamed
With cloth or shoes that reek
Always dancing even prancing
Shedding socks through grass to streak

Be blessed sweet little toes
Are you brave today or meek?
Your giving joy, despite being coy,
Spreading your unique mystique

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Bed Crumbs

There is a Stinker sitting in the middle of the bed. She wears an impish smile while stuffing bread crumbs and strawberry slices into her little cheeks.

Her father is laying behind her. His glasses resting on the unused pillow. His eyes closed. His breathing slow. Lips set in an exhausted, yet somehow happy half-grin.

“What are you two doing?”

“EetEn snacks Mom!” Is the answer given as I stand in the doorway, hands-on-hips, shaking my head.

It’s March 31st, 2020, a Tuesday. We are just about halfway through our 3rd week of social distancing. COVID 19 has disrupted our daily routines. The world is still afraid, and a lot of us are lonely.

We are thankful for spring, and the warming temperatures. Being able to go outside and play in the sun has been our only escape for the last week. But still, we must content ourselves with our small snow-filled back yard. Ice and all. Or short trips to the vacant parking lot down the back ally for a bike ride. The little Stinker’s cheeks are still a bit pink from her last excursion. When I stoop to kiss her head, she smells like spring, puddles, and fresh air. If you know anything about spring, that can be an interesting smell.

“Don’t make a mess in my bed silly goose!” I get no reply but a babyish giggle.

I’m tired. So the time before putting the kid to bed is filled with cartoons and Xbox. Tonight I make it my turn. For a few minutes, I forget the constant ache in my shoulders. I even smile at Erin’s exclamation of “Good job Mom!” The last 3 weeks have not been easy for any of us.

As I find my escape, my other half does what he does best, in his quiet way. Before I know it the two oldest kids are in their pyjamas and heading to bed. The Stinker, Heather? Well, she rarely settles so well. I half-listen as teeth are brushed, the blanket is found, and more snacks are asked for and given. Brant sounds tired too.

“Time for bed Heather.”

“No! Mommy’s bed!” Her shrill little voice sounds like it indeed wandered again on to ‘Mommy’s bed’.

“No Heather. Your bed.”

At that, she screams her defiance. I hear my name being called in between her heartbroken sobs. Inwardly I groan and roll my eyes at the same time. After Brant tucks the still wailing imp into bed, he joins me in the living room.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.” He says. He is famous for one-word answers.

“Thanks.”

“Your welcome.”

“It’s not just me, right? She’s more difficult than the other two ever were.”

“Yep.” His exasperated agreement is cut off by wailing from upstairs.

“Mommy! Mommy! I want Mommy!”

“Do you think she’s okay? Should I go lay down with her? It’s my turn anyway.” He just nods as I hand him the controller and head upstairs.

I lay on the floor beside my 2-year-old, rubbing her tummy and doing my best to assure her that Daddy is busy but Mama is here. While I was still only halfway up the stairs she had changed her tune and called for Daddy. I silently pray that this won’t take a few hours like usual. She is overtired. Soon her eyes droop as I sing lullabies handed down to me from my mother, and grandmother.

Tell me why the stars do shine.

Tell me why the ivy twines.

Tell me why the sky’s so blue,

and I will tell you, just why I love you.”

She has the covers pulled over her head. Does she also want to shut out this crazy world for a while?

Because God made the stars to shine.

Because God made the ivy twine.

Because God made the sky so blue.

Because God made you, that’s why I love you.”

Her constant movements have stopped. There is no reply when I ask if she is sleeping. No movement when I kiss her cheek.

I really think that God above.

Created you for me to love.

And picked you out from all the rest,

Because he knew, I’d love you best.”

“Well that wasn’t so bad,” I tell my self. Honestly, I can’t believe it was only 15 minutes and not 3 hours. Down the stairs, I go. Now I have time for that shower I have been needing. The dishes also get put into the dishwasher I thank God every day for.

Brant and I alone in the living room. It’s been a Day. A long, tiring, boring, day. Or at least that’s what my mind is telling me. Brant gets up and stretches. 10 pm. This day is finally over. He makes it to bed first.

I pull back the overs and crawl in.

“Oh gross! Brant!”

“What?”

“There are crumbs ALL over in my bed!” I give him a heartfelt glare. “What did you give her!”

“Just bread.”

“It’s everywhere, and it’s your fault you know.” I add, “so gross” under my breath again for good measure.

All he does is smile.

For the next few minutes, I make myself busy brushing crumbs from my side. Brant reads our nightly devotions.

When he is finished I bury my head into my pillows and ask him in a muffled voice. “How much longer do you think this is all going to last?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think this is why God hasn’t let us move yet?”

“Maybe.” His answers are not very comforting, but his hand rubbing my back helps ease a bit of my tension. It’s been 9 months since the house went up on the market.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

After a few minutes, he is fast asleep. Thoroughly exhausted by a full day of work and his demanding family. It is sleep well earned. But I’m still wide awake.

I pull out my phone, turn the screen light down, and scroll. I know full well it’s the worse thing I could be doing, but I do it anyway. A bare knee finds more crumbs. I put the phone down in exasperation.

Up I get, smooth out the sheets, brush out the crumbs, and lay down again. Still, there are more.

“God, why?” I whisper to the night.

I don’t hear any words come back to me. But my thoughts start to slow down. It’s been a long time since our family has had our own normal. Things keep changing. Plans are made, but fall through. Dreams are made but put on hold. Things we never planned happen, and we must react. Now, this.

More uncertainty, more loneliness.

“God, what are you trying to teach us?”

Then, just before I drift off to sleep, I feel more crumbs under my arm. A final thought slips through my mind. Maybe God just wants me to learn to be more thankful for lullabies, and bed crumbs.

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020