Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Only Hardware


Worn smooth by all of us, coming home and leaving, coming home, leaving. Now, none of us cross this threshold any more to infuse the old house with laughter, reunited. I was tempted to take the doorknob with us, but it would have been disrespectful, wrong. 

So instead, I have this photo to remind me of bringing babies home for the first time, of little ones on tiptoe- opening that door with two hands, of teenagers letting it slam, of my mom and dad, visiting. That doorknob turned in trust and expectation, opening and closing our years.  To hold it was to hold home in my hand. Looking at it now - I see a blessed piece of hardware, I see the past and inevitable change, and I can see without a doubt, the patina of my heart.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Picking up the Petals

This is a flower from the bouquet that my youngest brought for me on Valentines Day. She had the roses in one hand, a Starbucks vanilla cappuccino in the other and managed to juggle some caramel creams too. All my favorite things. She hugged me and said, "You're my one true Valentine, mom." She is 18 years old. I tell you this so you will have an inkling of how lucky I am.

This is what was left of a rose from that very bouquet after my grandbaby, 17 months old, sniffed a little too heartily and cherished a little too mightily. "Oh", I said at the sight of petals at her feet, and this in her hand. "Star", she said, and so it was. My grandbaby handed me a star.

Since I have been blessed with this tiny new being in my life, I have actually begun to think, in many ways like a toddler again. So much is beautiful, the rocks we find and coo over, the petals at our feet that are are soft and veiny and hold life, still. And I marveled at the divine timing, this grandbaby coming just when I need her most. Just when I needed to be retaught, that rocks are beautiful, because, rocks it seems are about all that I can acquire now. And if flowers are in pieces, and petals lie at our feet, well, isn't that a wonder too? As the wee one has shown me today, when you pick up the pieces, you should  look, really look, at what you have. And then hold it dear. "Because stars fall from the heavens sometimes and miracles rise out of little things..."*

*This is from a quote that I have carried around with me since I was a teenager, the newsprint brown with age, and credited to anonymous. When googling it to find its maker, I found, of course,  that I was not the only one wondering.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Once A Pondered Time

i reach for
the raspberry
pink towel
draw back my hand

take instead
the gray and
red striped rag

old loyal legs
and question
the choice

as if
this was
the first time
i said
to the
good towel

should i
get the towel

i pick
the oldest
yogurt from
refrigerator shelf
lift only
the bowl

no one ever said
don't eat the good ones

i wonder when
i began
to think
i was
not deserving
the best for
everyone but

this stupid
is not the kind of
that announces

but all
the small denials
cling and
clog pores
with awful

must be
high time
to exfoliate
this nonsense
so late
coming to
my attention

the yogurt closest
not even
glance at
expiration dates

take a
thank my
good self 
with a
lemon verbena

drying off
i may not
hold the
raspberry towel
not yet

these old
loyal legs
will get me
to it

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In These Ten Minutes

When, I wonder, did life become so disarmingly sweet and so tenderly sad, fluctuating, literally, minute by minute. The sweetness was always there for the sampling, the sadness always at the ready to settle in. But it seems these days I am so keenly aware of the ups and downs, that my heart gets a constant workout and is finely, exhaustingly tuned to the pipings of life, grand and minute. A byproduct of aging, no doubt and there is no choice but to accept this gift, as the alternative is rolling up like an old roly-poly bug and shutting down.

But here is a sampling, of the workout my heart, your heart, any one's heart, can get in an unremarkable ten minute span of an ordinary day. 

Getting out of our car at the mall and walking through the mall parking lot with my middle daughter, I receive a call from my mom. We ask about each others day and she mentions a woman who must lose her tongue to cancer, her precious tongue for tasting all life has to offer, her precious tongue for telling her son how much she loves him.  I am stunned by the silence, the flavorless days that she must somehow rise above.

The next minute, while my daughter and I are getting closer to the mall entrance, both of us silent, contemplating the courage of this woman, I receive another call from my youngest daughter, frantic. She is on her break at work where she often sits in her car for a little high volume soul cleansing from her screaming Ipod. "Mom," she begins, obviously shaken.  My heart sinks as I await the rest. "Both my turn signals are blinking, and I can't get them off!" I exhale, and smile. I realize, that in the rebuilding of our lives, this girl, who has had to grow up faster than her sisters, has more responsibility with a time consuming job and classes, has not yet encountered her emergency flashers.  She has only been driving a little over a year, and oh, sometimes I forget how young she is. The next minute or so is spent, the three of us, two remotely, trying to find the red triangle button. Look behind the steering wheel, look by the defroster..." Oh, oh, I hope nobody comes out of work...I don't see it....I can't find it...I don't have one...Oh, I got it! She squealed, so obviously relieved to have found the off button to the bold blinking that threatened to make her a spectacle. Her youthfulness came through the phone and tickled away the sadness I had felt just seconds before. 

My middle daughter and I walked into Macy's, still smiling when we held the door open for an older woman pushing her still older mom in a wheel chair. The mom in the chair was frail, and connected to tubes, the daughter was poignantly living the loss already. 

Feeling her grief, my steps were markedly heavy again. My mom is very old too, I will be old soon too, if I live long enough without health insurance. I am sure my own daughter was thinking similar thoughts as we walked on in silence. 

Then after a bit, the conversation started up again and we were chatting about her job in a day care. Her eyes lit up, knowing she had a snippet to lighten things up.  Seems there is one of those charmingly unique children who will probably grow up to better the world. He was more than annoyed because she had told him it was time to clean up his toys. His voice tends to trail up and down, pitching at odd intervals. He squinted  and studied my daughter, normally his favorite teacher, searching for a way to get back at her. "I'm gonna... I'm gonna come to your house ... and break your dishwasher!"

My daughter and I were both delighted by this random threat, at the mystery of the workings of his young mind.  We linked arms, continuing on in  a quest to find a mother- of- the- bride dress, and laughed a little more, because, well, our dishwasher is already broken.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow Angel


With the snow falling this weekend, I was reminded of a snow fall last year when we had an unexpected visitor. We had parted the curtains to see how deep the snow was. There he was, this weary, thin one, taking a break from what angels do, just resting on a chilly night, basking in the moon light on our deck chair. He didn't light long. When next we looked, he had taken flight with others never seen.  

Thanks for Nothing

Old friends can't understand why I don't scream, tell you to act like a man; Wonder why I never threw your clothes out on the lawn or called you vial names that surely you deserved. But I don't have the strength to scream at you as this drones on and on. I never had the heart for it in the first place.

I think a lot about all of the things we built, you and I. And all the things you took away; home and trust and of course, my naivety, which lingered too long anyway. But I will tell you this, if I could hate you, I would surely hate you for taking the sparkle from the young one's eyes. 

I think about our seaside days and how you took those too, stuffed them in your pockets while scanning for anything else that was left.  I wish you could see the old ones' faces, and the worry that you've etched. You left dying dogs and dead trees, leaning - debt the only thing still growing. And my sleep? You took that too. Left me to sit in that old purple chair, ready to spring to defense, against demons in the dark.

Is this security lost? Well, what else could it be?

But if I've learned one thing, it is this: I was always at risk. So are you. And she is too. And so is every other breathing being. Security is not a steadfast friend. So go and flash your crooked grin. Laugh your obscenities. Tell anyone who will listen how you left me holding this empty space, where nothing is as it was, will never be the same again - this space where  nothing  is  for  certain.

But if you knew, if you only knew how that nothing space has carried me, then you would want that back too. Oh how my sighs fill that space with grace exhaled. How I line the walls with thistle down, color it with violet, scent it with honeysuckle, wild.  Vines, accepting - reach out all around, laughter grows in yellow patches, roots of faith run deep. Thank you for the gash of betrayal. How else would I have learned to make this balm? Thank you for the greed that schooled us in the art of doing without. Thank you, for heartbreak, glorious, that freed my own song, silent for so long. Thank you, thank you for that space given, that space where nothing is for certain but where every thing is revered.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Day Well Spent

So it was a perfect day, so warm for February, sunny and almost early Spring-like. I had great plans for this day off, but there was the apartment to clean, the pile of books and dvds to take back to the library and the tax materials to gather up and take to the accountant. I had made a date to sit a bit on my perfect bench on my perfectly temporary balcony looking up at the perfectly friendly trees.  But the apartment was dirtier than I had thought, the tax papers were more fussy than I had anticipated, and I stayed too long at the library, again.  Coming home, there was dinner to make and some goodies for my dads birthday to bake, so the sun pretty much came and went and my bench stayed empty and the trees, who had waited for me, were stood up.  I was feeling guilty for squandering the day. Eventually, just a few minutes before day darkened, I finally got to treat myself to a bit of one of my library pickings. 

I had picked up a book of Alice Walker poems (Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth) because her words always make me feel  raw, alive and a little less apologetic. I read a few poems about lost loves and the attacks of 911 and then came to this, which I thought was pretty low key when it comes to Alice Walker's words, and yet, it was just what I needed at that moment. 
"Grace gives me a day too beautiful, I had thought, to stay indoors, and yet, washing my dishes, straightening my shelves, finally throwing out the wilted onions, shrunken garlic cloves. I discover, I am happy to be inside, looking out. This, I think is wealth. Just this choosing of how a beautiful day is spent. "                                             Alice Walker                            

The poem was a graceful pause at the end of busy day.  A day that closed with satisfaction. A clean apartment, taxes done, and recognition of the blessed freedom of having stayed at the library for as long as I wanted and picking out the book of my choosing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

This I Know for Certain

Years spent
wiping jelly 
from round cheeks,
stretching socks
over tiny, curling toes,
playing fairies,
gathering flowers
It's true,
I am a wrinkled girl
Don't know much
about the world
Numbers turn upside down
collide in this old brain
Politics,  I can't
 speak it,
Chemistry, physics,  fills minds 
far greater
than mine
Never could develop
for arts of deception
My time - timid, steps unsure
forever questioning
choice upon choice
this i know for certain:
when a baby babbles
to whipped cream,
pats the soft cold swirl
and licks little lips
with joy,
the world pauses, 
on mighty axis
a split second,
every thing explained