Archive for the ‘growing up’ Category

May Peace Surround You

May 23, 2012

This was written in 2010 for the brave women of Wellcome Manor Family Services who were going through in-patient treatment for chemical dependency.

Weary woman—your eyes speak so much sorrow
Sink into your troubles and sleep
Soon you will wake and find
The journey to be simpler this time
And peace will surround you like water
Place your hand on your children’s’ hearts
And never let go
Let their blood-beat be a pathway to your home
Tell them your story with your eyes
And you’ll be surprised
How their strength can touch your soul
Weary woman— I’ve never met someone with so much sorrow
But it can’t last for long
The tears you cry will overflow your mind
And the demons will slowly drown out.


Helen Told Me So

January 13, 2012

Helen rose above the ashes of her dead family
She tells me I can do the same
We sit, sipping coffee and I cry to her
She tells me I am not to blame.

The bitter truth has become this:
I am no longer your one
I sleep alone at night,
Tucked in between the bed sheets tight
And I don’t move over the places
Your body has already been

Nobody wants to talk to me about you anymore
It’s been three weeks
And, even the dog turns away
I wake up in the morning to the coldness
And make myself pull through another day
I’ve worn the same lipstick all month
I’ve said all the same lines
But nothing draws you closer to me anymore
Nothing fills the void.

Helen rose above the ashes of her dead family
She tells me I can do the same
I’m urged to gather my strength at the grave
And push on into another day

You have become dead to me, now
You have become dead to me, now

I leave my sorrow at the stone.


January 11, 2012

Sometimes I think
That you aren’t really in love
That you are more in…
That you followed a sequence
First college, then marriage
and finally baby.
I glance over your profile
Of pictures of you and your kid
That you took
with your free hand
And I wonder how it must feel
to stop working at the age
of merely 23.
And to be something like a
pawn in someone else’s game
Telling yourself everyday
That you make the rules
That your husband is
the head, but you are the neck
and I’ve heard that phrase so many
times it puts a bullet through my heart
To think you all believe it.
It rips the core of my being
to see you smile in every picture
Like, hey world– look at me!
Look what I did!
Look what this ring
this house
this baby
Makes me!
I say to it all:

Upon Learning My Love Has to Wait

January 9, 2012

I stand here in the black hawk night
And swear that I can touch your eyelids
Closed— so closed and still I wonder
Just what kind of sleep are you sleeping?
Hush child, the desert air whispers to me
In breezes of sand and smoldering decay
Your Father will not forsake you
Beseech him and rejoice, be glad
But 125 more days, and I cannot so much as shout a hallelujah
No—there is no rejoicing in this sanctuary

Cold—so cold and blankets will not do.
Not even this fleece blanket I have carefully wrapped around my body
Not even my country—America—that I have wrapped around me
Can keep me warm

I breathe, shallow breaths and turn my head to side
To let the rivers of solitude wind their way out
Of my body and on to my silk pillowcase mom gave me
For Christmas last year. I wish they could have
Disappeared into the sleeve of the shirt you wore
When we shared the same breath
the same college
the same city.

And here I am.
And there you are.

Your face only in the pictures
Present only in the images I see on the TV
“We’re winning,” the President tells me.
“Who is we?” I beg. “You?”

And I shake their hands
Sinking flesh I meet the bone and feel their age
Protesters on 2nd Street.
They hold up signs and I never thought I would shake their hands
For this reason in my lifetime.

19 and a Day

January 8, 2012

Nineteen and a day
You took my breath away
As I listened to snowplows
Scrape down Main Street
This has to be love, I thought
As I sealed the envelope up
And mailed it an address somewhere in Iraq
Looking back I can see
It was love between you and me
Just not the kind I had planned
He’s still out there, I know it
And in a way you tend to show it
Just how much I really deserve.

This is Where We Go

January 7, 2012

With our bellies full of macaroni, we would hop into the back of
Dad’s red 1981 Chevy pick up truck
And belt it down the string of highway to a park we called our own
Singing Beach Boys and theme songs from our favourite cartoon show.
The sun was still giving off enough light to find it
As we hopped out and Dad called for us to not go too far
We knew this place was not a place he would approve of
But still, if we tipped our heads just right we could hear him call “girls, let’s go!”
When it would be time to leave. But it was not time to leave. So we went

To the foot of the bridge, to the covered trail beside it, down underneath it
This is where we go.
In our jelly sandals and hair pulled into ponies
This is where we go.
To our secret place of rock tossing, dream talking, sisterly fun.
This is where we go.

And after accidentally stepping into the water, we would wander back
Up to the real world in search of dad and the question of whether or not
We had been good so we could go meet mom for ice cream at ten.
Messy haired and muddy to the knee, we would slip back into the Chevy
And buckle up till Dad heard the click or would have to turn around and check.
The sun now in sleeping, we would sit back and watch the trees
Flutter their good-byes in the night until the lights from town could be seen
And Sally’s smile would become illuminated by the neon light of the DQ sign.

She Is Alone With the Cookies

January 6, 2012

She is alone with the cookies
In a kitchen she finds solace and
The grace of God
She is like the oven
Hot and closed
But on a timer and to a certain degree
She is convinced that she will only to amount to
This kitchen
Those dishes in the sink
The pots
The pans
The silverware
And of course
The cookies

Two Days Before Christmas

January 4, 2012

Two days before Christmas,
I awake to her baking
Cookies, bars, and a turkey.
I sit at the dining room table
And wonder how she does it.
Her hands know the measurements
She doesn’t even need the cup
Her eyes roam over her success
Laid out in each cookie, each bar
Cooling on the countertop.
As she cools her head, she thinks out loud in unstructured sentences.
I shuffle my papers and she glances over at me,
Noticing the unfamiliar noise in her dining room kitchen
“Oh good, you’re awake. I need you to run to the store.
In an hour I’ll be out of milk, eggs, and cocoa” she says to me.
I shake my head and wonder how she can know that she’ll be out of something in an hour
But she is my mother
And she is always prepared
I get up to go get my keys
“Not so fast” she says to me, and hands me a warm cookie
“Tell me how they are”
I take a bite and become five years old again
Standing in our kitchen, not yet seeing over
Our old yellow and brown countertops
Dressed in my acid wash overalls and red long sleeved shirt
With my hair tangled in front of my face
Her in her plaid button down shirt
And Lee jeans with her short cut, jet black hair always in place
She hands me cookies from the countertop and asks me
The same question she will ask me year after year for the next twenty years of my life
“Tell me how they are”
I take a bite, and then I look up at her, my five-year-old eyes glowing
“They taste super,” I would say, with chocolate already smeared on my face.
But now today, because I’m grown-up, after I take a small, polite non-messy bite
I say to her in my most adult voice:
“They taste great.”
“Great?” She says, pausing from mixing the next batch. “That’s all?”
She looks lost.
I pause for a moment looking back at her, and the five-year-old girl inside of me
Tells me what to say to clear up the confusion.
I start to smile, revealing the chocolate that’s been mistakenly caught in my teeth
I look down at the half bitten cookie, and then back up at her.
“Super, mom” I say. “They taste super.”
She is satisfied and begins to stir the next batch.
I leave the house and warm up my car so I can go to the store and buy the ingredients
That she’ll be out of in an hour.

No, I will not.

January 1, 2012

No, I will not stand and let you break my house.
My home, my furniture, my friends
No, I will not. And I will tell you, with an echo that repeats itself
All the way to my grandmothers’ lips, to those who came before me:
No. No more. It ends here with me.
We have struggled. I learned that throughout my years
Growing up in a house with a lioness as a mother
Who taught me, her cub, about the generations of women
Before me: not so lucky.
No, not lucky at all. The ones whose hands reached all the way
To the bottom of the smallest floor to brush it clean
While he, the husband, commanded orders,
While he, a man, commanded her how to be.
No, I will not continue that cycle.
It stops with me. Me who was built with the strongest of genes
From years and years of women whose screams
Fell on deaf ears of other people who stood and said
“It’s just your role”
“This is just what you do”
No, I will not. I do not. I won’t.
So leave. Get your things before I throw them out
I stand firmly in my home with both feet on the hardwood floor
My hands pressed against my hips.
Repeating no, no more.
Get your things, get out– shut the door.
You’re not forgiven, nor will you be
Absolutely, positively not.
–No more.