Archive for the ‘life’ 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.

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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.

There Goes My Mother

January 12, 2012

There goes my mother.
Over to the clearance hair care color
Me? I just turn my cart the other way
And walk down the aisle collecting item after item
Of things she already has but won’t tell me she has until we have
Left the store and the city and have gone home.
While we are unpacking the things onto the kitchen counter
She’ll glance over at a bottle of Dawn dish soap and
Get a quizzical look on her face, walk over the sink
Bend down to the cupboard, open it, and pull out a
Brand new one, freshly sealed, never opened.
She will smile.
Me, I will sigh.
You see, this is my mother.
Carrying and collecting things she herself will never need
Saving them for a later date or in my case
Another person, another household.
Because she always did shop at thrift stores and
The excitement of buying school clothes was never more
Than a chore for her. This is my mother.
Using her resources wisely and sharing them with a daughter
Who has yet to understand the value of a dollar.

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.
Iraq.

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.

Dear Walker,

January 5, 2012

This is my favorite photograph of us
You were at the age where you were learning to walk and not fall
As we lounge in the front yard on a beautiful Sunday afternoon
Our bare feet tickled by the spring grass
I will never forget the feel of your bald little head
And the back of your tiny little neck that held it up
I would often run one of my hands over the top of your head and down to the back of your neck
I was so appreciative and amazed at life.
Those were the first images and senses that came to my mind
When I was transferred that phone call late that night in my office
And I begged my sister to tell me what had happened through her tears and strain
“Just come home,” was all she could say
After a minute of pleading it came out. “Walker died.”
Suddenly my world of springtime disappeared into darkness.
Everything became as black as the night sky on my 40 minute drive from work to my parent’s house.
I hugged my father as he cried.
Three days later we had your funeral. I drove seven hours to see your body
I listened to your mother weep in despair. I will never forget that cry.
I held your big brother, age three, over the casket and we talked to you
I wanted to lift you up out of that box
I wanted to show everyone your beautiful bald head, and how small the back of your neck was that held it up.
But I knew it would be foolish. So I sat your brother on my lap
And I ran my fingers over the top of his head, through his wispy golden hair and down the back of his neck.
I whispered in his ear about the time last spring when we lounged in the front yard after church
And taught Walker how to walk.
He smiled up at me like he remembered.
I always will.

My Grandfather’s Eyes

January 4, 2012

My Grandfathers eyes are
The only way I can tell if his
Medication has been doubled
On the days they’ve upped it
He looks younger—child like
“Where am I?” He asks.
His eyes are wide open and fearful
“You’re in a hospital, Grandpa,” I say.
I stare deep into his eyes holding
My glance to reassure him
He searches my clear eyes for an explanation
I don’t give him one because in
A few minutes he’ll go to
Sleep, wake up again, and forget
That I was ever there
One the days his meds are
Low you can see the pain
In his eyes. They are hardly
Open and glazed over. They
Sit there, unwelcoming the world around him.
It’s on these days that I cry.
But I don’t let my Grandfather see
He always remembers my eyes as
Alive, awake, and dancing
With the promise of getting discharged tomorrow.

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.

One Women Vacation

January 1, 2012

Her eyes get dull in June
That’s when she feels she loses sense of herself
And cradling the cup of coffee between her hands and chest is
The only warmth her body can feel
She takes her clothes off in the summer
And stretches out on her unmade bed
The wind blows whispers across her body
She closes her eyes and imagines herself
Somewhere else.