Tag: family

I’ve Never Believed in Heaven

Haddam Neck Pansy

A Single Pansy at Haddam Neck FairAt the bottom of the dresser drawer
Under a twist of bras and
Fine-enough-to-donate
Ankle socks, I found the
Liner she used to protect the wood —
Or was it to protect the clothes? —
I’m not sure. Shouldn’t adults
Really know this now?
But I don’t line my drawers with
Newspaper. I don’t even receive
One anymore. How else have I
Let her down, dropped the ball on
All the better, best and bygone Ways?

Well, no more heat-and-eat Salisbury steak ovals
Floating in gravy are served, so
I’ve achieved that. That and
Lifting her onto the portable toilet when
Her legs became deadweight. And I achieved
Ordering the hospital bed, making
Small talk with the lanky boy-man who
Constructed it in the living room one day,
Then came back a few days later to
Pack it away. The damn chia seeds. Still
Behind the instant oats in Dad’s cupboard!
Why didn’t I toss them out with the
Pile of not-fine-enough-to donate t-shirts?

Ann and I had that flash of certainty,
Sure the old news in the drawer would be
Ancient, with ads for powdered penny soap and
Photos of mustachioed men. Where were you in
1999? She must have been standing right here
At the drawer on Timberline,
Laying out the paper, washing her hands before
Touching the whites, thinking her thoughts
About what’s for dinner and
Is there an afterlife and where exactly is
The Friday card group.

I was far away.
It was the El Nino year, the year
I bought my shirtwaist house, and forgot to water
The coreopsis, and for the last time
Gas was 99 cents a gallon. Then,
fear shaped itself as loneliness,
Not as a leaking bag body that takes 30 days to
Empty, that sloughs off eating,
Then walking, then speech,
And all muscle control
Like peeling skin on a
Sunburned life.

I am Hiding

It’s just past 8 and
Summer. I am hiding on the
Bottom bunk. My daughters have
All gone downstairs. My
Son is echoing in the shower. I am a
Sliver of time away from being set
Free into the night, into their
Dreamland, after hugs and kisses
Recede and I’ve read the required
Pages of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and
Then, oh then, I’m free to let the
Twilight catch me, and hold me.

Until then I am hiding on my
Daughter’s bunk, eyes on the blonde pine
Slats, listening to my son warble
Between the soapy drops.
I’m caught by light that isn’t young anymore,
And I am sure of this day: as sure that this narrow bed will return as a gift and
My daughters too will feel this exhaustion like a weight on them
Someday.
On that same day, far flung, I know I will
Recall perfectly the toffee of her wet hair at bedtime and
The cocoon of the bottom bunk.

— from some traveling place

The Real Sun


Suns rays through the forest by Steve Slate on Flickr

At dinner Tati asks “Mom,
When will we get to see the REAL sun?”
And I have to clarify her meaning, and she is
Careful to explain for my slow brain
Not that plain orange ball floating
Up in the sky but the
REAL sun, with its long-reaching
Arms that stretch out, the
Yellow one with spikes that
Colors all the storybooks and is the
Truth. And I tell her the answer
I’ve gotten better at these
Years, my cotton ball “I’m not sure,
Honey” that cushions my
Shock and surprise over and
Over again. I’m driving down the
Road wearing my hands-free device,
Feeling morose and cornered and wail:
“Mom, why do we live to break our
Hearts over and over again? Why not
Just listen to our parents when they
Tell us what is good for us?” and Mom
Takes another audible drag on her
Cigarette and breathes out an
“I’m not sure,
Honey.”

My Father-in-Law’s Dishes


I am in a kitchen in Ontario
And the house is packed in
With family and around with
Snow, and even more so by
Farmland and emptiness. It’s
March, my mother-in-law’s birthday
A day we’ve made as a holiday
Because it makes sense to
Celebrate in the middle of
Winter in the middle of the
School year so that all can
Come without interruptions to
Holier days.

And we eat turkey around the
Pool table, with all the
Chairs assembling from the
Scattered bedrooms in this
Rambling affair of a house and
My brothers-in-law Duane and
Greg have puzzled together the
Plywood cover for the table that
Duane built for us to eat on and which
He’ll leave there for
The Duration because,
I’ve noticed, it bothers him how my
Son bangs the balls around.

And we demolish the meal that took Henry
Days to prepare, we demolish it in
20 minutes, which is less time than it took
To make the gravy.
And the kids want to leave the table,
But I don’t let them. They fidget.
I recognize the twitchiness in my
Own memory, eating around the
Brown card table in Granny’s
Icy basement.

Karen and I clear the dishes,
And there’s the scraping into
Compost, and rinsing into
Sink strainer. I prefer my
Garbage disposal at home, but I
Can work with this system.
My father-in-law nibbles on bits
As he packs up the food. There is
Turkey carcass everywhere.

I move the dirties from one, and then
Another area of counter and wipe them clean.
Now a dry towel down here, for the wet dishes, and
Another on my shoulder. And one more, for
Colin to join me.
That counter is dry and no, please,
No more dirty dishes there. I wipe it down again.

The hot water
Fills the sink
And the soap.
I begin with the
Least dirty plates,
Front and back.

By the time I get to the pots and the pan I am really very
Tired and the water is sludge and I thought perhaps I could
Make it on one sink this time but I didn’t so I
Let it all out, the filth,
And rinse the porcelain sides with my hands. Bang the
Basket into the trash.
More hot water.
The leftovers are stored in plastic.
The twins are sitting on Duane.
A dog rushes down the hall after a ball.

The sink fills again and
I keep going on,
Washing my
Father-in-law’s dishes.

Dogs are the best — small stone


Dogs are the best
At saying “I’ve got
All I need thanks”
Lounging in the
Hardwood sun.
Although they’ll gladly
Get up for
You.


— part of the 2013 Mindful Writing Challenge on “Writing Our Way Home”

my body whispering- small stone


my knee is swollen
twice normal. A week busy
taking care of
everyone else and
poo-pooing,
don’t hear
my body whispering.
Now, it being Sunday, the
relentless ache
turns me into
an exhausted heap of
terror.

Five oatmeal bowls – small stone


Five oatmeal bowls in the sink;
Mushy grains floating.
Instead I eat Ezekiel bread;
Spouted grains toasted.
It’s true I’ve always been
So wildly different.

— part of the 2013 Mindful Writing Challenge on “Writing Our Way Home”