Family Relationships

HALF-TIME MOTHER

Sitting in the rocking chair,
window offering stark respite,
holds herself,
aching to see,
their shining faces.
Half-time Mother
time measured out
in the best
of the rocking chair’s bows.

Once a mother
at all times,
in all ways,
divorce stripped her
of the job
she knew most.

Days when she has them,
she laughs, cries,
shouts, sings,
and, exhausted,
thinks of the day
they have to leave.

One moment gone,
the ache begins to grow,
but unlike the green softness
of a young shoot
pushing itself from the earth,
she feels the emptiness
of her womb,
as she passes empty beds,
and longs for the moment
they run through  the door.

Divorce made a mother
into a woman of two lives,
one foot in either,
but never fulfilled,
one step draining her body,
the other the heart.

Stand Alone Poetry

TRAVEL CHANNEL

The chair is cracked, crusted
with the remnants of countless meals,
smelling of urine and booze,
saturated with nicotine,
dark stains belying uses
not acknowledged, she hid in
for so many years,
nor even remembered,
as she sits
repeating the litany
over and again.
“I love the Travel Channel –
spent my whole life trying to get back to this chair,
and now – that it is too late –
I can’t get up, only watch”
As she bleakly, hopelessly
stares at feet swollen triple sized
with pus oozing from broken pustules,
the flesh no longer intact
as bit by bit
it fails away, melting into the chair
She hid n for so many years,
and now is trapped within,
dissolving, dissembling,
fading into the stained black ooze
crusted on the seat.

Soul Seeking

My life is filled
with fragments of others,
a dipping below the façade
for brief segments,
sifting past reflections,
always seeking their souls,
begging them to cry out to me.
To let me see,
for even the briefest of instants
the naked core they hide,
mostly from themselves,
certainly from others.
If for once I could gaze
a moment on their sacred ground,
I could die knowing
I’d seen the face of God
and didn’t shrink away.

Gravy

My aunt made the gravy at Thanksgiving dinner,
she alone knew its secrets –
skimming the fat, constantly stirring,
never turning the flame too high,
adding a pinch of this, bit of that,
stirring, stirring, always in motion . . .
the gravy was divine.

Yet now you say we are at the gravy time,
the rewards finally ours to reap.
The struggles, the pain, our despair,
being just the right ingredients.
Granted, you stirred, and stirred,
and stirred some more . . .
but Honey,
you ain’t never learned how to cook.

Home for the Holidays

Begins the dreaded yearning
for hearth and home
as only Mom can make it . . .
a pervasive, clinging need
to nestle in the warm embrace
and drink from the wellspring
of utter contentment.

And so the journey,with attendance to a multitude
of details large and small,
the flurry of messages
so all is properly prepared,
paid for, sealed, delivered
to the doorstep
of the elusive family of heart.

Each gathering brings
the flood of memory
washing pores in bracing chill,
peeling the layers bit by bit
until all the adult trappings
are removed
and you become
the impressionable, innocent child
of yester year.
Yet with the vestiges
of bitter disillusionment remain.

Hence, the clangor and din
with which the most precious
of long awaited (and feared) days passes,
reducing us to our basest of selves,
hammering at each other
in long held patterns of familial, ritualistic torture
. . . . . to devolvement,
a flood of tears and aching hearts,
a tentative reweaving of the tapestry,
each time believing the threads
are realigned just differently enough
that the picture will have a different face
until the next time
the yearning begins.

Still as Stone

He sits still as stone,
imperturbably  standing against the stream,
neither in defiance or rage,
but because there is nothing else to do,
because he is and that is the manner of his days,
quietly moving, barely a whisper,
the tremor of his hand extending
so his whole body reflects the vibration.
Tremors but otherwise stillness
to the force of the stream, yet within,
ah, what flows beneath the surface?
A world as rich and full as his skin’s world is spare?
He pays no mind to his lack of movement
for his mind never stops churning,
a choreographed dance of infinite steps,
resting within the solidity of stone.

My enemy . . . Myself

 

Gears grinding ever slower
Gummed up by old oil
Smoke coming out of ears
As thought winds down.

I’m not a good friend to myself
Once was –
But the shifting trajectories
Confused my mind

Staring at the computer again
And again
No semblance of brainpower
No manifest of concise thoughts

I’m losing myself
That part I valued most
Wisps lifting and flying away
Moths banging against outside lights 

When did poison leech
Synapses, nerve conduits
Knots grown in density
Fog rolling in

Sorry.
For the drugs
And illnesses born
For the wasting away
Of what was God’s for taking 

Sorry for me being me
For the hours upon hours spent looking
Misunderstanding the simplest connections
Snow on the screen of my mind

All verbiage is gone.
I am no longer the girl
brightest at work, in college,
Computer not a handy tool

Father died from complications
Born from dementia
Is this my genetic influence?
Of which I have no control?

I stare at the computer
Mind numb, an enemy of myself
Lost – beating my head against walls
Alone – no longer hearing myself think.

 

Esmeralda’s Hair

When Esmeralda was two her mother cut her hair.  It was so short her ears froze when she went outside.  It was so short it stuck straight up on her head.  It was so short people sometimes thought she was a boy.  Her mother tried to stick bows in her hair with gel, which looked very silly.  One day she walked up to her mother, put her hands on her hips and announced, “No more hair cuts, never, never never!”

Her hair grew.  Soon it covered her ears.

A few weeks later she was able to put bows in her hair without looking silly.

It reached her shoulders.  She put barrettes in but they got lost.  Her mother said, “You have to brush your hair and keep it neat if you want it long.”  Esmeralda just nodded and went back to playing.

As it grew, she liked to put it on top of her head so Esmeralda pinned her hair up with chopsticks but she never bothered to take them out.  They drooped and clacked as she moved.

It grew so long her mother tried to braid it but the tangles got in the way.  Esmeralda never combed it and it fell down her back in snarls and tangles.  Esmeralda’s teacher, Mrs. Snotrush, spoke to the class about the importance of brushing their hair, pointing at the messy heap on top of Esmeralda’s head.

It grew so long it reached her waist.  Esmeralda liked to separate it in two and tie it into a bow at her neck.  One day Esmeralda and her friend had a fight.  They were so angry that they took burdocks and smashed them into each other’s hair.  Her friend took the burdocks out, Esmeralda didn’t.  Esmeralda’s mother just shook her head when she saw her.  The burdocks scratched her cheeks as she slept.

Soon she could sit on her hair.  She tried to brush her hair one day but the brush got stuck in the tangles and she left just it there.  One night when she was sleeping, a mouse saw the hair dusting the floor and skittered up.  He made a home and each night brought back treasures he found during the day, jittering about his adventures in her ear as she dreamed.

When she was swinging at the playground Esmeralda’s hair swept the ground, leaving the ground neat and her hair littered with twigs and clumps of dirt.

Her hair grew down to her knees.  One day a bird flying by decided her hair would be an excellent place to build a nest.  Pretty soon three chicks hatched.  Esmeralda sometimes liked having the birds but Mama Bird was always squawking, the chicks were always chirping and the worms Mama Bird brought back to her chicks that sometimes fell in her hair and squiggled down her neck.  It was hard to pay attention at school with all the noise.

A little, brown chipmuck looking down from a tree thought her hair would make a wonderfully soft home to come to each day, jumped down and burrowed deep with his paws.

Esmeralda’s hair grew down to her toes.  She kept tripping as she walked.  The bird squawked angrily at her because she scared the chicks.  The chipmuck jittered at her to be careful.

One day her cat, Nubs, noticed the mouse, birds, and squirrel and jumped on top of Esmeralda’s hair and stared at the smaller creatures.  It was a heavy load to carry.

The next door neighbor’s dog saw the cat in her hair and started jumping against Esmeralda. She had to run inside and hide.

Esmeralda went to school the next day to find her teacher, Mrs. Snotrush had called the Animal Control Officer to school. The Officer gave a talk about the importance of not bringing animals to school unless the teacher was asked first.

When she and her friends climbed up a pine tree, Esmeralda’s hair got stuck in all the branches leaving her hanging stuck in the air.  Sap from the tree clung to her hair. Little pine needles were everywhere, tickling and itching her.  She looked and felt like a fly trapped in a spider’s web.  It took a whole day and two of her best friend’s help to get her free.

In fits of frustration the animals skittered and chittered and slid down the tree, running off to find new homes.

That was it!  She ran home to her mother and cried “Cut my hair. PLEASE!!!”  Her mother started cutting . . . out came a branch from a tree, twigs from the playground, the mouse’s treasures, the bird’s nest, the squirrels home, clumps of dirt from the swings, chopsticks, burdocks, barrettes and bows that had gotten lost, sap and pine needles from the tree she was stuck in, the brush that got stuck and hundreds and hundreds of snarls and tangles.

Esmeralda’s new hair cut fell to her shoulders fell in soft waves.  Her mother brushed until it gleamed and put a bright bow in it.  She looked in the mirror and liked who she saw.  She promised she would always keep her hair neat and clean . . . and she did.