Wednesday, July 22, 2015

If a Woman

If a woman
was a city  
If her body was made of drawers
    she’d be inhabited                      open        
items falling out
She’d be deteriorating
from the top
down  
consumed       
            corrupted
by all the dweller’s secrets

 She’d be searching for herself
in what had been pulled open             The search would be
                                                                        relentless
You’d see drawers discarded
cast aside like flesh she’d shed
along with all the other women that she’d been
Their faces would be hidden      
heads hung
low
looking deep within


You’d have to wonder if she could see
the mass
fast approaching
if she’s aware there’s more to come

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In the End

The recurring dream
of driving: never clear if I am behind the wheel
or a passenger and though I’ve not before, in waking life, seen this path,
whenever I am here, in sleep, I do not waver from the road.
                 I am sure this metaphor of winding road lined with trees
                                       means much more than I know
                                       and when I wake,
                                                         I savor what I can remember,
the lush greenery and even though I never reach my destination
it doesn’t matter,
it’s the scenery; the landscape; the road, itself; the peace
of mind when I wake,
as if my imagination knows more than I, what in the end,
I will find.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Listening

I have never been very good at making decisions.  I've been afflicted by self-doubt and fear for more of my life than I'd like to admit.  Remembering daily to turn my will and my life over to the care of God has relieved this in recent years and yet there are still too many moments where I just feel immobilized by anxiety; the "right" answer always seeming elusive.

I should be in Kentucky right now.  Spring residency for my Master's program started last Friday and I was supposed to be there.  For the past month, I had been feeling increasingly uneasy about the upcoming trip.  It would have been my fourth residency and nerves had plagued me prior to each trip before but this apprehension felt different. I couldn't shake it and each time I've been before, excitement had always eventually edged out the worry.  But this time, even though I prayed through the fears, practiced positive thinking, talked my feelings out with others, still the feeling of foreboding persisted.

The week before I was to leave I felt like I was starting to come down with a cold.  I started popping the Vitamin C.  Then my knee started acting up.  I'm scheduled for knee surgery on June 3rd and had hoped everything would be fine.  As the week wore on, my cold grew worse, my knee swelled bigger and by Thursday I couldn't get around without my brace.  "I'll be fine," I kept assuring myself but the inner nagging continued. I reminded myself,  a cold is just a cold.  I have the brace.  I'll push through.

I could have pushed through.  I do it all the time.  I'm a pretty determined person.  Sometimes things work out positively when I do that and sometimes not.  I could have gone and slowly felt better while I was there or I could have gone and developed pneumonia and been unable to walk at all half-way through the week.  Those aren't just silly exaggerated concerns.  With a chronic illness, those would have been possible realities.

So, I started to feel a little like, maybe, God was telling me something.  But then my other voice was saying, "It's only fear."  So, I woke up Friday morning at three to leave for the airport.  My ten year old and eight year old daughters were both awake.  The oldest said she'd prayed that God would wake her up to say another goodbye.  I dressed, had a quick cup of coffee and hugged and kissed them goodbye.  As I hugged my younger daughter, I noted that she felt hot.  Very hot.  So, I took her temperature and it was 102.5.  She had a bulge in the side of her neck, as well.  She'd been complaining of a "stiff neck" all week but we hadn't noticed any bulge and she hadn't had a fever.  My husband said he'd take her to the doctor and go into work late, so we left for the airport.

I knew he had it covered.  That she'd be okay and well taken care of but by now I was seriously starting to doubt my decision to go.  It seemed like signs were coming in all directions that it was not a good idea.  I prayed in the car.  I texted my sponsor and a friend.  I asked my husband to exercise his husbandly leadership and tell me what to do. We parked at the airport and we walked up to ticketing ( I limped) and my sponsor texted back the simple words, "Follow your heart."

So, I did.  I cancelled my trip.  And something's happened in me since then.

We took Verity to the doctor who ruled out strep throat, ear infection, and UTI.  We were sent to a radiologist for an ultrasound and told it might be an abscess and if it was she'd most likely have to be hospitalized.  Thankfully, it wasn't.  It was just two very large lymph nodes reactive to...something. Five days later, we still don't know what they're reacting to.  She's on an antibiotic but each day her fever is higher than the day before and we've now been to the doctor three times.  Currently, we're just waiting for results of the latest tests.  It's been scary and frustrating but I know God's got it.  I don't fear the worst.  And I know I'm here because even though she would have been well watched and well tended while I was away, it would have been horrible to not be with her while she's so sick.

But there's more going on, I think.  The decision to stay, not fully knowing the entire 'why' of it was pretty huge for me.  I like to know things.  I drive myself crazy with the need to know things.  And I can't know all things.  God just doesn't tell me everything whether I like it or not.  And this is why I think I have such a hard time with decisions.  I like to gather facts.  I do not like to be wrong.  I like to be right.  One hundred percent right.  But, this time, I followed my heart.  And I felt peace pretty immediately.  For a couple of hours.  And in those couple of hours I began to make plans: alright, well, postponed graduation, so now, the kids and I are both on summer break and it will be glorious;  quality time and I'll catch up on housework and start cooking again, etc.  And then as the evening wore on doubt started to creep back in.  By Saturday, even though Verity wasn't on the up and up, I was regretting my decision.  It began to sink in what I'd "given up:" a much needed break, time to focus on just me, silence, solitude, creative enlightenment and for what?  To hobble around the house in the mess and the noise and the chaos doing laundry?  Like I do every. single. day? And I started getting a little comfy on my pity pot.  But then, I also got quiet enough to look at what I was feeling.  To identify my feelings without judging them, to sit in them, to move past them.  And I stayed quiet.  In between doctor's visits and keeping vigil with the sick child and entertaining the well children, I've been examining my life a bit.  Recognizing too much to write here, today.

But I'm going to keep looking at the awareness and I'm going to pay attention to what I'm trying to tell myself -- what God is trying to tell me.  Because that's what I'm most taking away from this experience at this point, that I can trust myself.  So rather than draw up an elaborate plan of what I'm going to do with my free time (which, one thing I'm realizing about myself is that I like to be busy and have plans; free time is slightly uncomfortable for me) is just spend more time be-ing.  Being still and quiet, without expectation.  I'm going to listen to what's inside.  And I'm going to make some changes in order to do that.  I'm going to deactivate Facebook as an "experiment."  I can't be inside my own moments if I'm always in someone else's moments.  But I'm going to come here and write.  I could journal and that's great for sort-of vomiting out all the swirl inside my head, but when I'm here, I come closer to God and to what I really need to say.  And there's a bit of freedom knowing that even though I post here, I won't be, after today, linking to Facebook.  So, now I can just write and send my thoughts out to space in a way.

I'm excited because this is overdue.  I've been talking over myself for a long time and I'm going to practice really listening instead because I'm beginning to believe I have something important to say.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I don't Save Flowers

You spoil me with flowers.
Red roses at my door
on Valentine’s day.  Bouquets
brought home
fresh and fragrant
from the grocery store.
You are lavish in your flower
giving.  Petals strewn
across the floor, leading to the bed
where they lay in wait of romance, heart-shaped.
So, now,
our house is full of flowers:
                 in bloom
and wilting in their vases;
some now long expired.

You asked me once, long ago
why I don’t save flowers.
Why I don’t
hang and dry and tuck away
as memory.

I said that once I had

and I know it hurt your feelings.  Once I made
a collection out of flowers,
hung upside down on every wall
of my girlhood bedroom
single and in bunches tied with ribbon.
A flower gallery.
Each, reminder of a date or dance attended,
an apology or an attempt.  I knew
    each story,
each suitor.

Six years worth of accumulated flowers
finally taken down and trashed
when my parents split and sold their house.
Not one do I now recall
as special.  Not one do I remember
for individual sentiment.

Only
once more
after that
did I save
these emblems
given, these emblems destined only to die.

When the petals turned
from purest
red
to crimson black,
I placed them in the vase they came in,
perched this on my dresser.  Honestly,
I don’t remember the exact
    occasion
for which these were received.

Twelve years, four children, eight houses
and countless lies and broken promises later, I still had them.
I don’t
remember when they were given
but I do remember
when I let them go.  Crumpled,
dust layered,
now shelved inside
a closet.  I pulled them down and ceremoniously
threw them out, vase and all.
This act, more symbolic
than the actual flowers. 

I did this when I met you.

You, the flower giver.  You,
who shower me with bright
and beautiful bouquets.  That sit
and pose and rest
around the house;
that we photograph and draw
and paint
and for however poor
we always seem to be,
I feel gloriously well-off at the sight of these.
And I keep them even when
they’re drooping, faded and dried
up…until you bring me more and I’m out of vases.
Then I have no problem tossing so I can just replace.

And I guess the reason
I’ve saved none
is just that I don’t need to.
I have you.  You are the ever-living bright spot in my life,
the ever-giving blooming show of love.

You are the best arrangement:

almond flower promise of always and forever.
ambrosia because you love me too,
crimson carnation
to represent my passion,
mauve for what I dream of, and pearl for faithfulness.
so many tiny dots of cherry blossoms
for your many beauties,
leaning daffodil of brand new days,
creamy elderflower for your sweetness,
and white heather speckled bell-shaped flowers mean that you protect me,
lavender and honeysuckle for your devotion,
and simple, gorgeous jasmine for this unconditional love,
rainbow array of lilies, lotus for rebirth, and seashore mallow because I’m utterly consumed.
There is peach blossom because I never want our life together to end
and blossom of pear because we share a lasting friendship,
primroses in a circle speak to our eternal love, the trueness of this is seen in scarlet roses
and finally fuchsia displays my gratitude. 


And so I could give up flowers all together and forever if forever I’ll have you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Domestic Art

There is
           something
about laundry, eyed, hanging on a line outside, blowing in the wind,
                                       gathering
to it, the fresh scents of the air, the grass, the soil.
Like each
article, its own story, bodiless
but embodied
by the breeze, or words
with sunlit possibilities, written as a list, channeling a draft,
generating poem.

Too, something about hanging each item separately, shaking
it out, clipping—
calming.
Then, linen, cotton, single socks,
sheets, side by side, mingling, evidencing kinship, in flight
with each gust, unruly, billowing like flags of capitulation, shaking
in surrender.

Or seen in a neighbor’s yard:  an ink black nightie, too sexy
for an old lady, (not viewed as condemnation, just noted as a curiosity)
alongside doilies, embroidered, flowered pillowcases,
her husband’s underwear.

There is no shame in laundry.  All is clean.  Though the children giggle,
make fun, sense that privacy is on display.  Delicacies,
                                      like stolen candy.


Dried quickly on a Midwest summer day,
a woman
with basket hoisted like a baby on her hip
comes out to change loads.  The children scatter, not wishing to render
help.  This means a few moments of silence for the mother.  She works
slowly, enjoying a time of neither ennui nor enthusiasm, gradually
works her way toward the end, sighs, folds the last item, holds it up to her
face, smelling the fresh, crisp aroma of her labor, inhaling the possibility
of a poem.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Home

I have a home   I have memories of an earlier home
I have children   I was an only child
I have the near constant hum of noise
I remember the sounds of fighting
and chilled silence
I have loads and loads of laundry  washed
and unwashed   I did not learn how to wash
my own clothes until I was married
I usually have dishes in the sink 
I had tea parties with my dolls
I have art supplies  I used to draw Betty
and Veronica from the Archie Comics
I have a Bundt cake pan  
The first time I tried to bake a cake  the eggs
hardboiled themselves
inside the cake
I have a husband who cooks  We ate out a lot
I have books  
Books were my friends
I have help 
I felt alone  
I have love   I wanted love
I have fears   Fear grew inside me
I have imperfect vision   I wore huge glasses
I have responsibilities  credit cards
and no savings  
I never thought
to worry about money
I have routine   I enjoyed making lists
I am divorced and remarried  
I prayed
that my parents would stay together
I am an ex-piano player  
I hated practicing the piano
I wish I could still play
I have a busy mind   I had an active imagination
I have holes in my memory   I learned early
to fill in the blanks



Poets & Writers
Pink. Girl. Ink.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Watching

She wakes to the sound of the phone ringing,
though it is not early. 
She should be up.
Her mother on the other line
only
says, Turn on the TV
Something about her mother’s voice tells her
she should also wake her husband. 
Together, they observe the second plane fly
into the second tower. 
In real time.  The reporters.
had been reporting on the first. 
Had not
expected this.  Their shock and confusion
exposed as they simultaneously
attempt
to report and sort out what they
are seeing.  As the girl watches, something
both unfamiliar and frightening
begins
to stir; it takes up residence
within
her womb. 
She is young, expecting her first child
but now something else kicks
inside her, as new and strange as the small fetus.
Innocence souring. 
All her beliefs
about how life should be

were on that plane.