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Fourth day home with sick kid, who—although she is grouchy and has mood swings—is mostly fun to be with. Unless I’m exhausted, then life is bubbling lava. But this morning she’s up for anything pretty much, and it’s warm enough to bundle up and go to the playground. I know because I’m bundled up and sitting outside while she watches Tumble Leaf inside on the couch.

I would have to expend a lot of calories and brain waves to get her out here with me, since she’s still in pajamas and god knows where her shoes or socks are, plus she likes TV. But I have days (like this one) where I can’t stay inside another minute. And if I have to let her watch TV while I spend a vast, bigger-on-the-inside 20 minutes alone outside, then, that’s awesome. I set that up like I was making some kind of sacrifice, ha. The chill I love; the bright, thin, winter morning sun I love; the absurdly long shadows cast by grass and brown, curled-up leaves, even at noon, I love; the songbirds who seem to feel no cold, no worry, no shame, no inhibition I love; the breaths of wind that stir the tips of the grass I love; the bareness of everything I love, I love, I love.

Lately it feels like I’ll be overcome by growth, by long long summers of fruit and greengrowth and weeds taller than me, taller than anyone. There’s no time to do anything but what must necessarily be done; what is necessary but can’t be gotten to must fall by the wayside and we grieve little losses. What we could have accomplished, but what we have no time for. I’m already 32. My days are so long, working and then picking up the toddler and cleaning messes and feeding everyone and thinking longingly of the eternities I spent outside when I was in college, walking (because no car, because new city, because I knew no one, because I was strong and my curiosity was fields & fields wide). I walked miles everyday, I walked from little city to little city, and thought about every house I passed, every ditch. They all glittered. Time was overabundant, and I swam in it.

How to make a hollow in my family life, without using too much TV, so I can walk away into a well of time? I can’t write, it seems, unless there is a closed door between me and the people who need me…or the people I feel I need to be hanging over with all my brooms and snacks and consolations.

So many growing & fruiting things in my life right now. Too many? But I still feel scarcity.  Probably because I consume, but don’t create. That makes me feel shrunk & shriveled. I think parenthood must just be like this. I think this must be why so many mothers I have known have abandoned extra-familial pursuits in favor of children/family life being their Big Offering to the World. At least for a decade.

Eavan Boland wrote at her desk at home while her children played in the next room. HOW? She’s still alive…I can ask her.

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When our daughter was new we slept apart,
he on the couch and I on the bed
with her, bouncing her to sleep on a spring and I
awake again with every chirp and squeak and cry.
Then, god, honestly I don’t want to
remember. But his Meniere’s Disease was progressing
and he had 3 hours of vertigo and vomiting
and loud moaning with his head perfectly still
over the toilet, retching after moaning,
moaning after retching, small times of quiet groaning
but then I could hear the waves ratcheting up again and here
is the retching again and I was pacing the house
with my 2 month old baby. I couldn’t believe
that I, who had driven myself to morning
every day with cozy dreams of helping those I loved,
couldn’t help any of us and the waves broke
over us all over and over. I left him in the bathroom
to breastfeed my daughter and I did not believe
that even milk was coming out of me.
I wished, dry-mouthed, for her
not to starve at my breast.

1.

What have I learned about love.
The following. It is a coat hook
to hang your skinsuit on;
look how thin that skin is, and
how pale. It is not
enough. It fails.
It is a light-sensitive night light
that flickers ghoulishly
at dusk and dawn.

 

I wait for signs,
as I have always waited for signs, leaning
out of windows
or walking.

As the mystics said, as they did,
waiting for the present moment
to reveal itself, for
the ever-present God.

And so,
I am walking a field of grass,
ironweed, and goldenrod,
a cloud of signs wrapping my head—

great bees and dragonflies,
barn and tree swallows, martins,
the sound of weight
moving through lightness,

my baby heavy in my long body.
She waits for signs, or not;
I wake her one night
with my crying.

She turns in me one morning
like someone drying a glass,
dishtowel stuffed inside
and twisting.

pp2

Last night a feely music came on,
husband wanted me to listen with him
with lights off. (Stillness and listening
can only happen with toddler in deep sleep.)
And it was the only thing
to which I’d given undivided attention
all day, and as luck would have it
it was poetry and suddenly
grief battered the great wood doors
till I sat up, apologized,
cried hard for 4 minutes.

But I started this story to say
that I had started to get the feels
just 1 minute into the dark
and the music
and I decided it was ok to imagine
how angry I was at God
and I imagined punching him with my strong
hard fists a-blur, adrenaline fury,
not hate, just anger.
I felt the release of being honest
and of burning up and of knowing
that my anger couldn’t hurt
the light at the center of the cosmos.

And husband held me as I cried
and I thought, How is it that I want to hurt
God for all the grief and the terror and lost years
but here I am in the arms
of my friend? I’m not fine.

I know what opening myself to beauty
and paradox can do—it is a balm—
but I need to know why
every human ever born
can be so helpless,
can be strangled during birth
can be abused as a toddler
or beaten while pregnant
or controlled and gaslighted into psychosis
or tortured and killed in any armed conflict, you pick,
and be healed,
after. I have this feeling
that trauma should just end us.
Exposure to the amoral knives of the dark
destroys goodness, warps us,
mutates us, and I have not seen
Jesus risen from the dead.
I won’t believe in his risenness
till I can touch the holes in his wrists
and feet.

It’s going to be some real shit for a while, maybe I’ll get good again…we’ll see. I was going to make a comment about “baby steps,” but it just struck me that babies and young kids are the ones taking really huge developmental leaps. We adults tend to regress or barely hold our ground or make progress against headwinds at a rate of two-steps-forward-one-step-back. Small steps, small victories, belong to adults. Kids are whizzing forward. In a sense I can cling to my daughter’s coattails.

 

Just as the backyard pear
blooms,

these long peach limbs
cut down last month because of disease

and lying piled
waiting to be burnt

are, as I feared,
budding, and blooming.

Three weeks of sap
and softwood fiber swelling

with the idea of five thousand pink blossoms;
persistent, dead, yet undead.

Really, it’s exactly like hair growing
in the grave, or a corpse

bellowing in the cremator.
Or exactly like the memory

of fifty years past,
the moment that terrified then

terrifying still.
Bees

will come to these flowers.
Then they will brown, and shrink.

One last effort.
Maybe the blossoms will open, but be dry,

fooling the bees as I am not fooled.
Yet,

I am fooled, so long is the winter,
so thirsty am I.

 

___________________________

 

First poem in such a long time, I had to celebrate by getting some eyes on it. Second act of celebration will be to finish a journal for myself so I can use it for more poetry. This one was written on a notepad that really should just be used for grocery lists. Or not. Regardless, I need a new journal.