11/15/16

 

There will be time to prepare,
some other time, when gentle breaths puff
the solitary exhale of nearly sleeping chests.
Some other day when reflected back would be
that we had done our best.

When your drowsy eyes slide low, and lower-
till you are cocooned in cotton candy dreams,
spun soft-hearted for exhausted souls.
These defeats do take their tolls.

There will be more coffees sipped,
and taken trips to borders and beyond,
you can be assured the daffodil will follow
unafraid of April’s fickle moods-
and soon it will be safe to plant the seeds
to reap the harvest, of your good deeds.

Did you think the slamming of a door,
would ripple out with such a crack,
that Hatred might take notice and turn its head?
To eye the unrest and sickly stumble from its bed,
were you too, taken aback?

I left the couch, then left the room
and walked out amongst the gloom
of Pittsburgh’s weeping, solemn sky.
I shook my head then shook my fist,
my sleeping children’s heads I kissed,
then sat back and reminisced,
and keened a mournful cry.

I will stand beneath the arch,
and wait for spring to buck the cold.
Wait for the optimistic tulips to take hold,
and weep their frosty corpses come the dawn.
I will hold on.


 

 

 

 

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What I feel and cannot say aloud

 

I: Two days later

I who have been wordless seldom,
reach into the depth of a numb throat
and force the words out like retching.

Chest cavity broken open like a thing prepared for feasting.
My heart; asunder.
This grief has teeth and she gnashes.

This is fear, and flight-
a dinner guest who has expired after dessert,
sits, head lolled to the side,
as people clean up.

Ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it.

A keening wail that rises like bile,
foams like a wave, over takes the throat
and just like that, it’s out.

Every moaning voice that howls together,
and someone somewhere instead hears a song.


II: Worth

A delicate question
clutched close, beyond the observance
of a quiet room.

Will this happen? Could this occur?

A necklace of red grapes,
sweet collar-bone that beckons your kiss.
You tell me I am safe, you will keep me safe,
but I am not one to be kept.

More like, a rootless tree bearing fruits,
as apt to run as stay.

Your hand, on my back as
I fall fitful into slumber.

Your stability has been the sun,
my beating heart;
the Earth which circles without consideration,
you are the only thing it knows.

This week grief split me open without permission.
A mess, pomegranate seeds and mango flesh on
a cold tile floor.

Anxiety made me heavy with worry,
falling, falling, plop.
All fruit bleeds. My chest is full of it.
Stuffed to bursting, a captive cavity.

My head rattles as if empty,
but instead, full of
orange rinds and lopped off pineapple tops.
The throw aways, like me, like you.

This has happened. This has occurred.

Fingers, blood blister raspberries,
weeping due to worried drumming.

Fruit basket of a woman, carefully arranged,
left at your door step, a gift.
Quickly, quickly, before she spoils.

Now decide her worth.

 

 

1240 words on motherhood for me

I am the trunk of a tree, growing you slowly like a spring leaf. Wondering how far the branch will take you from me, your base. This is what motherhood feels like most days, the knowledge that you are completely mine for such a finite amount of time, and I am watching it click down to zero.

In Pittsburgh, Fall has finally been pushed over the threshold, however unwillingly. Today was blustery, if not cold.  Everything went wrong from go, a car that needed repairs, errands that clearly reproduced and doubled on my list, but at pick up time from school the kids asked to go to the playground and I said ‘Yes’, because that is motherhood also, right? Making your mouth say the word yes when sometimes (okay a lot of the time) you would rather shout No.

I stood apart, considering them, and thought that the saying about parenthood being about ‘watching your heart walk around outside of your body’, it’s not accurate, not fully. It is not just allowing your heart to walk outside of your body, it is ripping open your chest, cracking your sternum, and then tying your heart to a wolf. The wolf will trip over it, gnaw on it, bash it into trees, drag it through mud, it will treat your heart with no more care than anything else it takes for granted. You will be thankful for this. Things we take for granted are things we don’t question going away.

At some point, as adults, they might realize the carelessness with which they treated something so essential to someone so crucial to them. They may find themselves wanting to say, I am sorry for taking you for granted. I have been like a feral animal with your heart, dragging it along without caring for it. I need you. I need you more than I have ever needed anything in my life. But that day is not today. Today what they want to say is a torrent of half-stories, tidbits and tattling, exclamations and angry accusations. Today what they want to say is that I need to stand at the playground guarding them against anything untoward, no matter how much I would prefer a nap.

About Judah:
You tell me that ‘you miss me while you are sleeping’ and I could weep for the truth in it. How long will you miss me while you sleep? I tell you (and your brother and your sister) every night to ‘Sleep Sweet’ and you yell it back to me from the safety of your crib. Your words are the fortification I need before bed, because most nights I miss you while I sleep also.

In the morning you smell like sleep and dreams and warmth. I gather you up when you tumble towards me from your blanket cocoon and I carry you to where we make a nest together and discuss the day. Today we will make coffee and I will give you ‘white coffee’ which is mostly French vanilla creamers and a little whipped cream, but you love it. We will make the beds together and get the laundry and the dishwasher running. Doing these tasks with you gives my life balance. When I sit down later, on the couch without the cup holders (you like this couch best because you sit right up against me, no regard for personal space) you will ask ‘Mommy, you play with me?’ and hold up one of your action figures. Normally I have to be the bad guy who loses, but today you let me be Spiderman and you are Thor. Thor and Spiderman are fighting Venom and The Green Goblin and you tell me that I am your team.  I love being your team, however brief.

About Marilyn:
You still doggedly argue that it is called a steiling and not a ceiling and your argument is solid. Because it steals the sky from your eyes. You once told me, and that is the best description I can make about you. Inside your head I imagine fields of magical creatures and plot lines, I see you as the benevolent dictator to your world, and I watch you daydreaming it to life, when you aren’t aware of my audience. You are creativity unleashed, the wild abandon of reckless ingenuity, and it is my pleasure to watch it crash together into your unstoppable force.

“Did you know” you tell everyone who will listen “that my mommy wanted blonde hair and blue eyes and she got me, and I have blonde hair and mostly green but kind of blue eyes?” and the complete satisfaction in your little voice leaves no room for response, because you are off on a completely different story about another incredible thing that tops the last incredible thing so thoroughly as to erase it from existence. So it goes, until sleep overtakes you (please G-d, let it be an early bedtime some nights).

About Sam:
My biggest kid, and fittingly, everything you feel is big. It seems impossible that although you nearly never stop moving, you are also an insatiable observer, able to connect with anyone you meet. You and I, we did some growing up together.

I have watched you struggle and overcome, with courage, grace and with perseverance a grown adult would be proud of. It has been difficult to not shield you from injustice, to watch you become aware of the world in a way that growing up peels back to ugly layers. I have begun to see skinned knees turned to bruised feelings, and it is hard to not try to shut the door on the future and keep you here a while longer, in this space where only safe people exist.

On my children:
I love them more than I will ever love anything. To quantify that would be impossible. There is barely the flicker of remembered life before them, simply the stasis period of waiting for them.

They are infuriating and still I miss them while they sleep. I miss them while they are at play dates and sports and school but I can’t wait for them to get tired and go to bed when they are here. I find them beautiful, and hilarious and wonderful. When I think that I was their foundation, growing them from this tiny sac of seeds and molecules into a thing with eyebrows and fingernails and the capacity to be who they will become, it is enough to take me down with the awesomeness of it all.

I am most proud of who they are. For the things I can take no credit for forming, but only for fostering. They are kind kids, watchers and protectors and warriors and wizards. They are all of the best things and when I see them stumble, my breath catches with the urge to fix it. It is always amazing how they attempt to dust themselves off first, if sometimes still unsuccessfully. I am flattened by the immense responsibility of them looking to me to show them the right way of things when so often I feel that I have no idea what the right way is. Too often, life feels very much like the labyrinth at Crete, a minotaur lurking in the shadows, but my children are like bright flashes of light illuminating the way things could be, if only I urge kindness to the forefront.

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Complicated Grief

It has been nearly two years since my mother in law died, succumbing to pneumonia, preceded by many years of medical maladies along with physical and mental suffering.

Not long after her death, wrapped in my own difficult mourning, I wrote a blog post that I titled Complicated Grief and blundered my way through trying to explain our relationship, the fall out, and her death, without seeming like a terrible person. That is where I made my mistake. To write, to foster a connection, you have to be honest. Truthful about both the ugly that was done to you, and the ugly that you did in return. And you guys, it was ugly.

Like so many sad stories it began with hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and insecurity. A puddle that blossomed into a impassable ocean filled with angry sea monsters that would tear apart any ship caught carrying olive branches. My mother in law didn’t have a monopoly on those sea creatures either, some of them were mine. This is what I couldn’t admit while she was alive, or immediately after. That as unwilling as she was to forgive and forget, I kept a tally of each transgression against me, and I stacked them up along the walls of my heart until they were a fortress. I broke off her sharp words and used them as arrows, our acidity became a moat. When she would try to manipulate a situation, I folded it up into itself until it was a heavy cannon ball that I lobbed back. Love may be the thing that requires aim to land true, but pain requires no such thing. You can send weapons in the general direction of someone and they will explode like shrapnel. Pain does not know boundaries, it respects nothing.

I mentioned that I had no relationship with anyone on my father’s side of the family, so my two grandparents on my mother’s side were all I knew growing up. My maternal grandmother passed away when I was five, leaving my stoic grandfather as my sole remaining grandparent. He moved to Florida not long after my parents divorce, and I saw him for our annual trip in the winter, and when he would come to NY in the summer. I never questioned whether he loved me, but I also can’t recall ever being in a room completely alone with him, until I was an adult. I had no expectations of what roles grandparents played in their grandchildren’s lives. So when I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my first child, a boy we named Sam, I thought my mother in-laws near suffocating grip on my life was because she was so thrilled to be a grandmother, and eager to make my life easier.

As evidence of this, she hired a caterer for five dinners a week and expected us to be at the table. It wasn’t a request. Every boundary my husband and I set would be steam rolled by my mother in-laws lawyer-logic. If I said I didn’t want to go to dinner because I didn’t like what the caterer made, she would ask for a written list of what I did like. If I said it was difficult to put the baby down for a nap there, she bought a crib (and a dresser, and a changing table, and a bookshelf, and said it was nicer than what he had at home). If we said the barking dog they owned that begged at the table relentlessly was too much, she would crate her, and then cry through dinner while the dog whined beside her. It wasn’t until I said “Linda, I just need some space for my family” that she turned on me. Abuse often feels like love, at first.

I’m sitting holding toddler Sam on my lap, pregnant with my second child, a girl. We are at Temple on Friday night and an elderly woman approaches me to tell me how sweet the kids are. “You should really let your mother in law see the kids sometimes… she misses them terribly” she says to me after the normal pleasantries are exchanged. I stare at her blankly, sure of myself that this woman is clearly senile because I’ve spent the last four dinners with my in-laws. A second woman walks up as the first leaves and echoes similar sentiments. My in laws are sitting in the back of the synagogue where my father in law, fresh from a knee replacement can stretch his leg more comfortably, and when I turn, she is staring at me, unsmiling, just watching.

It is April 12th 2009, my in-laws anniversary and I am 39 weeks pregnant with Marilyn, our middle child. We all go to brunch to celebrate and I am grateful for the early festivities. While at brunch, my mother in law requests we all go to dinner that same night and I look flatly at my husband, my eyes black holes of desperate and angry deterrent, but he acquiesces. That afternoon my toddler takes a late nap, and Joe and I fall asleep as well. My mother in laws 17th phone call wakes us, and Joe answers to her shrill near-scream that we have slept through dinner. That they came to the house to get us, and not only did we not answer the door but she claims that she saw me standing at the window, refusing to open the door for her. This, was when I realized how sick my mother in law truly was. I went into labor the following day, after an all night fight in which I went to their house to try to calm things down and was promptly kicked out, and told I was no longer welcome there.

At the hospital, despite my monotone consent that she could come meet her first granddaughter, my mother in law wept outside my birthing suite, making a spectacle of herself. I look back at those first photos, holding my precious daughter, and in my eyes I see the resolution of refusal. 2009, the year I became as difficult a person as she.

Like many cyclic illnesses, my mother in law would suffer bouts of paranoia and rage, and then guilt and attempts to buy forgiveness back. Outrageous gifts and promises were outweighed only by the strings she attached to them. Rebuke her and you would know sorrow, seemed to be her tag line. I rebuffed every offer of kindness she tossed my way, knowing the barbed hooks she secured them with.

I packed my husband and my children up in the car, loaded with diaper bags, kisses and well wishes and stayed home when they would visit her, feeling like I had won a round of boxing.  On holidays when I had to attend, I was monosyllabic answers and averted eyes. While I never kept my children from her, I encouraged no love to grow in the sterile garden of our relationship. Whatever love my children have for her, and with my older two, it is much, she cultivated on her own. That is perhaps, the only kind thing I can say.

Inside I was the inferno and the waste land, giving myself anxiety attacks when I needed to see her. If she purchased something for my kids, I gave it away before they could see it. So she began to refuse to give them anything unless they retrieved it directly from her hands. If she brought up something she thought they might like, I shook my head ‘No’ and killed the idea, so she would spring things last-minute, in front of them. If she suggested something that I said ‘No’ to, she would look at them sadly ‘Your mother says no.’ she would say in mock conspiratorial whispers.

If once our relationship was a horse that she dressed up for shows, parading for the public the idea ‘happy’, then I had beaten the horse to death, and now drug it around with me like an albatross to bear witness to her wreckage. Look what she has done. I wanted it to tell people. She has caused this and I refuse to be expected to fix it.

The final six months of her life were spent in cycles of Home, Hospital, and the Charles Morris rehabilitation center. By this time, I had buried the horse, but I still visited the grave to agonize over the irreparable mess we had created. I’d like to believe that we had come to an understanding, that we were two people who both loved the same people, even if we couldn’t get along. But that is revisionist history. If she hadn’t died we would still be two cats in a bag, fighting it out to the death over something long dead. That is why I know I was wrong, because I want to change the ending. When we knew she was dying, I didn’t go see her. I wanted to be absolved without giving her a pardon, and frankly some things, we don’t deserve to be  forgiven for.

The day before she died, when she had been switched to compassionate care and medicated into restless, fitful sleep, I went to the hospital and I told her that I would take care of Joe, and that the kids loved her and would be alright. I felt like a fraud. I meant the things I said, but only went because I was expected to go, because people were asking me if I was going to, and not because I had any stake in whether it comforted her.

If I could re-write history, I would tell her I forgave her. Out loud, not just in my head after the fact. It wouldn’t be part of what I include when, occasionally I go to Friday night services and bow my head for the silent prayer. I would have forgiven her in person, and spent the time going forward forgiving myself. Two years later, my ending line still holds true; “It is hard to end a thought without a moral, without a succinct point made neatly, but maybe that is fitting, grief is a messy thing after all.”

The Absence of

It isn’t any surprise that the word loss has synonyms like lack, and deprivation. Lack is literally the absence of.

So while I haven’t lost my father in the physical sense, he’s still alive and breathing, I lack a father. In my life, there is only the absence of.

There is a certain stigma to being estranged from immediate family members that is difficult to explain. Well we all have difficult relatives. A well-meaning response might begin when this topic is brought up. I often nod, if not smiling, than at least putting forth what I hope is an imitation of one. Wow, I could never imagine not being in touch with my father. They might shake their heads, pity apparent in their eyes. You should really reach out to him, you never know when it will be too late, is perhaps, my least favorite.

Let me tell you something about being estranged from your father, if you were me. You will spend every day for the rest of your life wondering if you will even know when he is dead, if anyone will be able to track you down to tell you. There is not a single person from his side that you are in touch with, he was never close with them, so neither were you.

He will have had a rough life from jump, abuse and poverty and not enough of anything good. He will marry and divorce with four kids before he marries your mother. He will be an alcoholic with mental sickness, and he will beat, yell and drink, then cry, apologize and clean up. For twelve years, this will be the cycle; never staying consistent long enough to get comfortable.  He will lie, and cheat, and steal. He will rip apart your family before he ever leaves. When he does leave, you are eight, and after gnashing his teeth and trying to come back, he will say you are too difficult a child to be in touch with, and he will leave for good.

He will visit a few times a year after a full years absence. He will promise to come to birthday parties and then vanish for weeks or months after he misses them. He will tell you he wishes you were never born, he will write you a suicide letter because you spent an entire phone call screaming at him for not being there enough. When you are mauled by a dog, you will wait for him to rush into your hospital room, where you recover for a full week afterwards. He never rushes in, he never comes at all.  You will belong to a Divorce Club in elementary school that discusses feelings, and you will word vomit through every session, never feeling any relief when you are finished. There is no end to the shame of being a daughter a father doesn’t want.

You will act like it doesn’t really matter. You remind yourself that You are lucky, because your mom is your best friend and she holds your hand through the wreckage of what he has done. You will spout sayings about your family being a triangle instead of a square, different but still good. Your mom will tell you to give her the crafts on Father’s Day that you make in school. But it matters. You will wrestle with your weight and your self-esteem from the year he leaves, stuffing in enough food to provide a balm for the gunshot wound to your life.

The Divorce, a water-shed moment in your childhood is a surprise to no one. He will not be a pariah to your family, instead, he will be erased from its history, which is worse, because you have to pretend he never existed. The hurt will breed anger, it will contaminate everything before healing over itself and becoming a sickly scarred mess that covers a bottomless well of confusion and pain.

You will spend years sorting through the debris and disengaging from him. You will cut him out at 15, and spend equal time hating, cursing him, and hoping he will try to come back into your life. Preferably on his knees, begging, apologizing.

You will be fortunate enough to have your grandfather walk you down the aisle on your wedding day,  but no one shares your first dance. The man you marry will be everything your father never was, and that will be the only thing you will thank your father for. For teaching you all the things to walk away from. Your husband is gentle and slow to anger, a hugger, quiet and funny. He would never walk away from his children.

There will be other men to hold your children at their bris’,  but they have no grandfather on your side. They will ask you if you have misplaced him, and taking the steps you use to help them remember where they have lost a toy, they will ask ‘Where was the last place you saw your dad?’ They will ask if he is dead, and you will swallow the knee jerk impulse to say ‘yes’. That would be better than the admission that you weren’t worth it. You will type and erase, then type and erase, then type, that you wish he was.

You know things about his life after he walked out of yours because once in a while you check on his public social media accounts, and there is more shame to that than anything else. That, like a kicked dog, you come back again and again. You assume he never knows, as you leave no trace but this. However, you carry away what feels like bricks in your stomach. There he is, smiling. The sun shines where he bike rides, and he goes out to eat meals with people he calls friends. You will drown in the embarrassment of partaking in this sometimes-ritual.

You will have a difficult relationship with your mother in law, she will die before it is repaired (if it ever could have been) and you will understand with finality, what it means to grieve without closure. You will circle the same loop in your head, wondering if it will be worse when he dies, knowing you will never know till you know. Knowing there is no other choice than not knowing. You will never reach out to him.

You will question whether his leaving broke the part of you that understands perseverance, if severing such a vital life line has opened the flood gates to walk away from anyone and anything that presents an obstacle. Your nightmares will be ones where dream-you wakes up with your fathers face and you cannot claw it off. Your waking nightmares will be sitting inside your head, listening to your yelling-voice climb louder and louder, the thumping of your heart and the rushing of your blood filling your ears until the yelling no longer feels good. You know normal people don’t do that. Whatever normal is.

You will make resolutions to let it go, and then exceptions that it is okay to hold on to it. You will hoard your grief for this person who is still alive and dole it out in small increments, the expanse of it is overwhelming.

You will write this up, and delete it. You will write this up, and post it. Either way it’s the same, the end is written, and now you wait for the script to catch up.  You pretend it doesn’t matter, but it does.

 

J. Maarten Troost

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Gooooooood Morning Vietnam! Or Kiribati, or maybe China

I read my first Troost last year in the form of the incredibly titled “The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific.” (Not pictured here because it was a library book, I should rectify that.)

The Sex Lives of Cannibals was a pretty wild ride. Troost has a very specific narrative voice, and I think it can be hit or miss with readers. He comes at you with a candid point of view, but it is not an objective one. His titles are often inflammatory and polarizing to the natives he encounters.

 Troost admits that his books are a sum of his experiences, both good and bad and that his travels color his feelings about places. He makes no pretenses about not bringing everyone and/or everything under a fair and impartial light. Maybe that isn’t what you are looking for when you’re writing a research paper or planning a vacation, but it is refreshing in its own way.

What I like most about Troost is that despite not enjoying every place he goes, he clearly cares about the human condition and the people he meets. He is able to describe the environment and bring to life scenes and scenery that add a deeper level of understanding to his stories. It is like a behind the scenes look at wherever he is traveling, the things you wont see on the tourist tour.  Despite his sensationalized titles and self-deprecating plot lines painting him as the dumb American (of which is only partially true, he lives in America, but was born in the Netherlands and has lived in Canada, the Czech Republic, Kiribati, Vanuatu, And Fiji) he is actually a solid source of information and a distinctly talented writer.

If you haven’t yet, give him a chance. You will learn a lot, and perhaps laugh some too. Since reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals I have never missed a chance to discuss the Kiribati atolls, so how about that?

On Self Care

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I have been cultivating a place of Self Care in what I call The New House, but which in truth, is now a toddler, having celebrated our first year here, last week.

I decided in 2014, after too many years in which all I read were board books, or the backs of medicine bottles, that I deserved more of my own time than I was currently being given. My reading, like my writing, had slowly evaporated until I felt thoroughly like the machine I had beaten myself into being.

Work faster. Work harder. Do more. Be more. Clean more. Take on more. Say yes. Say yes to everything. Say yes to every one. This was the never-ending loop that played in time to my cog-like heart.

As I emptied the dishwasher, I considered the laundry. As I cleaned the bathrooms I was mentally gearing up to vacuum the floors. I went to bed and laid awake wondering if I shouldn’t just go back downstairs and pay the bills.

The end game was always that somehow I would eventually get far enough ahead of my mental to-do list that I would have time. Free from obligations, I would do whatever it was that I wanted, but if I ever got that time, I was by then, a creature so unrecognizable that I wouldn’t have even known what to do with myself.

Self Care is not the same thing as Selfish, although that idea was (and continues to be) a hard knot to untie. Similar to a lump in my throat that I could not swallow around but could not push down. Threatening to asphyxiate me, or own me, perhaps both simultaneously. Slowly though, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t just deserve sanity so that I can push forward for others, I deserve it because I am deserving. And so are you.

So in 2014, I decided I was going to read a book. I made it my job, put it on my checklist with everything else. And I worked at it.

Reading isn’t hard, I have always been a decent reader, with an appetite for words. But it was hard to force myself to take the time. It was an act of Self Love, not Selfishness, because on days when I treated myself like a human being, as opposed to a piece of machinery, I found others took notice. As though suddenly I was tattooed with ‘I am worthwhile’, what I put out, others returned. It was a ripple in my tiny pond, this revelation.

January 1st 2015, the first year I ever made a New Years Resolution that I carried out to completion. The year when I said I was going to Read Books, and the year when I read 96. The year when I realized I could put my exceptional skills for multi tasking to work For Me instead of Working Me. I gave myself face masks while I read, and drank coffee hot while turning pages. I turned my love of books into a way to get in touch with my millennial side and started an Instagram Account (https://www.instagram.com/the_pumpkin_reads/)  where I met like-minded bibliophiles and learned about different genres, and new books. I continued on with a book club of wonderful women who have become some of my closest friends. Those small ripples became waves of confidence. Small chunks of time I took for myself, new topics of conversations, ways to connect with people, the rewards were endless.

It was incredible to me, that being taken from the mundane tasks and repetitive cycles of in-the-trenches parenting, marriage and life, could serve to center me more firmly. Contrary to books allowing me to sprout wings, they assisted me in appreciating the roots of my life. Books gave me back to myself. A gift, incapable of being repaid.

In the deep heat of summer 2016 I realized my love of the written word could drill a hole into the dried up well of what was once my creative outlet. Having long since stopped writing anything remotely productive, poetic or otherwise, my latest writing endeavors included apologetic emails to my kids teachers for one thing or another, and Facebook posts. But what if I could write about what books mean to me, instead? Reviews, or passages, or emotions they unwillingly made surface?

So I’m here, and you’re here. Maybe you love books this way also, maybe you identify with losing yourself so completely that you’ve looked in the mirror and not known who was staring back out. But I implore you, whatever your interest, do not let it go, and if you have, take it back. Self Care is not a Selfish act, but a necessary one.

Drop a comment to talk about how you love yourself.

 

Roundabout

Look:

I locked the door to the third floor so I could shower in peace. Or relative peace. Instead of trying to shower with someone’s head peeping around the steam covered glass doors, I showered, scrubbing shampoo into my scalp in time with the relentless beating of fists to that locked door.

I thought to myself remember when you used to come home from class, get in your yellow dodge neon and go to the bookstore and write… for like.. five hours? Wasn’t that awesome? Your brain was so useful then. And when your hand cramped from writing, or your laptop battery ran out.. you came home, and read. Until you felt like stopping. That was the life.

I started this blog, and maintained it in fits and starts while in the very real trenches of motherhood. And now suddenly, I feel slack in the reigns. My children, still young enough to harry me forward, or make me feel the bridle and harness of parenting on a daily (okay, hourly) basis, have suddenly become people who can get themselves out of bed, dressed, and fed. Quite recently, I find myself with a little bit of time to ponder the possibility of re-starting this blog.

So after I conditioned my hair, and soothed a tantruming Wildling, I came here. We are at the stage of Neglect in this project that I wouldn’t blame this site if it turned its back on me and said some choice words of the four lettered variety. But I’m going to try again.

I’ve done all the tech-y things that I can think of, including linking my goodreads profile, my instagram, and my blog facebook page (all on the right hand sidebar). My vision is: photos, book reviews, maybe some dabbling in personal writing. We’ll see. I’m on unsteady legs, my confidence is shaky. I’m an over share-er, a documenter, and I want this to work.

Wish me luck.

Word Quota

To know his voice with the certainty
of knowing, my heart will continue to beat
even if I don’t urge it on,
and yet, with the same conviction that I will
never be able to replicate his tenor for anyone else.

No one will hear it as I have,
there was a finite number of words for him to speak,
and now he has spoken them all.

How deep is the ravine of that pain?
A foot? A mile? A hole which has no end?
For which the bottom never rushes to meet me,
never swallows and splits me open upon its terrible teeth.

There is no succinct finale,
no period to mark the end of this ache,
to let a breath be taken before moving forward.

It is a tidal wave in pitch black which capitulates,
It is an ulcer pulsating unseen,
It is the feeling of unequivocalness.
Turning around in a forest to find a wall in its place.

Death is candid, he does not take and give back,
what he snatches is for keeps.
He never lies and says ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do…‘
He is not a salesman but a judge,
a brusque swing of his gavel-
and then noiselessness.

To talk about Things

There are things you can only talk about
once you are far removed.

Things you look at with sideways eyes,
and stare at across a full room.

Which with spindly legs do creep the surface,
hoping for a damp place to fester,
to nest, to gorge on sorrows full bloom.

There are things that are never cool enough to pick up,
that stay white-poker-hot and smolder,
yet the wound never cauterizes.

You can stay bent and aching,
forever stitching the undone lesion;
or sit with your ice cubes clinking, then melting, then gone,
and stalk the feeling to its roots,
and find yourself then deep in the mud.

I remember the dark, musty, suffocating dirt.
Recognition at having dug myself a hole,
needing to decide if it were a grave,
or momentary respite,
and the anguish of having to climb back out,

The realization that it was much harder than falling in.