Thursday, May 17

The Hazy Beam of Hindsight

The hazy beam of hindsight soft-focuses on needs that seemed simple
Not easy, but straight-forward.  Flailing limbs swaddled into compact burdens
Demanding, but not heavy
Plenty were the times I couldn’t stop the tears (theirs, mine.)
Bone-aching exhaustion, certain I couldn’t stand one more minute of bouncing
But of course I could.  Rocking swaying patting away unspoken fears

Frustrating little wonders. And me the brave knight tasked with conquering fears
Talk already! I silently begged. Make it simple
Tell me and I’ll find an answer. Is it hunger? Or more incessant bouncing?
Complex because you couldn’t voice them, simple needs seemed like burdens
No commingling then, a problem sat squarely in baby’s camp, or mine
Addressed, and Poof! Gone. Grievances had no time to grow heavy.

I miss days when my arms grew heavy
From rocking them.  When bumps in the night birthed easy-to-soothe fears.
Tiny bodies completely encompassed within the circle of mine.
Days, long.  Sunlight, golden.  Solutions, simple.
Sweet were the loads I could carry in my arms.  Not like these, heart-burdens
Emotions, tugging.  My gut on a see-saw, nauseous from the bouncing

The puppeteers weave their tale, pull my strings, set me to bouncing
And then move on. I hang there, tangled and heavy
In a web woven of teen-aged angst I take their burdens
Pull them on like a wool sweater shrunk in the wash.  I wear their fears.
I need to break free, extricate myself (they say as if it’s that simple)
As if it would be possible to separate the beating of their hearts from mine

Perspective is required.  These thorns of mine
Are no more than a first world problem.  How dare I complain of a heart set bouncing
From school-yard slights and insults wielded like sharpened sticks.  It’s simple
Their needs are met. Shelter, food. Health, love. Nothing heavy
Slows them down.  And yet I fall hostage to capricious fears
Mean girls choose another seat at lunch, and I am drowning in burdens.

I’m staggering beneath the weight of amorphous burdens
That lift, willy-nilly, from their shoulders, yet cast long shadows over mine.
They bounce back, so I cautiously dip a toe in murky waters to test for lingering fears.
I am only as happy as my least happy child.  A yo-yo forever bouncing
My heart out there dancing with danger.  Now light, then heavy
Now light again. I should untangle myself.  It’s not that simple

The sweater is tightly woven of fears, locking in burdens
This can be simple. I reject it, peel it off. It is not mine.
And unbound I embrace the bouncing, and see lightness counteracting all that is heavy.

Thursday, May 10

Schedule, Fox

Here in the realm of the wall calendar, which hangs prominently in my kitchen
I wield a pencil, and creatively fit in the track meet, rescheduled for an already bursting Thursday
I’ll move that lunch, note to self, to a day or week that shows more empty space
Next month, time will be more palpable.  Looking less the deceitful fox
of desperation slipping ever forward toward a skittish horizon
And more like an old reliable friend.  Measurable moments, written in boxes, held in my hand.

I like that I can view time unfolding with a flick of my hand
Lifting pages, traveling backwards, unbelieving.  Did I sleep through April? My kitchen
calendar tells no lies, and there stands May, defiantly staring out through me to an erratic horizon
Not steadfast and reliable like a horizon should be.  It lets Monday spool out into Thursday
Time flying not like a graceful bird.  A cunning fox
Deceitful, gone before I knew to celebrate it’s arrival.  And always the next commitment fills the space

May will betray like April has, eagerly anticipated appointments to blame in each geometric space
Yet those entries, the multitude of entries, have all been written by my hand
Am I the fox?
Slinking in, furtively grabbing a nub of pencil from the messy drawer in the kitchen
Marking in a required meeting, Tuesday.  Standing lunch date, husband, Thursday
Blinded to the forest and the trees with eyes always seeking the next thing on the horizon

I can stop the insanity.  Snap the pencil. Turn my back on the distant premeditated horizon
Hunker down hold tight to my time, this space
Look intently not at the boxes on the wall, but at each actual Thursday
And as it tries to slip through the door I will grab it by the hand
We’ll sit together, sipping something warm in the steadfast kitchen
And time will not fly.  Will not scamper out like an errant fox.

The chatter and smells, the laughter and warmth work wonders upon the cagey fox
Who circles twice, curls tail beneath him, and sleepily looks towards the horizon
Which, in this case, is the authoritative line of the calendar on the wall in the kitchen
The tiny boxes of perfection creating for each day a sacrosanct space
Where-upon I can execute little memories-to-be by my own hand
Good intentions at fault, as I hastily pencil in family concert in the park, next Thursday

I’m territorial, peeing all over in attempt to own Thursday
Freezing time, preventing it from slipping away from me into the overgrown grass, like a fox
Stealing my days, unspooling months and years with this slight-of-hand
Pages of the calendar flipping faster in their dash to the horizon
Leaving me empty space
An empty kitchen

I take an eraser in hand, and boldly reclaim Thursday
Unfolding itself in real-time. I linger in the kitchen, and kneel to pet the fox
Who no longer bolts for the horizon. Ours an unlikely partnership, being forged, in this reclaimed space.

Wednesday, December 10

The Riff of Mama D (not a Sestina)

Messy. Mastication
Mortification. On vacation. Play-cation
Placating the fascination
Not the destination
With this. This Situation
This momentary vacation
Inside this singular situation
Singular, solitary
Voluntary. Voluntarily naming this moment
A Vacation
Transforming it thereby
De-forming it. Re-forming it.
Storming into the fleeting
Momentariness of it
Stabbing it Grabbing it Nabbing it
Claiming it Taming it Naming it

Thursday, February 28

LIFE, reconfigured

Life. The game-board is in disarray. Future un-spooling as the past
Rapidly fades. Time to move ahead
Though my heels drag. I’m inclined to cheat, not count out spaces but jump
Around on a whim, move in and out of time
A quick flash back to newborn breath on my neck will provide
The needed fix without dwelling in the land of sleepless nights. I will move

At my own pace. I study the board; new options, and I am hesitant to move.
To launch the next phase is to leave baby-making in the past.
What next for me? My job for so long to create, nurture. My body to provide
All they need to thrive. Success! They are primed to move ahead
To casually proclaim the end of my reign. It may be time
To move on. So says the math of passing seasons that demands a forward jump.

For if we are to keep playing we must go on to the next square. Jump
From feedings and naptime schedules. On paper it makes sense to move
On. Look at the ease with which I leap into the car empty handed! In no time
At all I gather our little crew and off we go. We soar past
Parents juggling bags of diapers and bottles. We’re eons ahead
Even so, the tidy black and white of the board does not provide

The whole picture, only lopsided financials. How much it takes to provide
For them. What resources will be drained if we casually jump
Back into bed without planning ahead
And that is not our way. We plan our every move
Eyes bent on seeing the future, but the sweet scent of the past
Smells like the new skin of my babies’ necks. I want to savor that time

Before the decisive cut severs forever that link, yet in no time
It is done. He rests on the couch and I bring soup and an ice pack. Things I can provide
To help him recover quickly, but what about me? I shuffle the kids past
With a lame explanation of why they can’t jump
On Daddy. Why he must take care not to move
Off the couch. Still I struggle against moving ahead.

I am anxious about the territory that looms ahead
Shirts will be outgrown, teeth loosen and fall and announce: indeed it is time!
The children are impatient and always on the move
And so I go with them to provide
A hand to hold and kisses for inevitable bumps. It’s bittersweet: they jump
Fearlessly into each new phase while I mark the distance traveled, leaving babies in the past

Each bold move drives them ahead
I need not dwell in the past. Sweet moments pepper restless time
I need only provide a secure platform from which they can jump

Wednesday, December 19

Words of a Mother

Who would write a sestina? Who other than Mother takes pains to repeat
The same words over and over?
Now I am that mother
Dissecting with joy the fine line between thousands of yeses and nos. Determined to balance
Teaching lessons with granting wishes. All blown to hell by the infernal why why why

But at least I haven’t yet sunk to because I said so. No
I won’t cut off the crusts yes you must eat that why must I repeat
Myself? Your ears work you can hear you spend all day asking me why
Because you won’t sit down shut up listen don’t make me pull this car over
Wait, relax, close eyes breathe into the center find the inner balance
That fled for cover the day I became my mother

Did you really look? I did, I looked everywhere and cannot find it Mother
Look again don’t make me come up there don’t you dare tell me no
Sit down sit up straight will you finish your plate don’t balance
Your fork on top of your milk. Why? You ask me why I repeat
The same thing over and over and over
Again? I’ll tell you why missy. I’ll tell you why

(not because I said so, don’t say because I said so.) No (breathe deep.) Why
Don’t you wait until you have kids like yourself to mother
One day? Then you’ll understand. You will know why I cry over
Spilt milk when it’s the twelfth cup of the day. I too thought what you’re thinking: No
Way will I ever be like that. I’ll keep my cool. It won’t bother me one bit to repeat
Myself all day long. Close eyes, inhale, exhale, breathe in peace find that balance

Make the lunches, drive the carpools, fix the ponytails, (go to yoga?) balance
the checkbook. I’d fry up the bacon too, but the kids tell me that’s a bad choice. Why
Not eat healthy, mom? Let us recycle, reuse the bags that choke our planet. They repeat
The words that I have been saying. They were listening to mother
Paying attention all this time. Who knew? Fiery explosions in the face of each no
Yet something must have clicked. When this battle is over

It’s over until it rears back on us again. So in the space in between let’s head over
To the park for lunch. No you can’t wear your bathing suit will balance
With yes, we can eat dessert first will balance with no
You cannot ride your bike barefoot. And the seasons they go round and round which is why
Each day we happily do it all again. Another chance to get it right. I am their mother
Day in, day out. They get clean. They get dirty. Wash lather rinse repeat

How did I ever think the almighty No would mean that an issue was over?
Like anything of value, I must repeat it, believe it, live it. Then balance
It out by laughing until tears come. I know why I laugh and cry: I am a Mother.

Wednesday, December 12

Oh the Food

Oh marvelous, muscle-building, life-sustaining food
How lucky are we who have plenty
Or so I thought before I proved incapable of prying open stubborn mouths
Intent on refusing sustenance. They sit, arms folded head shaking against even a taste
Of whatever horror I have concocted within steaming caldrons of sauce. Flavor?
How could I? Mom if you think we’re eating this you’re crazy

Can’t I see the chicken touching the salad and peas rolling willy-nilly crazy
Across the plate? Still I persevere, preparing day upon day unacceptable, inedible food
It appears to me devoid of sauce, unfamiliar even with the disturbing idea of flavor
Though, alas (of course) I am wrong. There is flavor, it is gross, and there is plenty
Of it. So no, though I proclaim it seasoned with sugar, heated in honey, they dare not taste
A single morsel. My daughters, blessed since birth with mouths

That snap shut with enough force to sever a finger should it venture too near the mouths
I thought it my job to feed. And yes, it is likely my genes responsible for such crazy
Limitations on food. I was that kid. A bull-headed child who guarded my refined taste
Of vanilla yogurt and peanut-butter (no crusts!) against all attempt to deny me pure bland food
Though I too was surrounded by plenty
Of opportunities to eat well, I used them instead to finely tune my disdain of flavor

Ah me, the valiant Mother. I accept this challenge to prepare meals sans flavor
Just as I choose to ignore unwarranted nasty remarks emitted through the mouths
Of my babes. My sweet girls who have known nothing but a life of warmth and plenty
Do not believe their false claims at surprise upon discovering I’ve gone crazy
After opening (again!) a lunchbox descending from the afternoon bus chock full of food
That I woke early to prepare (sigh, drag flour-stained hand across brow.) A taste

Me thinks, of their own medicine would be sweet. What daughters, if I refused a taste
Of that delightful yard pie you concocted last summer? Full of the earthy flavor
Of recently bisected worms? I wouldn’t dare. For then tears would threaten to salt the food
I painstakingly placed plain upon your plates. I see your determined mouths
Even in my sleep, set in such scowls, so certain are you that I’ll try something crazy
Like slipping a shade of green into the bottom of your bowl. What’s this? You’ve had plenty

Of plain? And now the repeated exposure to good stuff in your lives o’ plenty
Is making an impact? “Mom (precocious at four) I have a taste
For sushi,” and I entertain visions of lunching with my elegant little ladies (I’m that crazy)
For who knows what mood they will bring, as unreliable as a drunken flavor
Of the week. Sweet utterances lure me to forget the horrors uttered from these same mouths
I acquiesce, order (per request) edamame and California rolls. And of course, they hate the food

I’ll surely go crazy, for millions of sandwiches may seem like plenty
To me, yet for them its simply the ideal food. It’s clearly a matter taste
And only time will flavor that which gains elusive entry into their mouths

Friday, November 30

No Office No Doughnuts

No office, no demonic plates of doughnuts that reach up
From mahogany meeting tables to force my hand and ruin my lunch
Ah, but doughnut freedom proves fleeting, for now the kitchen closet candy has found its voice
I'm at home, but weak all the same. The alto of Snickers is loud and the meek voice in my head
Croaks weakly, no, not another hunk of candy, points out the holly-jolly jiggle at my center
No co-conspirators, just me locked in a pathetic struggle over another chocolate break

No office, no half-assed shower at a downtown gym during lunch break
Frankly, not a whole lot of showering period. No one to impress, no longer coated in spit-up
Should I even bother? There’s always a chance that later on I’ll make it to the rec center
Squeeze in a quick stomp on a stairmaster to compensate for what happened again at lunch
Forced to consume peanut-butter crusts, extra chips, leftover pudding. Surely I will head
To the gym tomorrow if I don’t succeed at silencing this infernal internal voice

No office, no endless lineup of meaningless meetings everyone competing to get his voice
Heard while I calculate whether there is time enough for a quick breast pump break
To cower in a supply closet, guarding precious drops and hoping my head
Doesn’t get slammed by a spare ream of paper. Not anymore. No pressing need to button up
“Like Club Med on crack,” my husband muttered, when home for a brief lunch
He encountered this scene: shirtless babes, house a-wreck, a screaming nude (me) at its center

No office, no coworkers digging crampons into my nylons as they claw for the center
Of pinstriped attention. Nowadays the ladders aren’t figurative but plastic and my child's voice
Calls from the tippy-top, she perches, prepared to drop. On the ground I'm still unpacking lunch
While that damn alpha-mommy, lacy thong up her back strides to the top without a break
Without damage to hair or makeup or superiority complex. I watch, below, as she clamors up
to save my kid. I sit, judged, negligent, thong-free. Thong-mom shakes her disapproving head

No office, no blissful cup of quiet to transition my foggy morning head
No solitary jaunts to the bathroom. No flirting with the new guy at the copy center
No happy hours with cheap drinks and bad food and time with friends to play catch-up
No commute, no isolation within public chaos. No grimace for that guy with the loud cell voice
No cute suits, no new dresses for a presentation I won’t prepare for during a quick break
No glass of cabernet with an expense-account lunch

No office, no paycheck to validate my worth. I’m judged on the neatness of triangles at lunch
I’m crowded by small bodies snuggled in bed, not inconsiderate travelers’ elbows to my head
I receive hugs as daily reviews, especially when I wield glue lest something break
I get no sick days no vacation no validation and yet still, at the core at my very center
I am home. I have made my choice. And though some days I feel crazy and my voice
Shrieks STOP STOP STOP… don’t be fooled. I won’t negotiate. I would never give this up

So pour out milk for my coffee break, and grill up cheese for my lunch
It won’t be long before she grows up, so let me plant kisses on her sleeping head
I relish her position at the center of my world. I delight in the surprises in her voice