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On top of my own scare today, my heart is aching for the families of Moore, Oklahoma who lost homes, loved ones, and children. This image of the children’s garde at the lovely Oklahoma City Memorial seemed fitting today. Wishing you all as much peace as you can find tonight.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Quote of the day: “What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” – Suzanee Collins
People who stand by me
I once gave you a two-headed coin
to protect you from fates that hurt you.
Now, you choose to hurt me with your words,
And I am thrown into the River Styx,
I do not want to be here,
trying to breathe.
I hope the ferryman
will accept that coin as payment.
Please ask him to take care
not hit me with his oars
as you pass by
for I have been hurt
In A World of Shadows and Reflections
The man exists only
on the other side of the revolving door –
except revolving doors
have no sides.
Twin doves coo
in a white birch tree, barren of leaves –
but in a twist of head and fate,
I tread on ravens,
stark in dead limbs.
Whispers caress the shell curl
of a sleeping ear –
as an explosion of imaginary sound
awakens the dreamer,
disturbed by the dream.
A constant and complacent companion
conspicuous in her absence –
paints black pictures on sunstruck walls,
but lives a secret life
between death and darkness.
I’m still psychically reeling from the Marathon bombing yesterday, so it was good to be able to work from home today, and watch the snow outside. My migraine passed in the night, but the frozen okra that I used as an icepack will never be the same. I guess many things will never be quite the same after yesterday. On a lighter note, I discovered today that if you put a plastic bottle of root beer in the freezer and forget about it, and then remember it, and open it, it produces evil, sickly sweet, bubbly, tube-y things that look and taste and sound as if they come from a cafeteria in hell. Okay, maybe that wasn’t on a lighter note…
Today’s rose is in remembrance of all those lost in body and spirit yesterday.
Quote of the Day: “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” — J.R.R. Tolkien (and with my thanks to Elsa.)
Big fat round robins
The bald eagle that flew over me as I was shovelling the walk
Grey light on white snow
My red sweater
Three Yellow Balloons (For Boston)
Three yellow balloons drifted away.
This city that took much of my naiveté
Lost some of its own innocence today.
My old city shines and celebrates.
This day is a vacation day, a play day.
Everyone is your new friend,
The chill of a New England winter
finally shaken off our shoulders.
Music plays at the bandstand,
And the Charles sparkles with
Little jewels from the sun.
It is Race Day.
Runners start far away, but still
the streets are lined with people,
cheering on strangers.
We set up chairs on the roof of a brownstone,
Bask in the almost-forgotten sunshine.
Skip class. Skip work. Skip under the blue sky.
Runners start arriving
At the foot of Heartbreak Hill.
We yell and shout and clap and encourage
and find our favorites to root for.
The runners struggle on with an end in sight,
Worked for and earned with sweat and time and pain
In an instant
In a blast
In leftover puddles of blood.
three yellow balloons
drift into the air
above it all.
Released by the hand of a person whose life will never be the same.
Finding Feelings While Sweeping
Everybody hurts and everybody leaves –
My mantra for years.
Seems like every single person did one or the other
I’ve forgiven all but one
whose actions were
and put that mantra aside.
I let my heart turn shadowy and cool -
And then I let it bloom again.
The detritus of winter piles around my ankles.
I scrape it out of corners and over bricks
Trying to make order out of chaos
Trying to set a stage for summer
Trying to create space that soothes.
Rake and sweep and pile,
Over and over again,
With the occasional machete slash
At some particularly stubborn weed
Or some particularly stubborn thought
Or some particularly stubborn memory.
Reminding myself that the past is past,
That loss isn’t only painted in one color,
That it’s not all about me
That I haven’t failed
And that home can still exist
And a heart can still be true
Even under all the dead leaves.
She looked and saw
and silently loved,
outside of confusion,
understanding only what lived in her heart
though others were dismissive.
She tried to stop,
but there is no stopping
a true feeling;
only time can do that.
But time, for her,
feels like an ancient turtle
crossing an L.A. freeway.
Never gonna happen.
She reached out,
that whole heart
carefully and cautiously
crafted into well-placed
words from the soul
which were met with silence
And now, she nestles,
Against my shoulder,
A few teardrops being
the only words she has to say.
This was a week of nightmares, destroyed dreams, and lives forever changed. The damage done this week to children, parents, families, and communities is irreparable.
Many of us who are not intimate with this tragedy will go on with our lives, the holidays, and return to joy. A small piece of my heart has left me now, and is with those parents who are going through unthinkable. Yes, their little sons and daughters experienced unimaginable fear in their last moments, and the thought of that is impossible, especially for those parents.
Those little people are little souls looking out for their parents now. But those parents, agonizing over what their child must have been feeling, and devastated by all the reminders of future and promise, now nothing but dust – for them, there is no peace. Christmas presents never to be opened. No more bedtime hugs from a small warm body made from the love of two people. No more laughter. No more hope. No more….anything. Just pain and tears and loss.
I am grateful every day that my daughter is still here, and that I have the privilege of having her in my life and in this world. Not every parent is as fortunate, and for them, my heart bleeds. I wish I could make it better, but I can’t.
Today’s guest poet: Audre Lorde
If You Come Softly
If you come as softly
As wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.
If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.
You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remember death.
And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why, now.
Or how, or what you do.
We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich earth between us
Shall drink our tears.
December 12, 2006:
My uncle and my brother both marked the time, the exact time – somewhere around 3:43 am.
We sat for a while with her, there in the darkness, holding her hands, holding her heart. I could still feel her. Still feel her. Someone turned on the lights, blew out the candle, started doing the practical things. Calling the mortuary people, calling my “Aunt” who had been my Mother’s oldest friend – the one who had aided in my parent’s elopement, had driven her to the hospital to give birth to me, who now lived just upstairs.
It felt wrong to have all this stuff going on. I stayed in the room with her, pulling up her covers so she might not get cold, trying to fully close her eyes. They wouldn’t stay closed. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw her looking back at me through my eyes. I saw her eyes in the mirror, in my face. I called my husband and told him, had him tell Kelsea. She wrote the date and time down on a napkin and put it in a special scrapbook that she has.
My aunt came. She put her arm around me, and I said, “I don’t want her to go.” And she said to me, “She’s already gone.” I did not know what I was going to do. I loved her so. We were such a part of each other. I just did not know what to do. As the minutes passed , her body looked less and less…occupied. I could feel it, feel her soul moving away, as the minutes passed, drifting away, flying away, floating away, soaring away, farther and farther away, without even turning to say good-bye, just excited to be free and exploring. Leaving me behind.
Things happened then. My brother put ice around the back of her head to keep her brain cool for the Brain Autopsy Study she was a part of. I knew it was still nighttime, the middle of the night, but time had become irrelevant. I just remember again the light, the brightness of incandescent bulbs all over. The night nurse had slipped out. She had been hiding in the other bathroom for hours. She never even came in the room. She was afraid of dead people. Everything just felt so surreal.
The funeral home men came, two of them, with a stretcher and a big plastic bag. Somehow, though she wasn’t a big woman, they just couldn’t seem to manage her. I don’t know why. But I wound up helping to put my Mother’s body in that bag. Wrapped in one of my sheets, one of my favorite sheets, that looked like a sandy beach with seashells on it, that we had put on her bed particularly because she loved those sheets too. I could never have that sheet back. That action was the worst part of this whole memory. I should never have done that.
Then everyone left. It was morning. I called my best friend at work. I started making calls to the people who needed to know. It was horrible. I heard her dear friend, whose wife I spoke to, explode with grief – “Oh, GOD!”, he said. I let her go to him. I lay down to try to sleep and I just cried. Cried and cried and cried as if my heart would break. But it was too late, it was already broken.
I thought about the morphine in the refrigerator. I could do it. Could do it so easily. Just take the rest of it and follow her. I wasn’t thinking about Kelsea. I wasn’t thinking. I was so consumed with pain, I didn’t feel like I could live. I didn’t want to live. I was tired and tormented. I was mad with grief and exhaustion. I wept myself to sleep.
Later, I told E-Bro about it, and he said he would kick my corpse if I did such a thing. We started to pack up her things. We went out to dinner. We didn’t feel normal. We were orphans now. At least we had each other.
Now, four years later, I have come to have some peace with her death, but it has taken almost this entire span of time. But it has happened. I still miss her. I know she’s still with me in her own way.
And I know, with all certainty, that she is having a marvelous time.