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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 am on the bus this morning, and I get the following text from Kelsea:
“So they think our school is gonna blow up.”
The world stops for one split second.
I call her.
She doesn’t answer.
The bus is speeding away down Highway 36 and I am thinking how I have to get off and get to her, to her school. Totally impractical. What am I going to do, run there? I’m twenty miles away.
I call my ex to ask him what’s going on, and he looks online and finds that a suspicious device - pipes, wires, and a battery – was discovered on a bus and brought into the school by the bus driver. The school staff took it back outside and called police. The students have been moved into the auditorium and the gymnasium. I tell him to go to the school. He tells me not to worry and goes bowling.
I am sitting on the bus holding the top of my head to keep it from flying off. Moving the students into the auditorium and the gymnasium puts the entire school in two places, so that if someone truly is evil, they can just blow up those two places where they know students will be sent in the event of just such an emergency. My imagination is colliding with thoughts of Columbine and New Town.
Kelsea calls me from the auditorium. She is fine. She is seeing her friends. She is overjoyed that she won’t have to take her algebra final this morning, because she wasn’t ready for it. She too wonders why they’ve just put everyone in two places instead of evacuating them all. She says she will stay in touch. I tell her I love her.
I know my daughter. She will do anything to save others before she saves herself. She has always been this way. Her future career choices reflect his attitude. It is something that, as a mother, I just have to live with.
But I do not want to be one of those parents whose child does not come out.
I sit on the bus and try not to panic. I have never really felt this way before. All these feels are swirling around inside of me: fear, panic, anger, anxiety, that feeling that I will do anything to get to her, and do anything to someone who hurts her. I feel a desperate helplessness as this bus takes me farther and farther away from my baby girl. Tears well up and I try to stifle them. Yes, helpless. I have always known how much I love my daughter, and how I am so blessed by having had her in my life for any time that the Great Spirit chooses to grace me with. But I never really had a glimpse of losing her. Not even a glimpse.
One of my friends at work calls this “catastrophic thinking.” I know I have this unfortunate tendency, inherited from my father. It’s a hard one to control, especially as a mother.
Half an hour later, I get a text from her.
“So it was a science fair project. Awkward.”
I spend the rest of the morning feeling like I am coming out from being underwater, trying to ease the tension in my neck, trying to return to a sense of normal.
I hope that kid who misplaced his science project gets an A. He certainly taught me something about myself today.
The Fiddlehead Ferns of Fate
The passionate young man in overalls
has aged gracefully.
He tends his garden as he tends his children,
lovingly and in such a way
that each progeny,
be it flesh and blood
or root and leaf,
knows that it is treasured.
The wildness of soul is –
For now –
Expressed in a mystical empathy with beautiful beasts
and in decadent desserts.
He has danced in the pouring rain
and judged the quality of absinthe in a dim cafe
and always remembered a single promise.
A man of such heart
the cool and wonderous touch of fate
found in another’s hand to hold
as he passes through
this sun-dappled world.
he finds it
somewhere admist the ferns.
Dancing On The Edge
As the sun sloped and dipped behind the ridge,
The wind picked up my hair,
Gently, the way his hands caressed it
In other twilights,
Strands twirling and catching in my lashes
And my laughter.
His hands were warm even in the chill
Of a high late summer,
Pulling me close,
Holding me just tight enough,
And dancing to music only we two could hear
As the sun took a final bow.
The air was clear and pure,
Our eyes smiled at one another,
Our steps matched,
Our spirits swayed together,
And in his strong hands,
I could feel promise
And the sun.
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.
I watch your heart break from a distance
And there is nothing I can do.
When you were small,
I could cuddle you
And make you giggle
And kiss your tears away
And you would be all better.
Now, my touch at the sight of your tears
Makes you angry,
And the choices you never made
Are making you hurt.
It’s a pain we all go through.
You’ve seen it near break me.
And when it happens to you,
You think no one can know how you feel.
But we do.
We all do.
That doesn’t make it any easier.
I wish it did.
I so wish
This lovely random heart was temporarily tattooed on a brick wall on 15th Street. It was gone by the next day, but it made me smile. Happy Feast of Saint Valentine.
Quote of the day: “Age does not protect you from love, but love, to some extent, protects you from age.” – Jeanne Moreau
Today’s guest poet: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
[Portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning by William Charles Ross]
Sonnet XXII: When Our Two Souls Stand Up
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point,–what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think. In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,–where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
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.