Where Poetry Hides

 

In the trusty Le Creuset dutch oven and its home on the back burner.

In the wildly overgrown tree we inherited from Josh’s stint at the library.

In the parade of mismatched coffee cups.

In the scattered stacks of mail, New Yorkers, and board books.

In the frequently misplaced items, such as binky, scissors, and corkscrew.

In the makeshift ramps and tunnels that Josh constructs for Gus’s play.

In goat cheese, tamarind crackers, and three kinds of yogurt.

In the homemade pie crusts and peach, rhubarb filling.

In cherished blue items: a retired sweater, a sapphire, velvet high tops.

In the handwritten love notes in uncommon anniversary cards.

In the overstuffed shoeboxes brimming with photos.

In the abandoned compact discs stashed on closet shelves.

In my tattered, childhood blanket that went missing for years.

In my grandmother’s silvery pendant I wore on my wedding day.

In always the same two lullabies Gus knows by heart.

In the return for more kisses even after we’ve said goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wounds

It’s hard for me to give my writing space. Sometime I suffocate it, or maybe it’s the other way around, my writing suffocates me.

Always, life, forces the space between. Gus wakes up, and it’s time for the day to begin. The writing and the writer are separated and may or may not meet again until well after 7:00pm.

Yesterday, the thought of a small open wound and leaving it to bleed came to mind. I realized that is what I feel when leaving an unfinished piece of writing, specifically when the content is meaningful or difficult for me.

I was writing a poem for Gus, but the poem became mostly about me. I drew on lessons that I had learned from my childhood, and imagined Gus learning them one day. In short, what I was writing, mattered to me.

I had come close to finishing it, when I heard Gus stirring and the clock ticking. I would soon be pulled away from my writing and there would be no resolution. I felt the wound, and the unsettling feeling of leaving it open.

Sometimes, you find your resolution when you are not writing, but when you are living. I know this, but I don’t trust it–not yet anyway. I’m kneeling with Gus at his cubby at school, helping him to take his coat off, and I find it. The last line of my poem is sitting on his soft, round cheek– it’s a loose, long eyelash.

I brush Gus’s eyelash away, and it sticks to the underside of my finger, just like I know that it will. I gaze at his eyelash, resting at the tip of my finger. Then, I’m there, seven-years-old again, making a wish–and I know what I need to write.

 

Here is yesterday’s poem for those who may not have read it and are curious.

Lessons

Remember that a toad will pee in your hand if you hold it for too long.

Remember that it’s the blue snow cones that stain your lips and tongue.

Remember that, almost always, the line for the tilt-a-whirl is worth the wait.

Remember to let fallen soft, long pine needles tickle the bottoms of your feet.

Remember that when the moonlight filters through the trees, to turn off your flashlight.

Remember to quickly rip, not peel, the bandaid from the scrape on your knee.

Remember that the eyelash you find on your cheek is worth at least one wish.

Lessons

Remember that a toad will pee in your hand if you hold it for too long.

Remember that it’s the blue snow cones that stain your lips and tongue.

Remember that, almost always, the line for the tilt-a-whirl is worth the wait.

Remember to let fallen soft, long pine needles tickle the bottoms of your feet.

Remember that when the moonlight filters through the trees, to turn off your flashlight.

Remember to quickly rip, not peel, the bandaid from the scrape on your knee.

Remember that the eyelash you find on your cheek is worth at least one wish.

 

 

Monday

Dark, early morning sky asleep

behind the kitchen windows.

A  half-eaten, nearly ripe banana

slouches beside the milk carton.

Steam surging, spiraling up

awakens the steeping french roast.

Cars whooshing by, excite the avenue,

halting squeaky bus breaks, rudely intrude.

Folded laundry lounging in its basket,

retired quiet dishes, patient in their rack.

Toys stacked and tucked in corners,

astir with active toddler hands.

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Pets

Around 1980 There was Dookie, the black labrador. I don’t remember Dookie, but she’s a legend where I come from. The story goes like this (p.s. it’s a sad one). My mom was pushing Jennifer and me in the stroller to the nearby grocery store. We’d forgotten to lock the back door. Legend has it that Dookie was so smart, she could open doors. Dookie was also protective, especially of Jennifer and me. She’d follow our toddling feet anywhere. That afternoon, Dookie traced us through the parking lot–well, you know the rest.

Around 1987 There was Maxwell, the longest living goldfish on record. I’m almost certain that Kelly finally named him one morning after the coffee our parents drank. Living for eight or so years on our kitchen counter top, I didn’t expect as much, but I grew attached to ol’ Maxwell.

Around 1988  Then, Napoleon. Let me preface with this: We’re definitely a dog family. The cat experiment was a lousy idea. Oh, Napoleon! I’d like to think it had something to do with your name, the fact that we could never tame you. Almost from the get go, Napoleon stubbornly refused to be an indoor cat. He preferred the life of a declawed, outdoor hunter–with a serious attitude (in my opinion). He refused to snuggle or simply spend time with the family. He left us a lot of dead mice on the porch, whatever that means.

Around 1990 Finally, our dear Dowry. She was a princess, and we adored her as such–our cuddly, yet feisty little puff ball of energy. Dowry was enamored with the neighborhood paper boy. She’d anticipate his arrival for hours. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of her day. After the paper boy, Dowry loved my mother the most, then Jennifer, then me, a distant third. I took no offense. I remember, years later, the weekend we put Dowry down. It was the same weekend we celebrated my brother’s marriage. It’s as if Dowry knew that the family would all be there to bid her a proper and happy farewell.

Found

 

in our cloud covered,

littered alley

near the dumpster–

one brilliant cardinal

illuminated.

 

in rummaging the racks

of children clothing,

one small nightgown,

and a wish

reignited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.M.

7:36 am Josh drops Gus and me off early at school. Before Josh leaves, he gathers Gus in his arms and asks, How many kisses do you want? Gus says, So many kisses! Josh playfully delivers rapid, successive kisses to his cheeks, nose, and forehead. Gus beams with laugher and delight. Then Josh and I embrace and hold each other momentarily in the cold air. With our faces close, we kiss and say good bye. Gus calls after Josh, Good bye, Daddy! He reaches for my hand, and we walk into the school.

After Gus and I eat yogurt with honey granola near the front windows. Gus asks me to read a book about a mischievous red fox, but I can see that his real attention is on watching the families enter the school. A spoonful of yogurt drops into his lap when Miles runs over to say hello to him. Gus shrinks beside me and grips my sleeve. He looks up at Miles with curiosity, but doesn’t say a word.

8:05 am Gus and I reach the door of the bustling early arrival room known as Bamboo. I kneel and draw his small body close to me. I whisper, Daddy will pick you up at 3:45. Gus repeats, Daddy will pick me at 3 and 45. Then I gently let him go. For a minute, I linger, watching in the doorway. Gus meanders his way through the busy children over to Margaret, the assistant. She welcomes him warmly. He crawls into her lap.

After I’m walking with Dana, a colleague, in the hallway. We chat about the day, and then she surprises me, I saw you and your husband hugging this morning. My face instantly feels flush, and I sense the emergence of a smile. Yes, I blather, we are hugging folk. Dana nods, It’s truly such a nice thing to see. I’m touched by her words, her noticing. I both think and feel my luck! The realization consumes me.