I drop out realizing we’re a pair
of mother/child misfits. You, intent on
observation, sitting in place, floppy
and drooly smiled. Me, with my own troubles
keeping my head up, imagine my limited
words sinking against a crowd of high-pitched
verses. And, everywhere the babies strive, pulling their bodies
to the unknown. If only these breasts wouldn’t
refuse us our share of sustenance. Contemplating you,
now slouched and angry, I devise an exit strategy,
which I name–a first time for saving each other.
One of my students, a 9-year-old only child, told me through tears how lonely he has been during an afternoon check-in video chat. I wanted to hug him and tried with comforting words. Ultimately, I wanted him to know that I see and hear him.
Your tears are stories
of a loneliness you keep
in a book I hold open
I work more now than I did at school, specifically trying to salvage time for my 5-year-old son. To compensate, I wake up early. Often I hear the same songbird. She is awake with me at the early hour and good company.
Our songbird sings be-
fore the dawn when a hazy
mist fades to first light
My partner does the laundry more than me. I was surprised and excited when I saw the laundry basket at the end of our bed with my favorite pajamas folded on top. I wear a lot of pajamas these days.
When you find your best
pajamas clean and folded
like a gift for you
I’m a teacher in isolation with my spouse and 5-year-old son. I’ve been writing a haiku for every day we’re in isolation. I try to pick a poignant moment from the day and capture it in a few words. Here are four poems. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re doing well.
Lost track of days we’ve
skipped stones from the water’s
edge into the deep.
A bitter feat tying
your small mask, my burden
buried in my smile.
Your heavy words take
root between us, “If our marriage
What’s the world without
a stranger’s smile, a passing
fist pump just because
I’ve been writing haikus every day for most of our days in isolation (my spouse, my 5-year-old son, and me. Here are three of them.
At dusk, raking the
yard, he calls his dad’s attention
to the birds.
Even after we
say sorry, and time happens,
the injury stings.
When I stop treading
these harsh waters, it wasn’t
that I was drowning.
I drop out after
admitting to what is best.
We are a pair of misfits,
mother and child.
You, who just sit there with no tricks.
Me, whose breasts will never feed you.
It’s all background noise,
the high-pitched voices,
the stupid conversations.
I stare at you,
devising our exit strategy,
which you know all about.
I am thankful for a lot of things this year as I look to Thanksgiving’s arrival. It’s a lot of things that have comprised my list in years past: my husband and son, and my larger family; my teaching career and school; shelter, food, comfort and convenience; friends, new and old;…the list continues.
This year I have something new and, possibly unusual, to add to my list. Anger.
For really the first time in my life, I am seeing the benefits of feeling my anger. I have felt a lot of anger in the past several months due to a misfortune that happened to me when I was a small child. I won’t go into detail about the trauma, but I think it’s important to share that my anger has laid dormant for a long long time.
I have come to realize that anger can be a healing agent and much more than its simplest and careless forms. And, consequently, buried, ignored, and unattended to anger, in my experience, has been self-destructive because it has been turned inward. My dormant anger has masked itself in many disguises: depression, anxiety, sabotage.
Identifying my anger, facing it and doing battle with it has taken perhaps the most courage of my life. It’s fierce, it’s real, and sometimes it looks like rage or a piercing scream–but it’s not a pointless toxin or a misinformed monster. It is a very useful human feeling that has given me the power and strength to contend with the hardest and most tragic parts of my existence.
Anger is my torch in the darkness to the other side.
And, the other side looks like a promise of peace, especially on the inside.
I have a long history of writing lengthy cards for all sorts of occasions to people who are dear to me. Here is a transcript of a card that I wrote today to my friend on the occasion of her 39th birthday. Some context: we are the same age — well, I’m a month older — and we grew up in the same neighborhood. We became fast friends in high school and have continued our friendship since. The birthday card features a magical like drawing of a mountain goat carrying a four leaf clover in its mouth. Without further ado, my birthday message to my dear friend, S:
Happy Birthday, S, in your 39th year! I send you the Good Fortune Goat, my favorite music discoveries this year, and Broad City Mad Libs — I think that should cover a good amount of what is necessary for a gal of our generation and circumstance. I hope that you have a good deal of whatever it is you want on your birthday, whether that be relaxing or something more upbeat.
I also wish you piece of mind and peace in your heart as we navigate what feels like hard times in our world. I hope that your ‘well’ maintains its vitality and sustains you. I hope that continued laughter, sense of self, and meaningful connections to others lights your journey. I hope that our paths intermingle frequently and that we enjoy the capacity of our longstanding friendship, which has meant so much to me, then and now.
Thanks for being there as I presently walk a difficult part of my journey. The hardest parts of our journey can feel so lonely, and I deeply appreciate your courage and love to walk with me a little. That’s been a real gift of our steady friendship. I love you a lot. Let’s see each other soon.
Gus and I surged into summer yesterday. It’s the beginning of a lot of unscheduled time together, and I admit I’m scared. How will we, mommy and son, possibly fill the unused hours? How will I not die, at least, a little, of boredom? But then, I feel guilty thinking about the boredom.
After all, our trip to Trader Joe’s was fun. Gus asked, for the first time, if he could take one of the small, kids’ shopping carts. I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure he could manage the task of controlling it. Images of Gus crashing into an innocent, elderly shopper or, better yet, a pyramid display of Chardonnay bottles, paralyzed my response. It seemed like yesterday, and maybe it was yesterday, I was buckling him in to ride in my cart. I looked at him. He looked small, but the little red cart suited him perfectly. “Okay,” I said.
Gus did well. In fact, he was one of the most polite cart pushers I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. I often overheard him saying “excuse me” to other shoppers or “hello”. For the most part, he stayed to one side of the aisle and, wholeheartedly, he focused on the task of steering straight.
I got so many smiles from strangers. “He’s doing a good job,” shoppers commented, like they knew it was his first time. It’s possible we gave ourselves away. Gus’s visible care and attention at all times, determined to join the ranks of pushing shopping carts – and me, all proud, with an obvious smile hidden on my face.