Category Archives: Rebuilding Your Life after Loss

Odd Little Saturday Morning Poem

Odd Little Saturday Morning Poem

I lie in bed, flat on my back, head raised by pillows,
computer raised to eye level
by a wadded comforter over bent knees.
I listen to raised voices in the village down below,
the staccato of an inadequately mufflered car revving up,
a hammer falling on wood, birds in the coco  palms.
A pianissimo chorus of dogs spread
over the surrounding hills swells to a frenzied crescendo,
then falls silent but will swell again.

I have dropped obligations
like clothes shed for a lover.
My Saturday morning pool aerobics and zumba,
I slipped out of years ago.
Group luncheons hang from doorknobs and chair backs.
Committee meetings lie sloppily abandoned in the hall.

I have retired from the running of the world
to run my own small universe on paper.
Saturday morning is my brainstorm session
with “Me,” “Myself” and “I.”
“I” suggested feeding the dogs,
but they are quiet now, so
“Me” suggested we let them lie.
“Myself” laid out some words to dry
in the heat of the fire of our communal
inspiration, laying them smoothly on the page,
rumpling up others in her fist to send them sailing
to join the crumpled singles event invitations in the corner.

This slow Saturday morning dressing of pages
and stripping them bare
is a sort of ceremony celebrating seizing time
and making it my own.
Pages  fill up with passion, angst, anger,
irritation, joy, laughter, camaraderie.
There is more than one word for each.

Imagine such control over your world–
not having to live the world of any other.
If you could have any life you wish?
Imagine a Saturday morning  building it.

 

The Prompt:  Me Time–What do you like to do on Saturday morning?  Are you doing it now?

Offers

Offers

When he asked me to marry him
and when we had to bury him–
these times inevitably set
wherein we find that we must let
nature have its way with us.
It does no good to rant and fuss.
Life’s made to reward, then abuse.
Its vagaries we can’t refuse.

All is part and parcel to
the next thing that we’re meant to do.
Good comes from bad and bad from good.
Birth, courtship, marriage, parenthood
fill our lives in marching order,
but every joy must have its border.
Birth leads to death. Love’s often lost.
To release life’s pleasures is the cost

of having and enjoying them.
Coal under pressure becomes a gem.
Remembering this must get you through
the next trial that’s set up for you.
Every day’s  an offer  you can’t refuse–
another pleasure to gain, then lose.
Life’s losses are also its seeds.
We lose our wants to gain our needs.

The Prompt: Set the timer for ten minutes and then tell us about an offer you couldn’t refuse.

New World Miracle

The Prompt: An Extreme Tale—“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?

Note:  For the ninth day in a row, I (along with several other bloggers) have not been able to pingback to the Daily Prompts page.  If you are able to, can you mention this poem in your blog and pingback to me?  WordPress doesn’t seem to be doing anything about this problem, although we’ve written numerous times!  Thanks.

I’ve told the second part of this story in an earlier post.  Now, here is the beginning and the ending.  One day I’ll tell the in-between.


New World Miracle
(Ethiopia, 1973-74)

Black Tiger in safari jacket
you told me
hyenas in the hills
would attack the mule if I tried
to ride alone
from the lowland landing field
to Lalibela.

By
sunset
we had reached
the high plateaus
sheep crying
miles away
shepherds calling
mile on mile.

In this high air
heard from mountaintop
to mountaintop
from valley
lifting to plateaus above
you with Afro out to here
admitted the hyenas were a lie
took my picture
tucked my camera in your pocket
pulled me up
to you
and
there was no
resistance
in
this
air.

I was
enamored
of the falling sun
the cries of shepherds
your hair
your jacket
your clean mouth
white teeth
black beautiful
tall rest of you.
I had always needed
to feel like this.
Giddy.
Your kiss pulled me in then
ricocheted
to valleys
under valleys
under valleys.
Always something
under
something else.

We were at the edges
of the world.
We were at its
cracking rims.

And I can believe
in you
standing
on the rifted rock
above the canyons
still
I can’t imagine
you
in the valley
deeper in the valley
than the valley floor.

I can’t imagine you
dusted hair
eyes closed by clods
growing trees from your navel
pomegranates from your fingernails.

When you touched me
I grew
then I grew too far.

But nothing
since
has touched your warm
your brown
your hands
your mouth
where you touched
nothing since
has quite
touched.

In your country
where names
are only words
strung together
your name
Andu Alem Tamirat
meaning new world’s miracle.

You could have come with me
to grow invisible in California.
Instead you
died a hero
of the revolution
seeding
memories.

Remember
how you used to climb
out of my dining room window
to the back yard compound
to pick orange waxy blossoms
from the pomegranate tree—
how you used to
tuck them
in my hair?

(I’ve tried many times to format this as it should be, but it always changes it back to left justified when I update, so I will center it and make it the way neither of us intends it to be!

Wooden Heart

Wooden Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give. Continue reading

Unstarched

 

Unstarched

My ladies writing group is classy—never crass or gaudy.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I found they can be bawdy!
Just one impromptu potluck and a few bottles of wine
turned their metaphoric minds to matters far less fine.
For Jenny had just mentioned that a friend had lately lent her
a rather naughty film that nonetheless had really sent her
off into the paroxysms of unbridled laughter—
the kind that take you wave-on-wave and leave you aching after.
I’d been needing that for months—my life had been sedate
since my old gang had moved away and left me to my fate
of no last-minute games of train and late-night jubilation,
for though I still have good friends here, I lack that combination
of friends that I enjoy who all enjoy each other, too,
enough to create silliness to make my nights less blue.

“Bad Grandpa” was the film we watched, and though I must admit
I watched behind spread fingers for at least a fifth of it,
still the antics had us all just rolling on the floor
—starting with a snicker and then ending with a roar.
Scatology is not my thing, nor are pratfalls or shtick,
yet still I must admit to you, I got a real big kick
from this film filled with all of them, and so did all the others;
so as we watched, it felt like we were all sisters and brothers.
And as they left, I think we knew we’d shared a priceless treasure,
for there’s nothing that unites us like a mutual guilty pleasure!

The Prompt: When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?

Dreaming A Path

Dreaming A Path

Dream, Fri. Oct 18, 2013

We were at a booth in a café. It was a huge room with booths on every side and each booth had a clock, or at least I thought they did. I don’t think I ever looked. Our alarm started going off and there was no way to turn it off. It was by me and I tried and tried but couldn’t get it off. I said I was just going to unplug it, but Patti said perhaps it was timed with all the other clocks at tables and then it wouldn’t match. I said couldn’t they just reset it when we left? Someone agreed, but still we didn’t unplug it and it went on and on and on. Very annoying. Our booth came equipped with a little dog. It was tiny and light with long very curly white hair that was in loose corkscrew very long ringlets. It was so adorable and affectionate. I held it most of the time. It had legs like wires that went straight down..very skinny…and it jumped a lot. When the waitress came, we told her about the alarm and she said yes, she’d noticed that it was going off…but she didn’t do anything about it. We told her how cute the little dog was and she said yes…but then it seemed like it was the little dog who had the alarm that was going off. We ordered and afterwards I was wanting a dessert but thought I shouldn’t order one. Patti was to my right and I suddenly realized she was eating a very rich chocolate dessert—a sort of fudge flan or very moist slippery cake that was hot with a hot fudge sauce over it. She offered me a taste. It was a very small rectangle…not very big…but I tasted it and immediately said I’d have one, too. It was incredible. Still, the alarm went off. It was driving me crazy! Then I woke up and realized it was my own bedside alarm. I reached up with my eyes still closed and tried to turn it off, but couldn’t find the control. Finally I picked it up, opened my eyes and found the control. It was 8:10. The alarm had been going off for 10 minutes!!!!

My interpretation:

I found this dream in a folder on my computer. I have no memory at all of having dreamed it, and perhaps that distance makes it easier for me to interpret it. In a few weeks, I turn 67. For the past year, I’ve thought repeatedly about death and the fact that if I’m lucky, I probably have only 30 years left. For some reason, that awareness is very stressful. I feel a need to finish everything I’ve started and never completed. Earlier, that consisted of a lot of sorting, construction of storage spaces and weeding out of the contents of my house. That effort is ongoing. What also happened, however, is that I have an incredible drive to get everything published that has been lying around in file cabinets for many many years as well as a need to write new work and somehow disseminate it. My blog is part of that effort, as are my efforts to get all my books on Amazon and Kindle.

Seeing this dream as if for the first time, I clearly see that theme of time running out coupled by a sense of alarm that I need to do something about it. The little dog shows the attractive quality (adorable and affectionate) of finally dealing with all these loose ends—(note all his corkscrew hairs). Those wiry little legs that kept him always active certainly reflect the urgency I’ve been feeling to write write write.

One aspect of this awareness in my real life for a time consisted of my fear that I will stop breathing. This often gets me up gasping at night to run outside to try to breathe. For some reason I haven’t had any of these panic attacks since I started writing every morning. What I interpreted as a growing fear of death and a dread of ceasing to exist was perhaps a fear of not living and creating while I am alive.

I think the interplay between my sister Patti and me in the dream reflects a number of things. One is a difference in our approaches to life. I think in a way, she is more of a rule-follower and since she was my immediate pattern for most of my earlier life, I think a part of me feels this same need, but this is coupled with an equal and stronger need to create my own path in a direction unique from my two older and very competent sisters and to break a few rules to do so. At a very early age, much as I admired and imitated my sisters, I felt the need to prove myself. To find something to know that they didn’t already know. I found this route when I started venturing out at an early age to find new ground where they had not gone before me. It led me first into the homes of friends and strangers where I saw life being acted out in a manner entirely different from my own home. The road led further—to summer camp where I was a stranger to all and vice versa. I loved being the stranger. In choosing a college, I fell back on the reliability and comfort of attending the same school my sister had attended, but in my Jr. year I took my first big leap—a trip around the world on World Campus Afloat. That early adventure in seeing dozens of new and strange cultures set my life path. I’ve been traveling ever since and have been living in Mexico for the past 13 years.

I believe this dream depicts the sense of urgency I’ve had my entire life to “do” something with experience. My art and writing allow me to turn off the alarm for the hours in which I practice them. That small dessert might symbolize the rewards of doing what I need to do to do so.

P.S. An interesting insight I have had just as I started to post this: (And, interestingly enough, wordpress will not accept my blog entry. Perhaps it is insisting I add this P.S. before it does so.) I just got back to Mexico from a visit to the states wherein I visited my oldest sister Betty who is now in the depths of the world of Alzheimer’s. While I was there, she seemed increasingly distressed by the fact that she can no longer communicate, but one day as we were sitting in the living room portion of her small apartment in a managed care Alzheimer’s wing, she motioned to the middle of the floor and said, “Look a that cute little white thing there—that fluffy little white dog!” This was the first incidence that I know of of her actually hallucinating visually, and for some reason it popped into my mind in relation to the little dog in my dream. All of these images—of our dreams as well as our daily life—remind us to live while we can and to do what is most important to us. In my case as well as my sister’s—to communicate. Too late for her, although she continues to try. Not too late for me.

P.S.S.  By the way, the instant I completed the above P.S., the wordpress page that had continued to not allow me to post this blog entry flashed the message:  What do you want to post?  Text? Picture?  I chose text and and you have just read it.

The prompt: Freudian Flips. Do you remember a recent dream you had? Or an older one that stayed vivid in your mind? Today, you’re your own Freud: Tell us the dream, then interpret it for us! Feel free to be as serious or humorous as you see fit, or to invent a dream if you can’t remember a real one.

Note in response to this prompt: (When I think of dreams, I think of Jung, not Freud, and he continues to influence my thoughts and actions much more than Freud ever did.)

 

NaPoWriMo Day 28: Looking Glass Menagerie

Looking Glass Menagerie

I am trying to escape the menagerie—
all those selves I hold in front of me
as well as the ones I have let escape.
Those that run ahead—
the ones that are my future selves—
are here, hidden in the portrait that you see.
Domineering, perhaps. But seasoned with
an awareness of what might have produced
all of the parts of myself I try to reign in.
This has produced a certain slowness to connect.
The natural is seasoned with a desire to honor dreams
of what I hope to be. When I look in the mirror,
I see them all: my mother and my grandmother
and my sisters. We demand, are stubborn.
Sometime we are martyrs, stifling tears.
Then suddenly, I pass them by like memories
of nightmares: all the anxiety attacks,
illnesses and heartbreak.
We are all wonderful performers,
using bad luck to fuel good.
The belles of our own ball,
we push back the grim news
of what we fear we really are.
Headstrong, we reach for what we can be.
Utterly addicted to change,
Tony or no Tony,
we are the stars of our own lives.

The prompt today was “to find a news article and to write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article! You can repeat them, splice them, and rearrange them however you like. Although the vocabulary may be “just the facts,” your poem doesn’t have to be — it doesn’t even have to be about the subject of the news article itself.”

With massive tornadoes, politician campaign funding fraud, murder and mayhem being the main stories of the day, I was hard-pressed to find any good news to write about. Finally, I chose a very long theater review in the NY Times which I picked at like a foraging chicken, picking a word here, a word there. Above is the resulting poem.

Here is a link to the NY Times article from which  I drew words : NY Times Article