Category Archives: Sisters

Grandma’s Last Christmas

IMG_7073

Grandma’s Last Christmas

Something took apart my beanie, ripping seam from seam,
stealing my favorite panel for its evil scheme.
Dad’s boxers and Mom’s flowered blouse likewise disappeared.
Our baby sister’s blankie the next thing commandeered.
Mother’s apron, then a snip from her wedding dress,
taken from an inner seam, so who would ever guess?
And who would even notice Father’s tie now missed an inch?
Was there no sacred item that they were loath to pinch?
Auntie’s favorite hanky. Uncle’s tobacco pouch.
Grandma’s antimacassar that graced her threadbare couch.
Grandpa thought the moths had been at his old red flannels,
and several of our curtains were missing parts of panels.

All of us superstitious about what we’d next lose,
a semi-official inquiry offered no clear clues.
Sister’s last year’s prom dress was the next sacrifice.
Was it a new type of moth? Was it rats or mice
operating with precision, taking a tidy square?
What creature did its robberies with such exquisite care?
A year passed and another year. We began our defections
as our lives led us here and there in various directions.
Home again for Christmas, then off again to lives
involving universities and jobs and kids and wives.
Until that special Christmas, gathered at Grandma’s bed,
with Grandpa at the foot of it and Mother at the head.

We kids gathered around each side, except, that is, for one.
That was the year that Sis had said she could not join the fun.
Our husbands, wives and girlfriends did not quite fill the space.
Not one of all our children quite made up for that face
missing in the middle. That favorite of all.
That special pesky sister, sliding down the hall
on a purloined skate board, or filching Halloween
candy from the sack you’d saved. Center of every scene
that involved tricks or mischief, yet only bent on fun.
No mean bone in her body. Not a single one.
We’d sung Gram’s favorite carol, and, about to sing one more,
we heard a footstep in the hall. A creaking of the door.

A cloth-swathed creature leaped at us, then swirled it overhead.
It settled over Grandma, resting lightly on her bed.
It was a quilt of many fabrics, many colors, many shapes
made of communion dresses, knickers and wedding capes,
prom dresses and baby blankets, doilies, curtain panels,
and right there in the middle were Grandpa’s old red flannels.
I found my purloined beanie and a boy scout badge I’d missed.
I even found a scarf I stole from the first girl I’d kissed.
We all gathered around it, and stories fell like snow
upon this quilt that told them all, and on Grandma below.
We ate our Christmas dinner gathered around that quilt.
Everyone so careful that not a crumb was spilt.

Grandma with her bed tray, fingered now and then
a scrap of cloth that told another story of back when.
We should have known, of course, that our sister was the schemer.
What other one among us was such an inventive dreamer?
She knew the time would come when, scattered far apart,
something would be needed to rejoin our family’s heart.
We had no idea then that what seemed a dereliction
was  a noble enterprise, founded on her conviction
that our family history must somehow be recorded.
She kept her project secret from us, lest it be aborted.
All our buried memories needed to come to light,
so she bound them all together, in stitches neat and tight.

The prompts today are deep, official, light, conviction and bean.

Dear Diary, Aug 20, 1958

IMG_7035

I recently found my old diary, pictured above. I was eleven years old when I wrote the entry below.

Dear Diary

August 20, 1958

Dear Diary,

After I got up I started to clean up living room and finished after dinner*. Then I read, played cards and watched t.v. Patti and I just had a fight. She wanted to listen to her radio and I was listening to t.v. or I should say watching it. Anyway, it causes a little static when the t.v. is on too so Patti turned off the t.v. I kept turning it on and she off. Well, finally I shut if off for a while and went up to listen to her radio. She didn’t like that either because I was humming, so she told me to read a book.  I wanted to watch one of my favorite programs so I turned on the t.v. She started crying and I can’t bear to see a woman cry so I turned it off and told her for a girl of 15 who thinks she’s a lot older, she sure was a baby sometimes. For that, she hit me with a book hard.

P.S I’m writing the part about our fight outside.

………….

*We called lunch dinner back then.

Love the last line. Ha!!! Sorry, Patti, but this was too funny not to share. She now lets me watch TV whenever I want to plus she pays my land taxes and signs my income taxes for me and performs all sorts of other generous sisterly duties.  xooxox

What’s Wrong with Your Mom?

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 10.31.05 AM

What’s Wrong with Your Mom?

My husband’s language is so curt that lately I’ve been wondering
if these moody epithets that he has been thundering
have anything at all to do with my consistent blundering.

Ashtrays in the ice box and ice cubes in a puddle
on the shelf where glasses go? I fear I’m in a muddle.
I see him with the children, over there in a big huddle.

Now and then, they look at me. I think they are suspicious.
It’s me they are discussing, and their looks are not auspicious.

But still they feel that questioning me would not be judicious.

Why don’t they remember that  I’ve been this way before
exactly three times in the past, and this is number four?
By now I am surprised it hasn’t become family lore

that mother always gets this way during a certain time
when thinking gets confusing and moods turn on a dime,
but in the end it’s worth it as the outcome is sublime!

It seems I cannot  count on them to interpret the clues,
so I think that it is time that I give them all the news

that will solve the puzzle and resolve Daddy’s blues.

They see me coming towards them and it looks like they might scatter,
but they realign their faces as though nothing is the matter
until they hear these words that I contribute to their chatter:

“The secret that I’ve kept from you is worrying as a blister.
This surprise that I’m carrying might be our first young mister,
although I know you would not mind if it were a fourth sister!”

 

Prompt words today are language, puddle, auspicious and wondering. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/rdp-wednesday-language/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/02/27/fowc-with-fandango-puddle/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/your-daily-word-prompt-auspicious-february-27-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/wondering/

The Twins at Eighty

IMG_3373


Leonora

The lustre’s left my hair and skin. I’m simply bottom drawer.
My lovely high soprano voice has deepened to a roar.
My joints are gnarled and knotted. My back is bent a bit.
I’d prefer my stomach if I could see over it.
To say I am exasperated would be understating it,
but at least the truth cannot make the claim I’m skating it.
I blame it on the influence of age, chocolate and gin.
I’m simply not responsible for the shape I’m in!!!


Isadora

The gentlemen surround me in an unbroken cluster,
exclaiming over my smooth skin—its creaminess and lustre.
My drawers are full of love letters. Exasperated lovers
seek to win my girlish shape and woo it under covers.
They fall under the influence of my winning ways.
They do not guess my actual age when held rapt by my gaze.
I do pilates every day and all my life I’ve fasted.
Although I haven’t had much fun, at least my looks have lasted!

 

The prompts today are lustre, drawer, exasperated and influence. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/rdp-monday-lustre/
FOWC with Fandango — Drawer
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/exasperated/
https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/daily-addictions-2018-week-42/influence

Bewildered: Gray Walls with Boxes

 

Gray Walls with Boxes

Once I knew words that fit together.
Now my mind still has the answers,
but rarely lets me in to find them.

People who seem to know me
bring pizza in a box
and we eat it in front of another box I’ve forgotten the name for––
a small world with other people moving in it that I don’t know.
Sometimes words appear in a ribbon on the bottom edge of that box
and I wonder if I understood them
if they ‘d tell me what I’m supposed to do.

On the walls are other flat boxes
with people frozen in them
and I think it is my fault.
There is something I am supposed to be doing.
There is something I am supposed to be doing.
“They are your pictures, Mother.
They’re there for decoration—
for you to enjoy,”
a woman tells me
when I ask her
if she’d like to take them
home with her.

I don’t belong here.
My high school boyfriend
must be wondering
where I’ve gone
and my daughter is as confused as I am,
claiming to be her own child;
and then one day my sister comes
and I have to laugh because they all
look so much alike—
my sister and her niece and her niece’s daughter
whom they try to convince me
are my daughter and my granddaughter––
so many layers of daughters
that it is too hard to keep them
all in mind.

But then that floats away
and I am trying to remember
when I am leaving this hotel
and I feel I’m not suited to run for president
although all those people
cheering at that big convention in that little box
want me to––
that little box they turn off and on each day,
sometimes before or after I’m ready
to have it turned off.

And they take me to that large room
where all those silent older people sit.
I do not want to go into this room,
but I am lucky, and we move through it.
Someone’s daughters have come to put me
into a box that moves us through the world
without walking. At first, I am so surprised by it,
then I remember what it is
but can’t remember the word for it.
As we sit in it, the world moves by
too fast, scaring me, and I try
to weep unnoticed.
But then they take me out of it,
give me popcorn
and lead me into a very large room
with many people sitting down
and an entire wall with larger people
moving on it, and it is so confusing, like déjá vu,
for I remember being in a room like this before,
but I don’t know if I’m supposed to
make them do something other
than what they are doing
or if I’m already controlling them with my thoughts
or if I’m supposed to be
up there on the wall with them.
I can’t remember whether these people
on either side of me are my sisters
or my children or strangers,
sitting chair after chair down the long aisle.

Most days, I am so sad all day long,
but sometimes my real self
comes to visit and I think,
how did I become a martyr like my grandmother
and why can’t I stop myself from crying, just like her?
One gray wall meets another at the corner
and I’m sure
that I am being punished
for things I did but can’t remember.

That blank face
in the mirror
has me in it,
but I can’t get out
and for a moment I know, then forget
that this is why I cry
and cry and cry
and cry.

 

I think the deep stage of bewilderment that Alzheimer’s brings us to is the biggest fear of many of us who are over the age of sixty.  I’ve written poems about earlier and later stages of this dread disease, but  this poem describes as closely as was possible for me the way my sister Betty seemed to be feeling at a couple of different stages of her dementia.  Her delusion that it was she who was running for president the year Obama was elected, her befuddlement over the television and later over the art on the walls, over the identity of family members, and finally her astonishment over being in a moving car and at the movies.  This may have marked the last time we took her out of the care facility where she still resides. I went to see her a few months ago and still plan to write about her present state. Anyone who has a loved one in some stage of this heartbreaking disease will know haw hard it is to imagine how they may be feeling and how equally hard it is to write about it.  That is why I keep putting it off. I’m running this poem again after five years because it seems to fit today’s prompt, which is bewildered.

Double Betrayal

 

Double Betrayal

Her thoughts in parting were most candid,
her emotions, clearly branded
on her face. They reprimanded
him for how he cruelly stranded
her within their love affair—
how he left her standing there
alone, heartbroken, vulnerable.
How he’d burst her true love’s bubble.
Thus was her earlier promise broken
before a single word was spoken
when she met them, face to face,
engaged in intimate embrace—
that one who was to be her mister
with her faithless younger sister.

 

The prompt today is candid.

NaPoWriMo, Day 3: In the Market

I had a reading to go to this morning, where I read both “At 67” and “Once Upon a Lime in Mexico,” but you heard them both here first!  “At 67” will also be published in Ojo del Lago, Mexico’s largest English Language newspaper/magazine, which is both in print and online.  Before I left at 9:30 for the reading, I got part of today’s blog post finished and I completed it in the Walmart parking lot, where I’d gone to do a bit of shopping.  Dreading the stop-and-go Semana Santa traffic, I decided to finish it so it would be ready for posting when I got home,  which it is and I am!!!  So, here goes.

I’ve been trying to combine the NaPoWriMo and the WordPress prompts each day. The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a “fourteener” poem where each line consists of seven iambic feet (i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, times seven.) This form is also called a ballad.

No topic was given, so I took a WordPress Prompt and went to a friend’s book and turned to page 11 and took the 11th word, which was “Should,”  and started a poem entitled “She Should.”  I later changed the title and the first line, so the words that started the poem no longer are part of it. The purpose of a prompt is to start, not serve as an end-all. So, here is my ballad.  Please let me know what you think.

In the Market

Her mother tells her not to talk to strangers in the streets–
to count on all her kin to provide everyone she meets.
But this man has such lovely eyes, so what could be the harm?
And she’s not often left to stray this far from father’s farm.
When he walks by, she gives a smile and looks him in the eye.
He looks away, but his shy smile still gives away the guy.
She drops her basket, but he still continues on his way.
It’s only then that she decides that this one must be gay.

The store where she is going is not so very far,
and yet she takes the longest way that leads there from her car.
Although it should be blocks away, instead it is two miles.
She only has this route and back to practice all her wiles.
Whenever gentlemen of note meet her questing glance,
Her winsome smile becomes a grin, her walk becomes a prance.
Some of the men seem to be shocked. The others move away.
She’s sure it is just married men she meets this market day.

But finally, one man in plaid does not avoid her glance.
She smiles at him invitingly, afraid she’ll lose her chance.
She sees him turn as she walks by and follow in her wake.
It seems she’s finally hooked one. It was a piece of cake.
When she arrives and goes into the store, he follows her.
It’s just so he can meet her, of this she’s fairly sure.
Aisle after aisle she meets his gaze by boldly looking up
while he pretends he’s looking for food on which to sup.

Pork and beans he passes up, chili and green beans.
He adjusts his shoulders and hitches up his jeans.
She knows that he’s not used to this. He’s not so debonair.
He will not meet her flirty glance or even her bold stare;
and yet she sees him peeking when it seems that she’s not looking.
It’s clear enough to her that something’s definitely cooking.
She’s been around the livestock so she knows the signs and causes,
yet a bull just gets right to it and a rooster never pauses.

The action quickens in the aisle where the bread shelves start.
She finally takes the upper hand and swerves into his cart.
The metal baskets scrape and crash and make an awful din.
She does not mind that people gawk. She finally has an in!
He blushes when she talks to him, and she is sure he nearly
takes her hand and flirts as he says, “Pardon,” very clearly.
He turns and walks her down the aisle. It is a date, almost.
Side by side they stroll until parted by a post

that splits the aisle in two and makes them part, then join again.
Though she is small and portly, and he is tall and thin,
they make a handsome couple. She can see their wedding stills.
She will pick the gown and flowers. He will pay the bills.
When they approach the registers, he tells her to go first.
They chat as the checker works. It almost seems rehearsed.

He asks about her family and certainly seems rapt.
The lives of mother, father, brother, sister clearly mapped.
Details others might find boring are engagingly related
and all the while his pupils stay entirely dilated.
He puts his thumb right through a peach, then grabs up a red apple,
and tells her that he’s noticed her in front of him in chapel,
sitting by her sister and wearing a blue hat.
Her sister’s hat was yellow.  He is sure of that.

When she asks him home to supper, he says, “Yes,” in nothing flat.
He talks to all her relatives and even holds the cat.
When her annoying sister talks and talks and talks,
he responds politely–he never even balks.
He finally admits that he’s engineered their meeting,
but still the news of it does not set her heart to beating.
Now it is family legend, the story of this mister,
with an unexpected ending. He was there to meet her sister!

 https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/three-letter-words/