Friends, family, cats, dogs, computer (blog), chocolate, art, art supplies, my house, my garden. These are my favorite things.
Mother’s Day Long After Mother
I feel the promise of rain in the gusting wind,
and in that far off wail of babies tired of the family gathering,
wanting their mothers to themselves.
Mother’s Day in Mexico is a three-day strung-out affair*
stretched out over the motherly memories of Gringos and Mexicanos.
Flowers fill the aisles of Costco and then melt
into the populace, streaming out in grocery carts by the threes
to mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Pink cakes with chocolate scribbles fill huge center bins at Walmart,
appreciation of mothers being a going commercial concern
all over the chainstore world.
My mother I nestle in my memory like a beautiful uncut gem.
I trim off what ugly parts there might have been.
Rough stone falls away from the faceted center
until there she is, finished, refined in memory,
the way that she would want to be–
every hair in place, lipstick carefully aligned over a silly
Erma Bombeck grin, a small dog in her lap.
Or, better, wipe off the lipstick and muss the hair.
That same dog stretched out,
fencing in her stomach, waist and thigh
as she lies spread careless on the sofa,
asleep, a book having just fallen from her hand.
*By way of a short explanation, Mother’s day in Mexico is always celebrated on May 10, whereas by those expats such as myself who grew up in the U.S., it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, which this year fell on May 12.
Family Christmas: Reporting the Action
We’re resplendent with family dripping like jewels—
gaudy ones, nosy ones, darlings and fools.
They group ’round the Christmas tree, collect in groups.
Grandpa stands proudly while Uncle Al stoops.
The aunties are formidable with demands:
a nip for their toddy, while meanwhile their hands
examine the silver, the linen and lace,
draw dust trails with fingers and make a shocked face.
Why do we anticipate this all year long?
When families gather, it’s bound to go wrong.
And yet it goes on countless year after year.
We call each one “sweetheart” or “darling’ or “dear.”
We carve up the turkey, deliver the blessing,
serve up the cranberries, yams and the dressing.
We nod our heads “yes” and agree with the prattling,
try to avoid unavoidable battling.
They open our presents and do not dare spurn them,
yet we know in our minds that they’ll surely return them.
The children are running and fussing and fighting,
the parents regretting that they’re overnighting.
Your sister’s dog likes to beat up on yours.
He lies on his back, pinned down with all fours.
Meanwhile you give thanks for all you are worth
that tomorrow, again, there will be “Peace on Earth.”
The prompt words today are resplendent, formidable, anticipate and family.
My dad in a slower mode of conveyance.
My father on vacation was robotic in his thrust.
His modus operandi was to get there or to bust—
another hundred miles or so before we stopped to sup,
and we rarely got a room before the moon was up!
When he hit the highway, he became another man.
No mere roadside attraction could deflect his driving plan.
In those days of two-lane traffic and a speed limit of fifty,
he thought five hundred miles a day sounded rather nifty.
Fathers prone to threaten, who hit and rage and cuss
are, I fear, too often too ubiquitous.
But this was not my father. Rage was not his style.
He simply had addictions to mile after mile!
My dad was generous and fun. He told a story well,
but to take a trip with him was nothing short of Hell.
His proclivity to “get there,” I fear was never curable,
and so family vacations were just barely endurable!
My sisters and I with my dad. He didn’t usually look this grim!
The prompt words today are highway, durable, robot and ubiquitous. Here are the links:
Sins of Omission
We’ve had a long haul, dear, with a heavy load
over a long and difficult road.
That day that you left and never came back,
the whole world you left felt stretched on the rack.
The dogs howled the moon, the horses milled ‘round.
Then everything stilled, just poised for the sound
of your homebound footsteps. We listen still.
The kids often bound to the top of the hill
looking for something. Perhaps it is you.
From sunup to sundown, we still hope to view
the sight of your figure rounding the bend
so our struggles without you can finally end.
Did you mean to leave or was it a quirk?
Were you a victim or were you a jerk?
Wherever you’ve gone to, here’s what you’re missing:
my shepherd’s pie and all of my kissing,
backrubs and whispers deep in the night,
love’s deep caresses and its sweet bite.
Selfish adventurer, it’s time to atone
for the sins you’ve amassed while off on your own.
Come home to your duty. Come home to your life.
Come home to your kids, your parents, your wife.
Your old life awaits you. Wherever you roam,
there must be a road that will lead you to home.
The prompt today is haul.
Do you remember toothbrushes lined up on a rack
in the medicine cabinet, at the mirror’s back?
Your father’s brush was ocean blue, your mother’s brush was green,
your sister’s brush the reddest red that you had ever seen,
whereas your brush’s handle had no color at all—
as though it was the ugliest sister at the ball.
How you yearned for color, reaching for your brush
as the first summer’s meadowlark called to break the hush
of the early morning while you were sneaking out
to be the first one out-of-doors to see what was about.
Making that fast decision, your hand fell on the red,
thinking your sister wouldn’t know, for she was still abed.
You put toothpaste upon it, wet it at the tap
and ran the brush over each tooth as well as every gap.
Each toothbrush flavor was different, your older sis had said,
so you thought it would be different brushing your teeth with red.
Your father’s brush was blueberry, your mother’s brush was mint.
Your sister’s luscious cherry—its flavor heaven-sent.
“But because you are adopted,” your sister had the gall
to tell you, “they gave you the brush with no flavor at all.”
You waited to taste cherries, but that taste never came.
That red brush tasted like toothpaste. It tasted just the same
as every other morning when you brushed with yours.
You heard your sister stir upstairs, the squeaking of the floors.
You toweled off her toothbrush and hung it in the rack
and started to run out the door. Then something brought you back.
You opened up the mirror and grabbed her brush again.
A big smile spread across your face—a retaliatory grin.
The dread cod liver oil stood on the tallest shelf.
You were barely big enough to reach it for yourself.
You dipped her toothbrush in it, then quickly blew it dry.
Replaced it, shut the cabinet, and when you chanced to spy
your own reflection in the glass, each of you winked an eye.
Then you ran out to cherry trees to catch the first sunbeam
and brush your teeth with cherries while you listened for her scream.
Yes, we really did have a cherry orchard behind our house. You can see the trees peeking up behind the wild rose bushes directly behind the trellis in the picture above. This is my older sister Patti and I. Yes, she really did tell me I was adopted. (I wasn’t.) No, I never did smear her toothbrush with cod liver oil. The retaliation part is just a mental one, sixty-some years too late, I’m afraid. She has since redeemed herself.
The prompt today is toothbrush.