photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash, used with permission
The Drying of Sheets in the Wind
When the world seems in a mess and you wax sanctimonious, railing at the ills of those who make it less harmonious, remember that life’s curses are only temporary. When world events eat at your mind and the world feels scary, remember bed sheets on the line, drying in the sun— the sound of flapping in the wind as their drying was done.
The smell of bright clean sunlight on each wind-softened fold, or the cracking of their ice crystals stiffening in the cold.
Remember their warmth around you, fresh from mother’s mangle? Snapping them out in the air, her bracelets’s harmonious jangle? Her even movements folding them, then spreading them once more for you to slip into your bed as she stood at the door, storybook in hand for that nightly big procession through story after story, read in that grand progression of venturings into a world that seemed so vast and magic, long before you knew the world to also be so tragic.
Let memories of your mother still be a comfort to you— with memories of fresh white sheets. And let them both renew you.
As each wispy object she attaches to her face, these extraneous objects seem somewhat out of place. They flutter from her eyelids like moths before the flame— just the opening number in her makeup game.
As she smooths on her concealer, then powders over all, she does not see me watching her out here in the hall. Never does she hesitate. Brushes grow ever finer as she patiently applies shadow and eye liner.
She does it all so expertly with such consistent flair, then carefully begins to work to rearrange her hair. A little mousse to set the curls, a little spray of mist and she’s prepared a face that is ready to be kissed.
When she comes home, the hair is mussed, one eyelash is askew. One eyelid seems to be of a slightly lighter hue. Although her hairdo’s fallen, still her mood seems somewhat lighter. Her lipstick gone, and yet somehow her color seems much brighter.
One little word transforms a girl to another realm. Makes an unsure teenager the captain at the helm. Just change “make up” to “make out” and her heart takes wing. And woe to any parent who notices a thing!
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.
This is my brother-in-law Jim being silly for illustrative purposes only. jdbphoto
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 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: