THE OLD LADY DISCOVERS FACEBOOK AND OFFERS A SORT OF APOLOGY

THE OLD LADY DISCOVERS FACEBOOK

AND OFFERS A SORT OF APOLOGY

All you want to do

is touch.  It used to be easy,

while winnowing grain or stalking beasts.

Your bodies remember 

the smell of sweat in the longhouse,

gossip by the well, 

embraces under the trees.

   

Once you spoke while hanging wash

or mending nets or minding babies

or scything hay or boiling sap

or making shoes or spinning thread

or pounding nails or stitching quilts.

Now

you are scattered like chaff,

dispersed as hunted game,

 

and so are we.    

 

Oh, children, do not complain at us!

We are as exiled as you.

Like you we want to find our friends

and digging is so hard.

Disembodied

as you, we post lines 

and flickers to our tornaway tribes.  

Now the ether carries in bits

our sketchy sentences, our loneliness,

tears that this strange communication

without skin or breath can maybe begin to mend.

 

I wrote this years ago, when I first joined facebook. Now that I’ve deleted my account, I find  it intriguing that this was the original intent.

WE HAVE NO WORD

WE HAVE NO WORD

. . . for that feeling when the car pulls away

carrying the children home and the house 

is quiet again as it always is now

except when they come

with their suitcases and boxes and diaper bags

and sippy cups and potty chair,

and we take the portable crib

and the high chair out of the attic

and the blocks and wooden train and smurfs

and drum and tambourine out of the trunk,

and the three-year old takes the big metal bowls

and the measuring cups and spoons 

out of the cupboards and we

take the old picture books off the shelf

and make sure the camera batteries are charged.

And when they go, we put it all back

and get that feeling that has no name. 

March Prompt #7: The Chair that was First Owned by my Great-Great Uncle Asa

THE CHAIR THAT WAS FIRST OWNED BY MY GREAT-GREAT UNCLE ASA

March Prompt #7

He wasn’t actually my uncle. He was my cousin’s uncle, on the other side of her family, you see, but we called him uncle because of that chair. It was passed on to my cousin’s Great Aunt Martha (not my great-aunt, just hers) who was his second daughter-in-law, and she passed it on to her son Freddy, who of course was my cousin’s actual uncle. He was the youngest in that family. Johnny, the middle one, married a Brady girl, and we have, at least my husband has, connections to the Bradys since his sister-in-law’s first husband was a Brady, and her oldest daughter. She didn’t marry his brother till he died. My husband’s. brother. Anyway, Freddy—my cousin’s real Uncle Freddy but we all called him that, used to come to Thanksgiving at my Aunt Bet’s. She was my cousin’s mother, Dad’s sister. So he was my uncle’s brother by marriage. He was the oldest.  Never married. No one ever said why, but we have our suspicions. And one Thanksgiving, when he sat down at the table on that rickety old chair—you know how everybody has to haul out all the chairs at Thanksgiving if there’s a big crowd and there was always a big crowd at Aunt Bet’s since she and Dad were two of seven and Uncle John—not the John who married the Brady girl—that was Freddy’s brother—my uncle who was Aunt Bet’s husband had the same name—  was one of four and by then they all had kids, except Uncle Freddy, and she always took in strays besides. People, I mean, but she did take in some cats, too, but mostly they stayed up in the barn except that orange one that everybody called Blink because it was missing an eye. But he sat on that old chair and even though he was pretty skinny it broke under him. Bumped his head on the edge of the table on his way down. We all laughed, and so did he, but he was never the same after. Neither was the chair, so Uncle John threw the chair in the fire and Uncle Freddy had to sit on a stack of apple crates they hauled in from the shed.

Winter Prompt #28: Finding Toys on the Street

FINDING TOYS ON THE STREET

Winter Prompt # 28 

He’s on the second shelf between

the first doll I made and the bricks

I use as bookends. I suppose

he once was plush with brown velvet

paws. I never knew him plush.

One amber eye is nearly blinded

with the straggle. His joints

are still good. Maybe his mouth

and nose were embroidered

by Mother, who found him

in a trash can in front of Veterans’ Row

when she was pregnant with me

and had no money for toys.

She was learning how to live

with a husband with PTSD,

the farm boy she married—

and Mother all the way from Cleveland—

waking screaming with flashbacks

of the crashing planes, the burning

friends. Later the bear—I named

him Pooh—taught me

about steadfastness and make-believe.

About comfort and the importance

of a second chance.

Winter Prompt #14: Climb Something

CLIMB SOMETHING

Winter Prompt #14

(for Janice)

Katahdin, behind my husband and our fifteen-year old son,

leapers both. Up from the pleasant green, the sunshine,

up above the treeline, up to the gravel steeps.

The knife edge.

(Just close your eyes and take my hand.)

The boulders.

Thirty miles of boulders, or was it one hundred miles?

John and Henry leaped from man-sized rock

to man-sized rock while I picked my way around

or crept up and over like a semi-torporous lizard.

Two goats and a lizard climb Katahdin.

The summit was in cloud.

There was no “view,” only miles and miles of cairns

marking the trail, or perhaps the hundreds of lizards’ graves.

Winter Prompts #4: Another Cup of Coffee

ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE

Winter Prompt #4

 

But this is my first—unless you count all

the cups I’ve had, starting when I was sixteen,

at church camp, tired because I’d been up late

making out with another counselor.

Then almost every morning for the rest

of high school—Dad’s strong stuff—A & P’s Bokar

was it?—made in a cheap percolator.

Then bad college dining hall coffee, and

during exams, instant made with tap water.

The last cup I had with Tom, in “The Den.”

The first cup I had with John, in “The Den.”

The coffee I made in the Corningware

percolator we got as a wedding gift.

Later, we got  a Melita, because

some cool friends had one. We drank their coffee

while we plotted the revolution that

never came. And then my dear French press.

How many cups in how many coffee

shops with friends, or alone with a notebook?

How many in diners and restaurants?

How many, early mornings, in camp grounds?

So yes. Another one, this morning. Blue mug,

dark roast. The old white cat, my silver pen,

the glass-topped table desk, the brass lamp. . .

Jan. 23, 2018

CLOSETS

CLOSETS

. . . open every closet in the future and evict

all the mind’s ghosts. . .

~Hafiz, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

Some closets are full

of sentimental things that mattered once:

toys and photographs, letters, old poems.

The ghosts tiptoe around the dusty boxes;

their bony toes rattle on the floor.

The ghosts moon over a ragged doll,

caress a tattered book.

Other closets are stuffed with

things of the mind, things of the heart:

things I might have done,

things I might have made,

people I might have loved.

The ghosts shake their powdery heads.

Ah, they whisper, your precious past.,

so sad, so sweet, so—passing.

 

The ghosts are not so easy to evict.

They cajole, they whine,

touch all my soft spots.

They look like my mother,

my dead sister,

the men who came so close.

They say they remember

all the stories I have to tell,

so how can I send them away?

When I look fierce at them,

they weep.

 

You are future ghosts!  I scream,

You are not the past,

you are not even memory, 

but fear of memory and its distortion.

You are not keepsakes, but anticipation of loss.

You are anxieties of times to come, 

you cover my pasts with corruption,

you haunt my futures with regret.

Be gone!

 

The ghosts whimper, they cringe.

I stamp my feet, wave my broom.

They diminish.

They flutter away like ragged moths.

The future becomes nothing but itself

and all my things, nothing but things.