Buckets of Love
And yet another bucket of sanitized water to pour splashingly into the machine. I do this two days out of seven: clean 14 frozen yogurt machines. The other part of my newly-acquired minimum wage job is serving up frozen yogurt desserts to smiling patrons. It sure beats slinging hash to less than thrilled customers in Mel’s Diner.
Having served my time as a stay-at-home mom, I recently decided to venture into the working world after a 15 year hiatus unarmed with updated certifications or skills. So an opening, a relative, and a few training sessions later, I work five days a week with my oldest daughter, cousins and sister-in-law at a frozen yogurt shop where almost everyone is happy to see me–a clear departure from serving up three meals a day to the takers-for-granted at home.
Working at a store stocked with food items, most of them perishable, cleanliness is more than godliness: it’s health inspection proof. As such, machines that pump out dairy products all day need serious rinsing, not the kind my kids do on those rare occasions–meant to shock more than help–when they “rinse” their crumb and goo-filled dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I’m talking serious wet-downs and wash-throughs with two-gallon buckets of water coursing through two, three, sometimes four times each machine. It’s a laborious task, one that has allowed me to eliminate the tricep/bicep machine from my gym workout as well as sufficiently drenched me in plashy carelessness.
The labor of pouring water or yogurt into the top of machines parked behind the store front only to pump those liquids out through the faceplates levers of those machines in the store remind me of more than a few clichés hatched from Disney movies my growing daughters gaped at, rewinding the videos repeatedly until I could recite every line in perfectly imitated voices and gestures, the circle of life being only one of them. But seriously, this mindless seemingly endless exercise reminds me of how life moves.
When I stayed home with my children, I thought of the endless cycle of food in–food out with diapers and toilet training, washing dishes and clothes, making and cleaning up meals. It seemed like child-rearing was an endless cycle of buckets poured in, through and out–just like my children themselves, the buckets of little lives running around me, seemingly mine to scoop up, fill up with love, wisdom and knowledge, only to have them pour into life, equipped, ready and strong.
But in the end, as I stare at another empty bucket, just having poured all I had into the machine, I realize that is all we are: buckets to be filled so we can fill someone/thing else. My children are nearly grown adults now. I’ve poured all I can into them to set them on their paths, hopefully with powerful liquid love they can pour into others.
On a Winter Solstice morning I carry wood to the fire
and stoke the arcing flame’s urge to obliterate night.
Borean breath burns those bones of trees slant ways
fueling gulps of scorching air borne to the sun’s rays.
Mother-child squats and stares her eyes pierced red
wondering where the winds have taken off the dead.
Her child-mother speaks no more of willow branches.
A baby gone old too, a sooty, sallow skinned witness.
Sheltering arms of her wisdom’s rock a bye morrows
I miss, her torch words of smoked images we chose.
Mother mine of childlike mind your birth was foretold.
Alit on Winter’s day, a searing blame to mothers cold.
With spoken mind’s hibernation, a wintry song is nigh.
Buried deep in fiery sleep is sensor twitching sunrise.
Yet a love surrounds her misty eyed daylight slumber
as Elven sprites spark shards shot of ember’d lumber.
She is my meadow lullaby cracking the icy pines now,
a cataract covered window pane framing a faint brow.
The pitter patterned words of incantations made flesh
are a witch’s brood of progeny, a sweep of stony ash.
The shortest light of the longest night brightens a sky
she never sees anymore in wheel chaired walk a bye.
Maternal flickers of the northern lights in babies’ arms
is left the love encircling a stormy eye’s chaos calmed.
Where is my kelly green, my fern? You have moved back to the pines, and I cannot feel your colors visibly, not distinctly, only slippery shades melding one into the other, making my mind yearn for the malachite forest scene of your coming.
Lately, I hunger green, artichoke, asparagus and avocado, even the one that makes you shudder, olive. I walk hunter, drip sap, and smooth moss, the living greens. I ooze.
Last time, when I stuffed you in a box, you danced me among the seething slits and asses, the indecipherable bodies of flickering light, smoke and sweat, and yours in my mouth, on my tongue, salty and sweet scent of yellow-green sea, the hungering hiss of breath on my lips. We shone, our sheen emerald and gyrated hips of jade.
Those were extraordinary days, that caged time down south, when I watched you walk down the city street beside me, clasping the crook of my arm, or scraping your toes against the heat of the ocean smooth sand and then coming to me in your easeful stride and thin-lipped tolerance. The glint in your eye, teasing out desire, was utterly teal and mint tea.
We have traveled deep in the green of your grass, your trees, you in mine.
In moments like today, when either of us lulls and listens, when your mind is dark smoked with bedeviling thoughts of the other who sometimes sits in that bar stool beside me, the burning that bricks up your walls, dug in deep, show me Harlequin, rifle and army green. I hear silent Screamin’ green. Gut green.
There are places that curve around our minds and make your palms moisten in remembrance of lines drawn with your fingers pressed deep past muscle to bone, firing synapses of wince and grin. Back then, in a commercial cocoon waiting, you cradled the pulsing organ that once belonged to me but now rests full, bleeding warm vital viscous tears of soothing dreams and sighs, painfully powerful pounding love in your hands, your hands that I watched unfold my flesh, uncover the beating mass before my eyes. I crushed down in you, myrtle mine, ensavored, enslaved and succumbed, pinched green.
Mantis, Castleton, India, Persia, Russia and Pakistan, paint the air green, tinting the lens in my favorite hue, you. Courage me green to laurel the winter time til spring, the color of you.