Mother, you had me.


What mother hasn’t asked herself what it is to be a mother? Cradling fragile life in the palms of your heart, ever on your mind, on your breast, in your nose, wearing them like perfume, you ask yourself how you could possibly keep yourself from hurting them. You ask yourself how you ever lived without them, as if that time before them barely existed. At least I wondered how.

And even now as their floating circumference widens, their sights set on spaces and places far from the core (and corps)–deliberately so–I question my hand, the child crafter’s touch. Did I spoil them too much, under-prepare them for a world I could not have conceived let alone predicted? Have I taught them healthy respect for life, theirs and others’, as well as their fellow planetary inhabitants? If I built their core properly, they will stand.

I’ve learned in yoga that a strong core lies behind every movement, every asana. Such is life. I think of that time a mommy just like me commented that my two-year old seemed to have a strong core. I recall few complimentary words about my mothering worth noting. That one I remember.

My own mother stands symbolically now, like a white alabaster Greek statue, only emaciated rather than plump-full eternally life. Death could not come slower. But she stands (still, sometimes) rickety and frail, tremulous, palsied, but awake somehow–a matriarchal stance to life. Just.don’t.give.up. Your children live for, through, by and despite you. Even after-breath. 

We’ve done our part, passing on the genetic code, dicing up human destiny somehow. We’ll rest soon and long.

Happy birthday Mom. I’ll never give you up.  

On the Eve of Yet Another


Sitting across the table from my oldest at our favorite eatery, I could not help seeing what others must have seen in me 36 years ago: a tall, lean vibrant girl with a hyperactive, inquisitive mind and over burdened sense of responsibility for the buoyancy of the conversation. 

I love to watch her gesticulating hands, the petulance in her sea green eyes and the force of her concerns and wishes. She is all youth and wonder, strength and conviction.

My own youth is like an old 35 mm flickering reel, some parts skipping in fractured movement. The plot always seems to nearly unfold just as the threads run wild and loose. Just like me to crave the missing cracks, what lies in those stuttered jumps in the movie, however slight and seemingly insignificant.

If I could make a real movie of my teens to twenties, I would splice together actual footage of all the moments, days and weeks of laughter. So much laughter. My friends and I knew how to chuckle and wheeze ourselves into spasms, once we broke the ironic smirks broadcasting our quick savvy and adoptive world weariness.

The range of emotion exaggerated on a face, the wide-open eyes in surprise or indignity, the outstretched fingers flung from the span of taut exasperation palms, I recall to fleeting memories evoked by my daughter’s questioning advice on relationships, friendships and the state of the world.

She asks me who in their right mind would have a kid with our sadly looming future. And at the peak of her voiced question mark, I hear my own 20 year old voice chiming in, silently mouthing the words with her in grainy film footage. 

If I squint my reality a tad, she is me. 

But on the eve of yet another birthday, one of those off years signaling no milestones, no edges to encroaching decades or mid-split 5’s, I find myself repeating to her: “If I could give you one thing, my most valuable gift, I would export the revelations I gained both wasting time and suffering, just to push your learning curve so far back your starting point advantage would increase the laughing years twenty fold.”

Which always draws a blank green-eyed stare of indulgent tolerance.

By the time she gets it, hopefully I won’t be mere flickering light through film base covered in gelatin emulsion. 

Cradle to Grave


One more I honor and pray will not be the last,

This poem, your day, awakenings to more days

Filled with complaints, facts, lies, jokes and sighs

Those last with mortal grimace and existential pain–

And celebrations.

No one fills your place, not before or after,

None who sits just where you do in my house,

Or my car, no one quite like you who inherited and grew

status, class, gender, race, trait, stance and ethnicity.

You made me.

One day you will unmake me just like the sun and earth,

My fiery Death whose smoke will awaken the ravens

Loosen charred Regret and Steam, neither life companions

On my walk, my rise and fall, blossom and decay, my stain

After you.
 

Love is not a plenum

image

I have the most difficult time imagining let alone explaining the Big Bang. There is this thing to which there is no outside but contains everything–all space, time, motion, light, life, stars, planets, galaxies, moons, atmosphere, gravity and imagination. I can only envision a balloon expanding that captures a portion of its essence, its configuration. But balloons are plenums of sorts.

ple·num
ˈplenəm,ˈplēnəm/
noun
1.
an assembly of all the members of a group or committee.
2.
PHYSICS
a space completely filled with matter, or the whole of space so regarded.

I refer to the second definition when I think of the universe’s (or multiverse’s) origins. But no one knows whether the universe is a plenum. Our minds can only understand to the reaches of our imaginations.

One day, over 17 years ago, I lay with my then 2 and 1/2 year old first born curled in fetal sleep. To this day, I can recall so crisply the angst I felt with another life brewing inside me. “How could I possibly love another child when my heart is so full with this one here?” I thought in a painfully probably hormone-induced teary-eyed moment.

Though quite illogical, the angst grew during my second pregnancy. Today, as that second born turns 17, I reflect on the framework of her arrival–as a storied gift to her sister and an ill-conceived mathematical challenge to my miscalculated quantity of allotted love.

Like the Big Bang theory, the mystery of beginnings, dimensions and edges to inside and outside belong to love–which is definitely not a plenum.

Happy birthday to my brown-eyed wonder.

Costa Rica

  
That trip, a peculiar humid mixture of venality–yoga and sexting–changed my life. I left some part of my former self in Costa Rica. I felt amputated, as if a piece of me was missing when I returned. This haunting continued for many months afterward, a sensation like I never left the Carribbean, where I spent four days detoxing the poisons of a lifetime of accumulated dissonance: misdirected dives into careers and relationships that formed an image I believed I was–not who I was.

On the fifth day, I descended from the jungle bungalow where I lay hammocked asleep with a book on my lap, recovering from four yoga classes a day: sun rise, late morning, late afternoon and late evening. Only on that day, my fiftieth birthday, after a morning yoga session spent weeping to the chant inside my head: “Where have you been? Where are you going?” did I go to the tiny boat village to dine at a local restaurant and wade in the clear waters of a native beach. Only then did I join the rest of the sea hut world layered along the shore, leaving behind the longing lover living in my phone, the headphones of seclusion, and the drowning jungle chorus of howling monkeys, cicadas and neon frog-lets.

 The colors of the rain forest in phosphorescence glittering on the wings of giant blue butterflies or on the backs of lightning flash lizards delighted me as much as the colors of flesh, lips, hips and hair of lovemaking in my imagination.  On a life-shift trip, I turned around.

Today I lost a Teenager

  
She’s 20.

No more kid stuff.

Taking hold of the reigns now

or soon;

she’s doing the best she can.

Life’s a dare to this one.

The pink princess 

in full length satinate gown

and high hennin 

who paraded the deli 

and bakery aisles at 5,

unfazed by stares and 

critical remarks, judgment,

now browses thrift stores

along drizzly Seattle store

fronts; her pink fingernails 

tap store front windows

reflecting a pink rain parka.

She, ever the reserved

rebel, attention-seeking 

hermit and lover of the

ironic, twisted and fair,

bristles at injustice

and believes in rescue,

animals, people and causes.

Her creative bent 

will carry her to lands

exotic and disturbing, 

she with the peace corps

heart and that childish

pampered primpery,

but her practical wit and

earthy reason will ground 

the journey into decades,

the twenties’ bent up

crazy pinnacle of strength,

stamina, speed, purpose-

less with purpose and youth

in all its media-cracked-up

to be supercharged, idolized

and adored, culturally induced

figural, figurative and free beauty.

**************************

Enjoy the run, my princess.

The best is yet to come.

  

One week 

  
He keeps referring back to school days

And clinging to his child

Fidgeting and bullied

His crazy wisdom holding onto something wild

He asked me to be patient

Well I failed

“Grow up!” I cried

And as the smoke was clearing he said

“Give me one good reason why”

(“Strange Boy” excerpt–Joni Mitchell. Happy Birthday, JM!!)

 

Day 7

I was never an outcast. If I was, I never noticed. However, something mysterious was apparently amiss in the first grade to warrant seeing the school psychologist a few times. I vaguely remember. Dr. Richardson, a thin, blonde professional-looking woman in a suit, something notable for the year 1966 to even me at my meager six years or so. She was kind, thin with narrow, burnt red lips. She made me feel comfortable as much as possible given that I was ultimately aware that I joined the good doctor for some reason I neither understood nor cared for. What was wrong?

 I only knew that I sat at a desk stationed near the teacher, Mrs. Moynahan, and suffered from the angst of not knowing what to do at times, lost inside myself. Not knowing the way, the code, the proper steps or a place to start always sliced deeply, caused undue distress. Missing information meant I had no control over my environment and fulfilling others’ expectations of me. 

I recall the first day of kindergarten not wanting my mother to leave me, and she having to wait outside the classroom while I was inside knowing she was out there, or thinking she was, and even considering the possibility that she was not actually outside the door but making me believe she was. That latter idea, the fact that I could not know whether she was out there was more distressing, keeping me on the edge of tears more so than the abandonment itself. Abandonment fears were not in my mental vocabulary. Being deceived piqued my radar more than a fear of being left, which rarely occurred to me.

On the first day, kindergarten felt like fear and restrained tears, despite the sweet, slow-moving, wide-girthed, dark-skinned Mrs. Dudley, who cajoled song from us five-year olds, cheery angled songs that induced amnesia, like the distractions any adult relies on to detour a child’s unwanted emotional expression. Do you know the muffin man? 

I knew being left with questions. But that was all I recall–that and my trips to the psychologist in first grade, moving up two classes in the school smarts hierarchy in fourth grade, being teased by Mr. Muller in fifth grade for having the same name as someone in a newspaper clipping who married someone with the same name as a boy in the class, Robert Pitt. I was mortified. I remember having Denise Eccleston back in class with me then after missing her in fourth grade, the year of my upgrade. She was my best pal in third grade; we loved silliness and laughter. She was my one good friend in fifth. I only needed one–one at a time. 

A Mother’s Birthing Flight

  
credit: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/03_04/lonelyDM2803_468x562.jpg



On a late Sunday she was born early
her mother in teary wondered weary
looked her in the eye and challenged
“Grow stronger and quicker than me
and don’t ever take nobody’s charity.”


Then she laid her baby down to die
her own ailing heart beat-less inside
but that baby survived, grew round,
fed by couple-strife seeking solution, 
by priestly advice for consummation.


“Raise a child in charity’s appearance
and through her grow into one; hence
your conflicts will vanish in loving care
when hours turn into decades quickly
and so save a loving vow’s guarantee.”   


Today she sits on a birthday morning
and stares at the street cars passing,
no one stopping by for cake and gifts;
she regarding the hours of a first light
contemplates a mother’s birthing flight.


Felicitations on the Auspicious Occasion of Your Natal Day!

Congratulations to all who have survived another day

Opened their eyes to the sky and the light just to say

Thank you to whomever it pleases for my birth, today.

 

And in case you didn’t know, here is the skinny on birthday celebration ritual as we know it here in America today.

This is Why You Get to Celebrate Your Birthday Every Year.

  credit: happy birthday mistress 

Wait for the last one on this short video:  it’s worth it.

#peace