Tag Archives: Family

California Skies

I saw myself in the California skies

somewhere else

where I was not

Half-hidden darkness and half-hidden gems

in a southern middle class suburb

We walked to school

and envied the neighbor’s portable television

that occupied the car where our friends watched morning cartoons

as their mom directed street traffic in her blue uniform

No celebrities

except the ones we highlighted in our minds

the girl who played softball like a champ

I couldn’t even catch the ball in our own backyard

Dad tried to teach me but I could never get it

Piano too

I cried in frustration

My dark bangs and protruding belly

ugly in comparison

to my golden-locked neighbor

who had a stomach like an Olympic gymnast

She was the daughter of the mom

with the portable TV

But she wet the bed

and I always felt like a stranger

in her house.

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A Crow’s Call

Interesting are the crows

Their nasal squawks permeate Sunday’s silence

from the mouths of dormant chimneys

There is a purpose to their short, fevered flight patterns

a reason for their dominating calls

But I cannot entirely gather why

as surely it would mean hours upon days to do so

And here in my backyard moments

only a glimpse of their day

The Tufted Titmouse and Chickadee’s chime

barely audible against theirs

Two mourning doves ruffle feathers along the fence’s ridge

and brown squirrels await fallen seed

at the floor of the feeder I have put there

Our human ears distaste that loud caw from above

muffling pleasant birdsong

and perching proudly on our rooftops

But we are in their home.

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Waffles to Donuts

The teenagers are here.

Our house was always the one the kids came to. How many breakfasts of waffles did I make? How many trips to the park did we take? How many Nerf wars battled in these rooms and outside the pale, wooden perimeter? Years and years later, I still find those blue, spongy bullets tucked in corners and hiding among domestic tumbleweeds.

The sleepovers and and get-togethers are less frequent in these late teenage years, but they do happen. Last night my son had friends over. They whooped over video games and a backyard fire pit. This morning they drove themselves to get donuts and we shared laughs in my small, crowded kitchen. I love being a part of their conversations, which normally include musical interests and the mundaneness of high school. I also know to slink away to give them space, as much as is possible in a modest, one-level condo.

But I love the closeness. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are too many distractions for us to not enjoy the closeness. Everyday I go out on my lanai to watch birds. He doesn’t join me in this. It’s not his thing. But he invites me to walk dogs with him on occasion. We snicker about interesting neighbors. Sometimes we don’t say anything at all.

It’s not easy to catch time with him. If I have just five minutes I am grateful. But there’s never really enough time. I love his company so damn much.

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The Sail and the Anchor

On a beach walk I saw a sailboat in the distance on the gulf of Mexico. From the shore it loomed nearer, although not in a morose way. It was big and sturdy and coasted easily on the calm, December water. Its sail was brown like dry earth, with writing I could not make out. All alone out there, no other boats crowding it as they usually do on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.

The boat made me think about people in my life. How some are just a long view away. Some are gliding along the shore, some so far away you can barely feel their presence. Others are lapping at the shoreline, either in happy rest or wanton attention. Some do not cast their nets. Some are long gone, or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea.

There are the boats I try to hail and bring to me, to sit and take comfort in. Those I do not want to sail away. But sometimes they do, or will. And this brings a terror in me I cannot cultivate. It will end the peaceful stature I’ve tried so hard to bring forth and maintain.

Living in the present moment and letting things be as they may is not always simple. The past tries to spin me into its tormenting monsoon. Sometimes I want to moor the hailed boat on my shore and anchor it there forever. But the more I try, the more the boat wants to cast away to sail other blue waters.

If I let it go, will it come back?

If so, will it be solo or bring along a fleet of its own?

. . . . .

A sailboat glided along the distant shoreline

its stately stature coasting on blue December waters

The sail the color of dry earth with writing I could not make out

It appeared as so many people have

Some as that sailboat, just a long view away

Others so far away, their presence barely felt

And more, lapping at the shore line

In happy rest

Or wanton attention

Some do not cast their nets

Others are long gone

or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea

I hail those which envelope comfort

and pray they stay

But some boats sail away

as they are meant to do

And I try not to think of this as a torrent of

sadness and regret

or fight to anchor them forever

For the more I struggle, the farther they sail

along other blue waters.

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One Death at a Time

One death at a time

For I can’t bare more

And they say you are at peace

And this may be so

But watching the breath leave your body was gut wrenching

You are surrounded by rainbows

And there are more songs I cannot listen to

Lingering too long on your exit is a death sentence for presence

Fuel for suffering

All the days of your life cherished

All the days in your absence regretted

Let us grieve not in solidarity

But space in between

Just one death at a time

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Filed under Cherry Pearl, Sunday Night Sonnet

Ghost Town of Your Heart

Written in the midst of the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, April 2020.

This place a kind of ghost town
like the emptiness of your heart
from the isolation
and absence of embrace

Desolate sidewalks
chairs stacked away
and the pastry cases bare

We walked these streets when you were little
and twice while he was alive
You rode the carousel but I
never saw him ride

I like the quiet
this solace to
myself
So I have a space to linger
where there was

But you are always better
than solace.

Sponge docks empty carousel

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All the Flowers of my Childhood

In a dream I saw them
as clear as light
All the flowers of my childhood
The greens and golds
I walked past at midnight
Wispy dandelion seeds swept along cedar
by youthful breath
Clover necklaces
with knots in their stems
Distinct as the flowers of my adulthood
White and exotic and some
bearing fruit
Others only peeking long after
sun gone to slumber
Reds and yellows and umber
Some I cannot name
yet some the same
As those in the garden of
spirit’s infancy.

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The Wild Spring Breeze and All It Brings

My eyes cannot view the sea from here
but its brackish scent wafts through
with the course of spring wind

It reminds me of times spent in its warm, emerald waters
and the passage of time

So fleeting time, in its uncharted path
ever shifting like the wild spring currents

If I could go back again
however I cannot

Here I sit in calmness
breathe what the breeze brings
And know we will again
someday.

Spring Breeze

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Things That Don’t Exist Anymore, Things I Miss, and New Things

Last night I decided to watch a movie from the 90’s that I wasn’t sure I’d seen before. Since I worked at a movie theatre for much of that decade it was a safe bet I had, although the memory was as fuzzy as my comfy house slippers that have become normal footwear during this new Stay-at-Home order.

Chasing Amy is about a guy who falls for a lesbian, and I was curious to see if the story arc involved the lesbian actually falling for the guy, Ben Affleck in this case, a decently attractive man with an annoying over-the-top best friend (sorry Jason Lee, love you more as Earl). I didn’t finish the movie, because I ended up spontaneously video chatting with my real lesbian friend and her wife. Weird things have been happening all around.

So probably because of the weirdness of the world right now, the nostalgia of seeing the trends from the 90’s, the absence of being with my students, and connecting with dear friends virtually after days of not seeing anyone besides by beautiful moody teenage son, I got a little emotional and started a list. Some items are in more than one. There’s an abundance to add but here’s the short version.

Things that don’t exist anymore (some are because of Covid-19 and some are from the passing of decades):
pay phones
people smoking in movies
beepers
calling everyone “bitch”
cars shaped like boxes
rednecks infiltrating the north end of the causeway
life without devices
brown lipstick with lip liner
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall
Happi China
my nail salon
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
Disney World, circa 2008
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

Things I miss (some are because of Covid-19 and some are because of circumstance and the passing of time):
life without devices (in certain situations like mealtimes, trying to have a physical conversation, and while sitting on the front porch)
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
every house, basement, condo I’ve lived in
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
all the loved ones I cared for and lost
all the fall and winter candle scents
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall (and to a lesser extent but still appreciated Countryside mall)
Happi China
my nail salon
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
plastic key baby toys
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
every moment of my son’s growing up years (except those 3-year-old meltdowns)
Disney World before 2015 (it became too crowded, now there’s no one at all)
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

New Things (mostly because of Covid-19):
teddy bears in windows
positive messages in chalk on driveways
Sundays without sirens
unidentified tiny white spiders crawling across my living room tile
empty parking lots and beaches
more families taking walks and playing with their kids

Oh and here’s another list
Things I’m Cherishing Right Now:
my pet lizard’s company
the solace of helpful and kind neighbors
the connection with loved ones via phone, Zoom, social media
my availability to help my son with his schoolwork (although I’m not sure if I’m much help, maybe just emotional support)
food in the fridge, toilet paper in the bathroom
heavenly spring weather
coffee in the morning while listening to birdsong
the goodness and sanity and health of friends and family

Stay safe ya’ll. Stay home. And hug each other (from a distance).

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The Time We Have

Some of us find ourselves with more time on our hands lately. Some of us are deemed an “essential employee”. Whatever your situation, and I hope everyone safe, healthy, and financially stable throughout this strange journey we’re all moving through, there is TIME– to capture, seize, harness. Our state is on a “Safer-at-Home” order. My neighbor says he’s “going out of his mind” yet in that same breath he said he wiped the grey dust off his guitar and clumsily yet earnestly strummed the strings, something he hadn’t done in years. Our community pool is closed due to the current situation. Last Thursday I strolled around the neighborhood for a much-needed leg stretch after work (I’m considered an essential employee and have been sitting in front of a computer every day for hours, not something I’m used to as a Montessori teacher). A mom and her young daughter had filled two blue paddling pools, placed them in their driveway, and were giggling and playfully splashing each other.

Although we have implemented distance learning at our school and conduct regular Zoom meetings, some of my students have taken up knitting. Some have baked sweet, chocolaty treats. Some have FaceTimed for 6 hours while watching the same Netflix series.

I have seen even more families taking walks together than usual. My brother said it is the same where he lives, 700 miles away from me. I’ve smelled the waft of charred food on grills more nights than not. I’ve heard an unusual abundance of birds singing in the tops of the oak and Norfolk pines. Gone are the shrieks of sirens every hour, the blasting hum of airplanes overhead, the smell of air thick with the pollution of car exhaust and industry.

Even though I’m still working, I’ve had a few more moments to enjoy the sound of birdsong, make brownies from scratch, read my current fiction of choice, water my neighbor’s garden, connect with friends I’ve haven’t talked to in months. At first I was consumed by the news and social media but I’m making a concerted effort to put the phone down for chunks at a time (there are some funny memes out there, though).

This week is my son’s 16th birthday. There will not be a car in the driveway with a bow on it (that wasn’t happening anyway). We will not have our usual hibachi feast with friends and family. But we will celebrate in the quiet and simple fashion we’re all becoming familiar with.

I’m just embracing the good that can come from a dire situation. And there is good here. And there is time.

(But I haven’t been to Walmart to buy toilet paper).

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