Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I am inspired by:

Stories of women who came before

Pioneers who made layers of sod
into homes
Cozy with lamplight
despite curious crawlers
Who ventured in
and were swept out
With the dust that sifted down.

Homesteaders who stood against wind
That threatened their sanity
But instead was christened (Mariah)
And became a companion
against the loneliness.

Mother and daughter
Who drove Pegasus
(an Apperson known affectionately as Peggy)
Across a desert of unmarked prairies
Through towns ghosted by influenza
and war
searching out a way to serve

By a single mother who
Refused pantyhose and pencil skirts
A steady paycheck
A husband!
Choosing instead
The unsung path to business woman

I am inspired by
My roots

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Remember Joy

I remember joy
quivering and leaping
inside a smile
that lit the sides of buildings
as I ran to meet
my baby boy
each evening

I remember joy
made sweeter with anticipation
Hurrying to swoop him up
steal him from watchful eyes
Dance him home
Where I could have his smiles
all to myself

The memory is pale now
edges crumbled
from repeated views
I cast about my kitchen
nibbling edges of things
tasting from every cupboard
but never satisfied
and I realize
I'm searching for
the lost taste of joy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I fear . . . Myself

I fear my weakness, because it makes me vulnerable.

I fear how needy I am. I am desperate for love and comfort and validation from outside.

I am afraid of how mean and petty I can be, because I hurt people.

I am afraid of my greed and selfishness, because they disappoint me.

I am terrified by the black sludge of anger and resentment that resides in me. I fear it will erupt and burn everything around me.

I fear my strength, because it isolates me.

I am afraid of my laziness and complacency, because I don't want to disappoint.

I fear my awkwardness and lack of social skills, because they lead to loneliness.

I fear the voice in my head, because she sees all I do, and calls everything a failure.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I fear . . . Other Moms

I fear the gossiping, cutting tongues of my peers. 

Several books have been written in the past decade about mom-on-mom judgementalism. The books try to codify why women are so hard on each other, scoffing at every choice -- stay at home, work, take (or don't take) your kids to McDonald's occasionally. As far as I can tell, it all boils down to the same striving we all did when we were kids. We all want to be cool, and the easiest way to look good is to deride others. In high school it was about clothes and boyfriends and after-school activities. Now it's about houses and husbands and our children's after-school activities.

I am a good cook, but a mediocre housekeeper. I shiver in fear when my kids have playdates, because I worry about what the other mom will think of my home. I worry when my son wears the same shirt four days in a row. I say yes to activities I should decline, because I want to look "good", whatever that means. I keep quiet when I should yell, because I worry about rocking the boat.

I am embarrassed by my own cowardice, but it's so much easier to try and fit in . . .

I fear . . . Mean Kids

I wrote this poem a few months ago when my son (and family) was in crisis. My terror for his emotional safety has abated, but I am breathless with dread when I think about helping him, and then my daughter, through the emotional rocks of middle and high school.

I am one step removed
And still the name calling
And cruel games
Carve my heart.
No one told me that parenting
Meant living through middle school again.

Now, I have the added responsibility
Of guiding my son
Through these treacherous waters.

I am stuck
Somewhere left of helpless.

I know that ultimately
He must be the one to stop the noise
still I hover
On the periphery
balancing not-jumping-in
(Use your words/steps/ACTIONS)
With the fierce desire
To destroy those
Who wound my boy
(and by proxy, me)

Simmering under it all is the fear
That my son
Will become a catastrophe
Of sadness and anger.

It all comes down
To the blacktop
Where words slice
And children bleed innocence.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

These are a few of my scariest things . . .

I have been challenged by a friend to write more, and to prompt me (and a few others) she gave us assignments. This week, every day I am supposed to write something, anything, on what scares me. All day today I have been ducking the assignment, because it's so personal for me. But I promised, so here goes . . .

I have always been a talker. In middle school I talked, trying to impress; in high school I talked to hide my fear; in college I talked because isn't that what college is about? I talked about politics and philosophy and music and art and traveling and dreams and fears. I talked to anyone who would listen, and many who didn't really want to, but had no choice.

Somewhen along the way, I slowed down. I stopped talking during movies. I practiced listening at coffee houses. I began focusing on the unsaid that happens between words. I learned to hear. And I became embarrassed about how much I had spoken. All along I had talked about me and me and me and me. None of the talking had gotten me anywhere. I didn't have many friends. I wasn't invited to parties. So I tried listening. I listened to heartaches and triumphs. I listened to secrets and facts. I listened until people would call me just to to talk, because they knew I would listen.

I felt important when I talked. I felt needed when I listened.

The problem is, lately I have been doing neither. I have become untethered, and my fear is that I am becoming irrelevant, and therefore invisible. I am fading, becoming a background person. Some people are the center of attention. They have charisma and shine with a particular light. Others are like movie extras. They are necessary to make the shot complete, but they blend into the background. They are invisible to the story. They are familiar and comforting in their presence, but their absence doesn't have a real impact. In fact, during the important moments, their presence is intrusive and unwelcome. 

I don't know how to fix this. I wish I could take a potion and become charismatic. I tried making myself relevant through volunteer work and community activism. I do my best to be a good neighbor, and I reach out the hand of friendship to pretty much everyone. But being useful is not the same as being a friend, and my outstretched hand is often ignored. So I retreat, finding myself hiding in books like I did 30 years ago, and, now, writing. At least with the internet I know my voice will not fade, no matter how ghostly I become.