Friday, November 18, 2011

the last leaf

a cutting breeze bombards the trees. 
the windows, caked with frost,
tremble in the Winter wind
as Autumn's leaves are lost.

the windows, caked with frost, 
obscure the stately oak
as Autumn's leaves are lost
and Winter's inauguration invoked.

obscured, the stately oak,
behind a mask of snow,
and Winter's inauguration invoked
with every frozen blow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Life Like Freshly Washed Linoleum

The air was fresh with the scent of new babies,
Of kisses on foreheads and enviously soft skin.
A strange homecoming; with three instead of two,
New furniture and accessories not included.

Quiet echoed in the doorways,
Except for the occasional scream for nourishment,
But peace prevailed and the floors stayed clean,
Although they got mopped less often.

And now? Now, the floors are dirty as soon as they're washed.
And the air is fresh with the scent of peanut butter.
There are four now, and soon after there will be five.
New furniture and accessories still not included.

Quiet happens only briefly,
And usually we're too tired to hear it.
Peace is something we remember fondly, just like clean floors.
But what we have is better than shiny linoleum.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Strength of Action

There was a strong sensation on her heart, like a can being crushed by powerful fingers, and it was so overwhelming that she could hardly breathe. She could feel her lungs; each distinctly and both much too clearly. It made every breath a conscious effort, a slow and inevitable suffocation surrounded her.

The descent was maddening, this terrible turmoil of crushed heart and ragged breathing. She felt herself falling in to a dark pit that she was too weak to climb out of. Her stomach turned. She crawled along the muddy ground of her mind, struggling to form a single thought. She struggled more to turn the thought in to words, and when she finally forced them out they whispered hoarsely but said nothing.

She tried to yell. She tried to articulate her pain and confusion and frustration. But instead, she meekly whimpered, feeling her lungs rise and fall, feeling her heart straining to beat. A smaller self inside of her weakly banged at the walls of her chest, struggling for freedom. It was no match for the cold exterior she had developed over the years.

What is the answer? She wondered. Death? Escape? Insanity?

Nothing resonated. Nothing truly soothed the pain.

But the knocking on her chest grew stronger, and somewhere from deep in her soul an answer shouted, MOVE.

Move? She furrowed her brow in thought. She shook her head and responded, impossible.

The voice answered, MOVE.

She resisted still. She could barely breathe, could barely lift a limb. Move where? She didn't understand.


She thought she had been trying. But the knocking intensified, and she was suddenly aware that she hadn't tried at all. She had merely reacted.

She reached her hand above her head, feeling for some leverage. Every inch of the journey was painful. She still struggled to remember to breathe; her muscles trembled and her crushed heart tumbled on, threatening permanent dysfunction.

She toiled a long while, although she couldn't say for sure how long. An hour? A day? There was no way to know. It was dark in the pit, and she couldn't see any light above. She focused on every movement, yelled out with every bend of a limb. Everything hurt, but the knocking pushed her on.

Keep moving. Keep trying. Keep doing.

She still wasn't sure what it meant or what it was. But she noticed she wasn't struggling to remember to breathe. And later, she noticed her heart no longer felt crushed. Her body moved freely, and her voice came out strong.

As she reached a hand out of the dark, muddy pit, she sighed. She was dirty, and tired, and confused, but she was also relieved. And she knew that no matter what, if she just kept moving, she could conquer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lola Learns to Fly

Lola Learns to Fly

Lola was only four the first time she flew. Although she's now aware, as a logical adult, that her first flight was a daydream (most likely inspired by a nearly fatal head injury earlier that week), she still remembers it like a memory, not a dream. Sometimes she wonders==maybe she really did fly that day. Every time she thinks of it, even now, 23 years later, it is still as tangible as the grass between her toes.

The whole scene is incredibly clear in Lola's mind. She was four. The day was bright and hot and a little humid--a typical day in Texas. Lola was miserable because she couldn't go swimming with her sisters. She had twelve stitches stretching across the top of her forehead where her hair began and her face ended. The pain was minimal now, except when she raised her eyebrows, but the hair near her injury had been shaved and her scalp was itchy. She kicked a rock down the narrow sidewalk in front of her family's apartment, sticking her bottom lip out in an impressive pout. She wanted to swim so badly. She was hot and bored and she missed the delicious sensation of cool water gliding along her skin and lifting her smoothly to the surface. But she couldn't get the stitches wet. And no amount of pleading had convinced her mother that she would keep her head dry if she was allowed to go into the pool.

There were no other children around (Probably all in the pool, Lola thought to herself grumpily), and the heat of the day kept any adults who might be around inside near an air conditioner and a sweating, cold glass of sweet tea. She was alone, standing on a hot, dry sidewalk bordering an even hotter blacktop parking lot. The heat shimmered off the pavement, looking like translucent waves from a distance. Lola began to imagine that the air around her was as thick and deep as the humidity made it feel. She was suddenly pushing her way through the heavy air, each step's energy forcing the air outward in jiggly waves, reminding her of Jell-O. As she stood there twirling her arms and watching the air bounce around her, Lola had a sudden and very compelling thought. With the air being so thick and heavy, she might be able to swim through it, since she couldn't get in the pool.

Lola had always loved water and had learned to swim at a very young age. At four, she could already swim the length of the pool, traveling along the bottom where the pressure of the water squeezed at her eardrums. It was the feeling of gliding through the water that she was pining for--feeling it all around her but moving past her at the same time, never touching the same water twice in a row.

The more Lola thought about swimming in the air, the more convinced she became that it was possible. She wondered how she should begin. Should she lay back and try to float, tipping her head back until her legs began to rise, like she did in the pool? No, she thought this air is thicker than the water. And besides, if I'm wrong I might hit my head again. And Mom would KILL me if I came home bleeding again.

Though this thought was fairly reasonable, it was quickly countered by a strange twist in her 4-year-old logic: she needed a running start. Lola pushed through the air until she reached the end of the sidewalk--the farthest she was allowed to go by herself. She could just barely hear giggles and splashing coming from the pool.

Lola stuck her arms straight out at her sides and took a deep breath. She inhaled sharply and then puffed out her cheeks, holding her breath like she was getting ready to dive. She started running as fast as she could, quickly picking up speed despite her tiny legs and the heavy air. After a few steps, she pushed off the ground with her right foot, stretching her arms over her head and pointing her toes. She dove in to the heavy air, having faith that it would catch her and hold her like water.

She was right.

Instead of falling flat on her face like any logical adult would have suspected, Lola glided gracefully through the air. Once she was moving, the air stopped feeling heavy and gelatinous. Instead she felt soft and weightless, like floating on water without the wet. Tiny giggles escaped her throat as she twirled and dove across the bright afternoon sky. Although she was a brave little girl, she was also prudent, and decided to stay close to the ground, just in case her sudden gift of flight was short-lived. She hovered just a few feet of the ground, marveling at how different the world looked even from this relatively low height. She rolled over on her back and relaxed, letting out a contented sigh. Feeling like she could stay this way forever, Lola was disappointed to hear voices approaching from the pool. Her sisters were returning.

Lola decided she'd rather not let anyone know about her ability to fly, so she floated back down to the ground and crouched on the ground, pretending to watch a little hill of bright red fire ants as they scurried to and fro. Her older sister, Katie, called her name and admonished her for getting so close to the fire ants; didn't she know they would bite her? Lola shrugged and stifled a laugh. If only her sister knew what Lola did. Flying was a lot more interesting than fire ants, anyway. She ran to her sisters' side, grabbing Katie's hand as they headed toward their apartment.

Lola thought she'd be able to fly again another day, but every time she tried, she couldn't do it. The air never seemed heavy enough again, nor her feet light enough. Somehow she knew she was still capable of it, but the situation was never quite right. She longed to feel the wind on her face again, and to feel the freedom of air beneath her feet. But she settled for a nice, long swim three weeks later when she had her stitches removed. After that day, she always imagined herself flying every time she dove in to the pool.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Creativity Boot Camp
Day 6
Topic: fluid

Today's challenge was to step outside of our "rules" of our craft and try to change it up a bit. Since I'm a little all over the place--I write essays, fiction, and poetry--I was trying to think of what would be outside of my "normal" way of writing. I finally decided on a haiku, because it is a fixed form (a style I rarely ever write in), and it forces you to write very simply (I usually write long, descriptive phrases/sentences). So, here's my stab at it.


translucent orbs form
reflecting light, rolling down
the green morning leaves

Thursday, June 10, 2010

bittersweet accomplishments

Creativity Boot Camp
Day 5
Topic: Grow

There are few things in my life as precious as witnessing my children learn something new. There is such sublime joy to be found in these tiny moments. Suddenly, the bad day I had melts away in the presence of their innocence and simple contentedness.

There are milestones, of course--first steps, first words, potty training-- but there are also a great deal of other "firsts that don't get quite as much cultural attention. They are nonetheless milestones that mark the cobblestone streets of youth.

As parents, we notice all of these.

First time putting on your own shoes.

First time drawing a picture (that actually looked like something!).

First time building something by yourself with your blocks.

These aren't huge things. They may not be particularly life-changing. But they are still exciting and important.

It isn't entirely because they learned to do something new. It's not just because we watched them try, unsuccessfully, until one day something clicked. Moments like these are precious on a much grander scale, as well.

These little moments--these day-to-day accomplishments-- are hard evidence of the growth our children are doing every day. They might be mundane, but they are still sacred, precious miracles.

Like finding a flower this afternoon where there wasn't one this morning.

I live for these daily milestones, but witnessing them is bittersweet. These moments make me proud and joyful, but they also remind me that time is passing. Some time all too soon, day-to-day joy will be harder for them to discover. Some time soon, they won't be sheltered under my wing.

This is the hardest part of parenting.

Because the very thing I'm working hardest at is also something I wish didn't have to happen.

I'm helping them grow.

LOUD like lightning

Creativity Boot Camp
Day 4
Topic: Heavy Metal

LOUD like lightning
And bright like thunder
Pressing my eardrums
Like earth torn asunder

Pressing my eardrums
Like earth torn asunder
Shaking my ribcage,
Pulling me under

Shaking my ribcage,
Pulling me under
Pulsing, convulsing,
Is it music? I wonder

Pulsing, convulsing
Is it music? I wonder
LOUD like lightning
Bright like thunder