Hour Twelve – Fire

Fire

Remember the story you told me?

The story of finding your heart?

Then, I told you I once walked

on fire, that burned the fear

I held too long. Too

long for love, and

other joys

to dance-

now!

Hour Eleven – Forgiveness

Forgiveness

 

Forgive me.

I seem to have

fallen in love with a

Forest Ranger.

 

I say forgive me,

because when I say

Love. And I say

Forest Ranger – you may think:

Ohhhh. Uh Huh. Guy in gumboots

with plenty of Sourdough

starter spread around his cabin!

 

You may think: I’ll bet that girl’s on

Cloud Nine, and ready to plant Periwinkle

around some hand-built cabin

on the mountainside. Maybe start up a small

storefront to sell the needle-point hangings

I’ll be framing.

 

Forgive me, but that is not my Sweetie.

Yes, she is a Forest Ranger. But – she climbs

to work every day up 15 flights of a skyscraper

in the city. She beats everyone in her biking group

on their commute downtown.

 

And . . . she makes the best Sourdough bread

in the neighborhood.

Forgive me. We ate the last of the

loaf for dinner – and

I don’t have any left to share!

Hour Ten – Thanksgivukkah

 

Thanksgivukkah

 

This year, Hanukkah begins on Sunday, November 28th.  In other words, in the US, just as we scrape the last of the Thanksgiving potatoes from the containers in the back of the fridg – it will be time to heat up the oil and make latkes. Thus: Thanksgivukkah!

 

This is the poem that I wish could be a short, graphic piece with lots of cute

stick-figure family members, Stars of David, Menorahs, Christmas trees, and lights.

 

This is the poem that tells the story of:

Catholic (but not really, anymore) girl

marries Jewish boy.

Time goes by and they find themselves with two

Jewish-Irish sons who decide it would be fun

to be born at the same time as Hanukkah and Christmas

and those cute boys have lots of relatives wondering:

What’s Up!?!

 

This is the poem, which (sorry) I don’t know how to add graphics to,

that lets you know we made it!

 

This stick-figure family (secretly us!) has managed to muddle through many years of:

Thanksgiving (Oh yes – our little family is vegetarian, so no stick-figure Turkeys!) Eight Nights of Hanukkah, which come on different days every year, Winter Solstice – which the Mommy in this family loves, and a patched-together Christmas gathering for the extended family who always wants a tree! We should probably add a stick-figure Buddha, and ancient Celtic symbols.

 

In the sequel to my graphic piece here – you will discover that eventually a grandson was born. He knew it was very clever to combine everything into one giant pile of presents, so he was also born in mid-December, on the same day as his uncle. This boy is a very talented artist, so someday you may actually see the graphic version of this story.

 

And – then – another clever grandson was born. He knew that if you just wait for February to be born – you won’t have to eat left-over latkes on your Birthday!

 

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Hour Nine – Dippity-do

Dippity-do

Even though I was

the only girl, with four brothers-

I had very little time with my mother

to just chat.

 

Mom spent many hours a day

with household chores – and I knew

if I hung around too much – she would

find a task for me.

Dusting. Vacuuming. And the

most dreaded: ironing!

 

The one time in the week she spent on girl-time

was Saturday night. She would prop me up on

the kitchen table, put some styling gel on the

ends of my very, straight hair, and set small curls

with metal clips.

 

That was the time I could tell her

a few of my woes. Besides living with all boys,

I also had to carpool into town for Catholic school. Thus,

I knew only one girl in the neighborhood to play with.

 

Besides all that – in every class I was the youngest, due to my

Fall birthday – and most definitely the shortest!

 

I can’t say my mother gave me much advice for

navigating life. But on those Saturday evenings,

with the smell of Dippity-do in my hair – she

made sure I knew that:

“The Best Things Come in Small Packages!”

 

 

 

Hour Eight – Outlander

Outlander

 

We laugh now, as we

piece together the

sweet coincidence that

we arrived in our little

town within days of

each other – and only

a few hundred yards apart.

 

You: hitch-hiking from the East Coast on a cosmic adventure

Me: escaping sad confines across state, charting a new life and education

 

From the distance of

Fifty years, it feels like

some sort of magic was afoot.

Perhaps we each touched the

Standing Stones and were transported

to that spot.

 

In the movie version: the camera

pans out to show the months it took

for us to finally meet. And –

the many more months for us

to recognize that magic place

within our friendship!

Hour Seven – Lab Results

Lab Results

 

For the first time

in my life – I pray

to be somewhere in

the Normal Range!

I study those bracketed numbers

on the right-hand side

of the lab results. The values

that dictate where my

blood levels should be.

 

Should be.

Hope to be.

 

Some of the names blur on the page:

Hemoglobin.

Hematocrit.

Neutrophil.

Lymphocyte.

 

The report notes

which day my blood

was harvested – leaving

me to feel like

over-ripe fruit that

may not ship well

to markets.

 

At this time in my life

I pray for normal!

Send messages to the universe – in that way that

recovering Catholic girls tend to pray:

more whispers to great spirit and goddesses,

than memorized catechism.

More bowing to the sacred

in each moment. Finding blessings

in the garden on this June morning.

 

 

 

 

Hour Six – True Companion

True Companion

 

If I travel

this ancient pathway-

will you be

my true companion?

 

And if I falter

and grow too weary-

can you carry

my troubled heart?

 

Troubled heart, Love

You know the pain

Troubled heart, Love

How can we sing?

 

Of all life’s journeys

A woman bears

And all life’s sweetness

We dare to taste!

 

So come along now-

And bring your kin

Come along now-

We shall be known

By those we carry

And ne’er forget

And those we love, dear

Until we rest.

 

 

Hour Five: Sister Someone

Sister Someone

 

It’s Winter.

After Mom dies,

my brother sends me

a cache of family

memorabilia.

 

At times, the class photos

blur one into the other.

Too many children, wearing

the same uniforms, accompanied

by the nearly-same stern priests.

Or nuns.

 

Once or twice I retrieve

these artifacts from the

bedroom closet – and try

to laugh about the

mish mash of Mother’s Day cards

from five children, certainly

dictated by Sister Someone.

 

Somewhere in this trove:

-my Baby Book, the

only pink one, amongst the other four blue volumes

-my First Communion photo, in which fifty

unsuspecting children, girls all in white dresses

and veils, smile as they enter into the ancient

ritual of the body and blood cult

-one photo of my mother and her siblings,

circa mid-Sixties, beehive hairdo the clue

-various report cards, yellow cardboard, reporting

my young self to be excellent in reading, passable

in mathematics, and “a bit too chatty” during

class time!

 

Most days I need to put

these treasures quickly

back in their shopping bag

home. Sealed once again,

like some time capsule,

for a future self to

calmly explore this ancient

civilization of my strange

family planet.

 

 

Hour Four: Dreamers and Prophets

Dreamers and Prophets

“She dances back to the center of the room, its nexus of energy, feeling his gaze like a silk dupatta on her shoulders as she goes.”

From Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee

 

I wear my disbelief

Like a silk dupatta,

it’s gauzy fabric softening,

obscuring.

 

I dance to the

center of the room-

Blues taking me down

some Delta road

I have never

traveled.

 

This is the time of looking back.

And – also the time

to set my gaze

on the horizon.

The far distant

land of dreamers

and prophets.

 

This is the time

to remove my

shimmering scarf.

My outermost layer.

That separation from

Clarity.

And vision.

Hour Three: Begin, Again

Begin, Again

 

Last year took us to our knees.

Shock. Disbelief.

Anguish. Fear.

Righteous anger.

Then . . . grief.

 

Now, we begin again

And welcome a new year.

Perhaps our hope is too heavy

a burden for these precious months

to shoulder?

Perhaps we are not ready? We pilgrims

on this strange, new journey . . . .

 

I read a lesson from a friend:

When we are in such an untethered time –

all we can do is

take care of our boat.

 

I am not a sailor.

But I know this:

To begin again-

I must strengthen my boat.

Find my safe harbor.

Trust this storm

will pass.

 

Then – venture forward

into my next

Beginning.