Alternative, Hour Twenty-Three


My dreams of late transport me
to both a different place and time.

I am a child once more, though
my legs are broken, and I travel by
means of wings.

I twist the muscles between
my shoulder blades
just so to unlock them.

Majestically, they rise from my back,
and I join flocks like myself
wheeling across the sky, and suddenly
my broken body matters no more.

Grace, Hour Twenty-Two


One of the most graceful things I have ever
seen, began with a slice of pizza.
When I was young, I would watch old movies
after coming home and before my parents
arrived from work, losing myself in black
and white cinematic wonder.

In one such movie, Sophia Loren was a noble
woman, pretending to be a peasant,
hungry and alone.
She met a child eating pizza,
scattering toppings everywhere
and scolded them for the waste they displayed.

She demonstrated the proper manner
in which to eat a slice, first folding it over
upon itself, in essence a pizza sandwich.
The lesson could not be imparted
so easily, and so naturally she had
to demonstrate again.

I was fascinated with her hands,
the easy movement she displayed
in such a simple act,
practicing the way she held them for weeks
afterward, intensely aware and ashamed
of my own awkwardness in the face of such grace.

Physiology, Hour Twenty-One


Our prehistoric brethren
knew it was time for bed
when the eldest pack member
began to yawn, setting off a string
of other yawns, as empathy
within a well-matched pack
demands we yawn as well.

Yawns cool our big, overheated
brains and set the stage for deep
sleep once again. We must receive
deep sleep in order to wash our brains
clean of daily waste, cerebro-spinal
fluid clearing away the sludge
our brains produce each day.

Companion, Hour Twenty


Life during our early retirement
more often than not is busier than work,
and so we create means and methods
to be together, innocuous routines
that bring us near to one another again.

I make our coffee at the keurig in our room
and in the meantime he makes the bed.
When the coffee is properly creamed and sugared
I carry it outside to our patio retreat
while he fills feeders for hungry bird and squirrel hordes.

Plans for our day, hopes for our future,
all are hashed out at that morning table.
We walk the dog, and the grandson, too,
to his bus stop, and wait for his ride to arrive.
When he’s on his way, we and the dog trundle on home again.

Silly, but sweet, the lengths we will go to be near one another once more.

Muddle, Hour Nineteen


My mind is a puddle mush
galumphing dumping muddle
as my eyes mish-mash
and cross over running cuddles,
streamlet dreams of sleep.

My heart double thumps
in scheming driblet themes
as my ears wish-wash
and skewer through sunny wobbles,
dreamlet streams of the deep.

My soul cuddle pushes
in theming droplet schemes
as my hands slap dash
and scoop under wobbly runnels,
deeplet steeps of sleepless dreams.

Weight, Hour Eighteen


A family trip across the whole of the United States
when I was six years old
at one point in our journey brought us to an ancient pueblo,
once subterranean but now open to the sky.

It no longer had a name,
nor a living people to dwell within,
its ancestral walls were broken, sunlight streaming through,
yet it inspired the anthropologist I would one day be.

I approached it cautiously with my mother,
carefully traversing the rock strewn terrain
as best my small limbs could manage
until we found the entrance.

We stepped inside, and my childish chatter was stilled,
a respectful hush maintained merely by its gravity,
though my young mind could not yet consciously comprehend
its meaning, I felt the weight of centuries of humanity in this small space.

Voices of the past seemed to keen on the wind
that piled desert grit up its sides ever more with each passing year,
and the combined souls of thousands spoke to my own,
an awareness I carry in memory to this day.

Kaleidoscopic, Hour Seventeen


Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Kaleidoscopes, and Legos,
Bristle Blocks, Yo-Yos, Tea Sets, and baby dolls,
Fisher Price phones, Barbie dolls, transformers, and GI Joes,
Polly Pockets, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Easy Bake ovens, and Simons,
Lite Brites, Cabbage Patch Kids, Shrinkydinks, and Play-Doh,
Velvet posters, Fashion Plates, Sit ‘n Spins, and dominoes.

These and many others, too many toys to count, brought my childhood joy,
shaped the person that I am.

Family, Hour Sixteen

Family Recipe

One mother
Three teen kids
One grandson
One husband
One father-in-law
Optional: three dogs and one cat

Blend together this bag of mixed nuts
slowly over time.
Bake for eleven years, but be careful!
It’s fragile, and may break if handled roughly.

Sister, Hour Fifteen


We floated in warmth and quiet together,
my sister and I,
outside sounds muffled but for the beat
of our mother’s heart,
her singing voice lulling us to sleep.

She grew larger than me over time,
her flailing limbs weaker and slower,
while I, though smaller,
and pinned to mother’s side,
was stronger, more sure in my movements.

We grew, we two, and dreamed infant dreams,
of the lives we would one day live,
but those dreams would fail,
a nightmare begun,
the day my sister died.

We remained together, still connected
by blood vessels large and small.
Her heart had stopped
its rhythm with mine,
my heart beat on alone.

*Side note to this story: my twin girls developed twin to twin transfusion syndrome, a condition affecting the blood vessels of identical twins, while in utero. My daughter, Martha, died of heart failure ten weeks prior to their birth, and I carried both her and her living sister, my daughter Sara, within me together to thirty-five weeks. My daughter, Sara (Anderson) is writing in the marathon with me now.

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