Hour 24, A Hallmark Holiday

One of the unasked for upsides
to being richly blessed
with loving family
is the many wonderful
gifts from them I have received.

One that stands out, though,
is a gift that the sender
had no idea would be so profound.

My first husband was abusive,
did not value me as a wife or mother.
He declared Mother’s Day stupid,
a Hallmark holiday with no real meaning,
and so for years its only commemoration
was by what teachers created.

That marriage eventually failed
a shock to no one but him,
and I began to date online
a new old love from high school.

He lived far away in Germany,
I and my children in the States,
but constant online contact
meant he knew me and the children well.

The last Mother’s Day before we married
he sent a sumptuous gift,
flowers, chocolates, fruits, sausages
and cheeses, and a beautiful note
took me by such complete surprise,
I cried.

Years of neglect and cruelty
had trained me to expect nothing,
so simply being remembered
became extraordinary.

Hour 23, Imaginary?

Our girl was a preemie,
a twin bereft of her sister
before their life outside of me
could even begin.

She was tiny, an elfin child,
with delicate features,
large eyes, and thin limbs,
seeming to exist between worlds.

She spoke of strange things
no one else could see,
imaginary friends populating
each corner of her fertile mind.

Most memorable to me
was the creature that inhabited
our Christmas poinsettia plant
one December; Buggy was his name.

Buggy had many tiny friends
that held elaborate parties
among the red and opulent leaves
every night as we slept.

It was only as I quietly discarded
the strangely sickly plant one night
that I discovered the truth our spritely
three year old had tried so hard to convey:
an infestation of spider-like mites
danced under and climbed over its leaves.

Hour 22, Old Man Under the Mountain

Old Man Under the Mountain

I scrabbled over stones slippery with sea foam,
hands and shins bloodied, steadying myself
with a staff from a dying willow tree.

I approached the stone ruins backwards,
at sunset, glancing sideways only
and tapped three times with the staff at the gate.

I turned seven times counter clockwise
as I intoned the proscribed words slowly
“Old man under the mountain, hear my plea.”

Just as I finished the final turn,
the last glimmer of sun slipped below the waves,
and the gate rumbled open.

Golden light flooded the opening, an invitation
to enter fairy lands. Down I went upon
stone stairs to find my fate.

Old Man reclined on sumptuous fabrics,
velvets, silks, and furs, but what truly amazed
was his visage, unlike any I’d ever knowingly seen.

Seeming starvation had lent his face, hands, and feet
gaunt elegance, and had chiseled musculature
that in a man would be obscured
just beneath the surface.
He seemed on the verge of atrophy,
but as he was when seen,
he displayed a beauty angels alone possess,
difficult to behold
in its implied suffering.

He rose, and to my shock he bowed to the floor,
exclaimed “My son, you have returned at last!
I may now finally die; you have  passed the test!”

Rocks clapped closed over me as he disappeared
and so here I remain, elegant, starved, and waiting,
waiting for a successor’s release.

Tracy Plath

Hour 21, Longing

Ten years ago I walked my way
back to health again,
seventy-five pounds lost
on the country roads
near our home, music fuelling
my feet.

Heavy metal accelerated my pace,
blues was my cool down of choice.
Smooth, even, swift steps daily
melted pounds and anxieties away.

I long to be that person again,
healthy, balanced, confident, and free.

Hour 20, Burnt



Bring to the light
at lightning speed
the candle that burns
at both ends.

After all, you can’t hold a candle
to the cold light of day
so come on baby, light my fire,
for it’s dark before the dawn.

Go out like a light
in the half light,
don’t hide your light under a bushel.

In broad daylight,
the clear light of day,
let there be light
like a candle in the wind.

Don’t rage, rage against the dying of the light,
rather, dance by the light of the moon.

Travel light,
like a trick of the light,
and trip the light fantastic.

All will come to light,
as you light up my life,
all sweetness and light
is you.

Tracy Plath

Hour 19, Perchance to Dream

My husband and I first met in high school,
two gawky teens that wordlessly yearned
for each other, until graduation and youthful
dreams placed our feet on parallel
but separate paths.

Dreams became nightmares as divorces
came about for us both.
By chance, we connected online one day,
thousands of miles and an ocean apart.

For two years before marriage, we wooed
one another online, long, deep conversations
becoming shared movies, gaming, and finally
sleeping, connected round the clock.

His snores were a strange lullaby, until
I noticed the stops.
Sleep was trying to kill my love.
I would wake him through his headphones
and he’d roll over and breathe once again.

We finally united once more, youthful
dreams coming to fruition.
We lay side by side,
my now masked bear and I,
and sleep without fear or separation.

Hour 18, Christmas in July

While driving my daughter to school in the early morning hours of a freezing November day, in a grave tone of voice she quietly said to me “Mom, we need to talk.” I shot a look at her in the passenger side seat, and seeing her serious and frightened face, with a sinking feeling I knew what she was going to say. I mouthed the words to her “Are you pregnant?” and she slowly raised her index finger up and touched it to her nose. Though only seventeen when she gave birth, she would from the very beginning be an excellent mother to her baby boy, Leon. She enrolled in her high school’s online program so that she could graduate with her class and still parent her son, and in a high school work study internship for students interested in either nursing or teaching. She excelled in all while still caring for her growing little boy, born the 25th of July, a Leo birth sign for our little lion man, not only our Christmas in July gift, but by pure chance with a name that spelled backward the Christmas word “Noel.”

Hour 16, Perfect 10

His other woman offers circuses;
I am his bread.
She will never nourish or sustain
as I do. Though she lures him
with her games, his hunger will bring him back.

Our children fall prey
to her charms as well,
her empty promises of entertainment
through long and lonely furtive nights
pull them from my arms.

He will do with her
what he cannot do with me,
shopping for perfect gifts for hours
with her feverish assistance,
needing just a single word to find them.

I will wait, for I am
far more sturdy than she.
My fragile rival will fall with the next
electrical storm, an EMP blast
will see her fade into the ether.

My flesh will survive
her dark and bloody bytes.
I, his first, am patient,
for I know her promised perfect 10
is a binary second to me.

Hour 15, Banshee

Sue, my dear mother-in-law, was celebrating her 70th birthday
in the last lucid days before ALS would take her from us.
She asked that we come to her, travel from Texas to Massachusetts,
likely knowing the end was nigh.

Our grandson was not yet two, but would make the trip with us,
the only chance his great grandmother Sue and her own
mother-in-law, his great great grandmother, would ever have to see him.

Travel there was beautifully smooth and easy, our bitty grandson
a slumbering cherub in our arms. Once there, he nestled sweetly
in Sue’s hospital bed, seeming to sense her fragility, playing baby
hand games with her, each delighting in the other.

Memories were made, to be later cherished, and our time there came
to an end as we entered the plane that would take us home once again.
Our boy cherub from the trip out disappeared and all the long return
he was utterly inconsolable, a stiff, screaming, and keening banshee.

Sue would be gone two months later.


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