Look up above into the sky, look to the Sun close your eyes, turn, feel the warmth of glorious time. Beauty we breathe, hear and smell, embrace Autumn, and take time to dwell. Forest Firs, Aspen’s golden, apples red for harvest’s showdown. Behold the brilliant colors pure! Gaze upon Nature’s finest grandeur. Each year we split from our inner season greeting with hope, our chest of reasons; to embody life we let go of hillsides green to white winter’s scheme. Nature is our steady guide, see the moonbeams by our side? If we should live one more day, please hold close to Nature’s way. Without the Earth, the moon or sky, how doeth heaven’s angels fly? Hold out your hand and give much more, our planet knows how to score. If humans step without good meaning Mother knows as her vessel’s are bleeding. It’s not too late to welcome change, stand up and shout we must refrain. No more garbage in our seas, clear the sky and save the trees. Humans are given the brain to think, resolve our quandaries before we sink. Come now and join the tide, Nature needs us by her side.
Four a.m. rain, nine celsius; usually perfect sleeping time for this weathered woman. Sipping ginger tea, disturbed by my relentless coughing, I avoid my bed and waking my husband who needs to work in two hours. From my soft sofa, a burgundy wine red, drowsiness sets in. Plumped up with pillows under an old cosy quilt I stare out a window into the black where the opposite panes behind me are lit with led lights and reflect before me. I want to be small, a Christmas Eve long ago and my mother to be sneaking around, making my morning perfect. She eats the cookies and downs the eggnog, maybe wonders if she’s got it right. Is she enough? Would this have been her little girl dream? Her’s weren’t doused in decor, perfection and excitement leading up to morning fun. My dog with her red bow, the pancake batter, fruit before stockings, albums pre-stacked, ready to drop one after the other, Bing Crosby always first. She has pretty cards on my bonus Dad’s plate and mine. She knows I will wake early and probably puts the coffee maker’s little paper bag in and pours the water, only needing to wake, push the button and join me under the tree. I too, tried to get it right year after year. People pleasing I learned from Mom. It never felt right except when I finally became a mother. I had a doggie too, a red bow, pancakes and coffee. The first year, so perfect. A four month old, the first husband smiling while opening his new sweater as our baby made sweet sounds on a soft blanket in front of the crackling fire. No hoopla. Just a new bone for our dog, the gift of motherhood and dreams were full, all good, with smiles; it would be perfect. That first Christmas as a mother I held my cherub and we watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Each sleepless night was a dream come true then with the long awaited child. Life in the world could be imperfect yet I would forge on, recreating reasons to be joyful, to see good and not look at the late night reflections. It was another morning, at forty years old, a Christmas of struggles and loss; my five year old watching “The Snowman” and cuddling with our doggie, sippy cup with apple juice in hand and already asking for peppermint sticks. I was a woman, staring at the deep Vermont snow with more coming down. This had been all I wanted. Why was I feeling it was impossible to make my husband learn to love through adversity, not resent the world for turning us upside down. Couldn’t we right it again? He’d lost his job the previous autumn and being post 9/11, despite his impeccable skills as an electrical engineer finding work was a dead end; he was Arabic. We’d met in a university town, he a foreign student working on his master’s and a brilliant graduate teaching fellow. He also was in charge of the cartography library and was a quiet, gentle soul. Being from north Africa he was working toward success, his culture beautiful in so many ways we learned to incorporate it easily into our life via cuisine. To this day my young adult’s comfort food is cous-cous with cinnamon and butter. That Christmas it all changed. He sat angry, not hiding his feelings as our child opened presents he resented my buying. I had worked as a writer for two local papers, taken care of those in palative care in their homes and even cleaned someone’s house each week. The bills became monster’s and no matter the music, or the lights on the tree softly lighting each evening he fell into a place that had no room for my dreams or his own. I had pleased and pleaded to keep hope alive and soon I no longer knew how to set the table just right, smile in the wake of tears, cheer up anyone at all. I had failed. Did my mother feel she had failed, too? Did she wish she knew all the answers? I had left home at sixteen and broke her heart. How could I ever fix that? I knew I had to change my own approach. My husband found a job in another state and I stayed behind, afraid to follow I took a small apartment in an old Victorian house in a new town. On weekends he would drive to see us and for awhile I thought maybe it could work. I looked for work and nothing was available with a child and no one reliable to help me out. The story is one of those that many know, you are somewhere, uncertain and just taking baby steps and holding out for an epiphany. Mine came about in a very long and loaded journey, a new country, messy Christmases that I couldn’t fix, clashes of cultures, always bending, trying, pleasing and believing in miracles. Now I feel much older than I am, often in poor health, I dread everything, every holiday as I know it can’t be like it was when I ran from my room, hugged my mother and bonus dad and let my doggie open her present first. I look at the sky now, it’s beginning to show a deep yet slowly lighting blue. The led lights on a timer will click off and I will make coffee. My second husband of fifteen years will wake and ask how I am feeling and then he will work. I will worry about my NOW. Not yesterday or tomorrow. I hope for nothing much but for my young adult to find their path, to be okay and content like that very first Christmas cooing with baby toes high in the air. I want this family, despite the buried knowing of what this “wonderful life” can do to each and everyone of us, to recognize our love is NOW. I stopped wanting it all, however I do keep believing that pancakes and coffee can turn things around. Good morning! Lm and Rock are cheering all of you on. May you stumble into something good, just right and feel the way you need.
Sunlight filters in through Lm’s drawn shades; she can’t sleep and watches as it changes shapes on the ceiling from her bed. None of these studied details will come again, like each diamond, every piece of sea glass and snowflakes the sun continues to provide a different light show everyday. It was a tiny slice at first, narrow and pointy. It widened, lengthening and flickering until it became so engaging going back to sleep was ruled out. Like a deck of cards well shuffled one rarely gets the same hand twice, we never know what we will be dealt and what will happen as the game is played. Life is rarely a royal flush but with curiosity and perhaps hope we continue to play loosely mindful of the whole picture. No one wins more time no matter how many clever tricks they can do. Magical potions, merciful angels, or the great mystery known as God might let us exchange a bad card for a little more time before we finally reach the end of our game. How do we finesse our individual house of cards to spend more time with those we love. How do we prolong our own reflections, our unique light that we project throughout our own lives? The light on the ceiling is no longer visible yet I know another morning design will wake me up, or do I ? The smallest parts of our intricate selves are never fully seen by anyone, yet we continue to try to show our imprint, our colorful feathers and deeply desire understanding with a need for others to believe in us. Will you have lived your life knowing you never cheated yourself or anyone into seeing all that you have to share? How can we take risks, pull out a card from our own hand and use it to justify our dreams. Procrastination is never going to be the winning deal, one must act, take a chance and live as if we all must fold our hands tomorrow. “Someday I want to go on a train to Prague, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea. Someday I want to return to the most northern isles of Norway. Someday I want to see “The Scream” in Oslo. When I turn sixty, I want to be with my best friend anywhere. When I turn sixty I will get a baby piglet and name her Opal or Pearl. When one of my best friends comes to Sweden we will go to Stockholm together and have girl time and catch up eating chocolate croissants and coffee in bed, opening champagne at lunch, see the small galleries and by each other pretty scarves and pretend we are sisters. Someday my siblings will see my Truth, I won’t be the Black sheep but a herder of my flock. When my daughter’s are home together we will take them on a surprise trip to ski again, just like when they were eight and eat pizza and start over again. One day I will sell my ArT work and I will be free from pain, and when that happens I will fly like a strong Canadian goose to see my family far, far away. All will be perfect, we have good genes. Letting Go is a long time away, we don’t need to hurry or be afraid. Our children are safe, they will have good lives and even more good things will come. In the autumn, in the spring, next winter or?
UP, in the light, beyond all of eyesight is where our love lives. It is a beacon, a safe place where we retreat and are one. Each night you breathe in and out, the sound of your heart beating holds me, your warm flesh near mine soothes me, the smell of us is a new constellation. I am awakened and driven to tell the whole Universe our story yet I am insecure and hold onto us like I will never find you again. I want to hide you in a special place, a beautiful space with all your favorite things. I want to live and be strong and keep us, our starlit passion and dreams alive. Am I failing or falling as I lose part of me to pain, past afflictions, and a mirage of memories? Please don’t forget me if I spin off into a black hole, remember how I adore you and believe in more than me. Behind this galactic beauty is another world where we will be released from the boundaries of humankind; we shall be the stars of our own Odyssey, the dancers waltzing to a song we have composed whimsically and we will shine, oh how we will shine. Our love is our faith in one another, our destiny is enraptured without haste, we come together to be. To be. Be. A Lover’s concerto, a newly formed star that sparkles into the eyes of those still searching for truth. Our love will surpass earthly constrictions, lifting us to heights we do not fear. Don’t be afraid my Love; you are my wings.
“Baby, don’t listen to the people who come to you and say, ” What you wanna be when you grow up?” ’cause they don’t know nothin’ ’bout our world”. That’s what Grandma said. Our country is a damned place, she says, it’s stolen. When people go and take other’s land, kidnap children from their soil and beat ’em, hang ’em, drag ’em behind they ole trucks laughin’ whiles we momma’s weepin’ they don’t get to ask you nothin’. Tall in they suits with those big white teeth smilin’ like they give a damn ’bout you. Naw. Naw. Keepin’ guns so they can be freer? That’s nonsense. See all that blood running ‘cross the front page? That’s our blood, too. They kids don’t get shot in the face. They rich and in charge. That’s the truth child, you try to stay alive and out of the way an they still come for ya. Makes me think why’s we born if we just all gonna get shot in the head, by police, gangs and the people say we got freedom, we are the best land, pledging allegiance to some heathens overcooked philosophy. Hell, Ben Franklin was right when he said the National bird should be a turkey. Can’t kill the vultures but we can slaughter indigenous people and eat from food lines. Giant cans of peanut butter, damn government cheese and those crackers get off ’cause they be mental, sick. Jesus Christ didn’t hang up on that cross for these nasty men. Granma’s in heaven and she knows what she’s talking about. She saw it all comin’. I wish I heard her when she said in my dreams “keep the babies home today”. Dear God, don’t bless America, bless those babies that went to school today. And now, Now what I really think is why, be true to the red, white and blue. Think Russian’s all evil when you’re serving the people this nauseating morning news same time Johnny Depp laughin’ ’bout Alpaca’s in a courtroom. America, you ain’t beautiful, you lost your damn minds.
Dancing with Eyes Closed; Accepting Pain as Part of Me.
In the morning there are yellow dandelions surrounding me, lifting me up with a wash of spring hope. I am rinsed in the sun’s warm rays and feel determined. I always think I will feel better than I actually do. Is that my own stupidity or perpetual stubbornness? I dress and make it to the rich Italian red wine sofa and prop my legs up on a stack of pillows. The pain starts just after I proclaim, “I am better!” and I succumb to my surroundings. The walls are a light gray panel of wood, the ceiling white, the old barn’s tin roof I can see from the sofa is a rusty burnt red with brown dried clumps of moss separating it into unsightly squares. My pain I feel is visualized as an electric zap of steel, sharp silver, shooting up my legs and my silent scream is a maze of terrestrial hues. Pain shares with me every drop of it’s colour, of it’s beauty and it’s sorrow; like the northern lights and milky way it is so breath taking and hard to believe that it is real. Living in a state of chronic pain is anxiety provoking. My mind is a puree of sounds and I am often perplexed. Why can’t I be fixed? Why must my colours be so rare and overworked? My self portrait is black and white as I spilt any hope of beauty out onto the porous surface beneath me. “My pain”, I said to the chronic pain psychologist, “I’ve accepted.” My mind lied that day. I hate it, I hate my body and my bruises both superficial and within. No amount of prayer or drugs give me peace and like the wild scribbling made by a toddler with crayons I lay in a chaos of colour; I am a bottle with layers of dripping wax from many different tints of candles. I am beneath the surface, beneath the beauty, buried in a colour of pain. My eyes close and I stare at the daylight as if my eyelids were window shades. I don’t see why I should open my eyes except to write this pathetic complaint that haunts me. I want to be a happy rainbow one more time. One more moment of brilliance is all I ask. Like any desperate lover, Pain beckons me back, takes hold of me and says, ” I will never leave you alone again.”
ROCK knows Lm needs attention yet he forces her to grow, not dwell on her past. She is indeed sprawling, like ivy across an old doorway leading to solid stone paths. Above the sky is blue and she knows that real people suffer and others are indifferent. She sees the careless, haplessly self-absorbed humans as beige. How can anyone not care about the whole damn picture? Who are those that see blood dripping from the heavens and go about their lives with normalcy? People are screaming for help in our neighborhood; Ukrainian families embrace fear and the beige people are shopping for more, more, more. The neighborhood is all inclusive, a package deal. What happens in the Ukraine is happening to all of us. Part of Lm is always thinking, worrying, sorrowful and broken, yet when she sees the same in others she stands up on the top step and pushes her way to the front lines. She will not tolerate the deficiencies in other’s consciousness, she will use a loud speaker, bang on drums and pipes until she is heard. She cares very little about beige people and their circles of chatter. Blue skies are hanging over the whole world right this minute, not at all like the blue in Thailand’s resorts, or on Miami’s most popular beaches that have beige people with pink cocktails. Blue skies are singing deep and low old spiritual songs from the warriors, slaves and feminine fighters before us. The air is thick with fumes spewing the cries of innocence, the children deeply weary from moving place to place for their own good. Who is running to help them up or out; is this real at all? This war is not a test, it’s real life, real stuff and how can anyone, anything matter more than this now? No broken porcelain doll, no dreary childhood, no stack of dirty dishes, no movie star, no religion, not NOW! Prayer has brought Lm to her skinned boney knees repeatedly for 59 years and nothing changed. Beige people walking like zombies pushing strollers full of new life in a world of blue skies that are truly full of broken hearts. The moon, the sun, the unnamed stars are all watching the game below. We ARE in the real world reality show and we aren’t winning. ROCK knows that as long as Lm is focused on sending out SOS signals to save others she forgets her self. She is selfishly entwined in her own pain otherwise. ROCK knows she is soon ready to push through the door that he guards. He also knows, even if she defies her own needs she will return to him on lonely nights, when the memories keep her awake, when she remembers her BaDDaD and can’t get passed a memory. She will come back to ROCK and as always he will calm her grief, even if it’s a repetitive move he will know how to protect her tender soul.
I never saw me, much less Littleme, or myself even now as a valuable existence. My presence has been a seemingly huge burden to both of my parents for 58 years. I had the career woman breaking boundaries in a man’s world for my mother and a father who simply lied and recreated himself from one persona to another. Sad, a bit, yet he had a choice. He could have been honest and humbled but he responded to his poverty and his past with denial. My mother remains proud and honest and her success is all real, her own and no one can steal her accomplishments. Now I lay in some comfortable surroundings in a beautiful city and the war has brought us to our knees. In Sweden we see and welcome more blue and yellow, refugees who are without a choice. They are proud and strong and simultaneously fearful. Who the hell am I to care about my shitty father, my semi siblings who never call or inquire about my family’s reality? Here I am, a refugee of another kind. A foreign land with my true love, my only child and not one person back home calls to see how I am. Who am I? A woman, a girl, a mother, sister and wife and all I want is to help others feel love, hope and security. The Russians are not bad. Their dictator stole their souls and forced this invasion. Ukrainian women and children flock together and stream into our world but I feel only guilt. Why? Because I never can save enough people from life’s dangerous blows. I barely saved me. God give us a break please. Help. Lead me to solace and peace in my heart so I can stand tall for others.