I did not know when I birthed my son that he would take my heart with him. At night, desperate for rest half asleep, barely present I’d attempt to nurse him. The choice frustrated us both. One night when he cried, I took him downstairs to my rocker, made tea, made us comfortable and realized he was my life. He grew. I watched my heart learn to walk, read navigate friendships, school and grieve a first love anew. He became a man who with his spouse created three children into whom he placed his heart. Together, powerless but present remembering our own youth we watch their spirits grow as they navigate their lives. We’re participant and spectator both since we freed our hearts to beat, break and love inside our children.
Squirrels remind me of a man I loved, who with rope and spike mimicked them climbing trees and swinging limb from limb. “They are my brothers” he said. Came home crying one day because he crushed a nest, killed babies, when he felled an oak. I stop to watch a tree man work today. High in the air he swings in chain saw ballet. As I watch him cut,climb leap from limb to limb, my young life returns to me. I see my love without a net fearless and free against the sky.
Loving you prepared me for Walmart where greeters are friendly but the merchandise is made by strangers in dark, distant rooms. Losing you prepared me for Reductions in Force Being told “You’ve worked hard. This isn’t personal. It’s about stock price.” Watching you leave broke me like an egg Nothing I knew was true – zip – zero – nada. I must start again from the beginning. Starting over prepared me for God, who waited at the still bottom of a life emptied of passion, distraction and theory.
My mother's scent was hers alone familiar from the start just like my own. Shalimar and lipstick salt air and steam irons biege powder dusting her dressing table, scattered sweaters, a turquoise negligee. Once, invited to the Waldorf for a DuPont dinner, she spent a fortune on a formal dress. Arrived in lace and pick satin to face women clad in cocktail clothes. Edna, ever the Indiana girl. How many Manhattans did it take to kill those feelings? After her death, I asked Sister Jose Hobday “Will I ever smell that scent again - touch her soft white hair?” So much of me left with her I am my mother’s child. Peaceful in all worlds, Sister Hobday laid her hand on mine and smiled.
That’s the drug – a draft of this nectar
can own me into the next life for an accolade
you barely recall.
Quiet my fears with the smile and nod
I awaited endlessly at war zone dinner tables, parentless
performances and lonely surgeries.
and it’s ok not to have been born a son,
to be funny, a tree climber and never a prom queen
to get migraines.
and I could weep, run,
dance, spread my arms to this fast warming world
in joy, terror and love.