My mother waddled around the kitchen
cleaning and cooking,
And not interacting with the four little ones
crying, kicking, running, throwing.
She kept her eyes on the clock.
10:00 was nap time –
theirs, and hers.
On this day,
May 19, 1959,
Mom opted to forgo the much-needed nap
in favor of starting a fresh novel.
To mentally escape this penitentiary
was more important than sleep.
She was excited to start a new story,
but truth be told, ANY book would do.
The first squeeze came
as she set the boys into their own little prisons,
with bars preventing their escape.
On that particular day, three of the four fell asleep,
as the one cried and shook his cage.
I kicked a few times,
interrupting the flow of the story she was engrossed in.
I then felt another squeeze, followed by many more,
each getting more taunt.
Just before my journey to the outside,
I suddenly felt rather woozy.
maybe from the heavy medication the doctor gave to my mom.
I, of course, woke up for the intense and bumpy ride
through a dark tunnel,
like toothpaste being squeezed from the tube,
I was briskly pulled out into the blaring white room.
Whisked away, cleaned, wrapped,
and set in a plastic box,
I laid alongside a dozen others
under the fluorescent lights.
It was a full day before I met my mom.
She smiled as she held me, but quickly needed to nap.
Someone took me from her arms, fed me,
and returned me to my bin.
The next five days followed the same pattern
of seeing my mom for a few moments
and being touched only for feedings and cleanings.
On the seventh day, my mother introduced me to my father.
I recognized his face from him looking through the large window,
checking out the baby-laced containers.
As my mother walked into the house,
four wild animals ran by, laughing and poking.
My mother held me tight and shooshed them away.
Siblings… a feral creature.
I sensed my mother’s exhaustion and
instinctively wanted to be easy
When I was hungry, I would have to wait
until my mom thought it was time to feed me.
When wet, I learned to silence my complaints.
Even in the first days of life on the outside,
I understood that I was the fair-haired child,
somehow set apart from the pack of wolves.
Similar to my Tupperware days,
I spent lots of time alone
but noted the feeling of being loved,
The mantra that was sung from the village,
“Finally – a girl!”
I was always a bit of an outsider,
both at home and at school.
I kept to myself as the nuns kept the classes in order.
I just remember the feeling of being shuffled here and there,
and being two steps behind,
both socially and academically.
One of the pack was held back in first grade.
Actually, several had to repeat a grade.
To my chagrin, this left me with one kin in my class
and another in the grade above me.
At my father’s staff Christmas party.
My father announced
that his daughter could sing a carol.
Being shy by nature,
I walked slowly to the microphone.
Of course, one brother ran up to join me,
He could not bear the bright spotlight
to be shown on me alone.
I quietly sang,
As my brother loudly fumbled through the words.
The large crowd laughed and clapped
As my brother ran off.
I walked back to my mother’s side
where I burst into tears.
Practicing cheerleading moves
as a ridiculing wolf walked by.
The neighborhood flourished
with Irish Catholic children.
With an ice-skating rink, tetherball court,
and a plethora of group games,
I was the last to be picked for baseball.
I took my sweet time
strolling out of the fog of childhood.
The arts beckoned me
to join in something outside of my fantasy world.
Once I went to a porn movie
Twice I got drunk
Never – did I smoke pot.
I met my soulmate unexpectedly.
Civilized, generous, funny, and sweet,
He was the antithesis of my brothers.
Through laughter, tears,
break-ups, and a long-distance relationship,
we eventually made our way to the altar.
And then, one by one,
we filled up the back seats of the minivan with little ones.
House Times Four
My parents offered to help with the downpayment,
Until they saw the house and, more to the point,
the neighborhood we chose.
This house was not just a home, it was part of a village.
It housed artists and anarchists
As well as the multi-generationally poor.
Trisha, a ballerina
Mel and MaryAnn
Formerly called, Father Mel and Sister MaryAnn,
Although she never was a nun,
and their adopted interracial children.
Michael, a drummer, and Rachel – an artist.
We met each week in the basement of the neighborhood church
For a potluck meal,
And several times a year we held a talent show
Where the old German neighbor and our Japanese exchange student each sang in his first
Painting walls, sewing curtains, planting fruit trees, raising chickens, and birthing babies.
Life was full.
We drove across the country to our second house.
Cheaply built with no character.
in a subdivision, rather than a village.
Two years later we moved again
Five miles out of town, a 500 feet elevation gain,
Mountain lake camping, sled riding, hockey games, bonfires,
Now our neighbors were the deer, bears, and mountain lions.
I moved to my current Victorian town house
Without my husband,
And with my kids –
Triple Ds: Decline, Divorce, Death
He was always fearful of the month.
February meant depression.
Until the A and B days started
A Days = depression
B Days = mania
My inclination – learned from my mother,
was to be stoic, to live with problems,
The signs were everywhere,
I tied on my blinders.
The threads to the beautiful tapestry
I opened my eyes to my new life.
My beloved and I
reached out to each other
Soon came the unexplained bruising, the doctor’s visits, the funeral,
as if 6 months were painted with one stroke.
Last month I traveled south with my new partner.
This experience will be an addendum.
The major chapters were written, edited, and re-imagined,
with a copyright date – the first edition propagated.
My long-term memories were already formed.
I welcome the new…