i get teary-eyed where spirit meets the bone, — where we’ve always been &will be
like how to make french toast,
potato salad, deviled eggs,
that you like tomato soup
with patty melts and cheese,
that you’re happy once a year
with peanut butter and jelly
cake, legitimately pleased
that i understood the science
your mom taught me of how to
mix just the right amount of
sugar and milk into it, though
it’s an art and not a science
she would say, to which i whole-
heartedly agree, though today
is not the day for any of these
fixes, but for scrubbing up
the plastic bowls she lovingly
advised you to stop placing
in the microwave, about which
i’ve reminded you only once
of her paper-thin hands in our
dishwater since she’s been gone,-
we’d know her hands anywhere
i’m a dope dealing girl –
but we can risk it
on account of your chest
not feeling so right
got any pockets darlin, –
so i can spill some sugar
from the honey pot bear
i keep atop the fridge
candy explained is
compassion, and don’t
nobody feel like coloring
in the lines today
no judgment sweetie,
just this raw sugar metaphor
to prove you can lick the lion, –
ain’t got no other choice
Mom used to have sayings.
I wrote some down.
‘That’s a bunch of hooey’ meant she sniffed a fib.
‘Now waiN’t a minute’ meant she was winding up
to a lecture. Or… a spanking.
Were her sleeves pushed up?
That’s how you could tell the difference.
‘I’ll tell you one thing’ was her warm-up
to a litany of other things.
And ‘You’ve got another thing coming’ was usually
her final pittance on a personal stand on any given issue,
generally followed up by a hard chuckle inside her neck
as she’d turn her back on you. Walk away.
All these things are true.
No wive’s tales.
You can also believe her when she says
a full moon makes people do crazy things,
and that her Mom entertained strange men in a
horse trough. The May Pole was some other sort of
shenanigan, just as ridiculous and disdainful.
Lots of dumb bunnies back then. Crazy bat shit.
day 29 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads
It was red. The chronic angers of the house, the heat on the back of dad’s neck, the paint splattered on the driveway when she fell. I was twelve and thought it was blood and that mom would certainly die, but she was stronger than the house. She was stronger than us all. I can’t say what color best describes her. Maybe black, because she was through and through solid. Impermeable really.
Mom: 220 N.E. 4th Street. She occupied every inch of wood and beveled glass, every thing that had life and breath. The tread over each of the twenty-one wooden steps going up and going down was mom. The vertical floral wallpaper and wainscoting was mom. The framed black horse tied up by the blacksmith’s shop in our living room was mom. The bobby pin stuck underneath the drawer where she kept foam hair rollers and a pink Avon brush was mom. The house painted red– mom.
I asked the Lord to show me something beautiful today, and he set my feet on a level road; not sinking like I remember. Old founts~dead or dedicated. I kept walking through the way I knew, and the one I had yet to know. Of course this was it. Our field pond, before the neighbors moved in. Fresh water rippling in old wind. Nothing had changed, and everything was different. Mom was sentimental, and I laughed myself out of breath. So hard, I laughed, I cried. I already miss her.
It was our lucky day! The sun arose pink as a grapefruit without any hint of sourness, and the Kansas wind was with me on my run up and down old roller coaster road. The mud turned my shoes to new high heel skates, and when I climbed back along the quarter-mile stretch of Highway 15, a friendly rainbow was there. She said, “There’s no place like home!” and mom pushed her walker into the house. Today was a good day.
Among other wildly important things, today I fed mom green Jello wobbling on a spoon which made her laugh, untangled some IV wires, propped her head with a pillow from home, and listened to her snore for old times sake. My trip to Kansas is off to a success!
This is only a generic salutation I’m going with, so don’t take it as a term of endearment. By no means are you “dear” to me. I’d like to forget you, but you’d probably like that, wouldn’t you? So, I’ll keep one stink-eye fixed on you.
As far as my mom is concerned, you may be discouraged to know that she hasn’t forgotten herself. She still remembers her own motto and lives by it. When a woman exceeds the age of fifty, she’ll want a little more sparkle. True to form, when I saw her last week, her ears sparkled, the back pockets on her jeans sparkled, and so did practically every shirt she unpacked from her suitcase. She was beautiful.
I concede that you made her forget what day it was (every day), and which toothbrush was hers, but you haven’t diminished her sparkle.