Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘childhood innocence’

I shut my eyes in order to see. (Paul Gauguin)

Umbrellas and I don’t get along well. I either leave them in the car or under the table at a restaurant. Several years ago, I published a poem on a For a Better World site, AEQAI, maintained by Saad Ghosn. I remembered some of those narrative poetry lines while I was driving today, rain falling, my umbrella in the trunk, my thoughts recalling the many broken people I know. Peace upon all. Without judgment.

THE BROKEN UMBRELLA

I find an old, bent umbrella

in the back of a closet,

and remember a story

about my great aunt,

the one who lived

with my grandmother.

I heard she refused to go to school,

rain or shine, without her umbrella.

Grandma laughed when she told me,

one of those tired adult laughs

I didn’t understand.

She never knew why

her little sister feared rain.

And I wouldn’t dare ask.

 

My great aunt talked about men

as if they were born as sooty coal

covered with flesh.

Genetically messy, crude, loud.

Sports without a soul.

Since I was her only niece,

my aunt sought my ear.

I tolerated her out of pity.

I pictured her as a child

at the turn of the twentieth century.

paired with her umbrella,

two closed slender shapes

surrounded by bullies

who gave fuel to her opinions.

She learned bitterness somewhere,

wore it as a badge of a holy crusade.

 

In the fifties Grandma took in a boarder,

a quiet man who ate corn flakes

doused with warm water.

My aunt latched her door at night,

and moved a bookcase

in front of it.

 

Then one night after Grandma died

I stayed overnight with my aunt,

gave her some company.

I recall her bony frame in dull, plain pajamas,

all femininity pressed out,

as she told me about an uncle,

or was it a cousin?

You won’t believe what he did to me?

By then I was old enough to guess.

But, not old enough to know

the burden of that knowledge wasn’t mine.

I remained silent.

Her secret stayed bound

within flannel and hate.

She died in a nursing home.

Alone.

 

I imagine a new scene as I discard

the useless umbrella from my closet.

What would have happened if

I could have borrowed a few years

of experience from my future,

risked touching the pain in her eyes,

and asked, what happened?

 

My old umbrella’s hollow spiked bones stick out

through torn, split fabric.

I can’t fix it. Yet, strange,

I feel an odd sadness for all things

that no longer have a chance to recover.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (John Barrymore)

My grandson, Dakota, and I explore our backyard with his new red plastic truck. It’s large enough for him to sit on it. I’m grateful he realizes I would crush it. A septuagenarian squatting that low and then maneuvering the toy from a bug’s height, would be a sight for the neighbors. I wouldn’t want them to anticipate a 911-call.

“You know you won’t live forever,” he says.

“Yes, I do. That’s why I celebrate time with you, give to others, and love as much as I can.”

He doesn’t answer and continues playing with the truck. We create ramps from National Geographic Magazines. He rolls construction paper and tapes it with heavy tape. My granddaughters’ baby doll bottles in the center maintain firmness.

We let the moments speak for themselves, the challenge to roll or unroll. To go over the ramp with the truck or bypass it. If one tactic doesn’t work, Dakota tries another. My little buddy doesn’t give up easily.

I consider how quickly the notion, not-good-enough, flashes into my mind. I know it was taught to me in childhood. What isn’t good enough? The statement is too generic to be true. Nevertheless, the temptation to just-forget-it rises far too often. For most human critters, both young and old.

My friend, Cathie, calls. She hasn’t seen me at the Y for a while. Either I have been entertaining grandkids or working on my book. She has something to give me.

“When I saw this, all the bright colors,” she says, “I thought of you and just had to get it.”

I plan to meet Cathie. On Friday morning. At ten AM.

She has made a pillow. Cathie is a seamstress. She uses her gift to celebrate other people.

“It’s pre-hugged,” she says, holding the pillow through the plastic bag against her chest.

Since we have both been in the pool, we are soaking wet. A chlorine hug doesn’t negate the love attached to her or her work.

Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. However, with grandchildren like Dakota and friends like Cathie, sweetness is easier to find.

 

Read Full Post »

 

 I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” (Eve Merriam, poet and writer)

As Ella moves through a dusty playground area, I watch the children’s interactions. Some of the kids are wild, climbing over one another on the slide. They laugh even when their bodies’ positions are obviously uncomfortable.

Other youngsters appear less aggressive. I notice the essence of both peace and war in scaled-down forms.

One bright, talkative little girl tells me the story of a skunk that appeared one evening on one of the softball fields. She is animated yet assures me no one was sprayed. Her spirit speaks peace. Another little girl and her younger brother race against Ella for a bouncy whale and dolphin.

Ella stands too close to the two children. She begs for a turn. I can tell the siblings are determined to maintain a battle over the sea mammals because they gesture to one another as Ella walks away. I lead my granddaughter in another game.

“Ella, I’m swimming, but I’m not very good at it. I need a lifeguard. Will you be my lifeguard?”

I move my arms in an awkward mock swim motion.

“Sure,” she answers.

The distraction works—at least until the two kids are called by their dad to go home. A simple solution. At least for the moment.

Mine. Mine. Mine. A universal problem. Ella also wants to help her grandmother. Play is serious learning. She doesn’t grab the dolphin until at least ten minutes after her antagonists leave.

War. It has lived since ancient times. Now, news travels faster through social media, television, the Internet. Stories appear slanted, tainted, unverified. And violence continues in various forms as TV watchers eat dinner.

Suddenly, I have indigestion.

Shadows. They have multiple meanings. Reflected images born from the sun. Shady areas. Loyal followers. Hidden flaws. Metaphors.

Find the kindest kind of shadow…

Illusive at best. I can only seek the goal I see and love to the best of my ability. Love is war’s antonym.

Attending a protest in front of an ICE facility in my home town was a recent choice for me. You bet I was frightened. However, no one ever said love was going to be easy. Yes, immigration control is necessary. Cruelty, especially against children, is not. Fortunately, the event was as peaceful as it was intended.

Some shadows need more attention than others.

Peace to all.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have come to believe that giving and receiving are really the same. Giving and receiving—not giving and taking. (Joyce Grenfell)

“Do pebbles grow into rocks?” my young step-grandson asks as he gathers odd-shaped stones and places them inside a cardboard treasure box. The box rides inside a red wagon.

I smile and tell him rocks are more likely to break into pebbles. I smile, but don’t laugh. His innocence warms me. He finds a tiny lock on the side of the road and adds it to his collection. Then, he puts it inside his pocket, to take home.

For him, all of life is a collection of serendipitous learning experiences. The tracks left by a bulldozer, a dusty trail made by the thin wheels of the collapsible, fabric wagon. The dusty wheels create mud after the wheels travel through a deep puddle.

The thought strikes me that rocks and keys may not be the unique metaphors I imagined them to be in my series, The Star League Chronicles. Black rocks act as weapons for the Malefics, the evil League. Chase Powers, the main character, operates an ancient, rusty, magical key. Sometimes, the key knows more than he does.

Sometimes play teaches me. And I haven’t been a child in a long time. My teacher-key contains no magic. Often its key is no more than a realization, a prod to notice a beauty I hadn’t noticed because I’d been stuck inside ubiquitous bad news forecasts.

This little boy trusts me. A breeze cuts through the afternoon heat. I am at peace despite that fact that I have an approaching deadline—and more words to write and edit than I want to think about. Right now, I could be pecking away at the non-magical keyboard-keys (pun semi-intended.) With the hope of creating magical scenes.

Instead, I follow a red wagon into a child’s imagination and allow my love for this boy to expand.

Work challenges will continue tonight…and tomorrow…weeks after. Until the story fits into a whole.

For now, I give and receive experience. And hope to remember this beautiful day in the middle of July.

 

Read Full Post »

You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, “Am I having fun?” (Christopher Meloni)

I watched as my beloved Toyota was being towed away. Her replacement existed. Among a few possibilities. Nevertheless, Little Beige and I had seen many miles together. We fit old-sneaker comfortably; until that last crashing moment I knew what to expect. She didn’t complain when one of the kids spilled drinks on her back seat. I knew how her few buttons worked.

Now, I wait as my husband and the used car salesman work out the final details. Jay has a business degree, as well as a knack for checking out the facts. I listen, unaware that my granddaughter, Ella, has also been listening.

As Jay and the dealer leave the building for some checks on his car, Ella takes over the salesman’s chair.

“What kind of car do you want?” she asks.

“Green with an orange steering wheel.”

“We can do that.” She pauses. “I will have to make it.”

After a few arm swirls, she hands me the invisible product. “Do you need anything else?”

“How about a truck? Purple.”

Once again, the request is no problem. One item costs me $54.56. The other costs $56.56.

She laughs when I ask for a tractor complete with farmer. So does a fellow customer at the next desk.

Before Jay and the salesman return I am also the proud owner of a motorcycle and yellow school bus. Fortunately, the imagination doesn’t limit size. It doesn’t care about the age of user or seller either.

“We can go home and play now, Ella,” I tell her.

The day lilies by our driveway have dried by afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated. Each hour has its cost and its gift. I’d like to say I have forgotten about the fearful moment when I knew my 2005 Toyota had breathed its last breath.

Yet, somehow, I survived. Each minute brings something different—both pleasant and miserable.

Ella and I play. The sun rises and sets. We are part of a larger whole. A whole I may never understand until my life is completed, and perhaps not by then. After all, knowledge isn’t my goal; love is.

 

Read Full Post »

They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic. (Steven Wright)

I wonder how many drivers have made road trips—without wondering what the…heck is that guy doing? Traveling at NASCAR speed or moving twenty-miles-an-hour in a fifty zone.

When my younger son was about kindergarten age I turned onto a narrow road behind a woman, obviously elderly. Her shoulders sloped, and head leaned over the steering wheel. She drove the center yellow line as if she were failing a sobriety test. In slow motion.

When I reacted, my youngster responded, “Oh Mom, maybe she just has old-timer’s disease.

I don’t recall how I got around her, or when she turned onto another road. My son’s innocence, however, stays with me.

His simplicity didn’t nullify the lady as a roadway threat. It did help me get through the moment.

Years later, my middle granddaughter was in the car when a driver cut me off with half a foot to spare.

I gasped, but my granddaughter saved the moment again.

“Grandma, is that what’s called a jackass?”

“Bad driver,” I answered.

Unfortunately, not every accident is an almost. Signs above the highway note the statistics. They can’t relate experience. Pain. Loss. Fear.

Today I drive in the rain. Someone, male or female—it doesn’t matter—passes me on the left over the center line, misses an oncoming car by about a foot, and then repeats the favor with the next car.

Peace, I think. Not in pieces. Someday. Somehow.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Reading between the lines

 

One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter—who was a child at the time—asked me, “Daddy, why are you writing so fast?” And I replied, “Because I want to see how the story turns out!” (Louis L’Amour, novelist)

My grandson and I were riding in the backseat of the car as my husband drove to kindergarten.

As we talked, Dakota picked up my second book in the Star League Chronicles. “What is your picture doing on the back?”

“Uh, I wrote the book.”

“Really?” he said. “It must have taken you at least a half-hour to write.”

“At least,” I responded. “Two years.”

My little buddy was amazed by my slow progress. I didn’t take umbrage. When my middle granddaughter saw my first book, The Curse Under the Freckles, she wanted to know where the pictures were. Grandparents, by my grandchildren’s measure, were invented as playmates, not boring adults who put together words on paper. And take years to write a single story.

Dakota and I enjoy becoming pretend pilots where the newbie Grandma-pilot does practice flights with a hundred passengers aboard. He decides how much gas a plane needs to fly cross-country. Five-dollars’ worth. Or we invent a game played in the gym with a mini football instead of a basketball.

In both plot and play, reality is suspended. Grandson and I open jet windows to shoo birds while Dakota snacks on cheese dipped in hot sauce. Literary subjects never come up.

Of course, the best fictional stories appear real as they unfold. Each life’s story has a beginning, middle, and end, often unplanned.

Sure, I wonder how my life will turn out. Change can happen in the last scene. However, savoring each day seems more satisfying than typing at deadline speed. Life’s end will come soon enough. In the meantime, I have a lot of seeds soaked in love to plant.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: