A Day Off

23 Apr

“Sounds like you need to take a day off,” my friend tells me as we sit on couches waiting for our daughters to emerge from yoga class.

“I am taking a day off. Well, half a day,” I say brightly. “Tomorrow! Miss E and I are volunteering at the book fair.”

She stares at me, deadpan, for what feels like a minute, two minutes. Finally, she cracks a smile. “That’s not what I mean,” she tells me. “I mean you need to take a day OFF. Not four hours away from work so you can volunteer at your daughter’s school.”

Oh.

Right.

Because I’m wound so tightly now, you could almost bounce a quarter off me.

Wait.

How many metaphors did I mix right there?

Losing. My. Touch. Losing touch. Entirely.

No wonder I can’t write a poem to save my life.

At the book fair, a mom with kids both older and younger than mine shares how she spent last Mother’s Day: At a hotel. By herself. Moms can do that – they can! I’ve heard of such moms, and now I’ve met one. And she says her kids love Mother’s Day. They get to go out for burgers. They spend hours at the arcade. While mom gets to do whatever she wants! Last year, at eleven o’clock at night, she took a bath just because she wanted to. She took three baths during her one-night stay, and she watched TV. Can I TELL you how delicious that sounds?

So, right, with the two mom thing, it’s not like I can ditch out on our special Mom day and expect my Honey to take care of the kid – I mean, she’s a mom, too – but there are other days in the year. Right? Plenty of other days. I can take off another day!

Here’s why: One day, at the close of my first writing retreat in over ten years, the love of my life asked me – begged me – to agree to a puppy. Her work had been slow for a long, long time. She had time in the day for training and exercising a new canine baby.

Our lives had been going along swimmingly. We had reached a state of equilibrium in our home. I had managed two days away to nurture myself.

She really, really, really wanted this. Puppies are cute. Cuddly. Naughty. Hard. I considered it. I railed against it. I talked through all my no’s with a friend, and then I said, “Yes.” I committed. I agreed.

And life became chaos, jam packed every day – good stuff, but so much of it packed into such a short time.

In early March, my Honey took a solo trip. Awesome. With lifelong friends. Since then, we have celebrated her birthday and then Miss E’s, our niece’s birthday, the birthday of a good friend… and the three of us traveled to see my Mom. My Honey’s workload, without warning, exploded into family time. She was suddenly gone all Saturday, all Sunday, easily two nights every week – right through homework-dinner-bedtime-you-know-the-drill – which wouldn’t be too exhausting – I mean, we only have one kid who isn’t grown – but you add to that the PUPPY, who attacks the ancient dachshund, pounces on the cat, snatches homework off the dining room table and nibbles socks on the living room floor – plus an elementary school orchestra concert, a talent show dance and a choral concert with 900 kids.

Sometime last week, I checked out. Gone. Mental break. My days are planned down to ten-minute increments. Our home is a shambles, the bathroom and basement desperate to be cleaned.  I blog in stops and starts. My standards are slipping.

I don’t know if it’s the compounded stress of the past two months, or the current chaos of puppy parenting paired with the seat-of-my-pants homework management of an often inattentive fifth grader, or if it’s simply the reality of a daily poetry challenge where there are dips in skill, inspiration and talent in wordsmithing and observational prowess, but I needed to take a break.

I put my poetry challenge on Pause.

So I’m sitting in a chair with my morning coffee, paper and pen last Saturday. My daughter is still in her bedroom, no doubt on her iPad with headphones on, and I know what’s best for her would be for me to interrupt her, to draw her attention to some real world activity, to make breakfast, invite her on a bike ride, suggest we play a game of cards. But I’m enjoying my time in my chair with my notebook, even if I have to set it down every five minutes now that the dogs are awake because in the act of writing this paragraph, this happens:


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I intervene.

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These few moments of quiet calm in a weekend morning will be what I cling to indefinitely, until summer, until the sea calms and I feel I can stand.

Or maybe

I will take a day off,

a whole day

– decadent –

Just. For. Me.

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Image

Pause

22 Apr

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another haiku

16 Apr

She said the paper

Was due today. She was wrong.

It wasn’t yet done.

* * *

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*  *  *
National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

Spring Morning

15 Apr

Early,
the digital display
leads me out of the heat
of my dreams

and still with the ghost
of a blanket
at my back,
I reach my hand
towards the crate
to release the pup

who stretches
two freckled paws
into the bedroom,
lifts his head
into my hand
for morning kisses,
a sleepy rub,

and with the trailing ghost
of my blanket, his crate,
we walk (he trots)
to the back door
and emerge
while the pink
morning sun
warms the sky
and we linger
here.

image

*  *  *
National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

A Meditation

14 Apr

A city girl’s meditation. I keep a version of this up on my office wall, as a reminder for those days when there are too many people, too many demands, too many words . . . 

*  *  *

Silently open
your fisted hands and sit a
minute. Shuck the corn.

*  *  *

DSCF0116


National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

The Tween

12 Apr

image

There once was a young girl with grit,
never content to just sit.
She found a rope,
thought that was dope,
tied it up in a tree and climbed it.

*  *  *
National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

I Need a Longer Line

11 Apr

wpid-20150411_171841.jpgThere is a buzz in my chest
As my daughter’s focus
Takes hold, as her hands
Hold the cello and work the bow,
Bending her elbows with ease.

The thing is, I sometimes think in poetry. There are times I express myself best in verse, in sounds, in rhyme or alliteration, in the shape of a stanza, the break of a line, but there are times I need a long line of prose instead – I need a line to go on and on and on into the night, beyond when the dogs knead the blankets and settle into their tortellini curls, beyond when my Honey turns out our bedroom lamp, beyond the closed books and the late night train a mile away.

I need unstoppable, unshapeable lines.

So here I am in National Poetry Month – when the middle schoolers have dioramas and displays to illustrate their themed poetry up and down the corridors – an ocean, a volcano, a pumpkin, a treasure box, words along the sides, on the ceilings, dangling from the tails of fish –

And I am challenged – so challenged – to try, too.

Daily, I challenge myself to shape and sound my way through a think that isn’t pre-thunk, to stumble and stand and make peace with putting words out there, even if they aren’t yet reaching for the stars … because this is human. This is how people are. We try and fail and try and fail and soar.

I cannot think of a time when I opened my mind’s flood gates and watched all the gems wash ashore. That’s not how I write. I mine for the gems and to mine, I need time. Time and time and time. Time for a pre-think. Writing and rewriting and reading and reaching.

And today, I need a longer line.

*  *  *
National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

Boys

10 Apr

The boy with his
feathered hair
and his bicycle lock
and his swift walk
to the restaurant door,

The other boy
with his twin
red-haired brother
bouncing
across the street,
gesturing wildly
with both hands,
with only his hands,
his dad laughing
lovingly, his twin
barreling ahead –

As I walk from the train
to my family on a
Friday night –
I want to say to you,
both of you,
all of you:
Do not lose
this sense of
self, of strength,

Locking your bike,
entering the restaurant
without looking at
who’s watching.
Do not lose
this
strut,
this

Bouncing, this
barreling.

Do not lose this
flapping of hands
to describe a thing,
this
passion, this enthusiasm,
this simple pure being,

Do not lose this
as you grow
accustomed
to the guidelines
you’re given.

Do not lose this
as you become
Men.

*  *  *
National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

*  *  *

I get so caught up in raising girls that I forget the strict scripts our boys must follow to avoid ridicule. Until I’m out on a Friday night in the downtown of our sweet village and I see boys being sweet boys and I realize they won’t be allowed to stay this way more than a year or two more… and THEN what?

Day Nine

9 Apr

A beer

A bowl of cheese puffs

A phone blinking incessantly blue

A clock ticking down

To the end of the day

Me

Still

With nothing to say

That

Is

Or is not

Poetry.

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*  *  *

National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

*  *  *

P.S. Let’s just say I owe you one, and call it a night.

Public Transit

8 Apr

On the train
I stand
with my two feet
beneath me
placed
intentionally apart
for balance
my knees
nimble
ready
slightly bent
to sway with
the moving train

On the train
I watch people
enter and exit and
exit and enter

I watch people
move aside
hold the door
offer a seat
to a stranger
say, “Hey”

People
who do not
ride the train
sometimes miss
this generosity

Five stops in
one woman
smiles at me
openly
warmly
momentarily
and
I realize she
has been with me
the whole way
her feet planted too
her knees also nimble
and
ready to
step aside
for someone who
needs space or
just an easier
ride

Her smile
brief
fleeting
full
fills the car
with
confidence
fills me
with
confidence

Her smile
fills the whole car

When the train
stops
I
she
we
step out
into the sun
beaming.

train-in-station

*  *  *

National Poetry Writing Month

30 poems in 30 days

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