every common bush

earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes – the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. elizabeth barrett browning

WHERE I’M FROM

Lately I have been thinking about the otherness of others. As a child I grew up naively thinking that everybody was the same. i never thought of food tasting different to them or color having different hues in their eyes. my childhood was very safe to me and i think its largely because of this.

i do not see the world with such simplicity anymore and it is both fascinating and terrifying. whether i get out of my pajamas or not, each day is a trip to another’s world. and yet too much travel and i long for home, the one dimension of childhood, the unaware self. this is an exercise of going home, literally and figuratively.

WHERE IM FROM:

I am from the sound of crickets and frogs in the dark, from 50 cent toothpaste and the S in the country road that made me late for curfew. Every. Time.

I am from the smell of sheets dried in the sun.

I am from cornstalks taller than me in the summer, miles of blinding white in the winter, and a sky that shrinks the earth with its expanse.

I am from peter paul and mary around the campfire and kindness, from goldie and dorothy and a woman named victoria who I am 99% like, so the dna says.

I am from the tender and the timid

the unknowable ones

From “love you annie” on the way to bed and “blessed are the flexible” and the murmuring of reading maps.

I am from the pulpit with a celtic cross my daddy stood behind. From the God from whom all blessings flow, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the longest amen.

I am from the land of eternal spring and from women called paisas. From empanadas and instant coffee with milk and sugar over saturday morning cartoons.

I am from the time my brother’s layup was on the news and my mom cried like he died.  The spring days with molly rollerblading down the church driveway and making up dances to summer lovin in the basement. Drinking pop from boots, memorizing kenney chesney instead of geometry.

I am from plastic tubs in the bottom of the hutch, pictures lined with dates on the back. From the one word prayers written in my dad’s mead notebook, tucked in his front pocket with a pen. The pewter bell my mom treasured for the way it didn’t shine, whose muted ring was more beautiful to her than the sharp sound of silver. I am from the dents in my sister’s fingers after playing guitar and her daisy wedding ring.

I am from the love and gratitude that  tackle hugs mom on christmas morn. And her tears that rolled into my hair.

The Day You Were Born

dear Solomon,

i sit here eating ice cream and pie, thinking about you.  when you are older i will crawl in your bed and tell you the story of your birth day, counting the years since then.  but right now you are still little and mommy wouldn’t dare interrupt your sleep because you don’t do it too often.  so tonight the thought of you will keep me company. and i will write out the story to tell you in the years that come.

it was a sunny day outside and i had it all to myself.  Atticus was at nana’s house so that I could get the house ready for you.  Daddy was at work.  It was a Friday.  I woke up at 7:30 am and didn’t sit down until 11 that night.  When I did, it was with Daddy, admiring the new play room I had worked on all day.  We sat in the soft glow of the paper lanterns I had hung and talked about how our life was changing in a few short weeks.  In that moment, I felt myself turn towards welcoming you to the world, every detail preparing for you. I would wash your clothes, pile the burp cloths and make changing stations for you throughout the house. Little did I know that we were on the doorstep of your arrival and the next detail was YOU!

Daddy and I settled into bed around midnight that night and I looked and looked for a comfortable spot.  My whole body ached from the day and my throat was achey too.  Daddy was kind and made me some tea and toast and then fell asleep on the couch.  At 1 am He woke up to my poking.  I was having contractions.

We lay in bed timing them, daddy a bit angry that I pushed myself too hard and me worried I had done something that day to hurt myself or you.  You were three weeks away, we thought, so we couldn’t imagine you were on your way!

We lay still, awake, daddy’s back to my side, whispering into the night.  I would tell him when each contraction would start while he pushed the button on his iphone timer and google “false labor or real labor”.  the feeling of each contraction pointed to real while the progress pointed to false.  we kept this debate going back and forth till, oh, about ten minutes before you arrived.

Your brother was home now and woke up at 7:30 am.  Daddy and he went about their day while I soaked in the bath.  The smell of bacon and the sound of the vacuum told me that today was just another day.  Convinced of this, I decided to turn my bath into a shower and get ready for work.  That’s when the pain came strong, doubled me over.  I crawled to the bed, wet and shaking, willing myself to keep going.  This ended in me shouting for Daddy.  He sat in the chair while I ate bacon and eggs on my side and groaned about breaking my bottom in yesterday’s hustle.

Back to the bath, where my body was weightless and focused.

The mind is a powerful thing, my sweet boy.  I STILL didn’t think that you were knocking on the door, about to come through.  I do remember one thought that if this was true labor, I was doing it alone.  Daddy was with Atticus, unaware of the miracle happening inside me.  I felt sad to not have him with me but then realized that I was not alone because I had you.  You were right there, working as hard as me, aware of the importance of your new life.  You were my birth partner and that was enough.

And with that, I was at peace if you were coming today.  All I needed to be ready for you I already had. My chest to hold you, my arms to protect you, my lips to kiss and cry and laugh, and my heart to fall in love all over again.

Sensing this was the time, I called daddy to come.  It was 9:45 am and we sat there in the morning sun, somehow still waiting to see how this would enfold.  Daddy sat on the toilet and called the doctor, who also thought we should wait.  About two minutes after her call the next contraction was undeniably different.  It was a push.

Blurry action. Shoes on, Calls made, Clothes found, and Out the Door.  I simply had to make it to the car after the next contraction.  Or not so simply.

I had one foot on the stair and the other outside when I knew you were coming right then.  I heard a pop as loud as a firework which was silent to Daddy inches away, water everywhere, and then YOU.

You were small, bluish, and curled like a shrimp.  You felt the cool April morning and seemed rather shocked to exist.  I just stood there, equally perplexed.  But, as you will learn over and over again, Daddy is great in the clutch.

He caught you, held you, told me to sit down inside, and wrapped you in a blanket.  I thought he was so clever to guess you were cold.

We spent the ambulance ride holding onto each other like two children hiding in war.  It wasn’t until we were settled in the hospital that we turned to each other.  You nursed and I became a mother again.

The rest of the story is your childhood, my love.  It is one that we are writing together, every day.

I want you to know, dear Solomon, that you were loved from the beginning, that you were welcomed into the world in a unique and remarkable way, and that April 6th is marked by you.  April 6th is special because it gave us you and you? You are incredibly special.

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With tears in my eyes,

Mommy

my new {old} ring

I am not as reflective as I used to be.  The place in my soul where my writing comes from is being used to be a listener, a lover, a mother and friend.  These people are my poems and at the end of the day i am empty.  I remember saying to a friend after grad school that my mind was tired and my body antsy.  That I was eager to live the answers I had come to find.

Well, I got my wish but sometimes I miss this place.  I hope to find a better balance.

I got a new wedding ring on Thursday.  We found it in an antique market on Thanksgiving day.  It is made of worn white gold that is cut into intricate detail and climbs up like the Eiffel tower.  At the top there is a small diamond that lies flat but catches the light.  It fits me perfectly, which is no small miracle considering my child sized fingers.

yesterday i made meatloaf.  as i dipped my fingers into the raw meat and egg mixture, i paused.  did i really want my new ring to touch this bloody mess?  i took my engagement diamond off every time i washed my hands and cooked, not wanting to lose the shine.  i looked down at this ring and noticed that it’s already gone.  and then i thought of the woman who wore it before.

was she a mother?  did she garden?  did she do dishes and give baths in this ring?  it did not come with papers or a story, but i have decided that yes, whoever owned this before, wore it through life.  it added a touch of beauty to all the she did: grocery shopping, dishes that wore the hands thin, and gentle touches soothing bruised knees and hearts. as it added sparkle to her, she added dignity to it.

i dug my hands deeply into the meatloaf, feeling part of a legacy.  making worn beauty.

this ring is a good expression of where i am right now.  i could use a teeth whitening, a haircut, and a day to myself.  i am worn but i am also beautiful. i have never felt so much a woman than being a mother to these two children.  atticus plays with my hair while solomon nurses and i am living the answer that i found in grad school. love makes people beautiful. love is beauty worn.

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an abstract on the scale

When I call something concrete, I’m calling it something tangible, something that catches light, with texture, temperature, weight. A small, lovely group of writers has been joining me in using the concrete to speak of the abstract. How else can we show you the invisible things?“,  Amber at The Runamuck.  Doing her writing prompt today: an abstract on the scale.

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we hold atticus on the scale with us, and then without us, to figure out how much he weighs.  when its me with him, the scales keep marching up even though his pajamas fall off of him now.

i wonder how much worry weighs; does it have numbers like pounds? at meal times he’s not eating his food and it all turns to fret and feeds me.  tonight he asked “what happened” and i flashed back to the night we are sure that “it” happened and he asked that over and over again.  my heart started racing until i realized i had turned down the volume on winnie the pooh and  he noticed the change.  at night, the toilet flushes it’s pipes and every time i think it’s him throwing up.

more than likely this worry and tired are invisible weights and the climbing numbers are the bread  and the chocolate from the good hearted people leaving food at our door. and this precious one inside of me is taking up more room, each elbow and foot having less space to swim, closer to the surface for me to feel.

i am thankful that the numbers on the scales have never been the marionette strings that pull my emotions up or down.  i feel their tug when i see the line underneath my chin filling in, but they are cut loose pretty easily.  it will fall off with nursing, i tell myself.

it’s the weight without numbers on scales that are holding me so tight, making me dance when i want to stay still.  it’s the tired.  the worry.  the patience wearing thin.

it’s 9:30 and time for bed.  life is a marathon, not a sprint, i am learning; the next day determined by the night before.  i am learning too that there is a beauty laid bare in sickness, that is not in health.  when he pats the space next to him and asks me to stay in bed next to him, when he and daddy spoon on the moon watching football, when he runs his fingertips through my hands…the quiet lets me feel each tender detail held in a moment like one can see the millions of colors in a water droplet if time stops, and the sun hits it right.

mr flu comes to town

it was selfish today when i slipped in bed next to him and stroked his hair while he slept.  he didn’t need me in that moment and i woke him up, but i haven’t snuggled him like this since he was a baby.  these past three days atticus has said a dozen words to his usual hundreds; walked maybe twenty feet; hasn’t smiled once.  not even once.  he is is a very sick boy.

holding hands

being with him in the middle of the night took me back to labor and those first baby days.  i turned down the heat, ran the bath water, and stripped him down to free his body.  he was brought low to the earth and i followed him there.  it was a very base experience, the two of us bringing in the new day sun – desperate for relief – together.  in a peaceful moment he fell asleep holding my hand.

tonight we took him to the emergency room and learned that we weren’t giving him enough liquids to stay hydrated.  since 1 tablespoon every five minutes of coconut water, he has thrown up once and still just lays beside us, but our little atticus has come back into his face. his eyes are familiar again.  of course there’s nothing like knowing your child is going to be ok, but ole’ mr. flu has sunk us deeper into the sand of each other.

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