Friday, June 28, 2013

for you, Mom

Getting Close
by Victoria Redel

Because my mother loved pocketbooks
I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp.

And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep.

Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos.

I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in the pocket seam
of a camel hair coat.

I hinge a satin handbag in the crease of my arm. I buy a little change purse with its
curled and fitted snap.

My mother bought this for me. This was my mother’s.

I buy and then I buy and then, another day, I buy something else.

In Paris she had a dog, Bijou, and when they fled Paris in 1942 they left the dog behind.
When my mother died on February 9, 1983, she left me.

Now, thirty years later and I am exactly her age.

I tell my husband I will probably die by the end of today and all day he says, Are you
getting close, Sweetheart? And late in the afternoon, he asks if he should buy enough filet
of sole for two.

From a blue velvet clutch I take out a mirror and behold my lips in the small rectangle.

Put on something nice. Let him splurge and take you out for dinner, my mother whispers
on the glass.

About this poem:

"This was a poem written as I tried to write another poem. My mother often shows up this way, pushing up in the cracks and lapses of other poems. I am always surprised by the way my mother lives in me and how much—30 years after her death—I am still talking to her, inventing her, feeling her shape me." —Victoria Redel



by Robert Glück

Dear Lord
Show me
The way--
My heart
And throw
It away

Lord, take
My heart
And throw
It out

Lord, throw
My heart
Way out

About this poem:

"Typically we put our hands together when we pray. I wanted to make a prayer in which the hands are thrown wide apart in a wish for loss of self. Although the poem is parsed out in short lines, it is rhymed and metered like a stanza from a blues song." —Robert Glück

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New love

I am having a Mama day, or I should say, an Allison day. Had to keep the kids at daycare for the long day rate, as I had a meeting at work. So I figured I would take a few extra hours afterward for myself. Bliss!

I was just now sitting in the parking lot of the bookstore, unabashedly watching a young couple, obviously in love, holding each other for a long time. Then kissing. Then laughing and talking. Then looking like they were saying goodbye for an extended period of time (an "I just can't bring my body to leave you" goodbye). Then they held each other again, big, deep "just can't live without you" hugs. Then they both locked their cars and walked away together. A reunion? An almost goodbye? Hard to say, but so beautiful to watch.

Those moments are why I love people watching. Why I love sitting in one spot at the airport and viewing all the departure and arrival hugs, the family reunions, the parent coming home from a long trip, scooping up the little darlings in their arms and feeling that happiness wash over them all. Beauty. Did you see the opening and closing scenes of "Love Actually"? Those are the moments I am talking about, and they can bring you to tears if you don't watch out.

There is something visceral about two bodies coming can see in a flash the hours and days of longing gone by, the long nights alone and the feeling of finally being "home," which really has nothing to do with a house at all.

I want one of those moments. I want that feeling of fresh new love. And I would be happy to have it with my husband of twelve years. He wrote me a text today, "Love you Allison." Just took my breath away. Good moment.

Now in the bookstore, I am sitting next to what seems to be a first date or a first meeting after an online relationship. A lot of get-to-know-ya questions after statements such as, "I'm not sure if I told you or not..." Two older people having a slightly awkward but friendly and reasonably flowing conversation. A lot of basic details being shared, and some more personal stories (they are handling this well). Now a silence. Uncomfortable? Not sure. "What do you tend to do in your spare time," she asks. ...Oh, remember dating? Not that I ever want to do THAT again. But it is kind of sweet to listen in.

I have always loved those moments of getting to know someone, the initial evaluations running through your mind, the thrill of a spark if there is one...the Great Possibilities. That is a wonderful feeling.

In a way, we are always getting to know each other. I could easily ask my husband, "Who are you now?" And I cannot assume the answer. So much of life gets in the way of seeing each other, knowing each other as we change and grow. Which theoretically makes for endless opportunities to discover something new, to connect, to feel that spark.

Last night on TV we watched reruns. The first one was The Office, showing Pam and Jim's conflicted and tied up marriage after babies and years of each making unilateral decisions, and them both feeling lost from each other. It was painful to watch, and familiar. But at the end of the episode, Pam has a flashback from their wedding day in her mind, and releases (finally) into Jim's awkward hug, forgiving, giving him love again. It was really quite beautiful. This was followed by a rerun of Parks and Rec, the episode of Leslie and Ben's spontaneous and hilarious wedding day, ending with their friends singing, "Little Sebastian." I write this for those of you who saw these shows, as there really is no way to explain the nuances of a long-running sitcom and how such silly shows can catch you up in your throat and make you suddenly believe in love, right there in your living room at ten o'clock at night, after twelve years together.

I wrote Scott a very long and heartfelt thank you this afternoon, for being an incredible father, for being a man I could put my faith in, a man I could trust and love. He is amazing with our kids. I am grateful for the moments we have shared with them, and I remain aware that those are fleeting and precious. I try to stay conscious, aware, and pay attention. I try to let love flow through the, out, through.

So darling, I'll meet you in the bookstore parking lot some time, and we can hold each other like new lovers. Maybe we can step back and let our bodies feel for a moment that strong pull, that not wanting to let go. And then we might hold hands and walk away, together.

Why not?


Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Take earth for your own large room..."

Earth Your Dancing Place

by May Swenson

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

From Collected Poems by May Swenson. Copyright © 2013 by The Literary Estate of May Swenson. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.