I Dream of Girls

It’s hard to describe the weight and significance of my words being blessed by someone else and showing up in a new space. Today SheLoves Magazine is running my poem “I Dream of Girls.” I’ll welcome you over there if you want to read more.

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I Dream of Girls

1.

The wind I least want

to wrestle

away: the whispering one

 

that howls in secrets

to the gentle girl

 

 

An Evening Reflection on Turmoil

window_boys

We are making our way in New York City this week. After seeing, walking, exploring, as much as three young boys can handle, we seek quiet in a small Brooklyn apartment. Well, quiet is relative. There were snatches of it this morning, as I read that even though I’d walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I could dare to fear no evil.

This afternoon, though, my boys can’t stop rough housing, hurting each other, and making a game of crushing fallen cereal pieces all over the living room floor. I slam down my Chaim Potok novel, storm in to call my boys hellions and demand they clean up the war zone. Oldest son thinks I need to know that the fallen cereal did make the floor look like a minefield.

Clearly. A reason. To ruin. Someone else’s. Apartment.

I ban the electronic devices, cursing them as “lazy games,” and set the boys to work making dinner. They do well. One chops onions, another tomatoes. They stir the lentils, measure out rice.

And on the cleared minefield, we eat.

dinner_together

lentils

Food is thrown across the floor, eventually. And again, we work toward restoration. (And again, and again. How many things were spilled today.)

But my partner in this marriage comes home and takes the boys out to play, and what do I do with this unexpected time of peace, of genuine quiet? How much longer it lingers than I expected.

park

In my hour, I receive word of war zones half a world away. Of children beheaded. Of the advance of ISIS, and attacks between Israel and Gaza. Prayer has never been so urgent. Mind you, it’s not perfect here in Brooklyn—my lover and I startled awake to gunshots the other night. “Maybe it really wasn’t,” he said sleepily. But we both knew it was. We slept anyway, as though the tragedies of the day don’t touch us clear through.

I wonder how it is that peace is restored after the mines are strewn in our fields, after brother-anger flashes through my little boys’ eyes. I don’t have answers to these things—no tidy packages to pull together why the real consternation of my little day doesn’t keep us up at night. We still circle around dinner together, and we say grace, for that’s what it is.

But there are gaps sometimes, like this one, when the whispers come: how do Iraqi Christian mamas fear no evil?

On Worth

What is the worth then
of rain glinting silver
when it falls, or boys
split out with laughter?
We banter on the word
weird, while the huddle
of science texts, glowing
invitational, stuns me as
deep as our planet’s
gravitational stability.
.                If I study lips
lined with chocolate
cake, or sobs that rock
the souls of the oaks,
have I saved a child
from the plague—have I?

Laundral Impasse: another Tweetspeak link-up

Tweetspeak Poetry invited me to write a poem about laundry this week, tossed in with an offer to be entered in drawing for a Scratch Magazine subscription. How could I resist? Laundry is so present, I might have more than one in me if you beg me to wring another out.

::

Laundral Impasse

Only walls know how I
laundered by hand and—
by back, arms, by this body—

how little I’ve laundered in compare
to the matròn bunched, swayed
over Riviere Cotes de Fer—

only my one day paused enough
to wonder why I’d relegate
this tactile communion
to a mechanical cube three
times my size when I am muscle,
I am water, I admit dirt hunkers
against the fibers—scrubbing,
wringing—

I have had enough! I sever
myself from the wash of women’s
fortitude that binds us all in

unity. I can take the grace—oh!
and couldn’t I have more?—

my Western wringing has left me
hanging for a generous Wind—

lay me limply, let me fold. I can
claim the four-four measures,
of garments in quadrants if only

to be clothed again. It is a small
preparation I can handle, this dress
over my head—

“by the time she reaches us…”

 

 

shellsfollowing July’s poetry prompt through Tweetspeak Poetry

 

Woman

Woman

Do you know
you are the soul
of your mother,
the Earth? And
when you watch
the lizard slink
across her skin,
together you
are bound up
in her arms
and she takes
you home—
ah, home.
Together you
have longed
for this return.

The Space of Worth

She had already started an uncomfortable widening in my mind regarding God’s love. When I gawked at my invitation into the wild and free space of voicing my own opinions, Fran* stood by my unique worth. After all, when had God ever reneged his gift?

Fran’s words had a chill certainty. That tilt of her head, the little uplift of her chin–you had to believe what she said, even if she made you cower six feet into your chair cushion. Sometimes I’d just let my eyes caress the stretching prairie outside the window–that place always free. Or I’d watch the wood moulding around the windows that was more likely to move than the stiff memory of the men and women in my childhood church–people who were always close to mind in Fran’s living room.

The scrappy book I toted to Fran’s was the sure symbol of stepping into my new worthiness–that worthiness I’d only begun to see. I would read to Fran snatches of my becoming. I needed her to believe I was living up to my new name: Changing One.

I read her a “changing” passage from my journal, one where God had visited me through the words of the Bible and ushered in some magical newness.

Perhaps it wasn’t so new or magical to Fran? My seconds of testimony launched her into ten minutes of reexplaining the passage, in more words, precise words. She piled her thesis on top of my scribbled journal note. And I withered.

But, no! I was worthy, after all, and she was snuffing those pieces sacred to me, smashing out my fragile worthiness. And by God, if I didn’t have a sour opinion of her right now! Well, I’d tell her, if she wanted to know the truth buried in this shivering, worthy girl.

I lifted my chin; I turned on her.

I finished my lament sweaty and avenged.

“So,” Fran said, “because you’re hurt, you’re going to throw blame back on me?” And if that wasn’t a selfish and childish thing to say!

But she wasn’t fighting; she hadn’t absorbed the grenade I’d just launched at her. The fuze sizzled, fizzled out. And there was Fran, standing there in all her chin-uplifted worthiness, not a shadow of fragility about her. It was like in the middle of her living room–molded and still–she could sit there as free and alive and unstifled as the prairie.

In fact, since she had opened no hateful barrage in return, I could only absorb Fran’s words as invitation. An invitation to stand, already worthy, already free. We could stand as tall grasses beside each other, one as worthy as the next, out there in the wind and sun, where there was all the space in the world.

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*name has been changed

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