Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Island Dreams

Don't you wish you could go back to that time when you were 9, and summer began with you walking out of the asphalt, brick and chain-link cage and heading into the forest path--the Snake Trail was what it was called--and through the tall, spiky grass (remember the milkweed plants? And the caterpillars who clustered there?) with your backpack slapping against your back and chafing your shoulders, until you reached your white house with the peeling blue porch paint--
--and you dropped your bag, thunk, on the stoop---
--and opened the door ("hi Betsy, hi Betsy! Down, girl!")--and yelled:
as loud as your little lungs could manage.

And then there were cookies from Mom, and a quick review of all the papers you had haphazardly shoved in your lime green backpack, and a reminder to call home--
and you were off to the woods again, up Centennial Ave and to the Whale Rocks or the My Side of the Mountain fort that you and Sophie had perfected last week or even, to check on the tadpole clusters that Echo had found in the concrete pond. It was sunny and not too hot, and you could wear a bandanna to keep the sweat out of your salty eyes anyways. And afterward, on special nights, you would find the soft, bleached log that had washed up to Centennial Beach, and Dad would bring the djembes, and you and Spencer would dance in the sand, kicking up the dunes and singing; the dark waves giving their measured, hissing applause while Mom bobbed her head in time, tapping the thick trunk.

Who says childhood is idealized? That's the truth, straight up. I lived a magical life, I think; I still wonder where I can bring my children to have their Island dreams.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Human Sacrifices...or something.

K, new poem! This one needs a title and lots of constructive comments, though, so go to. We're still at the butcher knife stage of drafting, so don't be shy...

Poem. (<---title goes here. Ahem.)

We all place our best work at the feet of God.
Sure, there are different way of saying it.
Back in the day, when the fiery angel dropped to prick the earth with his voice
(to Adam, to Eve, how tinny a voice that must have been!),
Abel settled his sheep (the whitest, the fleeciest, the warmest)
securely on the alter, then turned away, afraid.
Later, when Abraham rocked his baby on the stony crib,
sweat and lullabies streaming onto his child’s face,
or when Moses offered his tongue, his sandals, his future
to the glory of that electrifying shrub,
we stop and gape, amazed,
and poke our neighbors in their wooden pews
and quiver to compare ourselves
with those ceramic brows.

But, what is the difference then,
between us and those great, glassy men;
enamored in our gazes?
You and I,
we litter His feet with our own, private bounties;
tedious gray hours kneeling at the side of His childrens' beds,
hands hung over keyboards for long, long minutes, waiting to drop the perfect hosanna
onto the paper’s generous spread,
fishermen pulling in their sodden lines and pushing off, away, away,
preferring to hear God’s voice in the pulse of wave after wave after wave;
(what contrite thankfulness for salt and flippering fin!)
Even with a boyish whistle in the face of stark winter morning,
we honor His great hands.
And what greater proof do we need, in scripture or in hymn,
that we travel through our lives, whispering our hushed benedicti into our
handkerchiefs and to the insides of our scarves,
and finally, in that great moment of emergence,
when faced by mountains,
those resonant purple thumbs of God,
we stand up, and rub our palms together,
and sing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On the First Three Days of Being in Love, Age 17.

is the one buried in her furtive glance as she swipes three grapes
from the plate being marched to the dinner table
and it is his voice that echoes with each drip of the faucet
into the metal mixing bowl,
plink plink like tinny elevator music, punctuating the conversation with
such measured presence.
Today she finds his smile on fifteen street corners;
because every idle pedestrian knows his name
(and the secret weight of his hand on hers)
and they each wink to her
in silent confidence: yes, yes, yes.
It should be no surprise, then,
when he threads himself through the stubborn
air-conditioning vents of her car
(tickling the secret arcs of her calves)
and into the tangles of her morning-tossed hair, and oh—!
even now, his face appears
impressed into the pattern
of crumbs on her plate after Sunday morning waffles,
bobbing in a slick of syrup.
He waits patiently,
waits to be speared and devoured;
so small and so hungry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What a Babe.

Happy Mom Day Everyone!

Today in church, while Bismark was describing Ghanaian tooth fairy traditions, I started thinking about my mom.

Her name is Karen.

Isn't she a babe?

(Photocredit to my amazing Aunt Jen--check out her amazing blog.)

I could write Tolstoy-sized volumes on my mom without scrabbling for ideas. She is, in a word, stunning.

So, sitting in church, I did what I did best and began to make lists. And, while it is certainly sub-Tolstoy sized, it is still worth sharing because it IS mother's day and she IS an amazing, amazing person. So here goes:

(ahem) The Qualities I Hope to Inherit From My Gorgeous Mother:

  • Goal setting: My mom is the world champ, no joke.
  • Money matters!
  • The quality of never being satisfied, in the best possible way. Mom is always looking for ways to improve, to stretch herself. She is always searching for excellence.
  • a knowledge and love of the scriptures
  • In her free time, Mom hangs out with her family! (Good deal for us.)
  • ADVENTUROUSNESS! She rock climbs! Tries vegetarian adventures! Bikes! Moves to Boston! Runs a Boy Scout Camp! Sends her kids to far off lands! Wears interesting clothes! Marries an artist! (Is there anything she is afraid of?!?!)
  • She NEVER complains. Maybe she "constructs" on occasion, but never complains.
  • I have never heard my mom say anything bad about her family or children to anyone else. Ever. (WAA?!?! Isn't that crazy?!?!)
  • She doesn't care if flowers are particularly beautiful as long as they smell wonderful...aka she likes things that are useful. She's not a knick-knack person, but a utility/artistry woman. An amazing thing, really.
  • she has excellent taste in clothing
  • she loves and values education, and never backs down from an intellectual challenge. (Her response to why she studied medicine and chemistry in college: "Because it was the hardest thing I could find. I didn't want a 'just looking for marriage' major.")
  • She can raise good men.
  • She loves delicious food.
  • Wayyy spunky. (In the righteous sense)
  • She has a burning testimony of the gospel.
  • She loves, values, and defends motherhood.
  • She has vision. (A favorite T-shirt of hers: "Dorothy had the shoes, but she didn't have the vision. Take the controls: Women Fly.")
What an amazing person! What an amazing mother! What an amazing precedent!

What a babe!!!!