The Back to School Aisle in the Grocery Store

back toschoolSliding from the fancy roadster with the light-colored leather seats, I  dash into the shop, careless of the time of day and season of the year.

Like a panther lurking,  feelings gnaw, snap sharply with strong teeth, the pain spreads quickly from my heart  to each unsuspecting nerve within my body.

I enjoy again your tiny hand, so gentle, soft and trusting within mine;  fingernails, not quite clean, ice cream stains still tracing  near happiness.

Your lively eyes, wide with wonder, perceive the judgment  you must make tonight for times of  rain and snow, through golden days of autumn til the springtime gives you release again to summer.

Which color shall you choose, the rainbow of spring or the child’s bold primary colors? No prince or princess engages you. But shall you choose some other player to consort with  at meals?  Or, shall some mix or shape, and stain and form, instead,  foster your gentle and precocious imaginings?

With intensity,  you deliberate; like a diplomat  commencing  peace negotiations.  I honor your  bravery and intelligence:  the belief, still living, in a perfect choice.

Again,  the softness of  your hand disarms me.  More  exquisite, smooth and tender  in my memory, no doubt, than ever truly known. And the sweetness of your scent, unwashed after a full day of summer play: chlorine and french fries, sand and dirt,  sweat and river water.  Lingering, the smell of morning toothpaste and jelly from the sandwich that I made; your friends at play, their evening soap, and your brother’s brand new sneakers. And the dog.  All of you trotting just behind her  late this afternoon.

Rather,  a physical blow to the powerful tear of memory.

(Is this just the in-between time?  The days when you have gone into the world and we are all adventuring? Will other days inhabit time with other life and visions?)

Satisfaction and fulfilment.  Clarity: my existence has a meaning when your existence is such perfection.  Perhaps, not truly generosity. Perhaps only covetous love celebrates dispensing someone else’s need…

Tears,behind the eyes, closed throat perceive the absence of the little hand.

Clatter of a shopping cart and the moment fades.

The store chills.  Evening recedes.  I  purchase and resume my solitary journey home.

 

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Mothering

cropped-dscn0281.jpgI am diminutive in the chill, May sunshine outside the mushroom colored tower which surges towards the morning sky.  Wedged among stiff perfumed dresses, shadowed by white-gloved hands reaching out for the flowers, I shiver as though in a slow motion film and watch my mother receive a white carnation:  Her mother is dead.  Some day she will die too. The dilatory notes of the reluctant organ no longer sound cheerful.  Sights appear as through fine ivory gauze which wraps a wound.  There only remains the smell of roses, the scratchy feel of  a freshly starched cotton dress, a flutter inside my belly like an itch I cannot reach.

Bodies gathered closely like a patchwork quilt: young, old, mostly white and strong.  Intermittent raindrops bleed colors from homemade signs punctuating blocks of denim draped frames.  Children perched on shoulders whimper or laugh as orators’ calls to disarm echo,  linger, then settle on the crowd. Under the elegant shade tree, an infant suckles, undisturbed by disapproving glances of strangers on the street dressed in Sunday finery to absorb the urban experience.  Off-key singing stirs the close air, words inspire, we believe we all aspire to a universal dream.

Three small heads, one white, one gold, and one a saffron color, bodies close, faces deep inside the down.  Dawn just announced, sleep not yet fully departed from me, but the energy of these children already unbounded by the hour.  Giggles high, so confident, so self-conscious, as if they know already that they must treasure  moments which will not stay.  Skin so soft, unblemished, and richly colored, each one a different tone in the morning light.  One begins a song, the others join and it’s a choir.  They all jump, we shriek together and he comes rushing.  Coffee hot, bed covers tousled, attention fading.  Cuddles, kisses, small arms clinging.  A camera clicks, time cannot be packaged nor moments frozen.  Too soon it’s evening, the bed is empty of children once again.

Los Angeles, Paris, Philadelphia.  White carnations now for nine years or more.  Still a child stands out in a sunday churchyard.  Women march as ever to forge a peace.  Children laugh inside the heart each day, all rough, all tumbles. Not a festival, a sentiment nor a static instant, mothering is a process of awakening to life.

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