Poetry + Writing

Dear Mom [Week 33]

Hey mom,

I’ve taken two trips to your house since the last time I wrote, so that has to count for something, right? It’s been ten weeks since my last letter. So much for every week. In my defense, it seems like it’s only been one week. My life is so crazy, time beats me to the finish line every day. I sure love you. I love how I feel at your house. I feel like I matter. Like I mean everything. I don’t feel like that at my house. I never feel like that at home. I mostly just feel like everything would fall apart without me, but I never feel like anyone really cares about me. I know it’s not true. I know LG loves me and I know my kids love me, but LG is modest in his communication and sentiment and the kids are…well, kids.

Thanks for making me matter, mom. I need to come to your house every day about dinner time when I am in dire need of a nap. HA! I have been thinking a lot about home lately. Not your home or even my home, but HOME, home. I use my keenest imagination to picture my Heavenly Mother and Father’s family room couch. How far is my room from theirs? What does the kitchen smell like? How do I get one-on-one attention when there are so many others? Is it boisterous like yours and mine? Is it the peaceful perfect quiet that I wish I could command? All I am left with is clouds and gold. That’s it. And light. I don’t know anything else. I can’t even conjure it up from any storybook.

I was thinking about how I love Chocolate Malted Crunch from Thrifty’s. When I eat it, I feel the joy of a long day well-spent with family and friends at the beach. I feel sand in my hair and sun on my nose and shoulders. I want to walk straight to the car and be the first to dib shower number three. My kids think I am so silly with my sentimentality. LG thinks our whole family is a little weird about our attachments, but I think that they are the ones who don’t really get it.

I know without a doubt (well, maybe with just a tiny doubt) that someday I will sit at God’s table and eat something that I can only get in His realm. I will close my eyes and feel all the feels that I love. I will remember all the other times that I sat there eating the same thing and feeling so wonderful. I will wonder how I could ever let it go again. I will want to stay right there forever. And, then God will send me away on another mission, and I will have to wait years to get that taste again. The taste will always be my favorite, and the view from Her window will always feel like clouds and gold. Someday, you and me and dad and everyone else will laugh about how I thought chocolate malted crunch was as good as it would get. We will laugh because we will be glad that we can remember now. Remember it all, including the malted crunch, but laughing at it’s inferiority to whatever it is we get at God’s house. We’ll be glad that the veil is gone. And, then I will take a walk to dad’s dairy and you will consult with the Barsons and make up a batch for Family Home Evening.

I cannot wait for that reunion.  I will ponder it the rest of my life. How I miss my daddy. It hurts at every skin cell. I feel like I will never be whole again. I will never be totally happy again. I used to think you were overly emotional when you talked about missing your dad. I get it now. There is a hole. Not just in my heart, but everywhere. There is a hole in my peanut butter jar. There is a hole in my jumper cables. There is a hole in the green frog tape on my garage table. There is a hole in my cedar jewelry box on my dresser. It says Valdez. Dad mailed it from Alaska. There is a hole on my porch where he jimmy-rigged some wood slats to keep my screen door from opening too wide. There is a hole in my dog because dad loved her. There is a hole in the house down the street because I used to walk past while they were building it and smell the sweet scents of construction and think about dad. That hole happened after he was even around. There is a hole in the Pacific Ocean the size of the Pacific Ocean. Because it is dad’s ocean. There’s a hole at Disneyland because he took me there. There is a hole in Abigail’s car because one time dad bought me a new tire when it was flat. There is a hole EVERYWHERE. A hole only he fills, and I need him here to fill it. Not there. Here. So my tears roll down my face as fast as they can trying to make their way to the Pacific. They feel gravity pulling them to fill up the hole.  They will never succeed. The hole will remain until I am gone to a place that I no longer have to feel it. A place where he will be.

Oh mom. I hate this. I hate living without him. I know you feel the emptiness thousands more than I do. Thanks for letting me write to you about it. It helps. A little bit. I hope it helps you, too.

This array at your house helped me a lot. Thanks for your lovely storytelling, mom. You always know the most important things to say. Sometimes without saying a word.

IMG_20170407_182035372

The Home I Can’t Remember

The home I can’t remember
seems too far away.
Especially since you beat me back
You always win – touche.
Someday instinct will find me there
You’ll be the first I’ll find.
We’ll deserve our rightful place
on our favorite restful couch.
Yet, we will know it won’t last long.
No one there dares slouch.
Mom is always up there cooking.
Dad is usually off at work.
You and me are now like them.
Never will we shirk.
Yet, before we run off to help,
we eat our favorite treats.
We breathe, we sigh, we reminisce
from our favorite seats.
We won’t miss home down there on earth,
there’s no need to even visit.
This best home of gold and clouds
is the most affectionate.

It’s all about your heart.

Hey you,

I love your heart.
It’s good.
It’s pure.
It’s tender.
It’s lovely.
It’s bigger than the moon.
It’s grander than Time Square.
It’s wider than a drive through Kansas.
It’s one of the most beautiful things on earth.
It’s powerful.
It’s strong.
It’s limitless.
It was made to love you first,
but sometimes you give it away to other people,
thinking you’ll take care of you later.
That’s a bad idea.
Apply the magic of your heart
to your own scars first.
Then, you’ll have your own heart longer
and you’ll be able to love others greater.
Be selfish with your heart
as long as you need to
because
my heart will always be here waiting
for yours to come and play.

The End

I started writing this for my husband. He teases that he is going through emotional adolescence right now. He is. It’s not always fun being a teenager, and his emotional phase doesn’t come with Friday night parties and summers at the beach. Dangit. However, I can’t wait to see the guy who emerges. I guess I’ve been married to an emotional child for almost 20 years without even knowing it.

I’m so proud of my man and the hard work that he has done to get in touch with a buried heart. It’s scary to stare at yourself in a mirror. It’s horrifying at times. It’s the hardest work any of us will ever do, and he does that hard work for me, and me alone. He makes me feel important with his journeying. He’s wandering through the Sahara only to reach the Artic…just looking for his heart, so he can give it to me. Sometimes, I hate the journey and wonder why it has to be so hard. Other times, I see peeks at gloriousness. I feel lucky. Even though we have had so much to learn, we’ve been privileged to learn it together.

I changed the way I wrote the poem to not be just for my husband. It’s for everyone because we all should have the high honor of someone loving us just for our heart.

Thank you Mindy Gledhill for a beautiful song.

A Simply Marvelous Life

caroline-harpWhile going through old class notes for my current paper, I found this story I wrote last spring. I remember how it made the student that presented after me cry. I felt so bad as she approached the podium upset. She explained that my story was especially tender to her because her dad had passed away recently. How was I to know that within months I’d be in the same “dad gone” boat?

I remember telling my dad of our plan to take a gift to the orphan boys and how he loved it. He wholeheartedly sanctioned it to my kids and he shared an inspiring story of his own. He cried. What a tender memory. He believed in the art of compassion. He lived the art. How grateful I am for him and his  example. He inherently knew that the true joy of life was within our relationships with others.

I am grateful to have come across this story today. I’ve been in a school slump, not feeling up to the writing task. Today’s discovery reminded me of the importance of storytelling. Even if I am not the most eloquent storyteller.

A Simply Marvelous Life

“Those poor, poor boys,” Mother said loud enough for the room to hear as she read the newspaper. I asked her, “What boys?” She explained. Twenty years before she used to work with this guy. They were nothing more than acquaintances. “But still, it’s just so tragic.” He was dead now among the remains of his personal jet. It crashed on take-off in Colorado. The crash also killed his wife, and two of his five children.

Mother seemed obsessed over the three children left. It was hard to understand how complete strangers to her sabotaged her heart for months. She talked about them to everyone. Her friends. Her kids. Sometimes she would even talk to random strangers about how grateful she was to be alive. “Shopping with a toddler is hard, but it makes it easier when I think about how blessed I am to be alive.” When the family knelt in the family room every night, mother would sometimes pray out loud for the family. “Bless those boys.”  When I complained about chores or homework or getting my phone taken away, she would remind me to be grateful. “You have both your parents, and all of your siblings. Remember, life is marvelous.” When Christmas neared mother told us that in the quiet of one morning she heard a voice in her mind. It was a woman begging, “They must have a gift from us under the tree.” Asking our forgiveness mother said she hoped we’d understand her stealing from us. She had withdrawn from her Christmas account, upsetting her carefully budgeted plan, to buy something for the orphans. She apologized and explained that we might have a little less this year. “But, I just feel it my duty to provide a gift for them from their dead mother. I can hear her voice as clear as day. I can’t ignore it.”

As Father drove us to the next town over, Mother watched her five elves stretch and giggle among the large sack of gifts in the back. The wrapped gifts would be left anonymously. “Because that is the best kind of giving,” mother said. The boys’ names, the ones their mother gave them, were monogrammed on their blankets. A note was included reminding them of their mother’s love, all the way from heaven. “She had found a way to hug them, through the mind of a stranger.”

Mother had done some serious sleuthing to get the names and address of the boys, but could hardly believe her eyes as they pulled up. When they verified the house number to the information on the paper in mother’s hand, everyone voiced their utter shock. A chorus of “no way” echoed the yelps of surprise as the vehicle reached the top of the mountain. The boys lived in a literal mansion. Mother laughed. “What in the world?” We all told her we should take the gifts back home, but she directed her elves to drop the gifts on the doorstep. “Be quiet. Don’t let anyone see you. Hurry up before someone calls the police.” As we sprinted our way back to the modest minivan that cowered under the massive gate, my little sister spared a glance for a golden harp glowing through the windowed fortress. We jumped in. The tires peeled. My baby sister described the harp’s shine to her amused mother. How badly Caroline wanted a harp. She had even written to Santa for one. She didn’t know what I knew.  Santa had already bought her a harpsichord. It was the last Christmas purchase she had made right after the wrapping for the boys’ blankets.

We never knew it, but in those first few moments driving home, mother deeply questioned the meaning of helping where help didn’t seem to be needed. Those boys had more than she or hers ever would. The answer came quick, at the traffic light on the way home. Flashing behind her eyes, red and green, it spelled one word. C-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n. Mother turned to dad and said, “I guess tonight we got to help meet an emotional need, not a physical one.”  Yes, compassion knows no class structure. Or biases. Only pure love. And that night both mothers had managed, from separate realms, to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

The next day mother listened as her baby girl, surrounded by her parents and four siblings, transformed our family’s condo into a two-bedroom castle with music from her harpsichord. As Mother closed her eyes to enjoy the marvelous moment, a familiar angel voice spoke to her mind one last time, “It sounds just like my harp.”

 

He Shuts Her Out

He shuts her out.
Again and again.
For years on end.
Every time it’s harder.
Every time it’s hell.

He shuts her down.
Time after time.
She listens
but does not understand
the silence.

He shuts her door
and walks out cold.
He’s as mad as red,
but won’t admit
the honest cause.

He shuts her heart
and deems it untrue.
Her intentions are
misconstrued.
She wants nothing but him.

He shuts her mouth.
She can’t say a thing
that will make
him understand
his rejection’s blow.

Because his is always
more
larger
complicated
and unknown.

He shuts her out.
She can’t get in.
She sits alone
and wonders
if he will ever

Let her in.
To see a place
that has been
transformed
just for her.

He shuts her out.
She’ll never know.
He won’t clean house.
It scares him so
much more than she does.

Reverenced

Red hair, black shirt.
Sitting at a short table.
Food in front.
Ocean spray juice in a plastic bottle
with a blue lid.
I can smell the pasta
from my circular booth.
Marinara.
It shouts at my nostrils.
I’m cheap. I’m microwaved.
I’m in a flimsy black bowl.
It all sits still, untouched.
Laid out neatly
as if waiting for a queen.
Drink on left.
Pasta in the middle.
Napkin and plastic fork on the right.
Her head bows.
Reverencing her meal
in contrast to her hair.
Her bright pink hair.
It’s not red.
It’s pink.
Bright pink
like a darker-dyed flamingo.
And it fades and ombres into
Cindy Lauper.
All the way down her back.
She is bowing.
Bowing.
It’s been a minute.
At least a minute.
She is still.
She is grateful.
She is reverent.
She is praying.
With her pink hair.
Her flaming hair.
The hair that screams
rebel.
I’m a rebel.
I’m a rebel queen.
And I have a Father.
A Father God.
And she stands.
Her belly is bulging.
A princess is waiting.
Her hair may be pink.
Just like her mother.
Her rebel mother.
The Queen
with a Father.

A Poetess’ Hamartia

I’ve been studying Dorothy Wordsworth this morning. She is the sister of the British great, William Wordsworth. Both Wordsworths were close friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Come to find out, many of the journal entries of Dorothy are included in the works of William Wordsworth and Coleridge. They stole many of her observations! She had a very keen eye and a knack for object description. Although she was never published in her life, she has since been recognized for her role in literary history. She explained writing some of her poems because “I shall give William pleasure by it.”

While reading her journals I am thinking she was a predecesor to the great Annie Dillard. I like to think I share both of these women’s love for all things natural. I aim to have their abilities in describing the physical world. Someday.

Dorothy eventually ended up having a mental collapse in 1835; her brother, William, cared for her for 20 years until he died. She had suffered a severe personality alteration. Once viviacious and sweet, she became insufferable as an invalid and would act aggressively. My text blamed her mental breakdown on being overworked during her entire adult life, playing secretary to her brother and helper of his household. (Norton Anthology of English Lit. Vol. 2, p. 403) As a mother of five, being overworked is something I can identify with on a cellular level. I am so grateful I have modern medicine to assist with my own brain chemistry. So many great writers were shamefully stagnated by their lunacy.

dorothy

A Poetess’ Hamartia

My dearest dad I cannot go
unless I can see as now.
The hues of yellow as they infuse
upon the palish brough.

But child of mine, sharp poetess
impossible it ’tis for thee
a mortal mind is far too fragile
to perceive that kind of beauty.

I shall not go then, father fixed
I cannot bear the break
Seeing and hearing the pink petticoats
All lifelong without, I’d ache

Okay sweet one, but you must go
A concession I’ll make to you.
But there will be a price to pay
For omniscient skills so true

Oh thanks daddy, please do make it so
Thy sight is vital to my soul
Creation must not be concealed from me
I accept the price and toll.

All right my lovely keeper of British countryside
Thy eyes will stay immortal to see
but thy mortal mind won’t always understand
Sentinel keen, thou on earth will be.

I’ll be crazy. I’ll be haunted.
I will take the pain and mental stops
Confusion may come and invalid me
in my millions of diamond drops.

Each One of Us

He computes, analyzes.
So intelligent, but has no confidence.

She toils and serves.
So capable, but doesn’t believe she really makes any difference.

She is beautiful, talented.
So phenomenal, but doesn’t trust herself.

She is artistic, and a symphonic joy.
So welcoming, but she shuts the world out.

She is bold, and kind.
So forceful, but she loves everyone but herself.

They won’t find their part in the symphony
until they believe
each one of us
is glorious.

My universe

The_life_of_Sun-like_stars

Thank you Wikipedia for this striking image. Find it here.

In all the vasts of nothingness
she cannot perceive a thing
though she strains her eyes.

It seems dark is sovereignty.
Blackness rules mighty.

Positive she’s a lone piece of refuse
discarded among the night,
She strains for strength
unaware of adorations from afar.

A drop of water fosters.
A breeze bolsters.
Anamnesis drives her forward.
Toward north.

A glow appears
trailing behind
creating a well-lit footprint
as she crawls, then walks.

Another clasps her hand.
Instinctually binary,
they learn to run and dance.

The two will bond a galaxy
of their very own.

And they will be a sun.

They’ll send stars
into the night.

Forever
she’ll christen them with tears.
And he’ll whisper in the wind.

Nows

caroline, blog

Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

Forever  is composed of Nows
‘Tis not a different time
Except for Infiniteness
And Latitude of Home
From this experienced Here
Remove the Dates to These
Let Months dissolve in further Months
And Years exhale in Years
Without Debate
or Pause
Or Celebrated Days
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies

Today’s message came from here.

A Writer’s World

I had to write an emergence myth for my Wilderness Writing class. I’ve struggled with it all semester. My professor is all about the process of writing, so he doesn’t just take our assignments, grade them, and hand them back. He gives feedback, workshops, and hopes for his students to grow and evolve. As a black/white enthusiast this has been beyond difficult for me. The class is finished in two weeks and I have not even a hint at my earned grade. I’ve had to work on multiple projects at once. I’ve hit a lot of walls. I’ve vacillated between utter despair and overpowering revelation. This was the perfect class to initiate me back to school. I’m glad I stuck with it.

Here is my Emergence Myth, A Writer’s World. This emerged after five weeks of inner turmoil. I’m proud of it. It is the most personally powerful piece I have ever written. I hope it will be followed by many more that are nothing like it.

Her name was Nobody. All she wanted was to be a Somebody. Somebodies were better. Somebodies were happier. Somebodies were successful. So, she signed up for Somebody school. She left her stifling dreary brown Nobody world without looking back and happily entered the newest Somebody classroom with glass walls. Holding a pen and paper in her hand, surrounded by Somebodies and other people learning to be Somebodies, she felt happier. She thought only of Somebody ways. She tried to learn their words. She studied their beliefs. She liked the Somebodies. And they liked her. But when she went to sleep at night staring at the books in her lap, she felt like she was living a lie. She didn’t know how to write Somebody stories, even though that is all she ever wanted to do. So she read all of the great Somebody myths. She pondered Somebody tradition and she tried harder to copy the Somebodies. But everything felt like it was wrong.

Nobody was persistent and brave. She would not give up without a fight. She stopped talking as much and started to listen. She found better tools and used them to build new ideas. After a lot of hard work she surprised herself when she started questioning the ways of Somebodies. She couldn’t believe that along the journey she was somehow convinced that Somebodies weren’t always right. What happened to that Nobody girl that worshipped all the Somebodies? She had changed her own mind. Somebodies didn’t do it. She did it. She realized that Nobodies could be good and happy and successful too. In fact, the only difference between Nobodies and Somebodies was their names. She didn’t need to be a Somebody any more. She could be a Nobody. That was perfectly acceptable. She felt liberated.

She started to think about going back to Nobody world until she had a rude awakening. The only reason she believed Nobodies were good now was because Somebodies had taught her so. Now what? She was still a Nobody, but was also a Somebody. Where would she fit in? The answer wasn’t with the Somebodies. Desperate, she allowed herself to look through the glass walls back out to Nobody world. Mountains had emerged. The skies were every color of the rainbow with clouds of all shapes and sizes. The vegetation was magnificently varied. The animals seemed to holler at her to tell their story. Nobodies never saw those things. She was no longer a Nobody.

She decide she had to stay at Somebody school, even if she didn’t want to give up her Nobody parts. She didn’t know what she would become. Maybe she should just be a writer? Maybe she could tell Somebody stories and Nobody stories? Maybe the best stories would be about Somebody and Nobody together? She looked at her paper, her new world was in it. It was totally blank, but she was not scared. She started to fill it, one letter at a time. She made Nobody words. She made Somebody sentences. She changed them all around and rearranged voraciously. Over and over and over again. She deleted some and added some others. The paper took the form of a glass building surrounded by a bounteous earth. Sometimes there was a Somebody inside, sometimes a Nobody outside, but neither would ever be confined again. Her new world was in the paper and it would be whatever she imagined.