Sandblasted

Her steps echo on the slate walk.

She turns; searching, but cannot see the others;

the veritable ghost-army keeping pace.

A whisper of perfume

The familiar oak a skeleton in the yard.

Smells of the past and of a storm yet to come.

 

Memories hits with the open door

and she

falls

down

a rabbit hole,

through the glass of the grandfather clock

its hands spinning backward.

She’s caught – captive in a sandstorm.

There is no shielding herself from the barrage:

– should’ve

– could’ve

– what if?

– why?

 

Flayed raw by the storm, old scars tear open.

She reaches for an anchor, but finds only the hard curves of an hourglass

nipping, shaping, crushing.

No! she thinks. Not here. I don’t fit here anymore!

The glass is strong, unyielding beneath her fists.

 

She weeps, trapped, until she remembers.

Let it go.

Her hands are clenched,

crushing sand to her raw palms.

Let it go.

Slowly, painfully, she uncurls each finger and lets the sand blow away.

 

Standing on the porch, she turns her back on the open door,

clatters down the stairs

suddenly clear;

lighter than when she came up the walk.

She’s remembered: the past is a foreign country:

she cannot live there.

 

Poetry inspired by the Write on Edge prompt: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” ~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953).

Trespassing

Trespassing-watermarked

Wrapping myself in a towel, I get out of the shower and listen. It’s the habit of a mother, the automatic check for voices, for sounds of play.

There is only silence.

This cannot be good.

I pad down the hall to her room, where I see no children, but I hear voices, murmurs. Giggling.

Treading softly, I circle the room until I see the lower half of my son sticking out from under the bed. He’s on his tummy, with his legs crossed up in the air behind him. Relaxed. Happy.

Under the bed?

Voices again, and I realize she’s completely under the bed, and they’re just having a chat. Under the bed.

For the I don’t know how many-ith time, I marvel at this relationship.

Come here, my other half, let’s chat in the dark. A hideout under the bed? Why not? It’s perfect! Now, I have so many things to tell you, so get comfortable….

I watch and try to make sense of their conversation until a water droplet slides down my neck and I realize I’ve been standing there in a towel for how long?

My daughter is still not visible; she’s all the way under the bed, obscured by a bedskirt and a pile of pink duvet. That’s her. Never one to go halfway on anything. My son is half under and half out, yet fully immersed in their private world. I am trespassing when I finally clear my throat and ask, “So how often do you two have important chats under the bed, exactly?”

After a pause and a giggle, two heads pop out from under the box-springs, photo negatives of each other. Light and dark. Boy and girl. Fireworks and calm.

“Not that often,” he answers, flashing his jack-o-lantern grin.

And just like that, they’re gone.

Back into their private world.

Shifting sands

shifting-sands-final

 

My words have not been here as frequently as they once were, and I want you to know that it’s not because I’ve stopped writing them, but because the ground has become less certain, and I’m trying to find my footing on shifting sands.

This problem is hardly unique to me, but I’ve taken a bit of a break to wrestle internally with the dilemma of how to write memoir on a blog, especially when that memoir is so often about my children or issues stemming from parenting my children. You see, I harbor this delusion that it’s possible to write while protecting my children’s privacy as they grow older.

Yet my children themselves make it so difficult. Older tends to equal funnier, and I want to tell stories about the things they do and the problems they face, but I’m reluctant to write about their lives as much now that they’re in school. Things that happened when they were infants and toddlers were wonderful and hysterical and sometimes sad, but ultimately relatable to anyone who’s been a parent. It was ubiquitous humor. Now, they’re old enough that their problems and issues are their own, and I want to give them their privacy. (Online, anyway. I’ll be snooping through their rooms and reading any and all texts and emails until they leave the house.)

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve realized that though I have many stories, they’re not all mine to tell, no matter how much I’d like to have you pull up a chair and listen. None of us can write in a vacuum. All of my stories belong to me, yes, but they belong to other people, too. People who may remember them for different reasons, or differently all together. People who may not wish that the stories be told.

My children aren’t old enough yet to give me informed consent about whether certain of their stories should be told. I’ve only just begun to educate them about the permanence of the Internet and their online footprints.

There is no easy answer.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have recently decided to stop blogging, or are seriously considering it. It’s rare that a week goes by without hearing of another blogger saying goodbye.

I can understand why.

It’s exhausting, this writing in public thing, putting your thoughts out there for critique. Even if you begin with skin as thick as leather, other people’s opinions of your writing, and by extension, you, will start to have an effect. Discomfort squeezes in the cracks of your carefully crafted writer veneer, because writing memoir is a vulnerable business.

That said, I’m not going anywhere. Nor will I stop writing about my children entirely. Rather, I will consider carefully what I do choose to write, and pray that I choose the path that will one day make them happy to read my words.

As I watch the sand shift, I hope to find the the best way to shepherd my family in love and the best place to plant my words so that they’ll stand tall.

Happy New Year to all!

The world ended. Blame Florida State.

For those of you out there who are not Clemson fans, I’m going to let you in on a not-so-little-secret. They’re passionate about football. Passionate in a college version of Packers fans kind of way.

I married into this strange cult of orange, so I am uniquely situated to report the events of yesterday.

News flash:  the world ended last night when Florida State absolutely killed Clemson, at home, in Death Valley, 51-14. We’re talking apocalypse. Grown men crying. Cats and dogs, living together (particularly apropos, as Bill Murray did the Gameday picks).

This was a huge game for Clemson. ESPN’s College Gameday was there, as was most of South Carolina and a good portion of North Carolina. Mark and a friend left here at noon for a game with an 8:22 kickoff. One of my friends was out there at 6:30 a.m.

As Mark so delicately put it when he got home from the game at 2:00 this morning, “They didn’t even bother to use Vaseline.”

I awoke to the sight of my dear husband curled up, covers pulled to his chin, face pale in a manner that usually signals dire illness.

“Honey! Are you sick? You look like you’ve got the flu!”

“I’m fine,” he muttered.

“Oh,” I said, relieved. “You realize it’s just football, right?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Five minutes later, he threw back the covers.

“That’s it. I can’t think about it any more. I’ve got to do something.”

Since then, he’s done laundry, pruned the Carolina jessamine with great vigor (really, I hope there’s some left), cleaned out his car, replaced the filters in the HVAC system, and made a trip to Home Depot.

I hope he mourns this much when I die.