Ashes To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain, render the insoluble. She envied the past its incursions, yet the past yields to all, avoidance to acceptance, trees to smoke. My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come. Now it sits on my shelf bearing implements of […]Ashes — O at the Edges
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You were the friend of my youth. You are black and I am white. When we became adults, we drifted apart. You served in the military. I served in the ministry. You died too soon for me to tell you this in person, so I’ll tell you now. You endured more than you should have, suffered more than you deserved, and were held to the unreasonable expectations of white culture, yet still you were my friend.
You came to my white church. You stayed in my white home. You ate at my white table. Yet I never stayed at yours. An occasional visit to your world was all my whiteness could warrant, yet you were expected to live in mine.
I was in your presence when the n-word was used, on multiple occasions. I said nothing. You ignored it, while others laughed at…
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Blood red greens Anger seething roots dark Passion feeding vegetation spark your needs, we sacrifice ourselves to feed to save our brethren on greens, trees in teens being killed for paper planes, prints insane millions die for unwanted trash, toilet paper or cash our vapour boils to extreme, no herbs it seems will cure your […]Read red writing on the wall — Perspectives on Life, the Universe and Everything
I was four when I went to Uncle Stephen’s wedding on the train across the country to California. We had no fresh milk because of a hurricane through New Orleans, and I was bitten in the mouth by a Scotty dog on the way out west. Plus I wasn’t permitted to sleep with Grampa in the top bunk which in the end was fortunate because he got sick on the sheets up there from drinking.
I was used to grownups barfing from drinking by the time I could walk. It was just a thing that happened. Same with the crying. They got drunk, and they passed out or got sick or cried or raged or sobered up or went to work or got so mad at you when you missed the bus that all you got for Christmas one year was a wind-up all-metal alarm clock with an extra-loud bell, kind of like they must use in the army, I thought. That was fun. I tried to have fun everywhere I went. I’d have fun with almost anything.
Except other children. I didn’t really understand them. Nana protected me so hard from the world that she forgot I’d need to learn to protect myself. Yes, you can be too sheltered. Especially by a woman who lost her daughter & then got her back because you came along. You brought your mom & your grandmother back together after years of estrangement. The mother remembered it one way, the grandmother another. The mother, in the end, proved to be a good observer of the grownup shenanigans around her. My poor, bumbling, beautiful mother. Sandra Dee ideals but a Marilyn Monroe sensibility. Sparkly as a movie star. In any room, she was the brightest candle.
I was four when I went to New York City with Nana to visit Mom & Bob. They got drunk on ouzo & ate peanut butter & crackers on the sofa bed while I slept in it. I had the giant box of crayons & a huge Alice in Wonderland coloring book from FAO Schwartz. I got a doll in a giant flowered egg there, too. Was I being paid off to keep quiet while the grownups recovered from their hangovers? Yes. Mom & Nana & Bob in a New York apartment with a great view & a bottle of ouzo. For decades, just the word ouzo made Mom & Nana groan. With actual nausea. Licorice hangover, was all I could think. It smells like licorice. I liked licorice, but not groaning. I wasn’t even tempted.
Maraschino cherries were my drug of choice. And ginger ale. And a handful of coins for the jukebox across the dance floor. Enzo was the bartender. I liked to play with Aunt Marion in the package store, full of sun & sparkling bottles, like witch’s poison, all around the walls. The counter with the register. The traffic going by. So light compared to the other side. But Enzo was there behind the bar, and so was I, making myself Shirley Temples with cherries halfway down. The pistachios were dyed bright red, too, but I preferred the cherries.
There was a girl with peeling knuckles who had a special disease that made her stiff. She loved pistachios, and ate them until her fingers were red. The peeling & the dye was spectacular & gruesome. She herself had straight blonde hair that hid most of her face in shadows. She made the best of it like all of us kids in bars.
Advice which is true for many situations in life. including marriage.
The period of being spinster is very different from married period. When we are single, there is no responsibility of family apart from our personal responsibility. For example, career, appearance, competition among friends.. But we get married things change, we don’t have to manage ourselves but each and every person of our new family. So suddenly we have tremendous pressure on ourselves.
Some steps to manage responsibilities especially in joint family.:-
1) Understand rules and regulations of your new home.
When we used to live in our parents house there were certain rules and regulations we have to follow. We used to follow it. I just want my Queens to understand when you can follow the rules at your parents house, then definitely you can follow them at your husband’s house too. Just leave your before thought process in your previous home. Start afresh life, & make your mind accept…
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The woman sits up all night, listening to it rain. The woman has often sat up all night waiting for one thing or another to either leave or arrive: bandaged fingers, whooping cough, her own lookalike grandchildren. When she can, she sleeps next to her dying mother in the king-sized bed; she bangs her own shins on the high rails, climbing in. Her arms and hands are able to lift the wasted body of her dying mother with amazing ease.
She watches & waters the great rack of African violets in the living room; grows wheat grass for her mother’s cat. Other times, she sits in a high-backed wooden chair, needlepointing forests in wool, chain-smoking for hours. Her mother will die very soon; then the daughter will put on her navy dress with a large, elaborate organdy collar and fail to draw a deep breath for several days. The woman’s several brothers and their children will fly in from all over the country, and flower offerings will dwarf the grave itself.
After the burial, the woman will pack all sorts of mementoes into her mother’s old cedar “hope” chest: yearbooks, diaries, photographs, diplomas, invitations, programs, baby booties, baby spoons, baby cups, even a rather grisly alligator purse, complete with the head, legs, tail & feet and sharp black claws. When she has nightmares, more often now, she sits up all night, her fluffy gray tabby queen on her lap like a hot-water bottle. The cat’s purring leads the woman away from the perilous mountain passes & rocky cliffsides inside her head and back to level ground, so she can help her mother die properly. That is what proper love looks like, she thinks.
This made me cry & laugh & feel less alone in the world. Thank you.
I am falling in love with failure. At least I’m trying. It is time I have to.
We shouldn’t, lovely womyn, be short on our accomplishments. It doesn’t matter how slow going we’ve been, what we haven’t done yet, or what we haven’t quite obtained. We have to focus on the great strides we’ve made despite all the seeming nothings. If we fail, that means we put ourselves out there. When ever I submit a request or offer myself, the answer is silence, but other times the answer has been “yes.” I just haven’t heard many yesses because I don’t really try all that often. I’m timid, beat myself up, get down on myself, give up. Failure feels most like failure, the bad kind, when I’m indecisive and I don’t or can’t act. Not committing to something or deciding feels like a weight or blades inside. How can I love…
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When you drink, your voice thickens sweet &
lethal as syrup. I know that sweetness —
once I let it go all through me, I let it stay & stay.
I don’t know if we will cry together, like sisters,
my nose pressed against your neck, but for now
we can drink together from the same bottle &
descend as one into our true blue depths, united
by our sadness, our terrible failure to be loved
enough. I will not flinch from your bloodstained
towels, your green veins, your broken arms.
I understand why you weep for the dead —
though you never loved them. Still,
the yearning to save rises in you as bread rises,
doubling your volume, your capacity for pain.
Sometimes, I ask myself why I didn’t give her back sooner. Would it have been easier then, before I knew her personality, the sweet meaning of her every sound, every movement? Already I loved her smell, the weight of her small head on my chest, already I’d soothed and fed and washed her forty days running. That other mother gave life, I gave only touch, warmth, comfort. I couldn’t help it; I fell in love, it happens like that, quickly, without thought. I didn’t know how it felt to be someone’s mother. When I couldn’t become pregnant, I cried for days. My insides felt soft and hollow, like an empty purse. This little girl loves me, I know she does. She reflects a rainbow back to my eyes, in her smallest toe resides a perfect universe. I lie next to her at night, breathing the rich, salty fragrance of her hair, feeling her body growing, expanding to meet mine, and over our private nest flows time, but for as long…
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Window by John Akuppa Wigham, flickr
Say your prayers at the banishment window. Whisper your secrets to me at the banishment window. I will wait for your mornings, at dawn, at evenings, dusk, at the banishment window. I will hear your pleadings to join us, your proof of your reform, but the extent of your involvement will take place at the banishment window. On my side of the banishment window, there is a place for me to sit, but on your side, only rough wall, where you stand, where you will always stand when you see me until we bury you in the potter’s field.
You might wear our clothes, but the extent of our talk will be at the banishment window. You might secure our degrees but don’t think you can fancy talk your way past the banishment window. Have children if you like but they will stay with…
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