Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter's Night

the overweight stranger in a woman's body
has burned her hand on water too hot to drink
but it's company for her lonesome soul
on a winter night with blankets on the window
and sheets in the doorways

dead are her summer plants in overcrowded pots
on tables where cat hair is thick
and brittle vines hang like ribbons

her cry for help goes to voice mail
and i feel her silent screams alone in my fortress
dreaming of nothing and everything
double socked and wrapped in wool

hush my friend, don't cry
there is a kingdom in the ice
waiting for its crack, waiting for us
to be still, to be quiet without an answer

 the castle walls say it's cold for reason
forget the rhythm, go within, let her out!
the little girl who smiles at bugs and throws
nickles in the street man's can because she likes the sound

drawbridge lowered, silence comes
her breath now fully visible, it cloaks the room
yes, there is kingdom in the ice

i will return your call when sunrise comes
sleep, sweet dreams my friend. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Anniversary

     An eighteen year old young whooper snapper from Kansas with a wild horse attitude and his best buddy Rex, could drive to Mexico in a beater car in 1955 not knowing a lick of Spanish. In those days, all you had to do was pull into a filling station and say, "filler up!" People knew what that meant and the ones who didn't, we waved a five dollar bill.

     "You must have loved her," I'd ask.
     "Well sure I did." he would say with the day's newspaper partially covering his softly shaven face. I liked sitting next to him on the couch, the way he smelled, always of Old Spice and a hint of cigarette smoke.

          The two friends drove for two days to get to Mexico where Susana lived with her parents. They didn't let anyone know they were leaving just because they didn't plan it out. Della Hopkins, his mom was a single mother of seven who worried sick not knowing if she'd see him again, her youngest son. I used to lay in bed staring at the green walls and wonder if she woke from a deep sleep the night they hit the donkey on the highway where the mountain curves in a dangerous circle right before you see the town of Parral's lights.

     "He came without a warning and I barely had time to put on lipstick!" my mother added.
     "You should have seen your grandpa Diaz. He put on his smoking jacket and combed his hair straight back wanting to make an impression."( Do people actually own velvet smoking jackets, I always thought that was a Saturday Night Live joke.)

     The sparks that flew that night at the football game in Paola, Kansas where they met made my mother start to like the foreign country where she was forced to study. It had been her mother's dream to study in America and play the piano but since she caught typhoid fever, her dream was pushed onto my mother.

     "I left my country for that man! My sisters never visit me and one of them said I was the one who left them so it was my obligation to visit," she would recall at times looking into the distance. "Love is a state of mind," and then she would call him for dinner. Always confusing was that statement, making me choose sitting on his side of the table.

Your grandmother planned the entire wedding, even the dress. I felt like it was her wedding but we didn't care, Your dad wanted to elope and I almost took him up on his offer. Don't you ever tell him, she would laugh. He had one good suit but he wore brown shoes and my sisters thought it was the worst thing he could have done. I told my mom if she said one word about the shoes, I wouldn't speak to any of them.

    January 7, 1955 they married with wealthy friends and gifts of crystal and a gold bracelet made of coins that was sold years later at a pawn shop so they could make another yearly trip to Mexico. I had dreamed of wearing that bracelet but Grandma Della said it would bring too much attention to me and that wasn't good for others to be jealous of their kinfolk. 

     Fifty eight years lasted longer than the six month prediction by my French grandmother who said Americans were nothing but trouble, he couldn't speak Spanish, a dangerous man.. Tonight is also the anniversary of my first date with my now husband of thirty six years and it's the last chuckle of my day because dad predicted six months for us. What is love and how long does it last? My parents couldn't speak each other's language but learned in time. There are days when I think my husband speaks another language and days when he speaks mine. Happy anniversary to all those celebrating! I wish you courage, happiness and a bit of Rosetta Stone.

     Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Learning Tolerance...Again and Again and Again...

     She can down a Corona with the best of the men, juggle life like it's a piece of cake,sometimes working doubles at exclusive Biaggi's where all the nutty wealthy ladies who don't like tipping request her table. Forget the bus, she's the bus and her kids know she has their backs. Yes, she's a double fisted girl with Latin blood she got from her mom and a touch of backwoods Arkansas she got from her daddy, big hearted Rose is what we call her. I know her well, she's the baby I potty trained and taught to ride a bike, fourth born child of my parents and I am the big sister that laughs loudest when she calls at midnight. We speak with British accents, talk about our art and she's first to hang up but not before she tells me how my work should be in museums, prefixed with fn's.

     Rose drove eleven hours in the snow and ice with her husband and two children this Christmas with the expectation that I would greet her when they pulled into our parents house along with a marching band, whistles and Christmas penguins wearing party like it's 1999 hats, but I wasn't there. I didn't call. No hug for my sweet sister Rose. Instead, I was thanking my lucky stars that the two cars who pulled into my lane on the highway didn't kill me or my 2 grandchildren and 2 daughters. Then it was mall time, oh my gawd, the mall is hell on December 23rd and so is the grocery store! All shopping, miraculously accomplished in one night with the expectation that my love would be noticed.

     For thirty five years, my mother's house has been the gathering spot on Christmas Eve, this year to 25 which meant 4:00 was changed to 6:00 pm to allow for extra cooking time and Rose was the bearer of  this news via the phone. Oh I could tell she wasn't happy and I said we were looking forward to seeing her but she answered, "don't worry, we'll be gone and home before too long."

    "What did you say?" I shouted. "I have to call others," she said. Click, end of conversation...and that was the beginning of the tolerance pop quiz. We have a banner that hangs in the living room that I bought when the monks came to town, it's all about tolerance. Since I learned this lesson.. ;) ...it came off the wall in a hurry, I would give it to Rose! Yea, she needed it now and it looked pretty good almost new, it was going to be her Christmas present and I would open that jar of Calamata olives that were for her, eat as many as I wanted. "No! Don't give that away mom, we love that," gasped my daughter. "She needs the lesson, not me," I said while avoiding the five phone calls all from Rose wanting to apologize.
     "Hurry! Time is wasting, you need to wrap it fast." is what I heard in my head. Now I know guides, angels, whatever is good wouldn't help out on a sneaky thing but I hurried. It was wrapped with the inside of the brown paper that you get from the Christmas paper wrap, stiff enough to roll it into a scroll. I cut the ends like fringe and put tissue paper in the ends. Ribbons! It needed ribbon but the quickest thing handy was a stream of feathers that I had previously glued together on a piece of paper. All the time, I kept hearing a strange nagging voice over my shoulders saying to hurry, hurry! Not the doorbell, on Christmas Eve, really?

     My husband's big black friend who we've known since he was twelve, all 6 foot 4 of him on a painfully cold night with a runny nose and his box of candy bars. He comes over when you can fry eggs on the sidewalk with his candy and has never been a grump, we've loved him since the first time we met. I call him my husband's friend because he keeps him too long talking and it's obvious he wants out of our house to sell his candy. We've never taken the candy and he always gets ten bucks, always leaving with a cold Gatorade and a few bananas.

     "James! You must be freezing your butt off! Come in, hey Bill, James is here," I yelled.
     "Dude, you're working tonight in this?" Bill asked.
     "I have to hurry with something James, nice seeing you!" I hurried.

    The ribbon of feathers had to be attached to the scroll and tied with a piece of twine but I could overhear their conversation from my art studio. James had been out all night and we were the only people who answered the door. Yes, he was a new dad now and was excited to share. Now he could buy his son a Christmas present." I knew Bill had given him the cash we had set aside for Christmas day movie night.

     "Give James the banner, he's a new dad and needs these words of encouragement," the voice said.
     "No, it's Rose's gift."
      "Give James the gift, please," it repeated.

    Curlers in my hair, I walked to the door and handed James the gift with a body that felt more like a robot than human. "Merry Christmas! Now that you're a dad, this will come in handy. Please, open it later, when you're alone," I said.

He beamed with expectation, the healthy kind and Bill stood there with his mouth showing bottom teeth. Sneaky, I whispered to my guides. "not as sneaky as you" they might have answered.

     Rose was full of hugs, apologies, kisses when we finally made it to my parents house. My heart grew so big it felt Grinch like and I handed her my gift, a wrapped jar of olives.
     The Dalai Lama is right, the person who has the most amount of tolerance will experience good health and sleep. Me, I lost my voice, spent three nights coughing. Last night I went into the kitchen at 2:30 am for water, saw the gorgeous night with falling snow and was overcome with peace and gratitude. I'm on the mend.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014! Happy New Year

     The wind blew the living room shutter open, revealing a purple sky over white lawns. Not a car in sight on this cold and snowy night, a contrast to last week's busyness of bumper to bumper Christmas shoppers and loud voices of visiting relatives and friends. The peace angels wanted the shutter open so we wouldn't miss the magnificence of this winter evening that's laced with a gentle grace. Outside air has lost its voice and I can relate with my laryngitis. I talked too much last week, we all did, trying to be heard in the short amount of time we had with our visiting loved ones. All the holiday decorations are boxed and back in the corner of the attic until next year.

     Happy New Year! So many people said that last night and I'm sure you were text messaged many times as I was with words of encouragement and how great the new year will be. My friends were talking about lighting a green money candle to welcome a prosperous year. In quiet meditation, these words came through,

  You are Light, therefore you are also a candle. Become the flame, burn brightly and enjoy your blessings.  If you prefer to light a candle, know that it is equal to you, there is no separation. Prove nothing, aim for kindness and you will know Grace.