Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Listening

In honor of this blog, I Found a Puddle and I Fell In It's 10th anniversary, I have started recording stories and poems and placing them online through a SoundCloud page.  You can listen below or through the SoundCloud app. I've titled my page: rachel writes & reads 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

She and i


We have supper in a cafe. We sit at a low counter on short rectangle stools by a wall of windows. Outside, the sun slants into the street where people greet other people and cars and bicycles pause for red lights. She points at all the porcelain potted plants and finds silky flowers on a prickly succulent. She asks about tomorrow and we talk about today, while we pick at a peanut butter cookie and drink from a jar of yogurt/berry smoothie before the arrival of our salad and macaroni, for which she isn't hungry.

After supper, we stomp down cement stairs to the belly of our little city. We jump on cigarette butted sidewalks, wait beside crosswalks and look up at living ceilings of leaves. She wears a sun hat over her silky straw-colored curls and holds a wilted dandelion. Her cheeks and fingernails are filthy. She wants to run without her hand in mine as fast as she can and so I jog along beside her, reminding her to look up for strangers and reminding myself not to worry so much about the time and what other people think. She's only two. She will be three years old in three months, but for now, she is still only two and I am still only thirty-four and yes it is bedtime, but it is also springtime.

At home, standing beside her bathtub, she sobs. She doesn't want bubbles. She is so sleepy. It's been a long day. With my foot, I splash the soapy foam away. She climbs in and sits. She wants to play. I want the dirt to wash away and to get her soft body into pajamas, and into bed and then deep deep deep into sleep. She doesn't like warm bathwater on her face or near her eyes, but if she could bathe in a swimming pool or lake, she would jump right in, welcoming the water to wet her all over. Aren't children so interesting?

We read books. Then in the dark, i tell her stories and sing about sunshine. Tonight, it is only me and her. Tonight, Daddy is teaching. And no longer do we have a sleepy doggie sighing in the corner, nor feel her heat on our blanket feet. Every couple of days she asks me where she is and i say simply that she is away. Sometimes, i say that she's gone and that she's can't live here anymore because she wasn't safe, but then i worry that whenever she isn't safe, she'll wonder if we're going to send her away too. But what is better? To tell her that the dog died because she wasn't gentle? I'm not going to discuss the death penalty with her now, nor much at all of the whole truth. Therefore, i keep it short and vague. She's away, i say, away.

Once she is sleeping, i wash the dishes, then i crawl into bed. i leave the window open and listen to the wind of the highway. What if i never feel again like an I (a capital letter I, a proper noun, tall and slender, self-important). Tonight, i feel small but full. i think that means i must be small (though my feet are long and crooked, my hands are big and boney and i am as tall as i am tall.) Perhaps i am small because i feel small and i feel small because i am quite small (in the world that is). That's fine with me now, i think. Yes, i want to be seen, but no longer do i feel the need to be queen.




Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The tears are out, I think.


The tears are out, I think. The tears anyway that come like a surge, like vomit, like a pour of rain.

The space she left feels less cold, less dark, less deep. As if we three (along with time) are filling in the shadows of her spirit with light. These days, I hardly look for her, wait for her, feel my feet around for her or have the urge to click my mouth for her.

A few days ago, logic returned. This was best. It felt the worst, but it was best. Best for her and best for our daughter. Best even for me and him.

I don't know when we will have a dog again. I don't know if we will have a dog again.

Fifteen days later, I still miss her tongue mopping the floor, her greeting me at the door, her eyes, her run, her fur... I don't forget the bad worry or the bad bites, the bad barks or the bad frights, but now that she's gone, I much rather remember her tongue mopping the floor, her greeting me at the door, her eyes, her run, her fur...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Grief


Grief is an earthquake inside my belly, pummeling breath out my lungs, past my tongue and out my wide open mouth. When will I be empty of this weeping? 

Again and again, I am thrown back into the office where we left her lifeless. I look around this memory as if I will find solace there, evidence that this was the kindest solution we had, but all I find is my punishment, which is confinement to this moment. I become stuck, while my mind plays the scene in circles, spinning me into a tight ball of coarse and knotted sorrow. I feel her. She is so soft. I speak gently to her and kiss her between the ears. She licks my hand. I stroke her back and belly. I hold her ribs while they move and then when they are still. And again and again, my body loses itself to sobbing.


I write the story here - a long rambling paragraph of choppy details. I write it all. Then I crumple it closed. I will not edit it into anything. It is rubble. A broken house I want to flee.

Tonight, I sit writing in a house that feels empty.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Appointed Goodbye


You bit her again. You hardly broke skin, but your top teeth hit her eyebrow and your bottom teeth pressed and nearly pierced her cheek. For less than a second, my child's face was in your mouth. I could list all the dogs you have bitten, all the adults too and the other child. I could list all the positions of shame I have taken and all the places I have hidden with your body beneath my hands, my mind and mouth weeping frustration, excuses and worry. 


You've been with us for nearly nine years. I found you in a shelter. Do you remember? You were in a glass room, skinny and scared. You weren't supposed to live with children, but I had no children then and you were so sweet, quietly looking at me and then sadly pressing your body against my knee. How bad, I thought, could you be? You are in your tenth year now. Anxiety fuels you much of the time, but not now, not at night. Here in this house, while I sit writing, you lie near me sleeping. Your body rests on its side, belly nodding to the peace of sleep, to dreams of running without leash through woods and fields and hills, running...running...running. I want to watch your dreams, dear girl. I want to see your black and white stories of four-legged flight. And tonight, while you lie at my feet dreaming, I want your life to end now, on its own. While you sleep at my feet on this floor you know while the stove hums out heat, I want your heart to slow and cease. For I don't want to do it. I don't want tomorrow morning's appointment, but we don't know what else to do. You can't stay here anymore. We can't be sure you aren't going to bite her or any of us again. You've given us so many warnings, and yet, we have kept you. We tried to find a home for you with no children last year, but we couldn't. There is no one else but us. We love you. And I believe you love us as much as a dog can love us, but your mind is littered with fear, fear that will hurt us all again. So yes, my love, it's time, time for goodbye. Time for a quiet fade from life to death. 

My mind is working to quiet my heart, but I can't keep from crying and clutching and wishing that you would just be better and that these past nine years would have just been easier and happier for us and you, but you, you bark at everything now and you've bitten dogs and nearly everyone dearest to you. You are frightened of cats and dogs and squirrels, people, bicycles, and cars. You are scared of big trucks and small cars, doors that open suddenly, joggers, slow old ladies and wild turkeys, foxes, and thunder. We want you, but we can't have you because we can't have all of you. I want you hiking with me in the empty woods. I want you sleeping at my feet. I want your fur in my hands and your muddy body on my passenger seat, but I can no longer justify your teeth on the skin of anyone. So, my darling girl, it's time. Time we said our appointed goodbye. I don't believe I will regret this decision, but I will mourn for it and I will mourn for you for a very long time. 




Thursday, April 12, 2018

Betrayal


I call my daughter of two years and eight months an outcast. My doughy, curly-headed, fiery, funny child...wait, no, she's not really mine, but hers, her own I, her own body swelling with soul. Yes, my body made her body. My blood became her blood. My organs built her organs and the water in me became the water in her. My food, her food. My pulse, her drum. My inhale, her oxygen. Still, she is she, and I am me.

Soon as the word bounces from my belly to my mouth I want to hold her and hide her, cry into her hair and never let her go until she forgives me, her mean mother. Though I can't tell her why I need her forgiveness in the first place for then I'd have to define the label I mark her with.

It feels like a betrayal, broken and sharp with regret. Now I want to label myself with nothing but ugly scratchy tags.

She can be tricky. She's two years old. Just two. little two. The number that follows one. So young, so two. She's a hose on full, spouting sparkles and sparklers, smiles, squeaks, and screams. She's emotional, smart and perfectly boisterous.

We go out for Mexican because that's what we do on Tuesdays and before the chips and the guacamole, before she's peeling apart her quesadilla, she is down on the floor, dancing, waving her arms and smiling at strangers, skipping through the place like a balloon attached by a string to a wave. A little later, at home, she turns a toy cheese grater into a telephone and calls someone named Bobby. We don't know any Bobbies so it must be from a book. Most everything we don't recognize that spills from her mouth is a phrase or name or word from a book. I like that. I like her.

I feel sadness and stress and so I turn on music and we dance. In the middle of the living room rug, she twirls in her own little world, while I dance with my eyes closed, moving every part of me. And then she asks that I pick her up and spin and spin and so we spin and spin and the winter room becomes a blur of yellow ribbons.

We wash up and brush teeth. She sits on the potty and tells a stuffed bear that he too will learn how to use the potty when he gets bigger.

We read picture book stories despite the late hour because I need more happy and I don't like to rush or miss this time. Once the lamp is off and the room is dim, we hold on to one another. I sing and kiss her face until I can't sing anymore because tears are growing and blowing inside my throat and into my mouth like a hard bubble.

I leave before she is sleeping, pressing my lips into her soft cheeks.

My sweet, we are flowers growing from the cracks in the wall, hiding our weirdness or wearing it. Sometimes I say things to be funny. I'm sorry. I'll be better. Labels lack depth and truth. Yes, you are wacky and sweet and sincere. Yes, you're also a little physical around toddlers looking for my affection. But you're intelligent and curious too, hilarious and full of incredible wonder.

You are so many words.Words that roll and crash into other words. Words that combine with other words like the wet ingredients in a recipe. Words that pile like colorful cotton laundry.

This hurts because love hurts and I have so much love for you.

Life isn't always easy for me either. But I'm on your team. I swear I'm always on your team.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

THE BONE CUP

the first cup was made of wood
the second, bone
we are made of bone
therefore, the first cup was made of bone
(and palm skin, muscle, hair, and nail)
a leaky cup with cracks between curving fingers 


i want someone to open a shop and call it
The Bone Cup, for we all need drink
and it would be better if we all drank
nearer to one another

i imagine a tall building with long rooms,
a blue door and a brass knob
with no lock or key, but a knocker,
bells and a WELCOME mat woven
in every language and fiber

every room is full of rounded tables
none touch except when placed into Pangaea parties,
but everyone sits and smells and breathes the same air,
shares the same sight and light and sound

in the middle of this place, by the stairs, 
a fountain pours rainstorms and river rapids and ocean tides,
while electric fans hang and spin a breeze
and orange lamps sing the songs of infant suns

pigeons, gulls and cardinals
rest on the green moss roof, while
stray cats and dogs and rats wait
for scraps on the cobblestone steps
and by the windows that drip
with condensation and conversation

shelves from sinking ceiling to creaky floor
hold stained cookbooks, novels, books of poetry,
religious doctrine, philosophy, and art history
with ledges and cabinets and pantries
crowded with clay pottery
and paper pictures of babies
and children, freckled old men 
and soft old women, 
pictures of mountains, sky, skin, 
sin, and piles of paper for writing, 
pots of herbs, flowers, and leafy houseplants,
washed out jugs, worn mugs, wooden spoons, 
and plates of chipped porcelain 


in mouth, thought is sorted and placed
into lines of words that form sentences
like armies of peaceful protesters across
narrow tables marked by brown circles
and white scratches and carved letters
to God and government and old girlfriends

in mind, idea is met and made into civil understanding
and the agreement of nonviolence and yet
every day, tears flood the shop until 
we are all in boats rescuing one another 
for only then do we start holding on to one another
saving one another

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A LITTLE BROKEN


the winter sky 
sags and sways and swells
before unbuttoning its 
tweed-smoke belly 
to reveal boorish gray 
bristles and the wiry 
wrinkles of this
our circling history

once open
out flies and spins and falls
an exodus of small 
silent sequin angels
of water and vapor and dust 
sewn into delicate skirts 
of satin and silk and tulle
pulled into polyester 
tights, frothy sleeves 
and coarse wedding veils

in the morning 
boots/sand/soot/shovels
batter the white
while trucks with salt
(sucked from the sea)
scatter the white
piling and collecting
no longer left to meandering
crackling/splitting/melting 
all the girls into lingering puddles 
of silt and steam and ice

when they rise, they rise 
from slippery quarry stones
blooming meadows
wide maples
moss and mountains
from narrow roads
oak bark folds
gutters, pelt and pine
from miles of sidewalk
public garden plots and 
abandoned coal mines
from oily alleyways
cold rivers and lonesome valleys
they rise and rise 
as they have since they first rose 
and filled the sky 
with white velvet pedals

i was born 
fragile/pink/wild/ugly
still I keep pretending
to be pretty
while the sun warms me
burns and blinds me
and the sky bathes me
of my insincerity

perhaps i am
as unique as the pressed 
tear of a cloud
while too a person 
(just another person)
in this incalculable scattering crowd 
fluid/solid/air/hair/white/muddy
painted and covered
plucked and brushed
still meeting my complexity 
with earnest curiosity

i want to be
brave and naked
settled and in flight
falling and melting
while stitching my wounds right 
and tight with a smart intention 
and a spontaneous vulnerability
and i want to remember 
that what we hide
is what others seek 
and what others seek
is to know 
that they are not alone
that yes, we are all 
a little broken




Friday, March 2, 2018

HONEY BEE

Image result for honey bee

We listen
as it raps and
stumbles into the kitchen
lamps, lamps that look like
wide open tulips with round
metal petals and lit bulb centers.
The hive is outside, up on the roof
of the house beside the chalky brick
chimney. There is no hive inside this house,
no waxen globes strung from ceiling beams,
no stamens, no pollen, no pistils, no queens, no bees,
only houseplants and wall paint, three people, a dog,
fabricated fibers, leggy spiders, foreign fruit, paper flowers,
air, wood and the maps we draw daily with ink, skin,
hair, crumbs, crayons, sound
                                           and shadow.
So how long now before he becomes another
body bent beside the window glass,
dry and light as a brown leaf,
still and stuck as a stone,
empty of life and of
honey?




Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Birthday Mom


I scribbled thanks to the universe in my notebook - a thanks
that your body and your house and your care were where 

I landed and continue to land.

I sit at your table and lie in your arms and I think, 
what a warm world this is, and what a world our world 
would be if every mother could be as generous in love 
as you. Wars would be resolved with pillow letter apologies. 
Everyone would be offered full mugs in the mornings and bottles 
and blankets in the evenings. There would be storytelling and laughing 
and long tangling discussions. It would be a safe, civil, friendly, trustworthy 
world because every person would know that at least they had their mother.


Thank you, Mom for your wild joy and your tenderness, your honesty, courage,
and vulnerability. Thank you for showing me what it is like to be human.