Posts Tagged #flowers

waiting for the sunshine

painting of flowers in vase with hearts on the table

Waiting for the sunshine

You stood in the kitchen, waiting for the sunshine.

Oh, Mama. You waited.
You waited while the tickle in your throat rattled and rattled. Every phone call, eruptions of coughing. I listened, there was nothing else I could do—and sometimes I’d cut in, “hey, I’ll call you back, how about, when you’re feeling better.”

Now I see it through a backwards lens, time is funny like that, now I’m about how old YOU were then and my daughters are the ages I was then; I was your little last bird flown. Now I know the feeling of that emptiness, that new empty-nest, and how precious those calls become. Now I can feel, all these years later, how alone you must have sometimes felt, in your small kitchen, especially that last winter, coughing, insisting, talking, waiting, insisting that you were just fine.

You couldn’t really talk, but you didn’t want to hang up. It was a tickle, the end of a long lingering cold, a cold-on-top-of-a-cold, it was nothing.

Now I see you, frozen in the amber of that long-ago cold alone kitchen. Me not so far away in miles, but twenty-something me. So busy, busy, busy. A budding Bokonist, junior capitalist, believing that being an adult meant staying on the spinning hamster wheel. And also believing that you were going to be around for years and years, Mama. You were my mother. Life without you wasn’t comprehensible, and I didn’t imagine it, wouldn’t even try.

So I believed you, about the cough being nothing.

And still you coughed. I began to notice the unendingness of it. Worry crept in. I insisted you go to the doctor, but not soon enough. You locked my worries out and I let you. I locked them up, I guess. They were scary. Where did I learn to lock up so well? From you, Mama, you who waited in your small kitchen, vinyl-tiled, traces of avocado green barely visible in the corner, a little spot you missed when you carefully painted over with eggshell cream.

The wall phone is still avocado green in the mists of my memory. The round orb of the pendulum lamp casts a golden glow over the Formica table of the past, littered with bridge hands and newspapers and you, sitting there, smiling. So warm. I wish I could climb back into that kitchen, climb back to you.

I went to a movie with a friend the other day, an art film. Over ice cream afterwards he asked me, wonderingly, did I think the movie meant that all a man really wanted was a mother? I looked into his slate-gray eyes, and I thought of you, Mama.

No, I thought. It’s not just men who want that.

I thought of that horrible Psychology textbook photo, of the poor little monkey in the experiment who could choose, while starving, between a wire-framed “mother” equipped with milk and a nipple, or a fur-covered “mother” to cling to.

The little monkey always chose gnawing hunger and the fuzzy mama.

My friend’s sad eyes after the movie made me slide backwards through all the years. His eyes made me want to find you again, find you and fold you in my arms, to mother you, Mama. Because that is what you must’ve most wanted.

Because sometimes, life is scary, and you just want your mother.

But life is a funny circle, too. Scary and funny. In seeing how I failed you, I found you once again.

You’re here, waiting in the sunshine. Sometimes the darkness covers your shine, like a cloud. But you’re always there.

 

(Fastwrite from a prompt on regret).

 

 

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A poem for my neighbor’s hibiscus

pink hibiscus flower closeup

Hibiscus (aka Rosemallow, Rose of Sharon, Swampmallow)

A poem for my neighbor’s hibicus
Furled for the night,
see? They’re rolled up tight,
like tissue-paper cigars in the moonlight
sleeping
in the morning they will spin open
I’ll be walking past
I’ll be sucked in, again
will spin with them, six-and-a-half again
ballerina fantasy
fairy dresses for princesses named
Hibiscus, Rosemallow, Swampmallow.
The white one, shining in a sunbeam?
Rose of Sharon, sweet savior of sinners—
This pink one, I’ll call her Roseasharn Joad
bearing what cannot be borne
blooming when heat swells
when dreams evaporate like raindrops
when petals unwind
magic tunnels in time
swallower of bees
and ladybugs
and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What makes you bloom?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I work (very messily, but steadily) toward deepening my writing practice and working past fears that keep me from bursting into full flower. Things that help me are daily morning pages and evening 11-minute fast writes, lots of long walks in any weather, taking photos, yoga, eating well, sleeping well–but it’s hard to be such a consistently good friend to yourself. Hard to find the hours in the day to create those “ideal conditions” with the pressures of life. Hard not to beat yourself up for falling short.

Still: most people don’t have ideal conditions. And some people bloom anyway. Amazingly. Like tulips in February, blooming inside instead of  outdoors in May, under “ideal” circumstances. So can you. So can I.

Imagine if you could be your own biggest cheerleader instead of your own harshest critic?

tulips

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Night & Day

Sunflower

Nighttime

sunflower

Daytime

It was only a matter of hours.

The sunflower who had stood so tall, a full head taller than me, regal and commanding, had turned her gaze towards the earth instead of the stars.

I’d come back to take a daytime image of her.

I expected her to be smiling at the sun, chin held high as it had been the night before. But there she was smiling down at me, bowed, chin tucked.

Nothing stays the same. She was beautiful as ever.

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Bliss.

Bahá'í house of worship in Wilmette, Illinois

Bahá’í house of worship in Wilmette, Illinois

I visited a heavenly place last weekend, where the breeze off Lake Michigan made the daisies dance, and the peaceful energy of the Bahai House of Worship filled me with hope. I don’t know much about the Bahai faith, but the tenets are inspiring: that no religion is superior to another, that all people are deserving of respect and justice, that racism must be overcome.

There are nine inscriptions carved above the entrances of the Temple:

– The earth is but one country; and mankind its citizens. (my favorite)
– The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me.
– My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure.
– Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.
– Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent.
– I have made death a messenger of joy to thee; wherefore dost thou grieve?
– Make mention of Me on My earth that in My heaven I may remember thee.
– O rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My Trust.
– The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His glory.

The idea that we are put on the earth to seek justice and to love and feel joy resonates with me. I know there is a lot of work to be done and the world is full of injustice and rage, but it seems to me the starting point for healing is to find the peace within and radiate that outward.

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Squash blossom

IMG_1945 squash blossom closeupI fell in.

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Speaking in (lamb’s) tongues

photographGrateful for lamb’s tongues abuzz with bees on a late-spring evening. lambstongues2 photograph
It was one of those days where a fog I didn’t know was lingering blew away in the breeze, and all the colors burned brighter.

 

 

 

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