“. . . It seems no time since I would help him to put on his sleeper, guide his calves into the gold interior, zip him up and toss him up and catch his weight. I cannot imagine him no longer a child” ~ Sharon Olds, from “My Son the Man”
Hallelujah! Brett passed his driving test. He is officially legal to drive . . . anywhere his heart desires . . .
Hallelujah— a little less exuberantly . . . yet another line severed . . .
Hello, small boy no longer . . .
Music by Jorge Calderon, “Keep Me in Your Heart” (a really nice cover of Warren Zevon’s song)
Note: I’m including a poem I may have featured before, but “The Olive Wood Fire” by Galway Kinnell is one of my life-long favorites.
The Olive Wood Fire
When Fergus woke crying at night
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood,
which it took a quarter-hour of matches
and kindling to get burning right. Sometimes
—for reasons I never knew and he has forgotten—
even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours,
rocking in the almost lightless light
eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and set up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left check glowing, God.
~ Galway Kinnell
I love this messy room you live in
The plants you care for
The nickels & dimes & pennies you pile
Up on your desk like no-good money
The Amazing Spiderman poster on the wall
Tapes paint comic books biographies
Of all you favorite presidents
A picture of the Lincoln Memorial
On the wall facing your bed
An eleven year old dusty red TV
Daphne turning into a tree
Two autographed photographs of
Leonard Nimoy. Dracula.
A cross made of branches
Held together by a rubber band
You love daisies
& keep them alive until
Every bud has blossomed
You are interested in
What everyone is doing
You think of new things for them
To do you make them heroes
In your fantastic head
You look strong & handsome
But you don’t see that
You want to defend helpless people
You want to know why there aren’t
Really super heroes
You ask the same questions
I ask myself & can’t answer
You don’t understand jokes
You think they hurt
You are constantly dodging
Bullets & dreaming up new
Ways to defend yourself
You are stubborn to a fault
A fortress of mind & chest
Eyes never more mirrored
The soul than your
You deny love
~ Susan Cataldo
To a Young Son
Today I passed your room
and you were slowly quietly
combing your hair.
It was a pleasant, calm moment.
I felt the silence of the room
and could almost hear you growing.
You combed without a mirror,
your eyes distant and pale,
your head slowly nodding
like the head of a stroked animal.
Xerxes the King sent out a spy
who returned to camp, astonished to say
that the Spartans were all stripped to the waist
their bodies gleaming in the Aegean sun
and they were all carefully combing their hair.
The king was afraid then.
The Spartans were preparing to die.
I turn slowly from your doorway
and return to the linen closet where I
will fold this memory in my heart
among everything that is clean and fresh and white.
“Open Door on a Garden,” Konstantin Somov (oil on canvas)
“My trouble is insomnia. If I had always slept properly, I’d never have written a line.” ~ Louis-Ferdinand Céline
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Cal lately—chills, aches, and lethargy—so I have not written a word in a week. A very long time for me, especially when the Internet is actually on.
Everytime that I start to think that maybe I could actually go back to work, my body gives me a wake-up call, as in, “Have you lost your mind?” This past week, temperatures around here reached record highs. Meanwhile, I was walking around with goose bumps on my arms. A couple of nights ago, I woke myself when my body was shaking, which made the bed jerk. It’s all quite disconcerting.
And then, of course, there is the insomnia, which makes just getting through the day a chore. One night it was nigh on 6 a.m. before sleep came. Last night, I was so grateful to be sleepy by 3 a.m. What a strange life I lead.
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Cecil Beaton
Corey had to work today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it doesn’t really matter as we had no plans for mother’s day. Eamonn came by with flowers and a card. He can be such a sweetie when he wants to be. Alexis is supposed to come by later, so just a quiet day at home.
Corey and I were married on mother’s day nine years ago. We didn’t really want to get married on a Sunday, but it was the only day that we could get the Women’s Club in Norfolk, which is an old Victorian home in the Ghent section of Norfolk. We were contemplating the Botanical Garden, but decided on the house so that we wouldn’t have to worry about the weather. I walked down the winding staircase in five-inch heels, and miraculously, I didn’t trip.
But I digress . . .
For the most part though, I have only had one request over the years when it concerns mother’s day: Please do not give me any appliances, as in a toaster or something of that sort. Just feels too domestic and traditional for my tastes.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place . . . I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt
This past week was a busy one for Brett. He is taking is IB exams in all of his classes. The better he does on these exams, the better the chance he has of getting college credits for the courses, which will be wonderful. He submitted his art portfolio to the IB board, but that takes a couple of months for review before he hears anything. It was a combination of sketches and photographs. I was duly impressed with the quality of his work. He has two more exams this week, and then he is pretty much finished except for a few odds and ends, so he will have a nice break before graduation.
For his final project in art, Brett is going to paint something on one of the doors in the art room. He hasn’t told me what he plans to paint, but I can’t wait to see it.
Tomorrow, Corey and I need to go back to the financial aid departments at ODU and TCC to complete the paper work for both boys to get tuition adjustments, which (we hope) will increase their Pell Grants. At least there is one good thing about being poor.
“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” ~ René Magritte
We watched a movie a few nights ago called “Haunting in Connecticut,” which is supposedly based on a true story. I hadn’t heard anything about the movie, but we were in the mood for something scary. Turns out, it’s pretty dark—dead bodies with words carved into them, some kind of ectoplasm and séances, lots of hallucinations. Of course, watching something like that before trying to go to sleep is probably not the best idea.
Then last night, I was watching this program about women who kill. I think that I’ve seen it before. Anyway, three of the stories really got to me. Two of them involved young girls who got pregnant, hid their pregnancies from their families, then threw their babies in the trash.
Anytime I read about something like this happening, it really upsets me in so many ways: That these girls felt that they could not go to their parents with the truth says a lot about the kind of pressure families put on their daughters. Like the article I just read that stated that most parents do not believe that their children are having sex; they believe that other people’s children are having sex, but not theirs. How utterly naive. The kind of naiveté that causes people to be against birth control in favor of abstinence.
Facts: Forty-six percent of all teens in the U.S. between 15 and 19 have had sex. A sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year. Eighty-two percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned; they account for about one-fifth of all unintended pregnancies annually. This is reality, folks.
Sure abstinence is the goal. It’s just not the reality. So these girls get pregnant but do not tell their families out of fear, out of shame, because they want to see the disappointment in their parents’ eyes, whatever the reason. The tragic part is that they choose to throw their babies away like trash in part because they have spent the last nine months convincing themselves that it isn’t real.
“There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless.” ~ William Somerset Maugham
However, the story that still gets to me, that still rips my heart right from my chest is that of Susan Smith, the woman who drowned her two young sons, Michael and Alex. When the car was found, the two boys were still strapped into their car seats in the back seat of the car. Imagine for a moment what it must have felt like for those boys when the water began to come into the car, as they yelled for their mother, the woman who had to hear their screams. Imagine the fear and helplessness that had to overtake them as the minutes passed and the water kept rising.
There is evil in this world. Of that, I have no doubts at all. Susan Smith killed her sons because she wanted to be free of them so that she could date the man who broke off their relationship, the man who said that he was not ready for children. So this mother, this monster decided that the best thing to do would be to kill her children and to blame it on an imaginary black man.
In 1995, Smith was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. During her trial, she tried to use as a defense that her step-father had molested her and that she suffered from a lifetime of depression. Someone else’s fault. Of course.
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Found on Wikimedia Commons (lost the title, sorry)
Perhaps this was not the best issue to discuss on mother’s day. Or perhaps we need to be reminded that not all mothers are good and kind and loving. That some mothers care more about themselves than they do their children. That some mothers should never have had children. That some mothers, completely contrary to societal expectations, are filled with hate and resentment for the very children they bore.
Fortunately, most mothers do not fall into the former category. Most mothers love their children with a fierce, protective love that no one can touch.
I do not believe in perfection, but I do believe that some things and some people come very close to this ideal. Motherhood, in its truest sense, is that continual strive to achieve perfection—saying the right words said at the right time, listening instead of lecturing, comforting with an embrace that bespeaks more than any words, accepting even when faced with a reality that is contrary to expectations. Motherhood is complex, tasking, and never easy. It is not for the weak hearted or the selfish. It is the only job in the world that expects you to know everything on day one. It is the only career that breeds anxiety and insecurity in continuous doses.
When the door closes, and the child is on the other side, off to unknown places, it is the mother who remains behind and whispers to no one in particular, “It will be all right.”