Tag Archives: motherhood

Pesto and nazis and nuclear war

I can feel my chapstick drying on my lips as I lay in bed trying not to worry about how my son will return to school with a broken arm and how will I be there for us enough working the night shift I can’t even go to Meet the Teacher evening but someone has to pay for the cast and his dad’s emergency appendectomy these are not sexy thoughts these are 42 yr old thoughts.

I breathe in and out and suddenly it’s tomorrow.

Nazis wave Confederate flags and some lunatic says his nuclear missiles can reach us making my face break out.

Those two white butterflies chase each other outside the kitchen window where the smell of pesto beckons us all to dinner.


Now A Symphony

That One Note played over and over,

longing, mournful, angry, desperate–

once or twice joyous.


War could whisper through.

And career, family, art, music.

But fleeting and peripheral because

One Note Banging




Now little laughters, the sun rising, our skins softly aging.

The edges of things!

where before blurry, if not imagined.

Thank you…time?

for lifting that monotonous veil of Self

to reveal the symphony beyond.


My Small Reminder

All those almonds and lack of sleep
got me wondering
What was it exactly that I wanted?

And then you asked me
what is “dead?”
what is “alive?”
and I saw
my house
my clothes
my kitchen
my view
my hair
all eclipsed by the rising sun innocence
of you.

A Perfect Sliver

“I want to see the night with you, Mom”
he says
in dinosaur pajamas
at still dark 6 am

We sneak out onto the patio
next to the dog bowls
peek up at the barely blue sky beyond the neighbor’s
cypress trees
cicadas still sleeping
day in utero

Little hand on my leg
a perfect, still sliver.

W is for weary

W is for weary
and where have my friends gone?
and when did my arms start looking like my mom’s
and words I haven’t even thought of yet.
Which of these choices is best for all of us
and will the present ever really feel like enough
when I’m driving
and work.

The Initiation

WomenSingingEarthoptI became a woman in Nepal. Not that kind of woman. No, that happened another time, in another place. This night, I became a Mother Daughter Sister of the World, a Female of the Earth, member of the tribe Woman.

It happened on a rickety bus heading east from Kathmandu. Night pressed on the dirty windows, black and foreign, seeping in occasionally when the door swung open to pick up riders huddled under trees or standing in front of low, mud buildings. Men wearing dress pants and sweater vests crammed into the seats, bench-style like a school bus. I sat in the front seat near the only light source, next to a well-behaved man with well-groomed facial hair, overnight bag clutched to his chest, wearing muddy shoes.

The bus lurched to a stop unexpectedly along an empty stretch of road with no buildings or trees in sight, though it was so dark outside the emptiness could only be seen for a few feet beside the road, then a wall of nothing. The door folded open and a beautiful young woman peered inside. Her sari was wrapped around her in that way that looks so simple when executed by an expert, but I could never quite figure out. It was a chilly March night and piles of soft scarves and shawls made her look like a rainbow of dusty, sun-faded colors shining into this world of dull greys and browns.

Her eyes quickly scanned the mustached crowd and landed on me. With no hesitation, she shoved a small bundle in my arms that she had apparently been cradling under all that fabric, then turned around to drag her bags up the bus steps. No one moved to help her.

The bundle squirmed. Two huge dark eyes looked calmly up at me, chalked on the bottom rims with thick black make-up. The baby felt warm in my arms, alive and moving. Without a plastic diaper, it felt as small as a newborn pig.

In that moment, as that little body was thrust into my arms, something happened.

Up to that point, my life had been, at best, stunted. I lived with mentally ill women, cooking and cleaning for free room and board. My latest loves had been an alcoholic musician and an insecure, out-of-work biologist. I had no education, no career. No children, few friends. (Hosting is difficult when your roommates are crazy). I floated through foreign countries eating up the adventure, the fear, the loneliness, the flings. I didn’t think of myself as an adult, nor did I act like one. At twenty three, I was in some kind of purgatory between child and grown-up, totally without direction.

But when that woman boarding the bus saw me, she didn’t see a frightened foreigner who was starting to question the wisdom of buying a one-way ticket to Asia. She didn’t see a silly girl who’d dropped out of three different colleges in two different states in the last five years. She saw a woman. When she found my face in that sea of her countrymen’s blank stares, she found a human being whom she had no doubt would help her. I saw it in her eyes. She felt relief to find a sister she knew she could trust with her most precious package. When she looked at me, she saw a woman.

In that darkness, with tiny feet kicking under swaddling clothes, the shuffling of bags, the men coughing impatiently, something ancient turned.

When she looked at me, she saw a woman.

A woman.

I am a woman.

I will help you.

I will help you as you do your work.

I will hold your baby, keep it safe, even if just for a minute while you straighten your things to make your way in the night.

I don’t remember giving the baby back, or where the woman decided to sit on that packed bus ride. I do remember transferring to a bouncing Jeep for the last leg to Darjeeling and getting not-so-deftly fondled by the army officer sitting next to me for three hours while I tried desperately to keep our legs from touching. But that didn’t bother me much that morning. Because the night before I had entered into a proud, sacred pact. I had been invited to a party I had begun to wonder if I would ever attend. I had been initiated into the oldest, most powerful organization to ever run the earth. I had become a woman.


The lint and dog hair on the bathroom floor
curl up into wet swirls when I try to capture them
rings in the toilet bowl

I hunch over futilely
pushing dirt around
like I did for the newspaper
publishing liars’ secrets about wild horses in Wyoming
councilmens’ vacation spending
just to return to a desk covered
with dirty leads

How I long to let the scum on the bathroom floor pile a mile high
ignore the lying and cheating men with power
who will return in the next generation, anyway

and lie down in the warmth
of a dimly lit
the sound of waves
lapping rhythmically
against a peaceful shore

Who would fight a wave?
Who would hold back the ocean?

If the ants didn’t bite I would
leave them in my kitchen
Tired of keeping the
outside out
the inside in
cooling what is hot
heating what is cold
drying what is wet
watering what is dry.

I’ll sip from a coconut
legs outstretched
slowing being covered up by sand
getting older
by the second.