Saturday, 28 April 2012

What Did The Oyster Say To The Pearl?

What if I had started school when I was 6 instead of 5, being the oldest would have given me clout, stunning sophistication, height and maybe a later bedtime to brag about. I would have been a leader instead of a trailer, trailing in the group of snails. I suppose better than the slugs with slime slipping from their bottoms.  No, snails that were learning to spell their names, snails who were given pencil cases instead of picking their own. Snails that form their letters slowly, carefully, struggling to draw a straight line, a round circle, but my circles had angles.

I was the misplaced puzzle piece that hid behind uncut hair and misfitting hand-me-down clothes, faded jeans with bell bottoms, before bell bottoms were cool.  I was the kid that lost her pencils and then her pencil cases. I was the unedited kid that wore the Tuesday t-shirt on Thursday, and sat next to the wall hoping to melt inside of it, until the bell rang to set me free.

Had I been 6 instead of 5 when I was taken from my home to a more structured world, I could have held my pencil properly. I could have stayed between the lines. I would have wanted to practice my spelling again, again and again. So later, I would write in greeting cards that could be displayed, thank you cards that people would have no need to squint their eyes at.

Had I been able to write clearly, I would have organised my pencil case with pride, I would have marked and respected my margins.  I would have impressed my teachers, and I could have become one of those girls, who liked to play with dolls, who sat and quietly created a craft, who would have read Judy Blume. Then the teachers would have liked me, and I would have wanted to go to school, to sit in the spotlight of those not chosen with sighs but rather out of a teacher's need for reprieve. I would have not played sick again, again and again.

Had I not played sick, had I gone to school, Mother would have felt the need to take a second mortgage out and buy country club membership, and I would be a competitive swimmer and have learned to play golf, worn designer clothes made by children without mothers. I could have looked good even when I didn't feel good, like all the other girls.

It would have changed my awkward gait into a tight stride.  I would have chosen when and why to be seen, and for what I would have been remembered, instead of tripping my way out of cheerleading try outs. I would have been able to meet and greet without looking for escape routes.  I would not have needed a date and a cigarette to hide behind as I entered a room.  I would have stood alone.

Pearls  would have hugged my turtleneck as I entered the university with well-fed ivys and chosen sororities paid for with a third mortgage. This is where I would have had the brash to pick a room with someone named Buffy or Poppy, who could drink me under the table and whose family also brunched at my country club. I would have walked from cap and gown  to shoulder pads and stilettos into my office with the large windows and hardwood furniture and then home to my flash flat, a big mug of gourmet hot chocolate in hand and cashmere throw around my shoulders, looking out to the cityscape.

With only a tinge of me, the random abstract me, hiding inside what would now be her body.  I, me, would only be allowed infrequent viewings after too many martinis in the presence of close friends, when she admitted to missing me, missing the little girl who wore grass stains as badges of honour. The girl who moved in with the wrong boy far too young and ran away on motorcycles and jeeps through villages and cities till I found your father and decided to stay.

The other me, her, would sit down to the computer to write.

But she couldn't write because she would have nothing to write about, because she would not have had you, my muses, with your princess dresses and tiny little fingers, and even for that me, her, I believe it would have been unbearable.

Monday, 23 April 2012

What Happens to People When They Die, Mommy?

It happened as we walked down the street, hungry for lunch.  Your sister had just fallen asleep after a half hour tantrum and Daddy and Mommy, in our very irritable state, had just finished a loud debate over pyjamas versus nighties, which had left us both silent. Then from my right, this little voice crept up my tense shoulders and asked "Mommy, what happens when you die?" It was your new thing. For the last few weeks, you had asked several questions about how and why people die and compared their age to Grandma and Grandpa's. It seemed to make you feel better when I assured you that they were much older than Grandma and Grandpa.

I couldn't screw this one up as I did the last important question. It was during your religion era when you asked to have a book of bible stories and I suggested Disney tales as the better option. You were not best pleased.  You did disgust well that day.

The last time you experienced death was when you were just three and Casey Dog died. Daddy and I cuddled you while we explained that Casey's body had stopped working because she was old and sickly. We stated clearly that she was dead.  I didn't use any euphemisms.  I had learned to speak in absolutes so that you would understand the finality.

You did not.

You begged for me to bring her back.  You declared your love for her. As the days passed, your insistence became more fervent and frequent and I was reminded of why the dog food  no longer was being emptied and I found a corner to cry in. Your father again explained that Casey would never come back because she was dead. However, you would still search me out in my room, the corner of it, and demand that I bring her back.  You blamed me for her leaving and you blamed me for her not returning, that is, until you stayed with Grandma. She explained to you about angels and how they lifted Casey to heaven where she ran through fields with new friends and ate sirloin steak.  She explained how her mother, who was kind and liked to throw balls to dogs and pet dogs, was taking good care of her.  From then on, when you found me, it was to talk about what angels look like and to ask if that lady really was as kind as Grandma said. We wondered what Casey was doing and hoped that she was having fun because she must have been missing us too.  I remember you turning to me, cuddling in and saying, "But, I still wish she was here with me." I pulled you on my lap, held you tight, so you couldn't see the glazing over of my eyes and I whispered, my chin on your head, "Yeah, me too."

"I am not exactly sure what happens after death, since I have never experienced it." I don't know why I felt the need to clarify that point. "I know that death is when the body stops working. Your hands stop holding and legs stop being able to stand. Your eyes stop looking. Your breath no longer comes out of your mouth and your heart no longer beats. Usually, it is when you are old and very very sickly and your body just can't continue."

I looked at you looking at your feet and the litter on the road.  You squinted your eyes and looked up at me, starting to phrase a new thought. I stopped you, "Wait, I am not done. I believe that everyone has a soul, Pumpkin."
"A soul?" you questioned.
"Yes, a soul is where love is created and held."
"Where is the soul, Mommy?"you looked down at your body.
 "I am not sure but I think that it would be right about there," and I pointed to your chest.
"There, why there?" you asked.
"Because it is where your heart is and when I am happy or sad. I feel it mostly in my heart."
"Hmmm," you answer with an acquiescent nod.

"Your soul doesn't die; it simply is no longer in a body. I know that this is true because when my father died, I no longer saw him or heard him or could  touch him but I could feel his love. I could feel it all around me. I also believe that a little bit of that soul  dripped into me, probably into my brain," I smoothed down your hair, "because I have such wonderful memories of him."
"What was he like?"
 "He was wonderful. He had lots of friends because he was honest and funny, always with a good joke to tell. I think that your Uncle Steven has his laugh and Aunty Susan was given his ability to be a good friend."
You stopped and looked at me, "And you , Mommy?"
I stopped and looked back at you, quiet for a second, "I would like to think that I was given those things also but, most importantly, I would like to think that I was given his amazing ability to love his family." You smiled at me.

The conversation then turns into what my father was like, what he looked like, who looked like him and how did he die. However, by the time we reached the restaurant the conversation had changed again into which was the best table and how hungry we were. Your father took my hand and we smiled. I looked down at the menu but thought instead about the legacy my father left and the legacy his father left and realised that there is no such thing as absolute finality.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

If I Could Hide

If I could hide, where would I hide?
I would hide high up in the sky
within the cool white clouds,
like vapour mist I would s p r e a d,

thinning, thinning, thinning
dissolving through the dark.
drifting, scattering like flakes of snow,
dissipating, dissolution, yet expanding,

being pulled by the sun
till I entered where sound cannot go,
where breath bids goodbye,
where my name can no longer be spoken,
where my name can no longer be heard

It would be black, as it was before birth,
My entrance disrupts nothingness,
empty, except for me.
Corrupting it with my slow disintegration.

I cannot hide
And gravity pulls my used body
to its seat and the coffee to its cup
And I say, "Mommy's coming."

Friday, 6 April 2012

When your father left me for a bread machine

Girls, your father left me for a bread machine.

Her sleek and sultry curves enticed.
He could never resist her bread was his vice
slipping his hand through her open lid.
I could never forget, the image wouldn't rid

Your father's objectum held no remorse,
smiling while sifting in his flour,  of course
She kneaded his yeast. folding it in so true
And as he fed her, my hips grew.  

Her buns stayed firm, the perfect size 
mine rippled and quaked, refused to rise.

She permeated my house
with the smell of rising dough,
Taunting me with her hearty whole meal.
I screamed at her to go

She could never plait nor pull
she could never make him full
Never could she roll a perfect quarter inch
Seal pie pastries with a warm tender pinch

I often imagined her unplugged
Pulling out her cord with one quick tug
giving her a push from a tall counter,
before he could again mount her

Why fool myself,
He would just find another.
One more sleek machine
that would happily take his butter

So I turned without anything said,
Knowing that together they created olive bread
swam it through oil, pesto was pleasing
smothered in risotto, Garlic, the perfect seasoning

My friends rallied in support,
telling me she was plastic.
One of a thousand copies mass produced,
While I, unique, able and fantastic.

Good form but empty they said,
Lots of noise with nothing inside,
she would leave him for that water kettle.
suspiciously positioned by her side.

I listened to him moan
Taking and tasting that flaky crust.
He cooed and whispered to her,
"I know that you will never rust."

He brought her delicacies
to share with our friends.
To parties and work,
the torment wouldn't end

Was she a passing fling,
a one night wonder?
How quickly will her loaves mold?
When will her cakes plunder?

I knew his full dietary needs
that she could not continue to cull 
Everything eventually runs its course
Everything will one day lull

A warranty must too end someday
And an appliance the next, so they say
And true to form, she did follow.
Unabashedly, in his despair, he did wallow.

He kept pushing the buttons,
hoping she would respond,
He sat cold in disbelief
He thought nothing could break their bond.

I disposed of her that morning,
Serving him my cake for dessert.
We soaked our slices in custard
with a nostalgic gleeful flirt.

I was sure that he had finally returned,
that it was my heavy cream, he would soon churn
and as we strolled through the local market
He gazed upon a fucking juicer.