A Third Poem- Grandmother’s Orchids

Grandmother’s Orchids

Her fingers were always crooked

Bent and twisted, bones protruding at awkward angles

Dipped in wax

She’d let me play too if I did the dishes first

 

Smelling of sweet menthol

Pale green drops to sooth a ragged throat

 

I lived with her for the summers

No place left to go

 

Tissues stuffed in between breasts and bra and shirt

Sitting on a porch that housed orchids on tepid plastic lunch trays

 

The orchids bloomed every few months

“That’s special,” she’d say.

Shoots green and strong springing up from darker, thicker leaves

skinny, bending roots curving in and out of terracotta planters

Intertwining with each other, almost touching each other across the distance

Trying to form some kind of chain

 

She’d gingerly pour water onto the rocks lining the tray underneath the roots

“To help with the humidity, you see,” she’d say.

 

Chinese Checkers

She’d play with me when the boredom became unbearable

Four channels were never enough

 

Grumbling–she’d push out the metal board with the rolling marbles

all colors because the good ones were lost.

 

Sometimes I would sit on the porch and stare at the orchids buds pushing open

towards the sunlight, leaning into the moisture

My fingers grazed the soft petals

And she swiped my hand “You’ll break them,” she’d say.

I ‘d draw my hand away, curl my fingers towards my palm and go back to the room

with four channels, away from the porch, on the side of the house, not near the sun

A poem about Divorce- Maybe

Maybe

Maybe we’re getting divorced because you put the stick of butter in front of the butter dish instead of in it.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I vacuum and you just can’t see the dirt.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I make more money than you and you stayed home to raise our boys.

Or the long commute or the fact that you snore when you sleep or the way my voice goes up an octave when I am really upset…Or the affairs and lies (yours, mine, ours) or the time you screamed that you hated me, you really hated me

There are a lot of relationships that survive more than this, you said.
You weren’t specific. One of our faceless therapists nods.
They don’t get divorced, you said. And “divorced” sounded poisonous, wrong.

You are right and I nod but in my heart my reasons are enough.
They all add up and congeal into one concise document with all of the wording just right.
The blame is left out of the margins and neat sentences cover up all of the pieces that read between the lines

You bend over to sign.

The pen smudges and curves

It no longer matters.

The end remains the same

What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

More Poetry- Another Storm, Brother

Another Storm, Brother

Torrential down pour
Rain splattering against the window
But that isn’t what wakes me

Engine groaning, spinning but not catching as it should
Over and over it starts and stops until I stand
Feet on soft carpet

Slipping one finger through the tight metal blinds
Pushing one slat from another
From my bedroom
Your stalled 65’ Falcon
Navy blue with silver so polished it reflects like a full length mirror

So many times
You have peeled out of our driveway on its deep tires
And I always envied how you rolled away with your windows down
Arm extended as you straighten the rearview

You stop trying to start
And you leave your sanctity
the rain is coming down so hard
that your image blurs almost immediately
I push the blinds further apart to see where you are going

Standing at the rear you push forward
Nothing accomplished
Nothing gained
and I know
I should be out there

If nothing else maybe to see if you’re okay
because that’s what we all would have done
if this were an episode
of The Brady Bunch
but our family was never that together
and I am not strong enough to hear you yell
or watch you cry

I remove my finger
The metal catches and grabs and the slats are now crooked
And I can still see you continue to push
your prize
that is slowly starting to slide into the middle of the street
knowing that I am not
close enough
to help

Sometimes- A Break for Some Poetry

Sometimes I realize how close I am to the ground.

So close that I can see very small stones and pieces of dirt that I know taller people can’t see.

Sometimes I become very dissatisfied with myself and the fact that I often wear jeans twice in a row without washing them.

Sometimes I see people talk.

Their lips are moving in a fish-like motion.

They even look like fish…

large Angel fish, the kind that always rip the other fish to shreds and pluck out their eyes.

Then in the tank, you have these eyeless fish floating through the water.

They lack any real direction until they bump into glass walls.

Sometimes when people talk to me

I watch their teeth and their tongue moving back and forth, up and down.

Their words are soundless. Their eyes are bright.

There are no Angel fish to pluck them out.

Promposals

Prom2As a high school teacher, I am privy to many strange adolescent activities, but there is nothing like the fluttering of prom season.  Every year students wait for it, plan for it, dream of it, and every year it comes and it goes with a sea of limousines and multi-colored fabrics and flowers.

Though all of this is perennial and one grows accustomed to the excitement and whirlwind the prom creates, there is nothing to compare with the newest of adolescent incantations: the Promposal.   Teenage boys are now required to ask females to the prom with a pomp and circumstance that rivals a wedding proposal.  January through February now brings carefully lined up flowers that spell “Prom,” tea lights surrounding large posters that ask the question: “Will you go with me?”, and lockers filled with chocolate candies with wrappers instructing the young lady to go out to her car where she will find her boyfriend waiting with a dozen roses.  This entire practice makes me sick to my stomach.

“I love it,” my coworker says as she opens her laptop.  “These girls have power and they’re using it.”  She smiles as I shake my head.  She starts to type.

“I am not seeing how this shows strength at all,” I answer. I have now turned my body in her direction.  My coworker is a strong woman.  She speaks her mind, she stands her ground, she never backs down from a fight, so if she sees this as a power move, I am curious to know why.

“It shows that the boys have to jump through hoops to get them. If they want them to go, they have to do something special, to win them,” she adds.

“I still don’t see it,” I answer.  “This jumping through of hoops just seems prissy and archaic.”Prom3.jpg

“No,” she answers. “It’s power.  We have it and these girls are using it.”

At this moment, I am still questioning this.  A woman’s right to make men do certain tasks to get what they want could be seen as power. It could also be seen as a chance to encourage the male/female hunt.  Could Promposals be a great equalizer or just another way for girls to act like a prize to be won as opposed to a person in a relationship?  Do we want to encourage our males to be with females who need to be put on a pedestal and jumped for instead of just asked and appreciated?  Do we want to encourage our girls to be a product instead of a person who also wants to attend the same social event without all of the social conventions?

 

 

Single Mom Life Part 2

In his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

When I first read this, I was in my early 20s, savagely blaming both of my parents for my myriad of hurts.  I felt as if I were the final description, the shattered glass on the floor, broken beyond repair.  I have since learned that this damage is reversible.  I have painstakingly tried to glue the pieces back together in a pattern of my own.  I choose to look at the glued pieces or scars in a positive way, knowing that the light would refract differently off of me if I were still one piece.  Perhaps the repaired cracks are stopgaps.  I am more caring and empathetic to those who are also looking at their scattered remains.  If my glass was clear, I might not be so open.

Now that I am an adult with two little boys, I read this quote differently.  I wonder with each misspoken word what my smudges will look like. I can only pray that I have not nor will I crack a part of them.  Despite my eloquent twistings above about my repair job, I hope to leave this life without causing such damage.  I want only for my imprints to be easily cleaned away with some Windex and a fresh paper towel.  The rest of the world can leave its mark on my little guys, and I know that it will.  Their glass will be bumped and jarred and marked up by a multiple of hands that I may never even meet. Their first love, their bosses, their teachers, their friends…all of these individuals will have a chance and when they do, I want my sons’ glass to be as intact as possible.  There is a strength that can be had in the cracking of the glass.  There is a benefit to knowing how hard you can be hit before you crack.  Both of these things are true, but I believe that my job is to help them through the hits, not be the one who is doing the breaking.

I am sure that I will continue to make my fair share of mistakes.  Greasy, peanut buttery fingerprints will be streaked down their glass from my fingers. I am sure of it.  At the end of the day, I still want to be able to say that the damage I did was wipeable, washable, dissolvable.  I only want them to truly know that they are loved.