A Week of Years – prose poem or flash fiction?

Thanks for all the feedback and love from yesterday. Finishing April (National Poetry Month) with one more:

A Week of Years

I don’t care if I have any sweat left inside me. My body feels wet and dry, hot and cold, purple and pale.

I can’t do this.

After being up through the night with contractions, I’m repeating that phrase.

I can’t do this.

I want it to be over, but I don’t even know what “it” is.

A nurse dabs perspiration from my forehead with an already-moist washcloth, and I try again.

Push.

I can’t.

You can, the doctor says. But I don’t believe him. You can. Push.

The white ceiling tiles with little black specks resemble a reverse sky. If I could push though the floors above me, I could see real stars, celestial bodies to comfort my own trembling.

I tighten my core, encapsulating him into a cocoon-hug, but the baby I’m supposed to be delivering isn’t little and isn’t moving. Fatigue is taking over and I want to give in to sleep. To drift away into nothingness—a subconscious world of flying clocks and living in houses that are prettier than my own. But I am back in this room, this bed, feet pulled toward my chest and a baby crowning between my legs.

Push. Push. I don’t remember how to pull strength from somewhere. Bare walls, shined floor, a bright light replacing one ceiling tile all remind me that I’m still here.

Push. Push. Push.

I can’t hear him. He’s not crying. I can see his blue body in the doctor’s arms, and I feel like it’s over.

I want to rewind the last minutes, hours, days, to when he kicked under my ribs, when he pressed his foot against my stomach and I rubbed the heel through layers of skin, uterus, and amniotic fluid. When he was alive and we worked together. When we felt like one.

Then, his cry slices through the room, a sound sweeter than anything I’ve ever tasted.

Questions My Children Ask – a prose poem

Since April is National Poetry Month, I couldn’t let the month pass without sharing one of my new creations and loves–a prose poem. Here is one I wrote this spring:

Questions My Children Ask

When can I have an allowance? Will you unlock the computer so I can play? How come you get to be on your phone whenever you want but I have a timer on the iPad? Do you listen to me when I talk to you? What did I just say?

Can we get clothes from a real store and not a thrift shop? How do these jeans look? Are my thighs too big? Should I wear my cream Uggs or my black Converse? Or could you get me some Dr. Martens? Can I cut my hair? Highlight it? Dye it purple?

Why do you make this gross food for dinner? Don’t you know we hate lasagna? Asparagus, again? What is this green stuff? Peas or peppers? Why is it good for me to eat food I don’t like? I’m going to go play with Cain, okay?

Can we have a dance party? A game night? A movie night with popcorn? Will you make French fries again? Sweet chicky nuggets? Cheese pizza?

Will you read Corduroy to me? Skippyjon Jones? Tuck me in? Kiss me goodnight? Can we cuddle? Will you stay with me? What does “especially” mean?

Why do I feel like this —blech one moment, ecstatic the next? Am I just hormonal? Did you feel like this when you were my age?

Is this normal? Am I normal? What does sex feel like?

Why did you marry Dad? Do you still love him, even when you fight?

They cut her whole breast off? What does she look like now? Will she lose her hair? Will she die?

Will you die? Will I?

How do you know everything will be okay?

Ode to the Washing Machine

I’m sad to let you go…

We’ve seen hours of work together, you and I
I count you among my closest friends

You came into my life when I was expecting my first child
Since then, we’ve worked together, preparing and cleaning clothing for
Many who followed.

You’ve seen me through infant twins
(and all their laundry).

You’ve been strong through it all
Stalwart, faithful

(Except for the time you broke, and then broke again)
YouTube was our lifesaver, yours and
Mine

I couldn’t count the loads we’ve carried
Together.

Now, as we part ways, I feel sadness
Mixing with gratitude

Your replacement is new and shiny, with fancy
Lights and buttons, innovative settings and a computer chip

But I will miss you.

Thank you.

Awaiting… (a poem)

ESTRAGON: Let’s go.
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.

–Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

I pause.

I sit.

I glance around me

Attempting to
Absorb existence

Occasionally, I move to show the

Vultures I will not become their prey

Pray
It is not my fate
but to

Wait.

Ready for May?

The first four lines of T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land read:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

As April has closed and May stands on our doorstep, that first line has been bouncing around my brain for many of the last thirty days.

But this year, for me, April has been a month of amazingness: glorious gratitude, playful positivity, brilliant blessings, vibrant hues, and succulent sunshine. Now, I’m wondering what is to come with this first day of May….

What does this month bring for you?

Ophelia

Into a sea of emptiness
She falls
Nothing was great enough
For her

With no energy to swim
(or live)
She stops
And the water she once drank for life
Swallows her

No longer
Do we mourn for thee, Ophelia
For thou art dead,
stolen,
lost,
To a world which shall care for thee—
Not like this one.
We sing your praises
Solemnly
Our dear,
brave,
silent girl.

-Karin Salisbury

 

File:John Everett Millais - Ophelia - Google Art Project.jpg
Ophelia by John Everett Millais
photo credit

Needing

Her grandmother used to knead by hand
On a floured surface
Removing treasured wedding bands
In exchange for dough-covered fingers
She can remember Grandmother’s punching
and shifting
and pushing
and turning
Filling the dough with joys
or
frustrations
Whatever were the feelings of the moment, the day, the week, the month

Now years later
with no floured surface
She carefully measures her wheat, honey, water,
Yeast, oil, gluten into her bowl
Breadhook attached, machine plugged, timer set,
the mixer does all of Grandmother’s work
to the tune of ten minutes.
The timer sounds, the kneading is done —or is it?

She longs to touch the dough
like clay in the artist’s hands
Bringing life into element through the hand-builder.
Pulling out the flour, she dusts her counter and hands
Ooooooo—wow. How could she know it would feel so fresh in her hands? She turns in her sorrow for the fussing she did to John who wouldn’t put on his shoes and head to kindergarten class in time for the bell and pats in her smile she shared with the baby this morning. She infuses the bread with her spirit
as she feels
Grandmother near.

The futility is passed. She embraces the past, and

Making bread is now a joy.

-Karin Salisbury


photo credit