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?
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
(Except for the time you broke, and then broke again)
YouTube was our lifesaver, yours and
I couldn’t count the loads we’ve carried
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.
ESTRAGON: Let’s go.
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.
–Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
I glance around me
Occasionally, I move to show the
Vultures I will not become their prey
It is not my fate
Into a sea of emptiness
Nothing was great enough
With no energy to swim
And the water she once drank for life
Do we mourn for thee, Ophelia
For thou art dead,
To a world which shall care for thee—
Not like this one.
We sing your praises
Ophelia by John Everett Millais
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
Filling the dough with joys
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
The futility is passed. She embraces the past, and
Making bread is now a joy.
Up in my figurative tower
Growing out my hair
Her tight hold on my soul
Mirrored only by the way she held the brush
For another twist
Manipulate my spirit, my voice
In, out, down, through, under, twist, braid, tight, tighter, tighter….
Who hired me
as architect for your early life?
My experiences with Legos are hardly
Sufficient credentials, I think….
Still, I labor
Planning the experiences that will build
Modifying blueprints as my
on-the-job training requires
Will you love soccer, ballet,
More importantly, will you love
Your fellow beings?
With experiences as cinderblocks and
Love as mortar
We work together building the edifice of
Across endless power lines
Like notes on a staff
The notes don’t come as easily as they once did
And yet, in some ways, they are easier
Maybe her fingers are more nimble from the hours of
Hours at her disposal are no longer available
When she sits to play, as she once did
Several lifetimes ago
She feels the same.
Street lamps burn white holes into
The darkest of night’s skies.
People still walk
Along the paved grey concrete stripes
Past shops that closed hours (or days) ago
Past squares of green and colors
Past homeless artists up past their bedtimes
They are singing songs that were popular decades ago….
Young couples share their first kisses, while
More seasoned couples smile to remember, and
Musicians wander the streets
Along with starving writers
Searching for inspiration, for a voice
One decides that we are all searching for
In a senseless world
Where aesthetics are lost
In a land of stoicism
A poet weeps
Barely standing in the shadow
Of a street light
Yet he emits his own light
Through his learning and observations
And so the evening isn’t a loss after all.