Embroidery of Hope

peacockWhat was it I hoped for–
a sixteen year old
who was usually more interested
in volleyball than sewing–

when I French-knotted
salmon flowers and
stitched royal blue and lime
into a flowing peacock’s tail?

Was I thinking of a handsome husband
and happily ever after,
of a houseful of giggling girls
and Gerber baby boys?

I’m sure I didn’t imagine
sleepless nights with a critically ill baby
or what we would do
when my husband lost his job.

I also never envisioned
the thrill of twin grandchildren
jumping up and down by the window,
shouting, “Grandma’s here!”

I had a vague idea of my
hoped-for love and life,
but not an inkling of the
down-and-dirty daily press.

Now, the regal peacock reminds me
that my forever is still in the making,
and thanks to sacred covenants,
I should continue embroidering hope.

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Time Traveler

family in front of car

I am an “emissary from a vanished world,” (1)
a world of photos with scalloped edges,
a realm where my mother wore house dresses
and baked cookies for us when we got off the school bus,
a place of black-and-white television
and neighbors listening in on party lines,
a world where ten year olds could take off on bikes
for whole afternoons of riding around town
or gallop off on ponies for a picnic.

 

It was a time when enemies lived in faraway places,
like Russia and China,
but no one worried about getting shot by other kids at school
or by neighbors at the movie theater.
It was a world of American Bandstand and I Love Lucy,
a world that went crazy for a British boy band, The Beatles.
It was a place of piano lessons and band practice and junior prom,
a world where we could temporarily lose our parents
because there was no cell phone tracking.

 

 

[1] From Sparrow. “The Art of Aging.” The Sun. April 2017.

 

 

De-clawed

vanilla-the-cat

From her cover

behind the euonymus,

deadly talons

lashed out.

Dogs cowered

and even people

paid homage.

Behind a screen

of grape vines,

she crept, inching,

black ninja silent,

tail beating a slow,

metronomic trance,

eyes, burning coals,

then, bam!

a small bird lay dead.

 

Now,

the deadly

killer skulks

inside the garage;

snowy tufts of hair

fall out in clumps;

mice no longer

skirt the yard;

the graveyard

of feathers

is gone.

Today,

she mews

in her refuge,

a shadow

of her former

assassin-self.

 

 

My mother-in-law,

no less vital

than the cat,

used to wield

a wooden spoon

like a wand,

conjuring up gravy

and mashed potatoes

that caused people

to moan and swoon,

bringing down the

brawny defenses

of hulking

farm workers

with rhubarb pies

and whipping cream.

 

 

Now, ancient,

like the cat,

her world is

a room

peopled with

recurring memories,

memories

of days gone by

where truth

and fiction

intermingle,

of a time

when her spatula

was a spear,

her frying pan

fortress.

No Access

 

 

Twenty-two thousand days,

and only a few of them

as clearly outlined

as morning clouds silhouetted

in shimmering scarlet

and apricot

with the sun sneaking

up behind them.

 

Faded, half-forgotten images

flicker across my mind:

trotting along the ditch bank

beside my dad,

standing tippy toe on the fence

to peep at newborn piglets,

watching out the window

as four little blondies bounced

on the trampoline–

 

but whole days and weeks,

even months, have vanished.

Where are they?

I’m sure my parents

cuddled me and

cooed me,

but my memory

of those first three years

is marked “no access.”

 

What about the days

I read books to my children,

kissed their owwies,

threw fly balls to them,

read scriptures at breakfast,

drove them to games,

coaxed and caressed them,

admonished and scolded them?

 

Again, I have glimpses,

glimmers of then.

But what purpose those days

if they pale and grow dim?

I can number the hours

as they each disappear

along with my old self

silently slipping away.