Saturday, May 2, 2015


challenges, grief, healing

Nana Freda used a light bulb when darning socks.
She'd stick it inside so the hole was on the curve.

Then she'd thread matching yarn into a fat needle,
you know that needle; it's the one that pricked you

so many times in the last year.  First, drawing blood
when your best friend died, second when Bob, whom

you treated like a dad, passed, and the worst when that
needle went right through your heart over and over

leaving you torn and ragged and daughterless.  But,
needles can fix things, too.  Nana Freda would weave

the yarn over and under itself.  Over and under.  Over
the memories, under the anger, over the grief, under

the regrets, until that hole was filled from side to side.
I tried darning, once.  It wasn't easy.  I made a big mess.

It certainly is a challenge.  I mean, how do you incorporate
all those mornings of sitting on the porch, smoke swirling

around your heads, conversation as warming as coffee,
those stories of WWII and endless repeated questions,

and Trish's wonderful smiles, common sense, and help
into a strand of yarn?  How can you even hold that needle

with your trembling hand?  There is only one way: pick
it up, stick it in the edge of the hole and let the healing

begin.  Grief begins with a needle and it is only that same
needle that can help darn everything back together.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 30 National Poetry Month 2015

rain, chalk, bicycle from Anne

Someone took a piece of chalk,
held it sideways, and smeared
the sky with it it.  Back and forth.

Back and forth on this last day
of the month, filling the emptiness
with shades and streaks of white.

I've been sitting here writing for thirty
mornings while memories pounded like rain
and rode a bicycle into my brain coasting

through the valleys of childhood
and the peaks of today.  I packed
old friends, family, regrets, and loves

into my saddlebags and took them along
for the ride.  For me, it was all about
pedaling and feeling the wind fill my

cheeks, my chest, my being with freshness.
Round and round my feet went.  I had
a wonderful ride.  I hope you did, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 29 National Poetry Month 2015

duckling, leaf, frog from Anne


Her American name is Jenny
but her Vietnamese name is "Nine."

I don't know how it's spelled
but it's pronounced with a lilt,

like you're smiling when you say it.
Not like how we say that number

with our frog voices.  She tells me
it means Snow and I think that is

beautiful.  She's my nail tech
and she's marrying Jimmy who

also works there.  He's a sprite,
flitting around, joking with everyone,

a lost duckling searching for himself.
He's two years older than her but

much younger.  I ask where they are going
for their honeymoon.  She says they

have to work.  "But we're taking Monday
off because Jimmy will be hung over."

I ask if it's going to be a big wedding
and it is because Jimmy has many friends.

She tells me he did all the planning.  She
is so ambivalent I wonder if she really

wants to get married.  "Well, Jimmy wants
this and I want to get married but I'm worried

because I don't want to hold him back."  She
even converted to Catholicism for him.

My nails are done and I leave there
feeling sad.  I want to tell her to run,

stop the wedding. They are as mismatched
as snow piling up on leaves in Florida.

But, it's not my place.  As I leave I glance
over and there is Jimmy flirting with another girl.

Jenny is hunched over, long hair hiding
her face as she begins another customer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 28 National Poetry Month 2015

Camper, storm, and tequila from Donna

I've been sitting here for almost a half hour
trying to absorb today's words and turn

them into a tasty drink but they're stubborn
things today.  And then I realize what's wrong;

I haven't gotten the ingredients out.  So I just
start typing.  That's the secret, you know: starting.

I get the tequila out of the cupboard, the Limeaid
out of the freezer, the 7-Up and Corona from

the fridge.  I mix twelve ounces of each together
in a big pitcher.  I don't use a blender because I'd

end up with a storm in my kitchen and cleaning
up messes is no fun.  I get a couple of Margarita

glasses out, dip the rims in the drink, then into
coarse salt, add ice and the concoction. I hand

one to Donna, who knows a great deal about
cleaning up messes as her camper got badly

damaged in a huge explosion and fire last spring,
take the other one for myself, then we sit and talk.

And, that's how life turns into a poem: booze,
tears, laughter, and two friends sipping their drinks.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 27 National Poetry Month 2015

station wagon, reception, and accident from Tim

Fish are jumping like crazy this morning
in our canal.  Nice to see that.  A few months
ago we had a young alligator in it and all

the fish disappeared.  Alligators don't thrive
in salt water so authorities were called and he
was removed.  Now, the fish are back making

lazy circles on the surface of the water.  The
world is right once more.  It was just a hiccup,
a small frost heave, a backfire from the station

wagon of life.  Tim and I were coming back from
picking up folding chairs for my wedding reception.
He had just gotten his license.  We went through

the green light on the corner of Mason and Main
then Tim took his eyes off the road for just a sec
to admire a pretty girl walking on the sidewalk

when, bam, we smashed into the backside
of a boat trailer being towed.  Someone ahead
of him had stopped to make the turn onto Pleasant

Street right there by the Joliette Snowshoe Club.
The cops showed up, people gawked, Tim got
a ticket, then we went home and continued our

preparations for my wedding trying not to let
this accident, this alligator in salt water, put
a damper on that exciting time.  That's life for ya.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 26 National Poetry Month 2015

ripple, rustle, mist from Lucy

I'm sitting in a different chair this morning,
a bar chair high enough so my face is out
of the sun.  The wind from the southwest
is creating rustles in the palms and ripples

on the water.  I should go in and get
my big girl camera and use those sparkles
to catch some bokeh, those atmospheric
background circles you can see on most

television shows.  So I do just that.  I set
the dial to aperture priority, get up close
to a flower, wait for the ding announcing
the focus is ready then click, click, click.

I transfer the photos to my iPad and love
the otherworldliness created from the simple
act of taking a picture.  A tiny bit of magic
happens, like that bubble of happy in my

chest whenever I see my son or my daughter
or my Kylie girl.  I'll be with them in less than
a month, their reality forming from the mist
of many days apart.  So, really, this morning

I was conjuring them while the neighbors
saw only a crazy woman out on the stairs
in her nightie with her nose in flowers taking
pictures.  Little did they know I wasn't alone.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 25 National Poetry Month 2015

Coffee cup, Apple, Egg roll from Anne

I'm watching an old movie version of Our Town
on the Turner Classic Movies channel.  It was
filmed in 1940 in black & white.  But, I see colors,

the colors of skin and auditorium seats and coffee
cups sitting on my table.  I'm Mrs. Gibbs, again,
preparing breakfast for my family.  George and

Rebecca are upstairs getting ready for school
and my husband is just coming in the door from
delivering twins.  Already I can feel my throat

tightening up.  Everything looks so normal
like a still life painting of a bowl of apples.  So
red and healthy, now, but if they stay there too

long, they'll begin to die.  I know what is coming.
And I know I'll cry.  I anticipate every line before
the actors say them.  "The moon is so terrible."

Yes, Emily, life can be terrible, but first you have
to have a soda with George and marry him
and go to live on his uncle Luke's farm and have

a baby before the terrible part, before you'll join me
in the cemetery.  There's George standing
in the rain at your funeral and here you are

with us.  There's Simon Stinson, the choir director
and your brother Wally whose appendix burst
while on a camping trip to Crawford Notch.  You

aren't ready, though, to join us.  You want to go back
so you pick your twelfth birthday....wait, in the movie
it's your sixteenth.  I guess they couldn't make

you look like a twelve year old.  Okay, I can go with it.
You are still so frustrated that your folks won't really
look at you.  You notice all the little things but you

aren't Paulette Demers in the Berlin High School
production.  You aren't packing the same emotional
punch that she did. My goodness, there wasn't

a dry eye when she whirled around..."and new-ironed
dresses"...just the tears in her voice had grown men
sobbing.  "Do people really appreciate life every, every

minute?" No, they can't.  It would hurt too much.
So you rejoin us and take your chair in the cemetery
But, hold on, the movie isn't done.  It fades back

to the childbirth scene where you die, but you don't.
You don't die.  You're snuggling with your new baby
and George is smiling.  What?  You don't die?

You're supposed to.  In my play you do.  What kind
of a lesson do we learn if you live?  Life always has
a happy ending?  I'm not even crying; I'm too mad.

How dare they?  I turn the TV off then bang pans
and cupboard doors while making breakfast.  That end-
ing was as wrong as Ma Gibbs serving her kids egg rolls.
Linda's Poems