Dear Mom (Mommy),

It’s been ten years. Ten years ago, this week, you turned 42. I don’t remember what we did for your birthday. DId you like it? Was it special? In fact, I probably was not even there. I was at the university going to school, hardly aware that it would be the last birthday we would celebrate. Did you know then that you’d remain 42 forever?

A decade is a monumental amount of time to be absent. I lived through my twenties. Jacob and Maddi spent their teen years without you.

Ten years. In ten years I’ve lived in another country, traveled to more. I biked around an active volcano, bungee jumped, and went on many road trips. In the last ten years, I became a teacher. Like you. I bet you never thought I’d want to follow your footsteps. I even got a Master’s degree. Ten years is so much time. Maddi went to nursing school. Jake is almost out of college.

In another decade, ten more years without you, I’ll reach your eternal age. What will I have to show? A handful of accomplishments and a room full of milestones. But you’ll miss those too. Because, you will remain forever 42.

The world keeps moving, minutes tick, hours ache, and we live. A blink, and the time has passed. But there is something missing, and each year it is becoming more difficult to remember. Your voice. Your Yell. Your laugh.

Ten years. Although your life ceased a decade ago. You’ve never really gone. You are the ink in my pen, the shadow in my step, and the beat in my heart. So, for the tenth year continuing, happy 42nd birthday. You are in my soul. Everything that I achieve is because of you.

I love you always,

Your Daughter (Me)

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My Christmas Spirit

I wrote this piece awhile back. It is for someone very important in my life. This person, even though she thinks I dislike her most of the time, I really don’t. It is true when I was younger, I thought she ruined my life. But really, she made me a less selfish human being. My sister graduates college on Tuesday, and will be all growed up. This is for her.

My Christmas Spirit

                 Tip toe, tip toe. There is no stumbling or fumbling as I make my way into a sea of darkness. This house, this place is mine. I learned to walk, talk, read, and love here. These white walls that surround my bedroom crawling with late night shadows are held up by my memories created here, the good and bad. I wander out into the blackness with purpose, blinded, but eyes wide open, adjusting. The darkness carries me; a guiding hand in my secret mission.

Quietly and quickly I creep across the entry hall. A lonesome, wooden cactus guards the front door (his years have now taken toll, as he’s been demoted to living room patrol). Falling stealthily against the kitchen wall; smells of fresh baked pie still cooling on the stove greet my nose, cherry and apple, I think. Earlier festivities resonate in my memory, but there is no time for that now. I have business to attend to. Searching the kitchen, empty counter tops leave no sign of life. The dishwasher light blinks monotonously at me, begging to be emptied. I can see a few dishes in the sink, clinging to remnants of turkey dinner with a think layer of film forming across left over gravy. Then my eyes approach the kitchen table, I see it. Crumbs scattered across the plate, half a cookie left, maybe. Yes! I think to myself, Santa does like Chips-A-Hoy. I was worried, I’m glad he didn’t take my mom’s pies.

Missing cookies was my cue. I scurried across the kitchen floor, almost tile surfing on my socks. First, I peeked cautiously around the corner of the other kitchen entrance catching just a glimpse of the tree in the corner and the flicker of the lights shining. They lit up my first Christmas tree ornament, other I hand crafted from kindergarten and first grade. Popcorn strings, I had insisted on decorating the tree with, hugged the branches. There she stood in all her glory, tall and proud, in the dark of night- like a piece of family artwork. My eyes fell towards the floor as I stepped into the living room, not before almost bumping the TV cabinet running along the wall on my left side. Recovering, I looked again, because that of course was what I had come for. The bike, orange, pink, and green, towered next to the Christmas tree. A two-wheeler at last! I had only waited my whole life! (All seven and three-quarter years) But, just as quickly that my joy came, it faded as my gaze slowly wrapped itself around the tree. It was a mound of presents dressed in pinks and pale yellows. Suddenly that mound look like Mt. Everest. I would never be able to conquer it. Waves of jealousy swept through me. I knew it had been a disaster from the beginning, when ten months ago, two words were uttered across my mother’s lips. Now, I was being haunted by ghost gifts that had taken form in Santa’s presence.

I moved a little further inward, the carpet warming my feet below, looking across the room my rocking horse was sitting in the corner playing in the shadows. My heart skipped a beat when I saw by my rocking horse, the baby swing- lingering music. My breath became shallower to a point where I thought I’d pass out. The tantalizing smell of cinnamon was my rescuer. Faintly traceable from the kitchen, the scent reached up into me stretching and driving forward finally settling inside; heightening my sense and awakening my Christmas spirit.

In that moment I realized just how beautiful the room looked at this late hour. The lights from the Christmas tree were dancing across the room as if someone had just finished the Nutcracker Suite when I walked in. The moon was shining through the glass doors, gliding along the floor creating a lake of light. It was magical.

I spun around to go out of the living room the other direction near our old leather couches when she caught my eye. She must have been there the entire time. Light was just barely glowing around her as the held a bundle in her arms tilting a bottle to it.

The room was serene. Time has stopped while I stood there watching as everything came together, the guardian tree, lights twinkling over them, just enough so their faces were in shadow. The moon looked on from a distance, protector of all things small. I felt if I had dreamt anything, or wished anything at this moment it would have come true. But, I didn’t have to because anything I had ever wanted was all right there before me, witnessing this great magic. I walked over and gently kissed the bundle on the forehead, knowing what I had really waited my whole life for, contentment radiating from every pore.

“Go back to bed Alex,” whispered my mom.

The Punishment House

April is National Poetry Month. So, I am going to try and write as many poems as I can. I am not promising one a day, but I will do my best.

 

The Punishment House

Tear drops spill

staining her cheek

screams reverberate

through the kitchen

hot air slices across

her back

a raised hand

she ducks

too late

a red print stamps

her shoulder

anger spews, painting

walls of-

the punishment house

 

 

The Bench

Eight years ago today, I lost one of the most important people in my life. So, this post is to honor her memory. I wrote the following poem a year later. The same year that my mother passed away, my aunt passed away the month before. This poem is for both of them, but today it honors the eighth year of my mother’s passing. I know she is with me in spirit.

mom


 

The Bench

Come sit and rest with me awhile,
forget about your tomorrows
that have yet to come.

Come sit and rest with me,
we’ll talk together;
beneath the willowy branches
that stretch from bench to bench.
Remembering the laughter that
we shared, once upon a song.

Come sit and rest with me,
amongst the grove
of pink spotted cherry trees,
and, for awhile you’ll forget
that I was ever really gone.

Come sit and rest with me,

Until our hearts melt together.

Our tears will join hand in hand

Running gleefully into the river.

We’ll whisper secrets until the day grows long.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the day goes out,
like the fiery  colors
of the blazing sun.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the colors fade, the memories leave you,
once again I become dust on the wind
and a light in your heart.
So please, just come sit and rest with me awhile.

The First Bike Ride

I like empty parking lots

after fall storms.

Humid air clings to clammy skin

hard breaths puff from lungs.

Like mirages,

miniature puddles gleam in the

peaking sun.

Rays poke through-

left over clouds hanging

low,

for that last chance

shower.

Training wheels and two-wheelers

cycle ’round my memories-

shadows,

in empty parking lots

dancing after fall storms.

 

Into Writing

I desperately wanted to be one of those writers that could impress with their humorous anecdotes. I wanted to have intricate, witty banter woven into my prose and poetry. But then,

my pencil broke,

my paper ripped,

I turned fourteen and my grandfather died.

The darkness began to creep in at first; just a shadow in my heart. A few years later my aunt had a routine surgery and forgot how to draw her own breath. She left too. The blackening shadows began wrapping their tendrils through my ventricles and choking my words.

A month later, my mother had a migraine, closed her eyes in the hospital and didn’t remember to open them. Little by little as death clenched its arms around me, the shadow in my heart extended into my extremities.

Now my words breathe life into paper through a haunted soul, escaping death’s reaches.

Still, humor evades me.

The Prologue: Touch of Death

A grand house stood in the center of a sprawling city. Cobbled roads weaved around with shops and smaller houses dotting their edges. One section seemed much more run down than any other part of the city. Up in the largest house in the center in one wing through a small window a man could be seen pacing back and forth, tugging his black beard so hard any passerby might think he’d pull it right off his face.

“Why can I not go in?!” He shouted. Which was hard to hear because coming from the room in front of him was quite a bit of screaming, and though the door was shut, everyone could hear it as though they were standing inside the room themselves.

Another man was sitting on a comfortable, plush chair behind him, “Do you want to see your wife this way, Casimir? In pain. What is going on behind those doors was not meant for a man’s eye.”

Casimir turned abruptly in his pacing, “Father, I should be there to comfort her. She should not do this alone.”

His father who had a smirk on his face looked up at his son, remembering this moment himself when he had waited for the nurse to tell him of Casimir’s birth, “It is just how it is done. You can go in afterward. Then you can be all of the comfort in the world to her. Now you would only disturb the process, and worry everyone in the room, as you are doing to me out here.”

Casimir sighed and continued to pace. Again, tugging at his beard. Inside the room cries of anguish continued. He could hear the nurse crying for more water. Then he heard the sloshing of water coming from what must have been the maid’s careless hands carrying the bucket too rapidly. Splashes hit the ground, but some must have made it over to the nurse. He heard cloths being dunked into the water. Though he had no idea what any of this process was for. It was all a mystery to him. Then the nurse’s low growls came.

“Alright Mora, it’s time.” After this, Casimir heard the worst cries from his wife yet, and he just stopped in place staring at the door willing himself not to break it down. The most beautiful utterance came after all of that terrible noise. A small cry could be heard, just barely, through the door. Casimir smiled. He turned and ran over to his father who had just stood up. They shook hands.

“Congratulations Casimir, you’re a father.” Casimir beamed at his father.They stood there longer than Casimir expected.

Finally, the maid opened the door. “You can enter now.”

Inside his wife sat propped up on the bed. The maid must have cleaned up everything, which would have been why they had to wait so long. His own mother sat in another chair against the wall. The nurse leaned over a small cradle where a baby lay wrapped up.

“We have a daughter, Casimir.” Mora told him. He walked over and wrapped his arms around his wife kissing her on the cheek.

“Can I see her?” He asked.

The nurse lifted the baby from the cradle as his parents looked on. She had been wrapped in a white blanket which did not allow for any movement. The nurse laid the baby in Mora’s arms.

“She’s beautiful, Mora. It’s good she looks just like you.” Casimir told his wife.

“What should we call her?” Mora asked.

Casimir looked to his mother who was sitting nearby quietly looking on, “Let’s name her after my mother.”

“Perfect,” agreed Mora. “Lila,” she whispered to the baby. The baby opened her eyes and yawned. She pulled her hand free from the confines of the wrap and wiggled her little fingers.

“I think she likes her name,” said Casimir. Mora nodded in agreement.

Then Mora took her daughter’s hand in her own. Letting her tiny fingers wrap around her larger finger. Mora’s finger began to blacken very quickly, then her whole hand.

“Casimir, I think it’s the curse,” she managed to say. Her whole body quickly blackened and shriveled. “I love you,” she whispered, before her heart ceased to beat.

Everyone in the room sat there stunned. Casimir looked on with horror. The nurse whisked Lila up from her mother’s deadened arms and quickly wrapped her tightly.

“Lord Casimir? Wha’ do we do with baby Lila? It was ‘er, no?” The nurse asked timidly.

Everyone gawked. No one had wanted to be the one to blame the infant child for the death of her mother.

Casimir just stared at his wife who had just been speaking to them, and was now gone. Finally, when it was obvious that he could not give any instructions at this time his mother stood up.

“The baby will have to be kept away. We’ll make one side of the house just for her. She will have no visitors and nothing that is alive. While she is a baby we’ll need a nurse to care for her, and we’ll have her hands bound. Nurse, you’ll see to this.” Casimir’s mother spoke with finality.

“Yes m’Lady,” she nodded. Casimir’s father stood up as well. He and his wife took Casimir who resisting their direction did not want to exit the room.

“Son, she will have the proper funeral, but we need to leave her now and let her be in peace.”

The family, nurse, and maid left the room and baby Lila was taken away. The only people who knew of her condition were those who had been in the room on the tragic day of her mother’s death.