I can’t do it, Beloved
I don’t know how, Beloved
release old grief, I am told
I am to have the intention daily
to release old grief
it sits in my throat
aching lump, knot, old
I don’t know how old
is it from before birth
I haven’t looked up whether antibodies
cross the placenta
that is one of the antibodies
that can kill a fetus
I have the grief
a tiger by the tail
at first I was afraid
that releasing it would lose
some core part of myself
that the me I have built
is the nacre, a pearl
wrapped around a core of grief
I try to listen
I try so hard to listen
to have faith
why pay for help
without attempting to follow
unless they are so clearly wrong
the past the woman the girl the child the fetus
let the grief go
maybe I am not gentle enough
full speed ahead
maybe I need to cradle the grief more
rock it, comfort it, thank it
grief, you protected me so much
from the patterns in the family
maybe I need to thank the grief
before I let it go
I have been in Rainshadow Chorale since 2000. My father, Malcolm Ottaway, was one of the eight people who started it in 1997. He and my mother moved here in 1996. My mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, died of ovarian cancer on May 15, 2000. Rainshadow agreed to sing a Byrd Mass for my mother’s memorial. My father asked if my sister and I could sing in the chorale for the memorial. We were told yes. I had moved to Port Townsend at the end of 1999.
After the Memorial, I asked if I could stay in the chorale. The answer was yes and I have been in it ever since.
Our director, Rebecca Rottsolk, is retiring from the chorale after our next concert. She has picked favorite pieces. I have sung in nearly every concert since 2000, though I couldn’t sing in the one right after my father died in 2013. He followed my sister, who died in 2012. My throat wouldn’t let me sing that one.
So Rebecca, thank you for the music and thank you for being a wonderful director and forcing us to level up over and over. I am sending you peace and love and joy.
And everyone else, put this concert on your calendar.
For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: thanks.
You were an artist
You are an artist
You said that you’d have to live to 120 to finish all your projects
And died at 61
I keep wondering
what the art supplies are like
and if you work on sunsets
made a clay fish last summer that I admire
He said grumpily “It’s too bad Grandma Helen died before I could do clay with her.”
He tells me he’s ready to make raku pots to fire in your ashes as you wished
I ask what he’d make
He considers and says, “What was Grandma Helen’s favorite food?”
I can’t think and say that she liked lots of foods
At the same time wondering squeamishly if maybe
he should make a vase and then being surprised
that I am squeamish and thinking of blood and wine,
too, I wonder if my dad would know. “Maybe guacamole.”
I need to find a potter to apprentice him to.
asks how old Grandma Helen was when she died.
I explain that she died at 61 but her mother died at 92.
Camille asks how old I am.
When are you going to die?
I say I don’t know, none of us do, but I hope it’s more towards 90.
Camille studies me and is satisfied for now.
She goes off.
I think of you.
the Christmas cards you did with us
upon my children.
They each draw a card.
We photocopy them and hand paint with watercolors.
Camille wants to draw an angel
and says she can’t.
I draw a simple angel
and have her trace it.
She has your fierce concentration
bent over tracing through the thick paper
She wants it right.
The angel is transformed.
My kids resist the painting after a few cards as I did too.
Each time I paint the angel
to send to someone I love
I think of Camille
I see you everywhere
January 19, 2002
published in Mama Stew: An Anthology: Reflections and Observations on Mothering, edited by Elisabeth Rotchford Haight and Sylvia Platt c. 2002
For the RDP: another day.
I never see you again
you never speak to me again
you never love your bearish parts
you never let yourself get angry
you never let yourself get sad
you never let yourself feel
you tell yourself you are happy
you tell yourself everything is the way it should be
I never see you again
I still love you
I still forgive you
I still love you
My daughter is home and we went on a beach walk yesterday! The stupid oxygen keeps me from going fast. She went for a bike ride afterwards. Hooray!
Yesterday evening she brought up social distancing and how careful she should be. She has about 5 friends who are home that she is going to walk with. I am still wearing a mask over my oxygen tubing most places. She will unmask if they are vaccinated and they don’t have a cold or anything else. Even a cold would make me worse at this point. It makes me grumpy to be vulnerable, but I appreciate the discussion.
Ok, maybe it is not inappropriate for work. But it would be a little weird for work… I was going in the woods with my oxygen tank. “Local doctor of 21 years found eaten by cougar, which then died because it couldn’t digest the oxygen tank.” Heh.
Listening to this, fabulous!!!
is it really your business anyway?
who are you to be watching?
what are you doing with your life?
spending it as a voyeur?
if you spend all your time watching
thinking you know who is good
and who is evil
what are you contributing to humanity?
who elected you judge and jury?
sit in your castles
poke your telescope through the shades
seems boring to me
I’d rather fight for healthcare for all
I’d rather fight for local housing
I’d rather take in an elderly cat or a foster baby
or an elder whose apartment has been sold out from under them
what about you?
isn’t there ANYTHING
you’d rather do?
thanks to everything2.com for the title
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, actually. I put encephalopathy on the Ragtag Daily Prompt, but …. my brain is still a bit fuxxy. Yeah, tried to type fuzzy. It’s sometimes annoying and sometimes funny. I have a little trouble with my balance, as if my proprioception is not quite working right. I have not fallen, but that is really my dance chops. All those years jitterbug dancing, I recover my balance very well. However, I am staying off of ladders for now.
The antibodies are annoying. The dopamine ones are down a little, which is a relief. I still spent 20 minutes this am organizing CDs into categories. This satisfies both the ADHD and the OCD bugs. I have four categories: women musicians, rock and blues, classical/ethnic and local/folk. Sometimes I don’t know where the hell to put a CD. Southern Culture on the Skids… hmm. Harry Connick jr…. double hmmm. I now have a pile of movie soundtracks and a pile of DUNNO. I have picked up CDs at garage sales when they are a dollar each. Random. Those are in a separate “listen to it and decide” pile. They could end up in the library box outside if I dislike them enough. There seems to be some rap, I don’t have tons of that. Punk, now, it gets filed with the rock except when it’s more Americana…..
I can lower the antibody levels with a hot bath. Tend to wait until I really have to eat, eat, then with the antibodies start poking me I have the hot bath. A sauna would help as would a hot tub. Dang. Where is my hot tub? I hurt a lot more if I eat gluten or get my blood sugar high. Sugar is bad. Rice is pretty ok, though muscles hurt afterwards. I’ve long since trashed my glycogen stores, so my blood sugar will drop back to ketosis within 2 hours instead of taking 2-3 days. Feels terrible while it is happening. I get really cold and achy and just feel like I am dying. Lie down, wrap up in a really warm pile of blankets. I feel the shift: lights get brighter, sound gets louder and the pain switches off. Then I get too hot and throw off the blankets and have some energy again. I still have to behave: any little thing like starting to trot up the stairs and OW, my chest starts hurting and I get short of breath. I am a little short of breath just being vertical. I am glad I am not bad enough to have to just lie in bed, that would fungking suck.
Hope you are well. Get the covid vaccine: it may well make you feel rotten, but covid 19 does the same thing only more so. I think that if I got covid 19 I would croak.
Peace be with you.