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 took this on North Beach about a week ago.
This is for the RDP stone prompt, my prompt.
Small pebbles… except now we have to sing: “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong! Can you guess which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish my song!”
And here is a photo for scale.
I like this because it takes a moment for me to figure out what it is, even though I took the photograph.
I think I will submit it to today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: lollygag. As I feel better, I still need the oxygen, but it feels very weird to lollygag around, take pictures, and not go to clinic to work.
I have seen the frogs
in the northwest
all you have to do is be quiet
near the puddles
or a pond
walk there very very quietly
in the spring they are singing
to each other
a symphony of longing and joy
and they don’t hear me
when I walk very quietly
at the end of the world
as a child my father teaches me
to catch frogs
approach the pond
if the frog hears you
it will duck under water
you will only see a ripple
or it will hop
into the woods
would occasionally use frogs
to catch northern pike
a live frog on a hook
when you stick a hook through their back
I hope they go into shock then
and don’t feel much
one we’d seen this
my cousins and my sister and I
when my father got his fishing rod
we’d run through the woods
yelling “Hide the frogs, hide the frogs!”
and we would catch any frog
that was dumb enough not to hide
and quickly set it in the woods
to hide it from my father
we would check the puddles, too
feeling in the brownish muck
to make sure no frog was hidden
in the shallow puddle
come out, you must go in the woods
to catch the smart ones
we would tiptoe to the puddle
hoping a frog was facing the other way
if they saw us, they were gone
slowly bend down, hand out
behind the frog
grab just above the back legs
not too hard, don’t squish it
I was under ten
on a canoe trip
when I run to my father
“A frog! A frog! The biggest frog I’ve seen!
Papa, come help!”
My father comes.
An enormous frog is beside the canoe.
“Catch it.” says my father.
“Please! You catch it!” I beg.
My father creeps up on the frog.
His hand moves out slowly.
He grabs the frog, who tries to jump
and croaks, a bass, huge mouth.
“It’s a young bullfrog,” says my father.
“It will get even bigger.”
He hands it to me.
I take it carefully, shaking a little.
“We could eat it’s legs.”
“NO!” I say. I just want to hold it for a minute.
I turn it over and gently stroke it’s throat.
The frog goes limp, mesmerized.
I set it down gently, right side up,
near the water.
I squat by the frog and wait.
I am waiting for it to wake up.
The frog is so beautiful.
I wait until it wakes up
and returns home.
I took this walking North Beach yesterday. I was wearing my oxygen, too.