where you can’t find me

Poem: where you can’t find me

It is easy with you
All the places you’ve been offended
Where you haven’t been treated right
A bike shop
Food co-op
Coffee shops
Restaurants

It’s easy to hide my physical body
Where you can’t find me

But what of my mind and heart

You always feel it when I go

I go to the Beloved
I give up
I cast myself into the abyss
Grief, denial, loss, bargaining, abandonment, hopeless grief
I throw myself over the cliff
Over and over
I resist
And then let go

It’s not wings
Because the cliff is a waterfall
I don’t want wings
And the Beloved laughs

Wings form
I refuse to fly
I won’t I won’t I won’t
I fall towards the water

Each time I wonder
If this time the Beloved will not shift
I hit the water

Safe again
Scales and tail
And I can breathe

And swim free
To the sea

trilogy

The Lady Ox trilogy

The first poem in this trilogy was written in 1984. The next two were written twenty years later. Like ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail.

The first poem popped into my head while I was thinking about flowers. The second two were both problem poems. Most of my poems are problem poems: I sit down with a problem that I am working on and start writing about it. I do not know where the poem is going to go and I am always surprised. And it often goes somewhere that I don’t expect. Often it is a map for where I aspire to go emotionally, but usually I am not there yet when I finish the poem.

Loss

It seems to be one of my irritable days
They come rolling round in the month of May
I don’t feel friendly and don’t want to play
It seems to be one of my irritable days

It seems to be one of those days when I’m mad
At nothing particular. I feel really bad
I hate those damn tourists who always wear plaid
I really intensely dislike feeling sad

I haven’t felt quite this bad since last year
But I’m not one to cry. I don’t like weak tears
I’m not one to let myself feel any fears
I haven’t felt this bad for almost a year

It seems to be one of those days when I’m mad
I think I’ll go pick a nice fight with that lad
He looks too damn happy and just too damn glad
When I’m punching his lights out I won’t feel so sad

It seems to be one of my irritable days
Going to work on them just doesn’t pay
My boss’s revenge just goes on for days
Today it’s so bad that I can’t even pray

Helen Burling Ottaway, my mother, died May 15, 2000. I wrote this poem in the early 2000s. Her birthday was May 31, right near Memorial Day. Mother’s Day always falls near her death.

I am putting up a series of poems that I titled Falling angels, after a dream, where all the stars in the sky started falling. I was frightened and then realized that they were all angels. Then I was more frightened.

I think we need poetry and dreams and angels during this difficult time. Even if the angels are all falling.

I took the photograph of my mother. A friend loaned me his 35mm camera and I took one roll of pictures and gave the camera back to him. Almost all of the photographs I took were portraits.

Dream log April 28, 2021

I woke three times last night.

With the poem “There was a little girl” in my head.

It starts like the real poem, but then it changes. Three times. It starts three times and each version is different.

I nearly got up the first time to write it down, but I nailed it solidly into my memory and went back to sleep.

Twice more.

The third time I think I dreamed the poem and then I am on a golf course. I am playing golf with President Obama.

“It’s really windy today.” says the president. He is cheerful and smiling.

I am calm even though I suck at golf. There is no one else around and it’s sunny and beautiful and windy.

“Let’s play the course in a different order,” says the president. “Let’s avoid the wind. I know you can hit it any distance, but let’s go in the order that is shortest and easiest. So we will tee off from one but hit it to the flag on two.”

There is no one else on the course. And it is beautiful. And I suck at golf anyhow and what the hell? It is not conventional but when have I EVER bothered with that.

I nod yes

and wake up with his smile in my memory.

tracery

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: tracery.

This is the dream that wakes me this morning. Before I went to sleep last night I asked for a dream. It’s when I am writing the dream out this morning that I realize that it’s my sister’s birthday. She died of cancer in 2012. Memory and dreams as tracery.

I am in a group of people on a platform. It is dark around us. It reminds me of a platform from a ropes course. In the ropes course we had to balance it. A rectangular platform on a log roller, held somewhat at the corners to keep it from dumping us entirely. A group version of a balance board. The trick is really that everyone has to stand still and only one person moves, very small amounts, until it is balanced.

But we are dancing in the dream. We are dancing, but people are uncomfortable. I am not sure why. Perhaps because we were dancing all together but individually and now there is a couple dancing. I realize that people are halting, worried.

I want them to be comfortable. I gesture to an older man. He comes towards me. His wife is there. He and I start dancing but I realize right away that this doesn’t make people more comfortable. They are less comfortable and even the other couple dancing stops. We are lit from above with darkness all around. No spot light follows us, so we move in and out of the light.

As soon as I realize that nearly everyone is uncomfortable, I stop my partner. He is an excellent dancer but that is not what is important here. I move with him back towards his wife and I sit on the platform. They sit as well. The other people around us relax. That is what they want, to sit, to talk quietly, to listen. That is what will make everyone comfortable. The others are settling around us, relieved.

I wake up.

Container dream

I dream I am at a concert in a park. Or some very big event. With my significant other. It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the grass is green, there are rolling hills and trees. People are arriving.

There is a gasp of horror. There is a large box, like the hold of a ship. We hurry to look in: there are three open containers down inside, tops removed. They are full of children. Smuggled? Immigrants? The containers are surrounded by water. My significant other and I drop our things and climb down the long hold ladder into the water, which is cold, filthy, and comes up to my thighs. I’ve kicked off my sandals. We are wading to the containers. An ICE agent in a black uniform, bullet proof vest, belt with tools and guns, and riot helmet, blocks me and says, “You have to be wearing shoes to help.” He is handing out plastic stretchers. He can’t see my feet. Yes, I know it’s dangerous and my feet could get cut, but this is probably sewage and dangerous even with shoes. We should really be in hazmat gear but the kids could be dying. I just look at him, silent, and he hands me a stretcher.

Enough people have come forward, into the water, that all the kids have been placed in one of the containers. None of them are dead. They are being lifted out one by one, to ambulances. Now the hold is surrounded by rubberneckers. I climb out and find my purse and camera and shoes. I am grateful no opportunist has stolen them. The ICE agents are telling people to back off and give them room to work. The news crews are there and a Washington State politician says, “This is Washington State, we will take care of these children, we will not see them separated and incarcerated, I will see that they are returned to their parents.” Good luck, I think, but at least there are tons of witnesses and cameras and news crews.

I need to find somewhere to scrub my legs down with soap and to find my significant other. It’s getting more crowded.

I wake up.

And what I notice is that the water did not stink and was not full of lumps of floating excrement. As I wake I hope that I won’t catch something horrible and die….usually my dreams have full sound, color and smells too. I wonder where the children were from, and why, and whether they had some sort of sanitation….

Taking the baby

My daughter is graduating from college. She is not very interested in it, but will go through the ceremony and process, for my sake and the sake of the family.

She and I and my son are going to do a graduation errand, turn in the money for the cap and gown or something like that. There are various errands.

We stop by a daycare. My friend B’s third child is there. A girl, a baby. I make her laugh. I take her with us on the errand.

I don’t tell anyone. I don’t even think of it. My daughter is disapproving, but my children are used to me charming strange babies in restaurants and often getting to hold them. They think that this is weird, but parents are always weird. We get to the van and I realize there is no car seat. That is beyond the pale. I also realize that I have taken this baby, no, kidnapped it, and no one knows where it is. I am horrified. My daughter drives back to the day care, my son in the other seat. “I am the car seat,” I say to the baby, knowing that I am not. It’s a VW van in the dream, with no seats in the back, a high bed to sleep on. I hold the baby and pray.

My kids drop me at the daycare. I go in, immediately bursting into tears of apology and guilt. The baby has been fine through all of this. B has already come and gone, deeply upset. The police have not been called yet, I think they suspected that it was me being an idiot. The woman who runs the daycare takes the baby. I am terrified that B and her family have driven to Eastern Washington and I want to offer to take the baby to them at this instant, but I know that no one will trust me with this baby. Ever again.

And I don’t deserve to be trusted.

A man is there. He says that B is working at a restaurant. I want to go to her, to apologize, but I am crying just thinking about it. I would be disruptive. He will go tell her. He leaves.

I wait, guilty. The baby is changed and tucked into a bassinet, safe.

B comes. She looks grey and worn. I am crying. She sees me and goes down on her knees, covering her face, bent forward. I am crying, “I am sorry, I am so sorry, please forgive me!” I am hugging her, “Please will you still be my friend.” She says nothing.

I wake up.

My daughter has two years to graduation. B does not have a third child. Our van is a Ford, with seven seats. My children are the right ages in the dream, young adults. I have not been in a daycare for years. I don’t know either the woman running the daycare or the man. In the dream they are acquaintances, archetypes, people I know but not specific people from my daytime world.