Mourn

Thank you, Queen Elizabeth II, for choosing this time to pass, to die.

The world can use public mourning now, a formal ceremony. I tear up every time I look at the lines of people watching, standing, waiting, filing past your coffin.

Perhaps we should set up a coffin for all the dead, a field of coffins, doll coffins, hundreds, thousands, a million for the United States alone, and millions for the world, for all the dead from Covid-19.

And then we need more coffins, for those who died because care was delayed during the pandemic, screening for cancer, treatment for cancer or heart disease or lung disease. Let us set them up as well.

And then we need doll chairs, hundreds and thousands and millions of doll chairs, for the people with long haul Covid, to acknowledge that we don’t know if they will get well, will rise from their beds and chairs.

And white coats, hundreds and thousands and millions of white coats, some neatly on hangers, other bloody, others thrown on the floor, for the first responders, some dead, some quitting, some ill, some deciding that they can’t do medicine or fire fighting or policing any more, some stubbornly continuing in their jobs.

And job advertisements, on tiny doll computers, doll newspapers, doll signs in windows, saying help wanted, help, help, people are quitting, people are too sick to work, people have died, people are wondering why they should work in public, people are afraid and angry and hurt, help wanted.

I tear up when I watch the public mourning. I remember my mother, my father, my sister, all dead before the pandemic. I remember other dead, family and friends. I think of all the dead that I know, starting to outnumber the living that I know.

Thank you Queen Elizabeth II, for this formal and public mourning in this time of confusion and grief. Your last public service, for which I and many others, tear up and thank you.

___________________________

The photograph is from a friend’s dollhouse.

Stages of grief playlist

Stages of grief playlist

My sister had breast cancer for 7 years. She said that the five stages of grief missed two. She adds “Acting Out” and “Revenge”. I am planning a series of stages of grief playlists, because we are coming up on one million US citizens dead of Covid-19 and we are at six million world wide and counting. We need help grieving. I have other stuff going on to, so my go to is music.

Denial

Eagle Mountain String Band

Bargaining

Lake Street Dive: I want you back

Anger

Over the Rhine: oh yeah by the way

Acting out

Lily Allen: Smile

Revenge

Lily Allen: Fuck you

Grief

Citizen Cope: Sideways

Acceptance

Over the Rhine: All of My Favorite People

saved

when your parents die
you will find what they saved

you will find things in the house
that you do not know why they saved

you may find linens carefully folded
and papers from the past

the linens embroidered by ancestors
but you cannot ask which ones

photographs of people you don’t know
and which are not labeled

a reference to a ring that your great aunt had
but she has been dead since 1986

when you go to your parents’ house
ask them what they have saved

ask them why it has been saved

ask them now
because when they are gone
it is too late

to ask about what they saved

________________________

There are also families estranged, where they have cut ties or emigrated or escaped abuse, and have reason not to save anything or speak about it.

We want freedom but we want love too. For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: freedom.

Straddle this place

Straddle this place, where we look at history again and again, admit horror and mistakes and cruelty, and work together to build a future.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: straddle.

Painting angels

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
or mountains
or lakes

Trey, 9
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.

Camille, 4.
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.
40.
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.

I perpetuate
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
and you
and genes
and Heaven
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.

leaf light

Well.

Being off from work, for an indeterminate time gives one time to think.

I have been advised by various people to move. Pick up, sort out, get rid of and move on.

I think they are right. I have been in this house for 21 years. Time to change it.

So, I am going through things. Washing everything washable. There is a lot of that. Starting to sort and give away things. I sent a unicorn horn and ears and a tail and tiger ears and tail to a five year old a couple days ago. She can be a unicorn or a tiger or a ticorn or a uniger. And rope the adults in.

Photos now. I could have a ginormous bonfire of old photos. It’s ok to get rid of the ones that have no remaining connection, right? I may give them to friends to cut up and use in art, that’s cool. I will keep the connected ones.

I took the leaf light picture with my phone yesterday evening. Crashed early.

Hugs, all.

And she’s walking as if her feet hurt

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: crepitus.

I wrote this poem thinking about my sister in 2009. I was writing on everything2.com and they had a “masked poetry ball”. We put up a second identity and part of the contest was guessing who was who. My brother in law and my sister had been on the site for far longer than me. While I was masked, my brother in law sent me a message that the poem reminded him of his wife. Yes, I thought, that poem worked, because I wrote it about her.

And she’s walking as if her feet hurt

And she’s walking as if her feet hurt
Each first metatarsal hits the dirt
Each joint feels like it’s full of grit
Bone on bone and all that shit

And she’s walking as if her feet hurt
Each first metatarsal hits the dirt
It’s no surprise, in fact it grates
To know she carries all those weights

Please rest your feet sometimes my dears
Those silly joints must last for years
One of the many dark deep fears
To walk in pain for years and years

And she’s walking as if her feet hurt
Each first metatarsal hits the dirt
I wish that she could go on home
And put her feet up all alone

I took the picture, of my sister and my son, in 1993 in Portland, Oregon. My sister injured her knee fighting fires when she was 22. Her knee worked after the surgery, but with crepitus within ten years. And her feet started to hurt.

grateful

With both my parents dead, I am so grateful to my aunts and uncle for stepping in. My aunts told me “We are your mothers now.” With my son and his girlfriend living in Maryland, both aunts and my uncle are in Virginia.

The beautiful gifts are from my uncle. He makes them in the shop at the retirement community. We got a tour. He’s currently making a cherry headboard for them.

When I took his picture he said, “Watch out, you’ll break your camera!” But I don’t think so. Thank you, uncle.