Archive for February, 2009

Little Sister

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Mood: Dogged | Drinking: Drinks

mother_of_god

My sister’s birthday is this weekend, so I thought it was an excellent time to post a poem I wrote about her.

The poem was featured in a small anthology published last fall called Remembering Faces. The theme of the book is poetry by women about women who have made an impact in their lives.

My woman of choice was my sister…

Little Sister

I broke mom and dad
in with a blazing trail
of beers, boyfriends
and broken curfews
so you didn’t have to wait
’til 18 to get your first kiss.

On your first day of school
you didn’t go as yourself
but as my little sister,
second Witmer.
Teachers thought they knew
what to expect.

In the shadow cast
by my relentless claim
to some sort of significance
you quietly carved out the shape
of your own existence.

All our lives
you’ve come in second
in everything but this:

I push open the door
to the white room
in which you labor,
a stranger to me,
flushed and new.

Your smile speaks a language
I have not yet learned,
heavy with the rhythm
of wet mystery
and expectation.

When they bring him to you
all wailing and warm
you beam like the mother of God,
stretch out your arms
for the first time
and without any effort
surpass me.

*****

— Happy Birthday, Beanhead! —

-Lo, big sister.

Change without Choice

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Mood: Cloudy | Drinking: Yes

empty

We all knew change was coming.

It was the big slogan, after all.

And I’m not necessarily afraid of or opposed to change. Change is necessary. Inevitable. Good, even.

It’s just that I’d rather be prepared for it. I’d rather ask for it. I’d rather be the one who decides when and where and if and how.

Lately, that’s just not happening.

There have been so many changes already in 2009, changes that I did not want, did not ask for, did not sign my name on a dotted line to say, yes, I am on board with all of this upheaval.

But it’s happening anyway.

For me personally, it began with my grandmother’s death followed immediately by the job layoff last November. But with the perfect vision of hindsight, I now see the rumblings that began long before.

Last summer, even while I was cheerfully ignoring any news of impending doom, my friend Michael was reading the New York Times cover to cover and slouching in our living room shaking his head, saying, “We’re all doomed, sweetheart!”

I chose not to believe him.

But change is the kind of force that requires neither your belief nor your permission. It happens, with or without a by-your-leave, and you find yourself getting swept up and carried along whether you like it or not.

Your only choice becomes to surrender to the current or drown.

So I’m surrendering. I am. It’s too exhausting to fight my way upstream, and there’s nothing left back there for me anyway. But I don’t have to be cheerful about it. Not yet.

I continue to wake up crabby that the job I had for four years, the job I picked out all by myself, is gone — washed away. And the job I now have, though I’m grateful for it, is not a job I would have chosen, if given the choice.

I also would not have chosen to wash my favorite wee silver cell phone in the pocket of my grubby jeans after a long day of yard work on Monday. But since I didn’t stop to think about it (or check the pockets), it got sudsed and rinsed and spun and ruined. And now I have a shiny new blue phone and it’s fine and all, but it’s one more change that I did not choose. And therefore I’m slightly disgruntled.

(The phone, in fact, is what made me think about this whole topic.)

But when I bottom line it for myself, I hit the hard and simple truth that this is just life. This is how it goes.

You don’t get to choose everything that changes you. That’s not how it works. So at some point you begin to learn to make the best of it, to accept the new things graciously, to find the good in the midst of it all and to move on.

I’m working on it.

-Lo, making like a chameleon.


A postscript that has nothing to do with change: February 18th is my wedding anniversary. It’s been nine years today since Boy and I stood in a chapel in the middle of a Midwest snowstorm and exchanged vows. Amazing.

Somewhere to Be

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Mood: multi-tasking | Drinking: tea

cafeFirst things first: a review of The Secrets of Falling is up on Cherry Bleeds. Enjoy.

And then, a poem for all my unemployed peeps out there…

Severance

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday
the cafés are full of the aimless
feigning busyness
hunched over laptops
to conceal their lack
of someplace to go.

Not enough emphasis is placed
on the comfort
of Somewhere To Be
on the consolation
of Being Needed
by someone who cares nothing for you
beyond what you can do for him.

When your services are no longer required
and the thing that makes you You
is made redundant
you begin to miss the formerly noisome clamor
of alarm clock, the previously infuriating routine
of commute.

Disconnected from the comfort
of customary daily aggravations
your mind begins to wander
and then
your feet begin to follow, but
bound by the panic borne of
decades of wage-earning servitude,
neither mind nor feet go anywhere original.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday
you are just waking up. And when, after
2 bowls of cereal, you still haven’t found
a reason to discard your pajamas, you realize
the only way to escape the clutches
of the crumb-covered couch, the zombie glare
of afternoon reruns, is to create
an entirely new irritation.

Soon a path is worn from your front steps
to Starbucks where faux-friendly baristas
begin to pour your triple half-caff
before you even walk through the door.

By 2 p.m. you’ve accomplished nothing
of consequence. All the familiar sites
have been visited, the habitual links
have been clicked, the new tradition
has been established. Once again
you have Somewhere To Be.

-Lo, no longer severed.