"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daughter of The Mountain

In May I tried my hand at the first installment of telling my grandparent's love story - How a Southern bell from the foot of the Smoky Mountains followed a Norwegian sailor all the way to the heart of the Northwoods.

 You can read the first part HERE,  

indulge me for a little more of the story?

Audrey outside of the drugstore

     "Can I get you boys something?" Audrey said with a small shake of her head and smoothing of her skirt, trying to gain composure of her beating heart and clammy palms.

The young navy boy slowly found his voice. "I'll...I'll have a root beer float please." He said.

Audrey nodded, and wiped the counter where she motioned for the two to sit.  As she turned her back to retrieve a glass from the rack and run the machine, Audrey was relieved to have something to do with her hands.  She was a daughter of these mountains, raised on hardwork and heartache.  Never one for eloquent words, Audrey poured her love into action.  When at thirteen, her mother couldn't afford shoes for her four rapidly growing brothers, Audrey woke before dawn, walked into town, sat on the drugstore stoop and waited for Mr. Hopper, the drugstore owner.  When he came into sight, yawning, wrestling with his keys to find the right one, Audrey offered to handle opening the drugstore in the mornings, and any other time he could use the help.  Mr. Hopper had seen Audrey stocking the back room with one of her older girlfriends after school, knew she was from good honest people, and so handed her the key with a bemused sleepy smile.  Four years later, these movements she performed countless times a day calmed her.  So when she set the drink down in front of the sailor, she was pleased to see she had collected herself enough that her hand only trembled slightly.

Kit drummed his long fingers on the counter. "I'll have the usual.  Coca-Cola, lots of ice with - -  "

     "- -With extra sugar on the side." Audrey finished for him, smiling despite herself as she leaned to place a sisterly kiss upon Kit's upturned cheek.

Kit playfully grabbed his chest and the counter for support. "Nearly kills me every time." He told his friend, his eyes dancing.

     "I'm surprised you're still alive for all the kisses I've seen you receive, Kit Carson." Audrey said with a light laugh.

The sailor, who had been earnestly drinking his root beer float, not out of thirst, but for something to occupy himself with, watched this exchange with a half-cocked smile, in awe of the familiarity of his friend and this beauty.  He was sure her light laugh would be in his dreams that night.

This laugh had broken the tension within her as well, and she was able to turn over her shoulder while filling Kit's glass to ask,

     "Swede, is it?"

Now it was his turn to chuckle. "Yes.  That's what the boys insist on calling me.  I'm not though.  Swedish that is.  My family is Norwegian."

     "Us navy boys love a good feud, and the Norwegians and the Swedes have just about as good of one as the North and South." Kit added.

     "Is that so?" Audrey replied. "Then it must be a real doozy."

     "Speaking of doozies - any good gatherings happen while I've been gone?" Kit asked.

     "Oh, we always throw a good bash when you roll out of town." Audrey teased, flicking Kit's wrist, which invariably stuck out from his too short shirt sleeve, with her dish rag.

     "Hey now!" Kit stood, polishing off the end of his Coca-Cola. "I'm not going to stay here and be treated that way!" Was his mockingly hurt reply, slamming two dimes down on the counter.  "Come on, Swede.  These rebel women are ruthless."

Swede rose quickly, ducked his head in silent farewell, allowing himself one brief look through half raised eyes at this rebel woman, before he put on his sailor cap at the door.

     "Say Kit," Audrey called, aware of how that last look had taken hold of her stomach "Since you enjoy a good feud, you should bring this yankee boy to the park at ten o'clock, usual spot."

     "Wouldn't miss it." Kit said grinning, the shop bell jingling with his words.

As the door shut, Audrey looked to the sailor's empty stool at the counter, still spinning from his departure.  She felt as if he had set her life spinning, too.

Swede (left), and Kit (right) on one of their adventures in the mountains.

{sharing with jen, emily}

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Midnight In Paris

The moon crept slowly along the bed
 the marriage of elements and time until it rested comfortably at my chest.

I laid straight on my back
my brown hair spilling over the crisp white pillow
eyes unable to close

listening to the city
right outside the open window

had a bird happened by that open skylight,
he would have caught a glimpse of my
solitaire smile spark the sliver of moonlight in the dark.

"Paris..." I whispered out loud. My soul no longer able to keep quiet.

my feet aching for the ground covered that day...

my mind catching on the memory of a little girl following her older brother
through the winding hallways, housing the sick
finding and pocketing cinnamon hard candies from the hospital waiting room dishes.

Roaming paused at the chapel door;
the sad solitaire statue of Mary, weeping for those inside, on their knees, beseeching her son.
frozen in holy fear until the clatter of cafeteria dishes broke our gaze.

20 years later, and I'm still following that same boy turned man.
This time down winding cobblestone streets,
the air full of fresh dishes seeped in basil, chestnuts rolling under our feet.

Breaking bread and drinking wine
across from the gaze of the saints,
no longer solitaire, flanking the doors of Notre Dame.

over cups of espresso
looking out at the city
our shoulders touching as they have for 29 years

We store this day and its uncharted terrain among the familiar
and shake our heads
 at the places life has brought us together.

The moonlight continues its dance with time and now finds my eyes
I turn onto my side, careful to not remove the arm of the man
whom for eight years has claimed the valley of bare waist between hip and rib as his resting ground.

In our beginning,
absent-mindedly running his hands along the shallow bowl
made by high hips and scooped belly as we talked about our days

And then,
over the hills of sleeping babies nestled just below the surface
as we dreamed of their future and of names

To now,
sleeping in foreign lands; thanks to his 'yes' to my crazy whim.
These hands will hold me still for all of the hills and valleys the years will bring.

To have come to Paris with my past and present....

To have looked at its beauty in the face....

To have slept in the city while it was still making....

was as much as my heart could take.

There was so much to take in during my trip to Paris and my heart is still so full from the time.
my experiences may come out in whispers, piece by piece, 
slowly, just as the moon gives way to the morning.

{sharing with AmberJenHeather; Emily}

Monday, September 10, 2012


I look for you
when the moon's womb is heavy in the midnight sky
the tall grass nodding, bending at the waist in silent greeting.

I reach the rivers edge where last I saw you
throwing pebbles of memories
that break the surface of coursing depths.

The trees shift, talking in their sleep
as I wait, still
so that you'll return to me.

At last the sun peeks one eye open
and I rise to leave
the bank embracing the imprint of my body to itself.

With one look back
I hear your bubbling laughter
tripping over itself as the current hurries down stream.

This piece was included in a visual project for a benefit of our local rivers.  You can check out the video, done by my good friend John Christian Adams.  My piece starts around 2:24 and I read one of my favorite poets Ellen Kort's piece second to the end. 

Check out the link: HERE

{linking with Jendversepoets } 

Monday, September 3, 2012

first day of 1st grade

To my son on his first day of 1st grade,

You, buddy friend are a gift.  A lightening rod of joy, of magic.  Woven together by stars and dreams.

You've gone through these doors before, a year of kindergarten at your back. Yet somehow, I feel this year is the start of the real run.  The year of your awakening to life's ups and downs - to how humanity can be all twisted up in both beauty and pain.

I won't write that I would take any of the pain you will experience away, as much as I want to.  Because that pain sweet boy? Is your heart expanding to let the whole world in.

Remember that you are more than how fast you run, your score in math, or the number of friends in your circle.  Just remember that the rest of the kids? They are too.  Please be kind to those that smell a little stale, whose t-shirt fits a little tight and is not quite right, to the ones with down cast eyes.  Be kind too to those who fight with words, intimidate with strength or the ones who are down right mean.  One thing I've learned is those that live on the edges, or who seem too much of one thing or another usually means a person is hurting, or might be a little lost.  Even if you can't help them find their way, you just might point them home.

Oh son, color with every crayon in your box. When your year is done, I pray you bring home just nubs and scraps, some cracked from the pressure of putting your mark on life, each one tested and lived.  Don't just use the colors set forth by others, try your hand at mixing and expanding what feels natural to you.  For nothing is just one color, or one dimension, or seen by each person the same way.  Who cares if others tell you the sky is blue or that a crow is black.  Haven't you seen the sky lit with gold? And sat in awe at the purple hues along a crows back?

Let me remind you that your dad and I are not leaving your corner.  Not when you mess up.  Not when you fall behind.  Not when you've been unkind.   For as much as you'll experience these things outside, I have a mama sized hunch your own depravity will be what disillusions you the most.  This is the part of you I wish to scoop up and hold in my arms until you know that through it all, you will always be enough.  There will be days that I spend correcting - sharpening your character against my expectations. But there will never, never be a night that I don't lay myself down completely in love with you.

You broke the sky open for me.  Did you know that?  You made me a mama.  You made me a better person.  You made me believe in dreams again.  So while I'm busy making you, don't forget to see that you are busy making me too.

What's that now?  You're by the door pleading with me to stop squeezing you so tight?  One more fix of your hair, smoothing down of your shirt and you're set to go.  Wait! One thing you forgot.  Unzip your bag...there you go, now you've packed my heart.

Til the moon turns to dust,

{sharing with Just Write, imperfect prose}