Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Midnight Poetic Effort - updated

I spent the evening lying in D's arms, watching a movie alone since he was asleep and I could feel his breathing and I thought of a peach pit, surrounded by the meat of the peach. I saw the similarity of us waiting the night out, waiting for morning.


Your fleshy sweet holds still
Reverberating and ceaseless notes
From within my being.

Breathless, aching, vengeful,
I will give life if buried,
I will take it if eaten.

Silenced am I, here, with you
Wrapped around my ridges,
my curves, my imperfections.

Too short the time is
Before the sunlight swerves
Back to reveal us,
Back to devour our solitude.


This morning I tried to put in an alternative commenting system because I've had it with Blogger's kinks, but the fact is I'm not any good with HTML language and all I ended up with was a lousy webpage. So...I went back to square one and ended up losing all my links. I'm slowly putting them all back in. If your site was there and now it's not, please know that you'll get there eventually.

I've given up on Haloscan. I going to blog instead. Although...this is the second version and I'm writing from memory. I wrote an entire post, fly-by-night poetry and all, and it got entirely eaten up by Blogger. For some reason I forgot to copy before publishing and I always copy before publishing because I know better. Must be a case of the distracts.

The picture above is of a concession stand at the Pomona Fairplex where the Inland Empire Auto Show took place last night, continuing on through the weekend. We took the kids, looked and drooled at all the new cars, fantasized about buying something electric, something fun and something impractical/unattainable. We ate junkfood and the kids (all three of them) drove the mechanized toy cars at the Toys-R-Us area. I took pictures.

As we walked around, I found myself thinking of my most recent bike ride with A. We decided to venture a first-time ride to the park with the lake, not an easy path. The first mile is uphill, the second mile is even more uphill. We walked our bikes up the huge incline of a road that second half because there was just no way, not this early in the bike-riding season. We sweated, joked around, laughed, sucked our water bottles. A was so determined to get to the park, just like he's always been when in the wild. He's my outdoor boy...he's the one who likes hiking, who likes the longer bike rides, who doesn't mind sand at the beach. He's always been the one willing to do something different. Once we got to the top, we coasted into the park, passing over the bridge across the freeway. We screamed at the cars, sort of triumphant yells, and breathed in the wind whipping at our faces.

We felt quite accomplished at the top of the hill - even if we had to call D to come get us.

"The ambulance," A said.

"Thank god for cell phones."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

She Waits

There are so many things I want to write about, but I haven’t the energy to do it, the patience. I’m forcing the bits of language out but know that the words are thin and breathless.

A woman stands in the driveway of her house all day, every day. She’s eighty years old at least and she dresses in fine slacks and silky-looking blouses. Her white hair is combed into a delicate pile of curls, held in place, probably, by bobby pins. Her feet are hidden by the fleece of her pink slippers. She walks back and forth, her arms folded sometimes, sometimes not. I pass her because her house is on the way out of my neighborhood. I see her in the morning, in the afternoon, in the early evening. I wonder what she’s waiting for, who is supposed to be walking towards her, to her.

I shopped today for clothes – pink capris, boot-cut denim, tan-colored pants. Ice cream has found me and has loved me just enough to make a difference, just enough to make me want something that fits better, that doesn’t remind me of my new-found love for comfort food, a fling I reach for when I’m tired, sad, or empty. I never did that before. Perhaps I didn’t need it before.

My son, A, has been tough to manage these past few days. I believe his depression has worsened thanks to his scrape with the flu. Today, yesterday, nothing makes him happy for much longer than fifteen minutes or for as long as his chosen activity lasts. Homework is agony and his irritability is at an all-time high. He cries in a flash, crying in aggravation, and he can’t tell me why. I’m worried about him. I’m doing everything I can for him. Yet I fear the worst. I’m burying my face in my hands, trying to block out dark images of what happens to people who succumb to depression.

I’m really tired.

We went to the park this afternoon and played in the sand and on the swings and monkey bars. I lifted A to the rings and he hung there with his lips pursed before he dropped hard to the ground and laughed a little. M, A and I, all three of us together, slid down the slide and crashed at the bottom, becoming a pile of jeans, shoes, bodies, giggles, and hair. We trudged our way back to the car, walking under the trees, our shoes dipping into muddy grass, and drove to the lake a quarter of a mile away to feed the ducks bread. The kids tolerated me and my camera. The air chilled me beyond my jacket, my shirt and jeans, my skin. It chilled me right through, deep into the marrow of my bones. I stood at the edge of the lake, shivering and feeling naked, watching the sunset, and feeding the kids cucumber and strawberries.

I didn't eat.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Spring

The first day of spring came some time ago, but the Los Angeles area has been stuck in the drudge of winter with continuing rain and cold despite the calendar's announcement. In fact, the flu has hit our little family and to me, sickness seems to be associated only with the school year, with winter. Today we're doing our own little Easter egg hunt because I can't expose the rest of the family to our bugs. Spring feels distant, like a lover that lives in a person's memory but has a home around the corner. I can just see...

Today, Spring is on a morning walk around the neighborhood - the sun is out, the daffodils are unfurling, the chill has receded ever so slightly. My office has a bag of plastic colored eggs filled with candy and stickers and the room smells like Play-Doh as Marah plays with the present we got her. The boys are getting along as they play with their packs of finger boards - little skateboards that they fly off the counters. I spent my wake-up time watching a Hot Wheels video. Night was spent nursing A who was sick, but the present and prospect of candy has cheered him up.

I'm buoyed by the lifted spirits of the house.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mom with my cousins, Circa 1960, San Fernando, CA

Apologies and Biography Night

This morning is the first morning of quiet I've had since last Tuesday. All the children are at school and it's wonderful. I have reading to do, commenting to get to, whining to engage in. I can't believe I haven't blogged all week. I've spent some time this week working on my photography hobby, ordering a new lens for my camera. My birthday is coming up. I'll be 41. The thought makes me tired. Anyway, my apologies for being a bad blogger.

Last night, we attended "biography night" for my son, A, and his second grade class. My husband, D, and I sweated the entire afternoon because A had been struggling with the report. He had to go in early in the morning before school to work on it and had to stay after school to finish it. Everything is so hard for him at school. And our struggling baby was going to read his report in front of the class and all the other parents. Was he going to be humiliated? Were we?

We sweated and sweated. We waited. We asked, "Are you ready for tonight, honey? Are you excited? Brush your teeth. Are you hungry? Tell me about George Washington Carver. Are you ready, honey? Darling? Mijo?"

"It takes 525 peanuts to make a jar of peanut butter. One jar. Mom, can I have macaroni and cheese?"


I took my camera, I wore a heavy coat. A storm had come in so it was raining like hell by the time we got to the school near 6:30. The room was packed. My hair was frizzy and sticking up in places it probably shouldn't. I patted and patted and took pictures of the kids milling. The teacher announced it was time. She thanked the parents and kids and began.

Ten children read their reports and showed off their posters. M kept licking me. She said to me she was a cat. J hid behind a table. I shook my head when A looked at me and made faces. I was trying desperately to grab some modicum of control over my child. The one who would display for all to see his reading and public speaking abilities. D and I were sweating. We watched the clock. We listened to report after report. One child informed us that Lee Harvey Oswald was executed for shooting the President. Two days after the execution, Oswald was shot, too. Just like the President. Then he died, too. Another student read his report about Frida Kahlo and towards the end, was happy to tell us he had only five more words to read. A man behind us slept. A mother and her daughter in front of us had a laughing fit after the stomach of one them grumbled loudly.

Then, A's turn. He stood...and read his report. He smiled most of the time but we could understand him. My god...he did a great job. He didn't even need any help. He smiled and was proud. We clapped like mad. My daughter licked like mad. J flirted with another 6th grade girl.

The birds are chirping, my coffee is hot and milky. Life is good.

Reading in Public

Hidden Monsters

Violet sat two rows over from me in my Women's Literature class and I’d labeled her a Greek, most insulting. I'd seen her in two of my other English courses - we were both English majors. She was pretty, thin, wore blond hair to her shoulders in a style with bangs, dressed in preppy clothes with a little flair, and I thought her too white, too snobby, for me to ever engage her in conversation.

I was attending the University of Southern California. My father was a professor there - he taught biochemistry, specializing in genetic research and microbiology, and he had a laboratory. While I may have learned to walk on the lawns of Cal Tech in Pasadena, I learned to run on the grounds around the Colliseum and to climb on the steps of Tommy Trojan. I got my teeth fixed in the basement pediatric offices of the USC dental school. USC was my home.

When I started attending classes, I spent a lot of study hours in my father's office, right next to the lab. I was always careful to stay at the extra desk, careful not to touch anything. I had learned early on that there was nothing more dangerous than clear liquid in a beaker or spilled on the countertop. I used to come and go, always reading the warning signs on the door, on jars, on the cupboards, on the refrigerator: Radioactivity. I kept my hands in my pockets to prevent errors. But I wasn’t afraid – the ominousness of the lab was nothing more than color to me, something like paint on a wall.

Far different than the Greeks. The fraternities and sororities were a community of people who seemed to care only about things I cared nothing for. Drinking and partying to excess, abusing those who weren’t like them, abusing their own. We had nothing in common. Any shred of interest I might have had died during summer orientation when a girl told me that if I wanted to "rush" and try to join a sorority, I should leave my Jewish star pendant at home. I had smiled, gave her idea the finger, and never looked back.

So with my own prejudices firmly in place, Violet surprised me when she sat next to me and started talking. She was nothing like I had thought. She was vegetarian, German-born, and a bit of a loner. She hated the Greek system as much as I did. I grew to adore her. We used to sit on benches on campus, eating our lunches from the cafeteria, talking about our work, our professors, and enjoying our private mockeries of "those across the way." Her father had been a professor at USC's medical school who had died several years before. We were part of a priveleged group. We attended USC for free. Tuition remission.

I couldn’t believe how completely mistaken I had been about her.

She met my father many times on campus - he was funny, witty, flirtatious, handsome. He was an Iraqi Jew and so he had just enough of an accent to make listening to him particularly interesting.

One morning after class, Violet asked to see his lab. I said, yeah, let's go. We can meet Papa’s students. They're always fun and interesting and happy to show you what they're working on. She was excited to see science in action, excited to venture into a laboratory.

We carried our novels and poetry books and binders in bags and walked the distance to one of many brick-faced science buildings. After dumping our coffees into the trash outside, we pulled open the glass doors and felt the shush of air-conditioning as we walked the few steps to the elevator. The place already smelled of chemicals - a sour smell. There was a sense of cleanliness in the place, the floors seemed cleaner than in most places, the windows wiped, the walls free of scuff marks. We got into the elevator and in a few seconds we were walking the hall of the third floor. Heading to Room 325, around the corner. This floor smelled like chemicals only much stronger, more intense. There was the continuing sound of machinery - centrifuges spinning, the clicking of special cameras. Faucets ran, refrigerators hummed, opened and closed. People in lab coats with open notebooks focused intensly on their jobs. One lady waved to me - a secretary.

There was a table in the hallway and Violet lit up: rabbits in cages. So sweet, she said. She wanted to pet them. She loved animals...cats, dogs. Anything. She was...vegetarian, after all. She hoped the rabbits would be okay and I said, oh they're fine.

We walked into my father's lab and he smiled at us and introduced Violet to the students. He talked with us, with me. While we were talking, I saw Violet's face. She'd gone paler than her usual pale. The nice student of my father's, a post-doc actually, John, was doing something that in my own mind was perfectly natural. Perfectly usual. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe some people might find this work objectionable.

John was picking up little white, wiggly mice in his hands, the round body in one hand, the head in his other, and pulling them so their necks would break. He'd flip them over, now dead, scalpel them open and take out the liver. He threw the furry, limp bodies into a box. He had already done about ten and had about twenty to go. My father was oblivious to Violet's trauma. I found myself subtly silenced. Violet looked at us and her face told me she thought us to be monsters.

She smiled a funny smile, turned, and left. I heard her hurried footsteps turn the corner.

Papa shrugged, perplexed. Utterly mystified. He glanced at the mice and said, we have another shipment coming tomorrow, John. Very good. The results will be very good.

The mice, I said. She doesn't like the killing of the mice.

Do you want to have lunch, Adriana? I'm so hungry!

Yes, Papa.

We were nothing like Violet envisioned us to be.

Papa, Circa 1965, Cal Tech, Pasadena

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Lunch with Mom

The kitchen’s sliding screen door sticks and I kick it so it will move the rest of the way. Mom’s Duarte townhouse smells of cigarettes, cut flowers, and whatever dish she’s cooking. She’s standing at the stove as I walk in, her right foot pointed outwards in a ballet-like pose, and she calls out, “Hi, mija,” as she stirs the menudo in the pot before her. Today’s lunch is store-bought. From the local supermarket. From a can. She’s always bought the same brand. Once on the table, she’ll squeeze lemon into the steaming bowls. She’ll sprinkle oregano into her palm and rub her palms together to further ground the dried oregano flakes, dropping the spice into the soup. She’ll shake chili pepper into the soup as well.

Then we’ll sit and eat.

We’ll turn the soap opera on. We've always watched soap operas, whether they're in Spanish or English.

But you must understand, the entire time, since I stepped foot into her kitchen, we’re talking. Talking about my work, about the dreams we had last night, about something my mother’s mother said. We’re talking about my brother and sister, about memories, about Papa. We’re talking about A and J who are my only children so far. We’re talking about them at their schools, about how I should have just picked up A from his preschool.

She takes care of A on the three days he’s not in preschool and she’s never gotten used to him being someplace else. She says, “How can you leave the light of my life there?”

We’ll eat and she’ll tell me what she’s planning for dinner and tries to get me to stay. “It’s going to be so good, mija!” I’m tempted because I love the way she makes chicken liver and onions – and she’s only making it as an enticement for me. The soap opera is so dumb we laugh until it hurts. After, I leave the lunch mess on the table because when I’m with her I’m lazy and childlike. Instead of cleaning, I reach into my bag and pull out something I’ve written and read it to her. She says I should record books for the blind. I nod like it’s really possible to do and she tells me about the latest romance novel she’s reading. We decide I could write those for a living.

“They’re so easy.”

“But I want to write like James Joyce.”

“My father was a writer,” she says. She never knew her father. My grandmother tells me he was an abusive bastard, but my mother always says my grandmother lies.

She gets up and I look at her. She’s round in the belly – her hair is colored a dark brown and it’s straight to her shoulders. She hardly has any lines on her face despite her being 61. I can tell she took a shower today because she has traces of make up on her cheeks. She’s got large breasts and they fill the simple tee-shirt she wears with yellow capris. Her toenails are polished…but she uses the word, painted.

We talk and talk. I call my husband and ask if he can pick up the boys from school and he agrees. My sister’s coming over with her little one. She hasn’t yet had kid number two or three. My mother talks about her old boyfriends in Mexico, about the dances she used to go to. I’ve heard the stories a million times. I can’t remember them anymore, not really.

I carry with me a vision of her as a young woman sitting at a table in a crowded room, the music loud. She’s smoking, drinking, and entertaining the long line of admirers, flashing those cat eyes of hers at them. The smoke of her cigarettes wafts around her face, up above her, drifting into the dim lights, and she smiles coquettishly, seductively. The men will do anything for her. She’s a movie star – she’s a model – she’s fabulous and beautiful and dramatic – she’s everything I’m not.

Her small house is filled with Mexican artwork – books, paintings, clothing, and music. Sometimes we sit on the floor of the kitchen and we sort through her cassettes and cd’s and listen to the music. She cries when hears some of it. I know she misses Mexico. She’ll never go back. She makes salsa using a molcajete, something like a mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock. It’s ancient. She wears dresses with the delicate, colorful embroidery of Mexican artists. She cooks Mexican food with passion. Enchiladas, homemade tortillas, huevos rancheros. Many more. She tries it all.

She feeds us these foods, these dishes. Feeds my brother, my sister, myself. It’s her way of showing us she loves us, her way of telling us that she’s sorry for all those lost years.

With the children, with Papa gone, we’ve reached this strange place of peacefulness. Anger leaves when I’m in her kitchen. She’s perfect this way. She’s the friend I remember. The friend that often left and was replaced by someone tormented and consumed by alcohol and drugs and pain. She’s a wonderful grandmother. When my sister comes over, the bliss will continue. We’ll laugh and eat more. We’ll be happy that day. That day I have lunch with Mom.

Today, my house is bereft of Mexican art. For dinners, I cook salmon with lemon, baked ziti with ground beef and a touch of Italian sausage, or roast in a crock-pot. Spaghetti. I can’t speak Spanish worth a damn. I wear jeans and sweaters most of the time. I can’t use the molcajete. It sits next to my sink, holding lemons. My mother’s books are still in storage because we don’t have a place to put them. I do have her curio cabinet. Through the glass, I see a picture of her with me on my wedding day. It’s there next to the Aztec-style statuettes she used to keep in her window. There are days I mourn the loss of my culture.

When I close my eyes at night, when I'm drifting in between dreams and wakefulness, I hear her, her voice.

“Hi, mija.”

Monday, March 14, 2005

Moping Around

"In Between"

One of the television programs I follow is called, "The L Word." It's about lesbians but it's so much more than women kissing. Each other. Anyway, one of the characters is an in-betweener who happens to be a writer. Last week she tried to get into an advanced-type writing class. She was promptly rejected and was told by the teacher, "You don't write fiction, you're just journaling."

Needless to say, I couldn't help but mope around with that uncomfortable notion, a canker sore in my mouth of creativity. All because of a silly drama on Showtime. Ouch. Funny to see an opinion addressing an earlier post of mine. It's a good thing I'm not schizophrenic because I might believe the character were speaking to me, about me.

I have to teach class tonight otherwise I'd whine some more, so I'll spare my blissful readers any more beating of that horse. I offer you instead an image. I'm at the computer, sitting on a typical desk swivel chair, black, M is standing right behind me on the chair, brushing my hair, making it stand straight up and out, A is standing next to me, feet on the carpet, working away on his homework, and Sponge Bob, oh dearest Sponge, is singing from a cd player.

For some reason I find this all very funny, because there was a time when I thought a woman who stayed home to raise kids was "just a housewife."

A further note on parenting. There are indeed the low points.

This past weekend, M wandered into our livingroom where I had several glass vases on the table filled with flowers she'd picked. I'd put them there for her, for her benefit, to nourish her, to fill her heart with joy, with my love for on this rainy afternoon, she found the room quiet to her taste. She found if she banged the vases together they made a most delicious, musical sound. I heard her, I heard the pitched tone and the first time I wasn't sure what the sound was. I headed towards the second sound I heard and suddenly it dawned on me what she was doing and I yelled for her to stop! In two steps I was there and there was M, her fingers in her mouth, and this little green vase from my mother broken. I was too late. The vase wasn't the only thing broken, my heart was. I scolded M, sent her to her room. Later I told her she could have gotten hurt. I also told her the vase was special to me and now it was lost. Nothing I say about how sad I am over it will she be able to fully grasp.

A painful moment, a learning one for her I hope, but one I'd rather neither of us have had.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Time in the Kitchen

M has no sense of time, like most four-year-olds. In her hand is a toy Jack-o-lantern that makes noise and lights up. The orange is fading and we’ve had to tape shut the plastic covering for the batteries. We’ll have it for as long as we possibly can because my father gave it to us for D’s and my first Halloween together.

“We’ll get the Christmas tree tomorrow, right? But this is for Halloween. We went trick or treating last night, right? We had candy. Like on my birthday yesterday. Are we going to Disneyland tomorrow? We went with Auntie on Friday.” She contemplates the pumpkin and then informs me that she can have candy but her brother A can’t. “I like candy and trick or treating. I don’t get scared, do I, mama? The tree is gonna be pretty fun tomorrow!”

I continue to clean the stove as she chatters and laughs, Christmas and Halloween candy in her mind, the two ideas intertwined like the red and white of a candy cane. And right next to the candy cane hangs her birthday, Easter, Hanukkah, trips to Disneyland and the local market where her daddy buys her trinkets. All in the month of March.

I wipe down the splashed oil from fried chicken, just like my mother used to make. M is next to me now, having taken up a towel and a spray bottle full of water for her use. She sprays happily the cupboards.

“We’re working, right, mama?”

“Yes, we’re working very hard.”

I like her vision of time, squashed together, a blended blur of places, colors, scents, tastes, and faces. It’s pure. She has no concept of the end of time, no idea that time will change, warp. Time will speed up for her, slow down, twist and curve. She doesn’t know, can’t comprehend, that there will be a time where she can pinpoint to the hour the Christmas where she got her first bottle of perfume from her cousin and the one where she ended up crying herself to sleep because her lover was with someone else. It will be a while before she can understand the idea of someone’s “last Christmas.” She doesn't know that she'll forget just as much.

“I talked to Ryan last night, mama. He called me last night. He’s my friend. I have a pony tail like Miss ‘aria. You know Miss ‘aria?”

“Yes, I know Miss Maria. She’s your favorite pre-school teacher.”

The pots are sitting in the sink and I start to tackle them, turning on the faucet and touching the stream, waiting for the water to turn hot. I plug the drain and pour the orange soap into the pool of water. M grabs a chair and slides it fast across the kitchen so she can stand on it, so she can be closer to my height and be able to help wash. We share the chore of scrubbing. Bubbles fly in the air and we grab at them and giggle easily. I kiss her on the cheek and tell her she’s beautiful like a flower. She says I am, too, “everyone’s a flower, mama.”

I see one bubble floating upwards, the sun creating stripes of color in the film, and I watch as it misses M's curls and an open cupboard, watch until it touches the ceiling and disappears in a silent burst.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Sunday we spent lazing about, enjoying the sun warming the house and no obligation to be anywhere. We played video games. I spent some hours aiming a well-ammo'd weapon at authority figures, making sure they'd never live to see another sunrise. My children played, too. We always got an aha!-lift when we earned a new weapon to use. The more killings we amassed, the more territory we claimed, the bigger our cache of weapons. No, I'm not talking about Grand Theft Auto, I'm talking about Spyro the Dragon, a game rated "E" for everyone. And for all the cartoons, for all the cutesy gems we had to collect, we were still playing a shooter-type game. We still had to resort to violence to "kill" the bad guys. But even so, would it be fair to sue Spyro if a Dragon fan went haywire somewhere? Because it's just a cartoon.

One thing about modern society is that we love violence. Our video games are reflections of ourselves - they are another medium in which to tell our stories. I came across this sad article in which a young man killed three police officers allegedly mimicking Grand Theft Auto.

The article leaves me with that ever-present question. What is the responsibility of folks who express their art by mirroring the darker aspects of our society without the moral spanking at the end of the tale? I remember the Oklahoma bombing, tragedy lined with the paper of a book. A story about overthrowing the government ended up being the supposed blueprints of murder. There have been many instances of suicide where music was the culprit, or they were assisted by the book, Final Exit. I find the urge to blame the creator of such art a fascinating one because I've written "bad" stories before and I've written them with no moral punch at the end. They just...were.

What does that say about me? What would I feel if something untoward happened and my tale was blamed?

The brother in the article is suing the video game manufacturer. Problem is, there's no precedent for success. The brother, the family, will not win in this country. To win would mean opening the flood gates for every victim to sue corporate America for every creative work of art that could possibly be connected to "bad acts." From video games to books to music to paintings. It's not just an uphill battle for the family, it's an impossibility.

But...but...the lawsuit presents an interesting dilemna for writers in the horror genre or mainstream fiction who might enjoy your every day in-depth study of a killer's mind. Like Stephen King, or Camus or Dostoyevski. I find the question of artists' responsibility to greater society fascinating. I find it so because of the irony. Art is a mirror - to condemn the artist as being an irresponsible parent, so to speak, is to condemn ourselves as a whole. It will never happen. We like what we see in the mirror far too much.


Which brings me to a daunting task I undertook on the weekend: that of making a self-portrait, a challenge I took on when learning photography. I found the job immensely difficult - I have far too much character to show up "pretty" - I saw that my pictures showed too much, or not enough. I found myself asking what I wanted to show, what I wanted to tell. At the end of the day, I was staring at shots of myself appearing shadowed, full of doubt, self-conscious, worry lines on my face stronger and deeper than any laugh lines. Too much was revealed. I threw the pictures into paint shop, softened it up, used some painterly effects...and voila! I was well hidden again. Comfortable.

Which made me wonder about a murderer who was caught recently. The one who had a wife and children, who was a leader in his church and a civil servant. How well he hid himself from everyone. Made me think how well everyone hides.

Friday, March 04, 2005


Bound in unlit Christmas lights and moss, the tree waits for winter to pass, for the cold to clear. Its branches haven’t lost their green leaves, the weight of birds and children a burden sometimes, the shade a draw to lizards, possums, and skunks. The trunk is thick and roped, the ground dry and dusty, prohibitive to plants or flowers. One, though, lives. A blossomy vine has managed to snake a path from the neighbor’s house and wrap around the tree’s roots, crawling upwards, heading towards the warm crook where the trunk splits into two, then into many.

The vine won’t let go – she’ll have to be ripped away from the bark by bare, insistent hands. She’ll have to be poisoned, starved, cut, mutilated, before she’ll part ways. Even then, the tie won’t be over. No, the shredded roots will reach up through the churned soil, will stretch towards the sky and sun, and grow once again. She’ll inch across the grass, blindly making her way to the tree, slithering through the blades, and then at the shade, she’ll feel the tree’s soul and grasp the knots and ribs. Upwards she’ll move, wrapping herself around him, draw her leaves in tight, only to unfurl in a desperate embrace of the gullies and bumps and scraped skin of her beloved.

They’ll never be alone, they know, because they were made for each other and there they’ll stay, intertwined, until forever passes them by, just like we two, my dear, just like we two.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Yesterday afternoon, M went on a walk with her dad around our neighborhood, leaving me preparing for class. Near five, she came into my office, her steps slow and deliberate, her hands cupping a tiny vase. I couldn't see what was inside. Her head dipped forward and she wore the barest of smiles on her face.

"Flowers for you, mama."

I chuckled a little because from my place at the desk, I couldn't see any flowers. I thought she was imagining them, I thought she saw a large bouquet, bursts of color spreading upwards, out. I said, in my most admiring voice, "How wonderful!"

When she got close to me, close enough so I could see her sweet hazel eyes, her heart-gripping smile, she handed me the vase. When I looked down, there were two daisies, floating in the water, the petals pressed against the porcelain, deep inside the well.

A truly beautiful bouquet.

The more things change...

The bathroom stall's door hangs on unsteady hinges and the lock when it's locked can shift out of place, exposing you with your black marker or tissues below or a sex book or rolling the pad into too-small square bits of thin paper, your face frozen in a silent, choked gasp. Then you and me, we burst into laughter because this is midddle school and we're so young and secretive and scared and excited and our hair is looking so, so fine today. You slam the door shut and finally scream, finishing your business. I start to do mine.

You come out and spruce in the fogged mirror lined with cracks that haven't yet met the surface of the glass, twisting your mouth and squinting your eyes in judgement as you wonder about the lipstick you should have snagged from your mom's purse before she grabbed it away and hurried you into the truck to get to school on time. You scratch your calf, a mosquito bite, and lick your lips.

"I saw him today," I say as I paint the words on the metal wall next to me.

"You didn't!"

" the gym."

You giggle and tap your foot. I finish my job and step outside, waving my hand to you to show my handiwork in black, with stars and hearts in red. You scream and pull me by my sleeve and we're back out in the sun just as the bell rings and then we disappear into the crowd that enveloped us like a wave of water at the beach. We're off to English, fourth period. I furrow my brows and worry and look at my Van's and think, think, god, think with everything I have inside my whole self, should I have the pizza or the nachos after?


I love J. S. he's a hottie.

Found on the girls' bathroom ode to my sixth grade son apparently, told to me this morning by my husband who teaches in the same school where our son husband who heard it from the mouth of a female student of his who couldn't wait to tell him.