The officer comes in, straight face
the focus, he knows, is de-escalation
despite the mother’s bruises and her children’s tears
what happened here
is simple in the way nothing is, ever
It’s 1977 or 8 or 9
the time, it runs together when you see the same faces day by day
He, the husband has been drinking, again
shouting slurred words, imagined offenses
And the wife, with her children behind her just asks that he please leave
So the children can sleep
So that they can have peace, though the oldest one knows it’s just temporary
The officer can see it in her eyes, the kid, no more than 6 who dialed 911 because her mother was taking blows and couldn’t get to the phone…
He says, “come on sir, let’s go”
takes the husband by the arm and guides him outside, where the blue and white lights of his cruiser cast eerie dancing shadows on the homes facade.
They are visitors, these shadows.
Reminders to the officer that all is not well here,
And he thinks of his wife and his child, at home.
perhaps you are my secret
left in the darkness of a closet
filled with dry bones
that rattle like fallen leaves
on pavement on a crisp and windy day
yet unlike those drifting leaves
I can not sweep you away
because you are alive
with beating heart
a memory I revisit in the silent night
that I may somehow change the past
rinse you clean and bright as dawn
bring you back to Innocence
and into light
Years have passed
But something about springtime takes me there
That place in time
To quiet nights with only you
and mornings waking to the birds
Singing their happy songs
To something I can only call hope
Today was one of those days
When something about the breeze
Or the clouds
Or the sounds
Took me back
It’s an easy thing to do
And also the hardest
Despite it all,
I am grateful and like the springtime
That I feel the sunshine
Caress my skin
And awaken springtime once again
I’m trying to tap into some issues I’ve kind of pushed aside because I’ve come to a point where I need to purge. Sadness has been a big one for me. Even when the sun shines, in my world, the sky is overcast. There are people I miss, experiences I haven’t had the opportunity to fully appreciate or feel. I have a sense that I need to allow myself to mourn, and in the process come to accept that my life may not be what I dreamed or desired, but through it all, I am here. I am alive and I know what it means to feel deeply. I know what it means to love fiercely, even when the odds stacked against me crashed down with such force that everything I had was torn away. Life. It’s a ride and I’m trying to get to that place where even when I’m tossed around like a bag in the wind, I am grateful. It begins, for me, with letting go and being comfortable being alone.
This isn’t where I imagined I’d be at 7
Barbie and her white dress with its lace and frills
Promised me a future of happy ever after…not this.
The one I dreamed when the boy with the brown eyes and crooked smile
Easy laugh and nervous, almost careful conversation
Took my heart and every beat after
He said I was beautiful
No word before or since has ever warmed my bones so deeply and completely
A vow, forever
Even with you gone, I feel it
Truth is, there was always something greater than us
Neither of us could handle the weight together
Years later I’m still getting used it
The quiet left in the aftermath of a storm
Picking up the pieces left behind
He was the sunshine to my night when we first met
the one I loved the most, my John
became my Judas.
Sometimes it’s like this with people. An odd contrast. I was thinking about it pretty deeply the other day on my way home from work. Since I have no radio, (as I explained in an earlier post, it was stolen) I am forced to listen to road sounds, which lull me into deep thought. I was thinking about how I have been betrayed in the past, and how those betrayals play into my inability to fully trust people. We all have our John’s and our Judas’…what lessons do they teach us? How does our time with them change our lives…our perspectives…our ability to be open and to trust others?
As I was forming the words to this poem in my head and thinking thought after thought about the role certain people have played in my life, I began to reflect on the times I have been John, and the times I have been Judas. I realized it’s not a “them” problem. It’s a “me” problem. How can I be better…how can I love, despite my fear that I could be let down? The truth is that wholeheartedly loving another person can not happen when FEAR exists (and here, I am not JUST talking about romantic love, I am talking about LOVE period), because fear holds you back. It prevents you from giving 100 percent of your heart. I can love more if I let go of the fear of being hurt. I can love more if I let go of the fear of loss…I can love more if I forgive myself for the times that I have been Judas to another…I can love more if I forgive those who were Judas to me. Not an easy thing to do…but I have to because I realize that to be fully alive, I have to LOVE without fear. Even if it means loving Judas.
So here’s the thing: I am a perfectionist. I don’t say that in a snotty “I’m better than you” kind of way. I say it because it’s how I approach my work and the things I do in my life. If I cook, I cook to perfection. If I clean, I clean to perfection. Everything I do, I do to the very best of my ability so that, in my mind at least, it is perfect.
It’s a problem. I recognize it’s a problem and I will tell you why: perfectionists rarely get stuff done.
Now I know there are going to be some out there who will argue with this. “That’s you! I get stuff done,” they’ll say. I don’t doubt you get stuff done. Hell, I also get stuff done. Just not as much stuff as I COULD get done if I let go and allowed 1) other people to help me and 2) myself to ease up on the control I feel I have to have in EVERY situation so that things can be done “my way.” I venture to say I’d also have more energy to do some of the things I’d like to do (more writing, for example) if I gave myself permission to let go of my need for perfection and control.
With this in mind, I devised an experiment. I would start delegating some of the things I generally do myself because other people’s way of doing these things is not up to my standards. It began with telling my 16-year-old son to clean the bathroom. Now, cleaning the bathroom is a big deal for me. It has to be done a CERTAIN WAY. Otherwise, it is not RIGHT. I mean, even down to the way the soap and shampoo bottles are aligned. Right. As I am typing this, I can feel the anxiety mounting – even though this technically happened days ago, I can still feel the anxiety. Seriously.
Did he do it RIGHT? Yes and no. He did the bathroom RIGHT according to his own specifications. He did a great job making sure he properly cleaned and disinfected all of the surfaces. The chrome gleamed, the porcelain shined, and the mirror was streak free. I twitched a little when I noticed that he hadn’t emptied and cleaned out the bathroom’s trash container. I could feel my anxiety reach new heights as I saw he lined the bottles and soaps up his way, not mine. I fought the urge to “correct” it. I had to take a step back, for real because I realized something in that moment: The fact is, he did a great job. He did it his way and though it wasn’t MY way, it was perfection in HIS eyes. I had to appreciate the effort he made. I let him know he did a great job, that I was glad I could trust him with the responsibility, and that I would definitely be relying on him to clean the bathroom again. He was proud of his work. I beamed! I mean, I do have a great son. I’m one lucky mom!
Once he was out of sight, I fixed the shampoo bottles.