1991

there were consequences, and
there was residue;
1991 was more than our hearts–
It was a shroud, a relic
something to be compressed
and worn around my neck

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complicated
family history
the slapdash years
the hopes
baked into the pasta
the worries
on our sleeves
until the rains came

2016

I am listening to Dylan and eating the last of my Thanksgiving apple pie
and how I ate too much of it, since he doesn’t help me eat it, ever–
content with the last of the mashed potatoes and gravy, and his Jell-O and Cool Whip. This was not the Thanksgiving from last year, was it? Though I thanked the Lord for many things, there was a sad thread throughout that was difficult to avoid;

but it was not last year’s holiday no matter how you slice it, 2016 with Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature, well, that took the cake in mid-October, sliding into the North Side boys winning the pennant while we were on vacation alone for the first time since we met–
and wasn’t that sweet standing in rainshowers of leaves while we remembered why we said yes in 1989;

as if it wasn’t enough–November 2016 came in with a bang, the boys making good on their promises and bets (which I never put money on) came up 7 and 11–in a time in my life I had forgotten what baseball meant to me–then, just days later, watching a new president make history sliding into home in the middle of a sleepless night, we were dreaming about representation in a time of resistance–and wasn’t it sweet sharing something we had previously argued about;

not to say that everything was okie-dokey and worthy of praise, but people can see, no matter if they like the prez, or The Cubs, or even the state of my household, it was a banner year for history, a time we will never forget, regardless of beliefs;

and for my house, where we had not smiled for years, it meant laughs and joy and shared dreams–of what we had wanted, what we didn’t have, and what we still want–and eyes meeting in affirmation under Wisconsin blue skies–that the vows were solid and the names were written in stone, no matter what.

history was made
no matter what the cost
birdsong always

Was I dreaming

The morning is alien
was it a dream?
I slept in London in 1944
stumbling over broken up streets
past bombed-out houses

I woke in the Colosseum
surrounded by lions
blinking and unable to see
dust in my eyes hair mouth
roar of the crowd in my ears

the door leading back outside
opened up to Ethiopia–
the want and cares
of day to day existing
beating against cracked earth

I wandered until finding
a patch of green
and falling back to sleep
I woke up here this morning
the air alien
and frightening

Sum of my parts

I was composed by
Dickinson and Poe
Ingalls and Alcott
Cummings and Keats;
A pen with the ink of
Matthew, Mark, Luke
John, Ringo, George
And Paul, the apostle;

Shaped by the lashes
of a leather belt
and overcooked vegetables
with Sunday roast, and
endless vats of gravy
poured into cups

put food on the pain
eat until you’re stuffed;

Composed by Rock of Ages
What a friend we have in Jesus
sung by saints and the
pure-of-heart-
wife-beaters-closet bigots
friends and adulterers;

Unexpected kindnesses
wrapped in Jean Naté
and Chanel No. 5
a soft, wrinkled hand
with hard candy
wrappers that crinkled
during the prayer;

Constructed by long rainy walks
endless nights without sleep
teachers that saw through me
a welcome friend
in the middle of the heat;

Each cell, every organ complete
I won’t deny any of them
for to remove the painful limbs
would cause the others
to fall apart;

So I walk on
head up-chin out
this is me
take me or leave me
this is who I am
a sum of my life

Until I am done
I’m coming Grandma
some day-to sit next to you
and hear the rest of the stories

Of how we were all
written-prodded
stewed, and shoveled
into what we are