Jeopardy question: When is it ‘too little, too late’?
In 1989 I met a family that a year later I would become a part of. I had come from a place and family from the mid-west U.S. and was about to enter a very American-European family on the east coast. I was insecure about fitting into a family. Put me in a room with 30-100 strangers and I was the life of the party. Put me in a living room with 15 folks that were about to welcome me as sister, daughter, etc, and I had utter stage fright.
I came from a family where I had not hugged anyone in years, except a side arm hug at the airport and a bear hug from my mother who had longed for that for years herself. I entered a house where every face was kissing me and every arm was hugging me. But I still felt outside. Why?
I didn’t know how to express affection that way. I wanted it, but I was afraid of it. I questioned their motives, I assumed they didn’t accept me. Didn’t like me.
Didn’t get me.
Her life’s work:
by the gaunt gentleman
his speech fled
fifty years gone
his serenity stolen
It wasn’t as if
she had never naught
to do with it
reposed for years, in
a woe-begotten design
His life reclaimed
her layers of blue silk
a tourbillon on the plain
bowing from a distance
All has concluded.
Jigsaw Cut-up poetry via writings from Sean Fraser @TheatreSean
Inspector Iris Cooper and young officer David Martínez took in the house before them. All the legends, myths, warnings, and mythos surrounding this place threatened to interfere with their experience and good judgement. From the icing on the roof to the gumdrop trim and doorknobs, Iris’ mind went back to childhood, to all the dreams of sugar her mother wouldn’t let her have, and jealousy of her schoolmates with more permissive parents. She inhaled the deep scents of cinnamon and cocoa, pulling on a pair of blue gloves, and reaching for the doorknob.
The screen door is open and I walk in. Jeremy likes it open so I don’t nag anymore. I smell spaghetti. He cooked? I hear his voice and call out to him. He walks out of the den as if he has not heard me, his hand resting at the small of the back of a blonde who looks familiar. Is she Jack’s teacher? I duck around the corner. I want to catch him in the act. I am furious when I see my favourite red pumps dangling from her fingers, as they walk through the kitchen and out the door. He closes and locks it and I run out the side way to watch from around the garage. They take off in -presumably-<em> her</em> burgundy BMW and I grab my bike and hop on, hurrying to keep abreast of where they are headed. They don’t go far, turning off the side entrance of the old arboretum where we used to walk. I am crushed. Why would Jeremy cheat on me?
Blondes have more fun, some people say. It’s all fine and good until someone gets hurt.
(an excerpt of a work in progress)
Jorie was always putting out fires. It was not the way she had envisioned her life but here it was in her lap. If it wasn’t her children, it was her husband. If it wasn’t her husband and children, it was herself, lost in a burning house and trying to get to the ground floor. How would she see daylight again without getting burned? There was always this sort of negotiation. How many burns could she stand to live with? Counting the cost, always giving up something. Trade-offs.
in the midst of clouds and clamour
by my mother(gone since 1997)’s best friend
from long ago
my age now what her age was then
yet I am always a child, the
age of her own daughter
grown, and a grandma now
speaking to me as an equal
saying – let’s be friends like
your mother and I, I believe
we have something in common
melting the cynicism in my center
floating to the surface like dross
her soft voice saying, yes
it’s going to be alright now
She cried during Star Wars
and he laughed at her
which made her cry more
turning to lay her cheek
against the cool glass
raindrops on the window
‘Isn’t it precious,’ she thought
lighting a cigarette
and hearing him cough
from across the room
but he’d never tell her to stop
crazy about her grumpy moods
in love with how she exhaled
“Maybe we should get away,” he said
getting up and walking over
kneeling at her feet, and
wrapping his arms about her legs
hearing her reply how she liked
things the way they were, and
feeling her fingers in his hair
Come evening we sit in the front room-you with your chamomile and I have my crossword puzzle on my lap. I swear when I make a mistake in ink.
The phone rings across the room. I cough. You turn your head once, but you don’t get up. I claim I can tell it is a telemarketer by the tone.
“Is there any beer?”
I continue working on 23 down, not answering.
“Is there any beer?”
“There is no beer.” I write in the answer.
The clock strikes 8.
I put down the puzzle.
“Meet you there?”
“Well it is Monday night.”
“So it is. Did you?”
“Yes, of course.”
I stand in the doorway in crimson.
I wear only black, but I promised to always wear
his favourite color red on Mondays.
“A new one. Lace?”
we lie very still
he on his side and I on my back
He makes a pretense of coughing.
“Your hair looks like satin in this light”
“And you look like the boy I met on the train.”
“Was that 1988?”
“You know it was.”
“Best day ever.”
Smoke rings at the ceiling speak of it.
I sit cross-legged while he brushes my hair. Every few strokes he leans forward and speaks directly into my ear, whispering
“I love Mondays.”
“Did you say you bought roses?”
“Red ones, two dozen”
“Where are they?”
“I saw you were home and ran in quickly. They must be in my car.”
I lie on my side and he on his back. I push hair off his forehead with a delicate gesture. He closes his eyes.
“Let’s lay here until Tuesday.”
We fed one another shrimp
my long hair getting in the way
hanging between us, over our arms and laps
he would chew, and take it up in his fingers
playing with it, smelling it
I would lean in, not wanting this to end
kissing his chest – what is the rest?
what do you want to hear of hedonistic folly-
days and weeks of answering to no one but each other
consuming only from the earth
We lied to those we loved
and lay over one another for months
taking turns being on top – ‘don’t stop’
he would say, surprising me
with his submission
From out of the blue, he’d say,
‘You are too kind. You could be meaner.
Too sweet and good to wield
the strap and the rope.’
And I would just laugh
pink nail polish on my toes
Never giving away my true intentions
to keep him held in my grip for as long as
well, as long as I wanted him
wanted only him
he and his flesh my undoing
His voice I still recall
‘please don’t stop,’ and I
would say – please don’t-
I won’t want