True Joy

there’d been happy times,
even blissful moments in her life,
but when she held her baby in her arms that first time,
she felt color blossom and rise through her,
up from somewhere inside she hadn’t known existed

she felt the soft heat of true joy

*Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

I Am From

I am from Vick and Mussdog, Angela and Michael,
where kindness is valued and everyone is equal.
From coffee breath to trucker burps,
and ear rubs to fire farts,
my family is close-knit.

I am from a distant neighborhood,
where dogs are barking and trees are flowing.
From floral-smelling streets to haunted houses,
and motorcycles roaring to flower petals flying,
my neighborhood is lively.

I am from a traveling family,
where the sounds and sights of nature are like gold.
From birds chirping to waves crashing,
and flowers blooming to gravel crunching,
my visits are breathtaking.

I am from a food loving family,
where we make many inherited recipes.
From the smell of sauce to the taste of meatballs,
and the family bonding to the crackling of grease,
my meals are mouthwatering.

I am from a fortunate home,
where I am happy and healthy.
From family to friends,
and traveling to meals,
my life is a blessing.

-A poem written by my 13 year old daughter and shared with her permission.

Longing

I long for a deep and dreamless sleep,
a certain sleep,
for relief from the excruciating pain of living a life that is less than I always imagined,
less than I hoped it would be

I long for a quiet and peaceful sitting,
an undaunted sitting,
for solace from the thunderous reel that’s been stuck on repeat for as long as I can remember,
for as long as I have allowed it to play

it’s true,
I mostly prefer aloneness,
but it eats me alive to know what an increasingly isolated life I’ve been living,
a tiny, dark triangular world of gambling, shopping, and reading,
three points to which I traverse,
one after the other,
trying my best to outrun the thunder and the pain –
it’s no wonder I’m always so tired

but what I long for most of all,
is rest,
for the ability to finally stop trying to fill the seemingly infinite void,
rest from trying to make life smaller

-image via Pixabay; poem inspired by my mother

Forest

‘what happened to the forest?’, she asks,
and I tell her how I was never a sapling,
how the canopy was too dense for far too long,
that I now flourish in the splintering of old wood

but what I cannot tell her,
what my heart fractures to know,
is that I see some of my wicked splinters
were seedlings which now flourish in her

-image via Pixabay

Fraudulent

she often had this feeling in the pit of her stomach,
more often than she cared to admit, actually

it was this marrow-deep disconnect,
this soul-withering fear,
this uneasy sense that she was somehow faking a life for them,
giving them a pretend childhood

instead of listening to her gut,
instead of allowing her soul to speak,
she often asked herself –
what would others think?,
allowing that thought to guide her actions

and that left her feeling like
she was wrapped in cellophane –
this protective barrier meticulously put into place,
meant to shield her from the hurt she so intensely feared,
but that barrier was useless,
a transparent facade

because no matter how hard she tried,
there it was –
the fear, throbbing behind her eyes when she knee-jerked a guilt-inducing reaction,
tingling in her fingertips when she felt the anger hide the fear,
an empty feeling thrumming in the center of her chest when she resisted her true self

and she couldn’t stop the constant
real of regret that played over and over in her mind –
there was something so fraudulent feeling about this way of behaving

the rituals weren’t real,
the smiles weren’t real,
the kisses weren’t quite real

real was right there,
in front of her face,
but she couldn’t (wouldn’t) quite reach it

and worst of all,
she sometimes felt like they were going along for her sake;
they could see right through her

and they knew they were being shortchanged

-art by Johanna Harmon

How’d That Happen?


it tore at my heart like nothing I’d ever experienced,
watching my daughter’s youthful uncoiling dictate her moods and impulses,
confusion, pain, and fear up front,
and all I wanted to do was hold her close and comfort her,
shield her from the pain,
knowing I could not,
for that’s not the way of things

then, somewhere over the last couple of years,
something about her has slowly changed,
there’s this air of grace settling in her,
and I’m not even sure from where it came

some girls grow into womanhood gracefully,
and some remain girls all their lives,
but there it was, inside my daughter,
all of the sudden,
not a graceful entrance by any means, 
but a stealthy one

we’d just been standing there,
in the kitchen,
when she had smiled, and said,
“thanks, mom”,
and something shifted

five minutes later, I realized I could
still feel her voice filling my chest

for, it mirrored my own voice,
slightly lower and more confident than the voice I remembered her having,
and I found myself wondering when it had made its home in my daughter’s vocal cords,
in her spirit,
and why I hadn’t noticed it before 

she is all grown up,
a woman

wow

how’d that happen?

-image via Pixabay