Where Does Alone Live?


All the years I pined
for alone, and here she is
oh, hello

Alone lived on the moon
when hormones ruled my household, my own
waning like a sweating crescent, and dueling
with the girls’, rising in shimmers
there was no alone

Give me alone

Alone had to be invited in, rarely
accepted or welcomed, alone
was loud, sarcastic, even in an empty
night I’d find a phone beeping
somewhere, a wet towel dripping
wooden floor warping, an uncovered
plate of leftovers souring
in the fridge screaming, ‘ha!
you are never alone’

Oh,  give me alone

I’d wake up in the dark and hug
a cold pillow, wonder if maybe
alone found its way in, snuck
through the open window
a small bit of wind carrying pine, or snow,
giving a hint of alone hiding all I had
to do was walk
outside alone

Alone was a concept a dream or memory
mom drinking cheap bourbon alone smoking BelAirs
silhouetted by late night blue TV, ‘Here’s Johnny,’ so she would not feel
so alone

How like her am I?

I seek alone too, read big novels stock full
of characters who I love or hate, and love to love or hate
alone lives between each chapter
inside the small breath I take
before I turn the page, alone
might live in next

I chased after it pleading praying
racing down an unpopular trail seeking solace
flirting with this notion of alone
and here she is all mine


her hold, like wallpaper, her offer of greater
solace stickier than marriage, than any I could ever find
this treasure this luxury here I am
alone I turn on the radio

Alone lives in the competition of how strong and independent I can be
falling into my lover’s arms, thinking I never want to be
alone, consider partnership, permanence, a request
to take all the alone away because too often alone
is too tempted by lonely or by lone
they get confused
or I do

How lonely are the couples of the worlds
the snorers who sleep alone, the moaners
the sleepwalkers and the lucid dreamers
how many lonely unalone people do I know
how many have I professed to never be
I would rather be alone than lonely

I pine for their noise, the girls
back to the girls, it always goes back to the girls
consider their dish in the sink
coffee cup on the nightstand
sopping bathing suits on the floor
and mostly the lump of girl sleeping
under piles of blankets that moment before I wake her
tell her it’s time

That is the alone I want
as timid and tentative as a whisper
‘good morning, sweetie’
careful not to alarm or interrupt
but to call her out of her sleep
and into my alone

I want an alone that never leaves off the first syllable
never ‘lone never
adds the dreaded second
syllable -ly
no lee to my lone

only alone

Interrupt my alone, please
perched precariously
on the edge of lonely
push me back from the suffix
keep me safe in alone in the space between
restless and an empty pillow
that hollow gap where a baby
once nestled
never alone.



ristopher Roller


Trains, Planes, Let Go of Your Name

ryan-hafey-102450-unsplash (1)


I consider Flagstaff, Arizona as the town where I grew up, the second time. When I left Detroit and all of its big, and its loud, and its chill-you-to-the-bone winters, for Anne Marie’s first relocation adventure, I didn’t know how hard I would fall in love. That little town had me, hook, line, and train whistle.

I loved the rumble and roar of the trains that barreled through Flagstaff, some 50 of them each day back then, it’s over 120 now. Always heavier and louder coming from the west, full of lots of good stuff. Then returning with a bit less heft, emptied back east, traveling light, ready to be filled again.

Either direction they went, I found their shrieking whistle comforting somehow. As if it reminded me, again and again, that I’m just a little cog in a really big crazy world. And I liked that. Detroit could certainly offer the same lesson, but sometimes it just didn’t get through my frozen brain.

I had always thought Flagstaff would be a great place to raise kids, and lo and behold, after a few other relocation adventures, I returned to my mountain town, and it felt like home. Granted, it had grown quite a bit, and so had I.

I returned with two daughters in tow, six and eight years old, so everything looked a bit scarier, different. My ‘mom’ perspective made my old hangouts look shabby; dang, it made my old homes look like drug dens. When the girls were in high school, they told me that one was! But the forest was the forest, the train whistle, still the train whistle.

And then it wasn’t. It became an eerie warning, a latent scream. Preparing me? Or perhaps demanding that I check my mothering, my parenting.

You see, there was a series of teen suicides in Flagstaff in the course of a year or so. Four or five kids, most dressed in black, jumped in front of a train, out in the forest, in the middle of the night. They left no way for an engineer to even see them, blow the whistle, or warn them. A hit, a bump, devastation discovered, after the fact.

The whistle didn’t soothe me anymore as it always had; it became a magnifying glass, instead of a telescope, looking into the minuscule emotional weave of the world. Threads in disarray. It rocked my soul and left me feeling anything but grounded.

As a mother of grade-schoolers, I worried about the future of my soon-to-be teen daughters. Part of me wanted to blow off the worry as I had done with the line up of momma worries that evolved from one stage to the next.

For instance, when my girls were tiny infants in my arms, and I saw toddlers crawling and walking precariously across a room or a sidewalk, I’d think: wait, stop them, they’re just babies, they’ll hurt themselves!

And then, of course, when my girls were toddlers walking and crawling precariously across a room or a sidewalk, and I saw preschoolers swinging upside down on monkey bars, I’d clench my jaw and think: no, no, my girls can’t ever do that, they’ll hurt themselves.

And then, yes, when my girls were little kids hanging upside down on monkey bars, and I saw grade-schoolers riding their bikes in the street, a backpack slung over their shoulders, I’d think . . . and so on, you get the picture.

Learning about teens committing suicide by jumping in front of a train? Somehow, no, we never evolve away from that fear.


She walks home along the tracks; school,
teachers, counselors all distant now, all seem less

kind, now the long blue lines of metal sing the sun’s song,
sad notes held from town to town to town

she lays along that blue black track practicing,
listening to the stories that curve, that have died

within those ties. She knows no other destination.
Even when she tries, at night, to imagine travel

or success or love, the train yards become playgrounds
of rust, gentle and rough at once, she lifts her arms

pressing her chest against the dark metal hissing
at her like a blue engine lover. She laughs

in railway rhythms swallowing vowels
like another caboose pounding through downtown

at noon, she weeps like a faraway whistle at midnight
imagines the tune wandering east, loving its certainty.

When she rides as a mystery passenger next full
moon, she’ll glimmer on the grill, she’ll go

somewhere, she’ll run along that opalescent path
with a plan, then wait for darkness, wait for the

train to nod, tell her “now,” nudge her across the stories,
across the rails, read the ticket, her destination
stamped       right      there.


I am now on another Anne Marie relocation adventure, and I love living in the Verde Valley.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my whole life wrestling with winter.  Detroit’s winters too big a bully for this wimpy girl; Las Cruces winters were, well, they were kind of like the handshake I dread. When the hand is a bit warm, moist, and I’m afraid I might pull it off if I shake it too hard. Yeah, that town kept me for too long.

Flagstaff winters grew colder, although some said it was just me getting older. Less snow, more cold, that was not what I bargained for. I wanted the beauty, even with the work, but not the ice and uncompromising shiver.

Here in Cottonwood, winters are just right.  Crisp, cool, colorful. Quiet, and the biggest drama is the blue herons crossing the lagoon. One o’clock to seven. Seven o’clock to twelve. And then, there are, the planes. The planes!

I live a few miles from a very small airport. Thus, the skies offer a similar reminder to me as the trains did in Flagstaff: My life is just a little tiny bit of smallness in a far bigger world. Especially on the weekends, when lots of planes fly by, low, and slow, and right there!

These are little planes, mind you, so there is no zooming of jets, no condensation trails, you can often see the pilots. They can see you if you wave, and I do, and the pilots wave back.

There are absolutely no teens jumping in front of them.

Do we ever stop ‘momma’ worry? Riana is headed to Berlin. Bridget announces the other day that ‘Yay!’ she is headed to Mexico City. yay.

Yes, this old mother of grown adults still gets a belly ping. Inside my head I think, but wait, Mexico City is the biggest most dangerous city in the world; I think–tempted to spout off Nervous Nelly warnings–when you travel you must hide your money well; carry your pack in front; the trains are crazy and unsafe, etc., etc., etc., infinitum.


And then I remind myself of my own adventures. My own time in that city and numerous other large, crazy, unsafe cities that I traveled when I was the same age, also with my boyfriend.

And I remind myself that I grew up in Detroit. And that the girls have and do live in New York. And my feeble ‘yay’ becomes a louder ‘Duh!’

“Shhhhhhhhhhh,” I say. Shhh . . .

And I quiet down, and I grab my yoga mat, and I go to the Cottonwood Recreation Center for Yoga Flow. And I breathe.

And the yoga instructor says, during our end-of-session-relaxation, ‘let go of your name.’ And I feel grounded again. And connected. And small. Very small and as safe as I’m ever going to get.

Let Go of Your Name

Let go of your name
that train of spaces
and loops and dots
line it up on the rails
neat as infinity
and the sleeplessness
that rocks you each night
hitch it to yesterday
let it jump the track

Let go of your name
each syllable of story
as familiar as the back
of the seat in front of you
as the narrative unravels
past the windows
untell your tale
press it to metal
flatten it like
a penny

Let go of your name
hand it over, let
the ticket taker
punch holes
through each chapter
the fabled end you wait for
like movie credits, let
the conductor rip
that schedule, load
new cargo, usher
you to the sight-
seer car.

Let go of your name.

Photo by Ryan Hafey on Unsplash


Make those Bones Stronger

wheelie2Make Those Bones Strong

Make those bones stronger than the sliver of new light, resting on the gutters along his neighbor’s roof, promising another day, good or bad, another.

Make those bones stronger than his dog’s, where resilience and patience reside, waiting for the jingle of the leash, a morning walk? Always happy for just another nap.

Make those bones stronger than his youth, when flexibility and speed were easy options, and a wheelie or two was best before breakfast.

Make those bones stronger than his unsaid words, like embers lining the hearth, just enough warmth to help him rise, make the bed, never enough to complain.

Make those bones stronger.

Make those bones stronger than the table holding our conversations in its grain, as old as time, supporting slaps of laughter, heavy foreheads, and elbows softened by prayer.

Make those bones stronger than the promise of forever in a fresh hot cup of coffee, and the never that hides underneath a dim hankie in his pocket.

Make those bones stronger than yesterday’s anger, rubbed raw like ribs wrapped around stiff lungs, and tougher still than the gravity pushing out his breath.

Make those bones strong.

Make those bones stronger than poetry, or metaphor, or any other trick we use to explain the life we wake up to every single morning, and as forgiving as the accusations we rail in the shower.

Make those bones stronger than a lifetime of the best damned choices and the unending questions written onto the map of our mortality.

via Daily Prompt: Dim

image by doyouremember.com



The Moment before Next

Dang. Life keeps happening. And weather. After days and days of weirdly warm southwest weather, winter appears to have remembered this part of the map. She’d been drowsing in the memory of autumn’s lush colors, no doubt. Remembering the heavy scent of the dying oak leaves, the heady fragrance of creosote in the breeze. All curled up in the cattail rhizome, nesting like the marsh wren. And then as those soggy reeds sunk onto the lagoon, maybe the spikes pushed on her, woke her, and she said, “Oh shit!” Overslept again.

I am so like winter sometimes.

Those who do not reside in these arid parts of America the beautiful duly wonder what in the heck is this woman talking about, winter in the southwest. The desert? What?

Yes, oh, yes. We have winter, albeit a sleepy one this year. Winds whip and snow accumulates, or rain pounds roofs and roads grow slippery, just like the rest of the country.

But oh, the palette of the southwest winter; it is the most beautiful for me. This landscape I love has its dramatic moments, those so familiar to the world. The stark red rocks of Sedona, the stripes of the Painted Desert, the silvery slopes of Wolf Creek Pass, or San Francisco Peak. Rock formations so bold you’d think the planet had been turned inside out.

But it is the more subtle views that I cherish. The simple glimpses. And their ability to calm my soul. They remind me of the importance of in between. The moments before next. And after.

So winter rose, and she’s been dancing around like a crazy person. The skiers are sliding, the shovelers are shovelin’ and the likes of me? Well, I, of course, end up on a road trip and get stuck in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Poor me, right?

New Mexico is an old friend to me
and it is where I will land eventually
for the palette, the quiet, and the red chile.
Oh, oh. I feel embraced
when I travel the roads north of Santa Fe.
Sorry to be so cliché
but Georgia O’Keefe, that gal,
what can I say,
she had it going on.

Image result for georgia o'keeffe new mexico landscape

And it is that, that artistic inspiration, that draws me, and drew me, to my poet friend’s home, to offer condolences for the loss of her artist husband. There we sat across the table from each other in her ranchette. With the dogs at our feet, one fighting off the grim reaper, and two donkeys staring at us through the window. “They don’t like the grass hay,” she reports. “But the guy who delivers alfalfa has pneumonia.”

And then we are quiet. For it is pneumonia that took her husband from her. And then we write. We immerse ourselves in words. Coffee. Rich food. And words. And his artwork. And the new grand baby who is a tiny perfect picture of the large man her grandfather was. It was all so poignant I felt like butter melted on a plate.

We wrote together as we did for years, years ago, when our girls were experimenting with cartwheels and dress up and magic shows. And we were years from even imagining divorce or death or donkeys, or having yet come to terms with the desert. All that it offers us, the antithesis to the city lives we led when we were just girls, growing up, back east.

We wrote and we read aloud; Sylvia and the baby listened or nursed or went on with all things young motherhood, all things new life.

We quickly discovered that we read the same books, and that actually, we listen to them on CD in our cars as we commute to our jobs. Including a recent re-visit to Empire Falls. A return for us both because we love flawed characters, those in the novel, and in our own lives. We worry, early in the morning, writing or staring, about our own flaws, owned or un-owned.

We discovered, also, that neither of us eat wheat, or like to get drunk, nor do we mind dog and cat hair everywhere. We pined for old friends from Las Cruces, the other life and friendship we shared. And we vowed to visit some again. And each other. Again.

She remembers our girls not connecting, I remember them as solid. Together we can’t remember the English professor’s name, and we simultaneously shout out the name of his red-headed lover.

Oh. Reconnecting. We talked of death a lot, and alcohol, and babies and politics and how much we don’t know about any of it. She has returned to church. I shared that I sat in the new Catholic church, Immaculate Conception, one afternoon upon my return from a visit back home. How I appreciated the solace of an empty altar, and rows of bare pews still echoing that morning’s questions and whispering hesitant faith.

Her neighbor brought us warm scones, and we forewent our shared aversion to wheat, and bloat, and dove in like school girls. My boyfriend took us to dinner and filled us in on recent politics that we had missed in our twenty-four hours of ‘yes.’

She feels like she is  going a little bit crazy, sometimes. I can only nod. Yes.

I feel a little bit like I never ever want to leave this place, my forehead lined with a plan for a return. A forever return. Yes.

She noted how much death I’ve witnessed. Yes. I noticed how Tom doesn’t seem to yet be gone from her or the house. And that may never happen. Yes.

I promised to return, she promised to come to the Verde Valley. She will walk the lagoons with me. Witness the cattails that can hide a wren, a rabbit, or even winter. Maybe my winter eagles are her summer ones. I am south of her after all. We will squint our wrinkled eyes and scour the trees for a sighting. No matter the season.

Re-connections, good ones, always spur promises, and they buffer the road home, ease the work of emptying the suitcase and doing the laundry. Cleaning the windshield from six hours of Mack truck spit.

Disconnections happen after a while. Not like hanging up, but just getting on with dogs and donkeys and jobs and another load of laundry or another crockpot of red chile, from New Mexico, with pork. Yes.

Image result for chimayo, nm landscape 101

When You Get to Chimayó . . .*

When you get to Chimayó on NM76, pass the left turn to the Santurario and continue on 76, pass the Chili Red Tavern on your right, then turn right where the railroad tie garden thing with the Chimayó sign is.

When I get to Chimayó
I do find two donkeys, little ones
and two rescue dogs, two cats
sunning in their own apartment:
rent $900, they’re way behind
I’m told, and I see Michelle
and Tom, painter and poet
loving the land and families
or most of them anyway
“We’ll be here.”

          Continue up the hill — bear to the right — and so on. Turn right to stay on Co Rd 101 (just stay to the right until you get to our house — there’s a CR 101 sign where the road turns from pavement to dirt — our fence line will be to your right, then you’ll go around a muddy, rutted corner).

When I get to Chimayó
the road to their house is rutted
not grated again, and that doesn’t always make it better
anyway I’m told, they live simply this pair
and find solace in success, and the maintenance
of avoiding arrogance and pride,
and feeding the animals
and their crafts.

          You’ll see Tom’s studio sign on the right then our fence. The gate might be closed — so the dogs don’t chase cars — but it won’t be locked. Just open the gate and drive through down the driveway.

When I get to Chimayó
I find no ivory tower
or even a big house up on the hill
just a dusty assemblage
of structures and function
and art and poems
and photos of all the girls
who have struggled
and surpassed unchecked expectations.

          Destination will be on the right. You’ll find us.

When I get to Chimayó
I hear about the drugs
that make this economy thrive
made their daughters brave
how they all survive
in this wonderful and lawless little place
where purple irises grow wild
dogs, too, and blue skies
never ever fail.

          We’ll watch for you.

When I get to Chimayó
I find my old friend
skinny and fit as she ever was
competitive and right
patient and determined
to age only in her ability
to let those less-desired moments
of life slip on down the acequia
on down her tight runner’s legs
and to never die.
“I just don’t want to die,”
she says.

         See you tomorrow.

*Directions to the Holland house, provided on a visit before Tom died, and the directions didn’t change with my recent visit. But now, Tom is gone, and baby Aurora’s smile is filling the space.

  • Top painting by Tom Holland, you can find more of his work at TomHollandSouthwestArt.com
  • The next is by Georgia O’Keefe
  • The last is a photograph that I found on the internet and forgot to note the artist, and then couldn’t find it again. My apologies.

Birds and Bingo, another journal poem*

jessica-furtney-219077Birds and Bingo

She sweeps winter from the garage
with a sneeze and a plume
laughs hard and alone
quite enamored by the middle road
the question: what makes a girlfriend
a girlfriend? what makes birch bark
wallpaper? She sheds this skin so heavy
rake the dust and debris off the beds
you just know who you are she says.

Perfect faces watch from the bark
large colorful women in big billowy skirts
say an amazing amount of nothing
bored, actually, unfortunate lecture
unkissed and hating their faces
who would kiss a girl if she is sick
just love your face she says
all proud and eggy and yellow.

I killed a guy in a dream
he looked bad
not dead but he had celery on his head
body parts under the earth
the remnants of life rubble and more debris
absorbed in ghosts married to disease
and faithfully bound up
in dead things.

It’s killing him to be friendly
constant pain, constipated
a day of pies, the edge of stupid
She hates his breathing, cranky and anxious
She left the conversation, she was a sourpuss
Flagstaff was simply not a good fit
or you could just say the woman’s a bitch.

And ate alligator
perhaps it should have been sweeter
the house of love
scones, fire and a jumping dog
comfortable with casual
a bit fat, a little pouty
and good free counseling.

A million promises and a million minutes
of blue that never dries, never sticks
such deep and soulful rhetoric
a thousand dollar check
will never become permanent
no phone calls or sweet messages
you don’t need another depressed
man she says

Poor, poor wound up selfish silly singing
would there be song without consciousness?
brief and functional, there is no anything
when love and hate are at the podium together
then there are just the squirrels
we should all just play bingo in the trees
it was quite an amazing thing to see
catering to his stupidity
depression is lurking, a recipe
a broken leash on a craggy tree
A girl of duty.

She looks at June and finds hesitation
the fridge is rattling noisy
a lot of noise for a long long time
she had better get ready
clean all of the spring pants
she wants to be improved
there are weeds to whack
better not kill those baby hyacinths
then they would be smaller
speaking in sighs across fluorescent halls,
talking up a storm in a V
like the birds she and Bridget saw
squawking across the sky
noisy winter is flying by

via Daily Prompt: Lecture

Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

for more on ‘journal poems’ visit another at https://pocketpoet.net/2017/04/04/life-is-only-a-borrowing-of-bones-a-journal-poem/


As Fragile as an Interrupted Nap

jens-johnsson-471361My mother claimed, not a boast mind you, a claim, that I was independent before I was born. She may have also used the words ‘stubborn,’ ‘brat,’ or ‘bold,’ but mostly she referred to me as independent. Surely it was no surprise when at 21 I went west. It was always a surprise that I didn’t come back. There was never a conversation between us, right up until the last, on the Mother’s Day before she died, when she didn’t ask, “When are you coming home?”

Do parents identify the destiny of their children with such claims, or invoke it? Did my mother say I was independent, and therefore I am? Or was I, as she says, showing signs of independence in utero. I was her seventh baby. She knew babies. I was her eighth pregnancy. Like I said, the woman knew babies. I was different, she said. Feisty. Restless. Ready to arrive. Are parents, especially moms, clairvoyant? Wise? Logical?

Did I claim identity for my daughters previous to their births? Have my words stamped them, and led them to where they are now in their lives, who they are in the world?

I have often joked that each of them sounded like they were speaking a foreign language when they first started baby babbling. One of them in French, one in Chinese. One’s babbles were soft, tongue-rolling sounds. The other’s harder, more nasally and pointed. It’s a better story when you hear me imitate the sounds. So just imagine. I forgot who spoke which language as I have told the story so many times and ways.

But Riana speaks French now. Bridget, Spanish. No successful forecasting there, not really.


The girls went to a wonderful daycare center when they were babies. At that center, the caretakers had a routine for naptime which will forever stay with me, perhaps in its own poignancy, perhaps in how the girls adopted the ritual.

Each day,  when it was naptime, the baby room staff dimmed the lights, put on soft lullaby music, set out as many mats as there were babies or toddlers that day, placing them in a grid like a checker board, and then the women put the babies on the mats, on their bellies. For the next hour, they traveled about the baby grid, moving from child to child, kneeling beside the baby, and rubbing its back, soothing and cooing, then on to the next one, and the next, until all babies were asleep.

I sometimes arrived to pick the girls up as this was in process. I walked in on this scene, and I must say it was like walking into how I imagine heaven. The most calm and beautiful sight to behold. All these lovely, quiet, snoozing little ones.

Their fragility, and powerlessness, so clear. Their futures, perhaps, spelled out on the mat. How they napped–spread out, tight in a ball, sucking a thumb, line up like an arrow–told a lot. Metaphor? Prediction? Or just a fortuitous moment?

One or two them were often awake, usually Riana was one of them, her mind absorbing and calculating everything, ready for next, eyes open, thinking, but calm.

Bridget, on the other hand, so deeply and wonderfully asleep you’d think she had melted into the mat. The only child I know of, to this day, who asked, “Momma, can I please take a nap?” A mother’s dream.


The girls would re-create this naptime scenario at home. Using my scarves–which I have obsessively collected since high school, and still have most or many, anyway–the girls would lay out the baby mats. Of course, there was not room in our small house on Armijo St., for them to create a full grid as they did at daycare. They spread the scarves about the entire house, each room, the hallway. Upon every ‘mat’ they set one of the many fake-fur-covered animals, creatures, pillows or other dolls and toys, whatever appeared to them from their toy chest, that represented a baby.

Then the girls moved from one of the  scarves and its ‘child’ to the next. Rubbing their backs. Singing to them. This sight, not unlike the vision of naptime at the daycare center, was angelic. While taking on the caretaker roll, powerful in charge, they seemed so short. Vocabularies of hundreds. Body weight of under 40. But in charge.

One time, around this era of our lives, when the girls were quite little, we visited my mother, who, by that time, was cured of her cancer, but still suffering immensely. I don’t remember if she was on oxygen by then, or if she was being belly fed by my father. But needless to say, she was not herself, not comfortable, and her day to day life was toilsome. For the most part, my experience was that she was still my mom. Sweet and funny, insightful, but tired. So, so tired.

Frail was a difficult word to attach to my mother. While athletic or academic strengths were not hers, she was one tough cookie. In the face of 10 sarcastic and relentless teasers, she held her own. Yet, frail was not foreign to her, and when it overcame her, in those early days of my daughters’ lives, there was a grace with which she wore this cloak. She was weak, and certain only of the proximity of something nameless.

My girls made her a bit anxious, understandably so. She was definitely accustomed to grandkids visiting her, and often. She always so loved babies and children. But having them actually live in her house, present in her space, 24/7, for the two weeks we visited, after several years of empty nest, yes, it probably wore on her. A lot.

As it would anyone who was ill, and, she had limited patience for  the daily ins and outs of kids. The noise. All the attention they require.

She required her own by then, attention, and was a bit needy. So uncomfortable with the powerlessness of dying. But, I would say, for the most part, she and the girls got along. Boundaries were mostly set. I did a bit of refereeing, and a lot of shhhhhhing.

One morning, the girls wanted to play their naptime game. My mother wasn’t up yet, and I was in the kitchen.  The girls ran in and out; they seemed occupied and quiet enough. I didn’t realize they were going to the kitchen linen drawer. As there were no mats or mom’s scarves available, they had taken every single dish towel, dish rag, and pot holder they could find.

My mother’s front room was over-populated with stuffed animals. As she had been sick, by this time, for eight or more years; and as she’d had several hospital visits; and as she had some 70 nieces and nephews (yes, I am one of some 70 first cousins); and as she was one of nine or ten living siblings; and as everyone knew she loved these toys . . . well, there was quite the collection displayed in the living room. On the couch, along the shelves, all spaces were occupied by every color, shape, and species of animal imaginable.

To my girls, the place was simply stock full of, well, babies. And each of them was getting assigned to their very own dishrag or a pot holder.

When my mother came into the kitchen after having woken up and witnessed this ‘scene’ in the living room and dining room, she looked duly perturbed. 1) She hadn’t had her coffee; and 2) ‘What are those girls doing with all my linens?’

I rose from the table, approached her, and gently steered her back toward the living room. We stood in the doorway. “Just watch, Mom,” I assured her. “It’s okay.”

We watched as the girls went from one baby to the next, rubbing their backs, singing to them, or assuring them that they were okay, and to “just go to sleep, now.”

My mom whispered to me, “What are they saying?”

“They’re telling them to say their prayers and go to sleep. It’s how they do it at daycare.”

“They’re putting them to sleep?” she whispered. Her pre-coffee demeanor softened, and her grandmother heart warmed. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Needless to say, from that point forward during our visit, my girls had full reign of my mother’s precious collection of stuffed bears and bunnies and puppies and angels. And, unlike any child previously, they also could do as they wished with the kitchen linens.


And again, inaccurate forecasting on my part. My daughters have no inclination, it appears, to be parents, not any time soon.

I’ll give myself a bit of credit, however. I had Riana pegged for a Supreme Court Justice, maybe not in utero but certainly by the time she could walk. And I am sure I said as much, and probably as often as my mother told me I was independent. And while Riana isn’t quite there yet, her career will definitely take her to a place of policy analysis and decision making, if not one of the most supreme voices in the land. The certainty and surety of what she knows, and knows to be right, was definitely evident in her infancy. And, FYI, one of her cats is named, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg.”

And Bridget? Definitely had her pegged for a movie star or comedian. And I wasn’t so far off with her, either. Her career in children’s media is sprouting and growing and destined for very funny story telling to ever bigger audiences. In the earliest of baby days, when Ri and I would be having moments–with my independence, and her knowing everything, we had many moments–Bridget would stop us dead in our tension, and make us laugh. Her ability to cheer and understand, intuit, really, was, yes, evident both in utero, and infancy.


Sometimes, I need a nap. If my mother taught me anything, in utero and beyond, it was the importance of napping. I fondly remember curling up at the end of the couch where she snoozed, her penny loafers still on, the smell of the leather, the shine of the penny. Ready for anything. Both of us.

Naps are determinedly something not to be interrupted, never. Don’t ever interrupt a person’s nap. Especially a mother’s. Unless the house is on fire. To this day, I nap easily, but not often enough.

When the girls were little, and not ready for a nap, but I was, I had a naptime game. “Let’s play beauty parlor!”

So the girls approached the couch, where I stretched out, oh so ready for just . . . . five . . . . minutes. One toddler toting a hair brush, one running with a warm washcloth. One brushed my hair, one rubbed my feet. Ahhhhh. Just . . . . five . . . . minutes.


My independence kept me from my mom, as she predicted and feared it would. I was the only one of the nine of us not at her bedside when she died. Her stories keep me close to her, even after her death.

The girls’ independence makes me proud, their lives surprise and soothe me. Without knowing it, they still play naptime, each time they call me. They rub my back with their stories, sing me to sleep with their song.


I wore your slippers, sweaters,
jewelry, your rings, daily
after you died I wanted to try
you on, keep you moving, cuddle
on rainy afternoons, but nothing
really fit, and I broke an emerald
ring, your favorite, the  most fragile
of all gems, perfect for a woman
who wasn’t athletic
and didn’t drive.

I wear you daily still, not clothing,
but laughter, how I move my hands,
wipe my nose, or these eyes. And I
relish how often you are here,
right here, and angry that  you didn’t fight
harder so you could live longer so I could
keep knowing you from a distance,
and you could get to know my girls.

They knew you as ‘grandma doesn’t feel good.’
You knew them as far away.

image by jens johnsson on Unsplash.com

via Daily Prompt: Creature


eclipse yourself

tooth eclips
blood moon
red cavity in the sky
a missing molar
lunar dentistry

children release teeth
win fairytale
prizes, proud
of the gap
imagine that
just dropping
a limb

a digit or a
hip, a wrist,
a twisted ankle
and blooming
a new one

eclipse yourself
become a shadow
a hole in the western  sky

place a broken
piece of you
beneath your pillow

wake up
with a better dream


via Daily Prompt: Cavity


Thinks, Thanks, Thongs

roksolana-zasiadko ROSE

Time for a little nosalgia, and I can’t look back at one item, without reminiscing about the other.  Thongs, the kind we used to wear on our feet, that evolved into something else, well, the word did anyway, and blood. Bleeding to be exact. Menses. Messy menses. And the whole bit. So here we go.

When I was a girl, thongs were things we wore on our feet, they were cheap, colorful, foot-shaped slices of rubber with a simple V-shaped toe hold. And by colorful I mean red, green, blue, or yellow. Back to those basic choices we had in fashion back then.

It was a huge deal, I remember, in the 70’s when they came out with thongs that had a thicker sole, and layers of different colored rubber. Whoo hoot! Those were expensive. I couldn’t afford a pair and my mother wouldn’t buy me those when the others were available. Which, by the way, you can now find on Ebay, for twenty dollars. I don’t think they cost fifty cents in the 60’s.


Moving a quick few decades forward, and I’m in my early forties raising adolescent girls. I must have accidentally turned and looked the other way one day, because all of the sudden they are pre-teens, and shopping for themselves, and making fashion choices that were new to me.

I suspect my own mother went through the like with me coming home and wearing halter tops and hiphuggers, showing skin from hip line to tit line. Aghast. I inherited her aghast.

What’d you get?” I asked, when they came home from shopping with friends. “Underwear,” they said, taking their bags quickly to their rooms. They knew me too well.

“Flip-flops, Mom. Those are flip-flops that you wear on your feet,” they told me time and again when I refered to my thongs. “Thongs are something else,” they said confidently.

I simply could not adjust my brain to calling thongs flip-flops. Or underwear (underwear?) thongs. They could not adjust their brains to it being any of my business. At all. Ever.

But I had to wonder . . . did other mothers wonder? C’mon, are thongs underwear, really?–they are strings you thread from clitoris to anus. For a thrill? For…? For what?

Okay, I get it. C’mon. I’m not that out of touch. They’re sexy. They have a very simple way of pointing, like little arrows, to our important, well, places.  So it occurs to me that young women, old women, women everywhere are wearing underwear (kind of) in the shape of arrows for . . . whom? To whom are they showing the way? Holy Toledo.

Okay, I say to myself, don’t knock them until you try them. I am not a prude, really. So I bought a few . . . pairs. Okay, so they were interesting, and here’s my truth. I couldn’t get through a day wearing them. I was distracted. All day long. Couldn’t focus. I mean the damn things kept me pretty turned on all day long. Granted, they’re fun, but nevertheless they make it pretty hard to work and stay on task. Whew!

Granted, the origin of these little ditties may be the elimination of panty lines, which are believed to be ugly, and I suppose that may be a wise fashion choice for some who are worried about such lines. But, really, what is it with these conceptions around women’s clothing? If you have panty lines, even if they are lines created by tight jeans or pants, creating a contour of your underthings, or lines pushing extra weight, albeit fat, out of and around underwear hems, is it unsightly? According to who?

So, my theory was always, if you don’t like the lines, ‘go commando,’ as Joey on ‘Friends’ used to call it. And that also seemed to be a popular fashion statement back in the day when thongs were on your feet. Women went without bras. Without briefs. There is a pure joy and freedom to this, and ultimately the elimination of lines. Right? I know my daughters are absolutely cringing if reading. Sorry, girls.

But, no. Someone, who??? Invented these underwear/not underwear for women to 1) eliminate panty lines; 2) point to pubic places; 3) look sexy when wearing; and, most importantly, 4) look sexy when you are wearing them underneath jeans or slacks, and bend over, and the T of the thong is displayed above the back of your pants, smack dab above your butt crack.

Okay, so what about panty lines is hidden then, if we are just showing them in another place? But now it is titillating. Oh, it’s all so confusing.

Okay, part two of this nostalgic venture. The combining of menstrual cycle, with those underwear string thong things. It’s kind of like wiping your bleeding pussy parts with dental floss. Right? And, why?

I tried all my life to time my very regular periods so that I could catch the first flow before ruining a pair of BIKINI underwear, or worse yet, ruining a pair of jeans or slacks or whatever I was wearing. Rarely happened. The not ruining part, in other words, Oh, the great jeans gone to rest with un-cleanable blood stains. You work for years to get them to the exactly right worn-out look and feel, and then you stain the crap out of them.

Try as I did, I just never learned how to bleed until the day it stopped; it simply never stopped surprising me.

So when women who wear thong underwear experience a similar situation, I can only think, WAIT! so this string thingy obviously can’t catch any blood, what the heck happens to their jeans?

You couldn’t affix a pad to said string underwear because 1) the adhesive would stick to you, to your pubic hair, to your skin, and it would just be a painful disaster on top of what, for some, is already a monthly painful disaster; and 2) women these days seem less inclined to wear pads.

And there came the day, when shopping in the SANITARY aisle (please see Protecting Women, a found poem, Aisle 7, Walgreens for further commentary on this matter) that I came upon–I am still dumbfounded–thong-shaped pads. Are you f’n kidding me? The pad was nearly as thin as the string underwear, so it was supposed to capture exactly how much blood? Who invents this stuff?

Oh, dear. Isn’t there a better way to do this bleeding thing?

The answer is YES! There finally is. It’s about time. Too late for this old hen, but thank the menstrual goddesses for this good news. Thank You!

I had always shared with the girls, to much eye rolling, an idea I found in Hygiea: A Woman’s Herbal by Jeannine Parvati Baker, a book that I lived by as a young bleeding feminist. Not to be confused with a bleeding heart liberal, but I may have been that also. Maybe.

Parvati Baker talks about how, back in the good old days, women would just go out to the woods, squat their little butts over a hole, relax, get out all the goods, just drop them down into the earth, read a book maybe, make the grocery list, then clean up and go on about their lives. Much simpler. Oh, how I hankered for the like.

But I guess there are these new magic, I tell you, magic underwear, called Thinx™. Oh, thank god for brilliant women on the move. The idea is that you just bleed into them, kind of like squatting over a hole, but not as inconvenient.

You just bleed into the friggin’ crotch! It is layered with magic material and sucks the goods right in. Absorbent like no other product has ever been. Expensive, and absorbent, but nonetheless, almost makes me want to bleed again.


It is not thong shaped, no surprise there. However, I must say, while looking up these Thinx thingies, I did find this intriguing: the patent for the thong shaped Thinx thingy. Holy crap.

Really? C’mon. Come on!!!

It is just one experience men will never have. Nor will they ever know the experience. Flowing blood into a pad or Thinx. Right there. Down from the inside and out to the outside. Of your body.  Imagine, there you are, romantic evening with someone new, having a conversation over a lovely dinner, and a tablespoon, maybe a quarter cup, of blood just flowed out of your body and into your underwear, while you’re sharing an expensive Filet Migon and glass of Cabernet. Plop. Oh there goes the clot that caused the whole thing. Spill. Oh.

I am glad the thought of squatting over a hole in the forest is not even a dreamy option for modern women as it was for the likes of me, who was all padded and tamponed up and once a month felt like a toddler in full diapers. Granted, my ‘heavy’ day made my naturopathic doctor laugh.

“So what’s a heavy day for you?” she asked when we were talking about how things were changing during menopause. “Oh, for sure four maxi pads,” I answered with just a bit of suffering and misery resting on my voice.

She couldn’t help herself but laugh. “In a day?” she clarified. “That’s pretty normal, Anne Marie,” she said gently. “For some women,” she, still gently, explained, “Heavy is four or five pads in an afternoon, or less.”

Oh, I thought, gently, in my now suffering embarrassment brain. Oh.

Flip flops, thongs, thingys, and Thinx. There’s your Monday food for thinking.

Photo of Rose courtesy of Roksolana Zasiadko on Unsplash.com


Three Variations of Raspberry Jam

devin-rajaram-28791This is the promised partner poem to “Glass in Our Tortillas.” An old poem, that tells the story of food, friendship, and having daughters. 

Three Variations of Raspberry Jam

for Julie

Each afternoon we drank atole,
Julie and I, in the shadows of the descending sun
and laughed, at our lives, ourselves,
at her intolerance for carelessness—
as I brushed and braided her snarled hair;
at my disdain for dishonesty—
as she doused and expired the fires of my dramatics.

Julie made tortillas, and served them fresh and warm, to me
with peanut butter, jam, and rich creamed coffee.
I baked Tollhouse cookies, varying the recipe
so she would beg for the secret of their texture,
so she would always ask for more.

We wailed for our mothers who fought
the same cancer with similar courage
on chemo floors two thousand miles apart,
and some mornings we walked to the schoolyard
to watch the sun climb over the Organ Mountains
because we believed in that silence.

But no sooner had she moved in than she shrugged
our genuine time behind and went south
to Ecuador to admire dark women balancing bottles
and baskets on their slippery black hair.
Julie scaled silver icy slopes with sharp teeth
attached to her lightweight boots
by her new boyfriend who held her perspiring hand
the entire way and still has not let go.

They moved to a lake in Seattle to sip Folgers
at dusk, promising forever to each other
and feeding the ducks cookie crumbs.
I sat at my small table alone in the tiled dining room,
where I witnessed her absence take the shape of a womb,
so swollen and hushed, so round and calm,
bulging with the down of her sweet missing voice.

I crawled into that emptiness, curled up
with the contractions and waited
for her to answer my letters or calls.
My first daughter arrived, and my mother’s cancer left
that frail body at last.

My home regained its ability to make laughter echo
from the walls and songs bounce on the furniture,
music dance down the halls.
Pink plastic bottles full of my expressed milk
lined the refrigerator shelves
still full of Julie’s sticky glass jars:
Family-Size Skippy Peanut Butter
and three variations of raspberry jam.
I threw them all out and removed her
number from my automatic dial.

A letter on loose leaf, dusty and yellow
announcing that her mother had died, reached me
months after Julie had buried her under a tree
on the family farm.  The loopy script threatened
that our friendship could evolve
only if it lacked the definitions
I relentlessly attached to it.

She sent a book of fairy tales for my toddler,
a bib that said “Spit Happens” for my new baby girl,
and a bag of soft round homemade tortillas for me.
There was accidental glass in the tortillas.
Small sandy shards that drew
no blood but scratched the enamel of my teeth.

Now, each afternoon, I wipe peanut butter onto wheat bread,
smother it with jelly and serve it with juice
to my daughters who have filled the void
I tried to stuff with Julie.
I sip espresso applauding my toddler’s somersaults
and mimicking my baby’s firmly shaped “oh!”
and I know I wouldn’t mother Julie now.

My girls drop chocolate chips into the bowl
of dough, eating more than lands on the pan
and staring proudly as the cookies flower
in the oven’s dull heat.  They promise
to finish all their dinner
if I let them have “just one more.”

Someday, they too will leave, when they no longer need
me, and I’ll pray for their safe return
so we can begin again as friends.

First published in Puerto del Sol.

Image by Devin Rajaram on Unsplash.com




Glass in Our Tortillas


It made for a pretty sweet parenting pleasure to arrive home to a house where I could see the vacuum wheel tracks running across the carpet like directional signs saying ‘This way to clean!’ And to smell the fresh red chile pork in the kitchen. ‘Are we at your mom’s?’ I asked the girls’ dad. And there was our little Ri smiling and gnawing a fist as her wind up swing rocked her back and forth. Yes!

Eva, our first, and only, nanny, not only took care of our baby, but she cleaned and cooked while we were at work. It seemed a luxury for us thirty somethings, but I was teaching full time at the university, and I had my classes on only two days. So it was only for a few days a week that Riana, and our house, was in her care.

One night we came home to homemade tortillas. Warm and soft, wonderful little food blankets piled under a linen towel. We may have sat down for a meal, or just sat down to eat the tortillas, gentle enough to give Riana a few torn-off pieces. And luckily . . . we didn’t.

As one of us was about to tear off a piece for her to grab with those pudgy little fingers, we were chewing on the tortillas ourselves. “My tortilla is . . . crunchy,” I said quizzically. “Like, really crunchy.”

My ex agreed and said, “It’s like sand.”

“Or dirt.”

“Or . . . glass?” I asked.

It is amazing how agile we become in the face of danger for our little one. We threw down our tortillas and pieces and ran to the kitchen where we found broken glass in the trash. I carefully pulled my hand across the counter top where Eva would have worked, my fingers traveling slowly behind the dish rack, canisters, and other counter items. Low and behold, my skin picked up itty-bitty shards. “Holy shit.”

When I called and questioned Eva that night, she evenly, and matter-of-factly, explained that yes she had broken a drinking glass onto the counter, and into the flour she was mixing for the tortillas. She was very sorry for any worry she had caused. “But, Anne Marie, I promise,” she said. “I picked out all the pieces.”

Well, no she hadn’t I tried to explain imagining Riana’s bloody gums and dribbles of red coming down from her little lips over the baby chin bump and making their way down her fat neck. Of course, that never happened, nor did we ever see Eva again.

I love food stories. I love food. I love how it makes us who we are, how we react, behave. It becomes us, or we become it.

As the girls were here at my house recently I cooked for them, we cooked together, shared meals. It occurred to me that we not only have food stories, but we have food behavior, too. In fact, when the three of us witness each other expressing even the tiniest tad of tension; when one of us appears to be experiencing just a little twist in those damn knickers, the first thing we say to one another, always, is: “Have you eaten?”

Our relationship with food is detached–in my family anyway–from our relationship with eating. The three of us love good food. I love to cook and bake. The girls are learning on their own, I am glad to know, as they took only a bit of interest growing up.

As a high school girl Riana made the most perfect snickerdoodles I had ever eaten. Ever. And I say this as a former baker, and they are one of my favorites to make, and to eat. “How did you do it?” I asked.

“Just followed the recipe,” she said. She has never ever made them even distantly resembling the perfect cookie she made that one time. She gave up trying. For Riana, it was seriously a one hit wonder.

Now Riana teaches herself, and she revels with great joy when she succeeds at her jam or cookies. Riana’s partner is in the restaurant business, and he loves to cook good food. Ri surrounds herself with people who are similar in that way. She is an appreciater. We all need appreciaters.

Bridget, upon hearing me talk about how I dedicate a day of my weekend, every weekend, to cooking and baking for myself, for the week. she asked, very kindly, but somewhat confused: “So, you spend an entire day cooking?”

The notion seemed earnestly foreign to her. I think it was both the amount of time it takes, and the amount of time I am willing to give to making sure that I have great food in the fridge and at my fingertips, that confounded her.

She lives in New York. She has a tiny kitchen. She is out more than in as getting from anywhere to the next place, and then to home, in the big city, often requires a lot of time on the street, or under it, as the case may be. Scheduling home time for cooking is not a priority.

Bridget also has a partner who loves to cook, so she, too, is an appreciater. I may not have raised good cooks . . . . But Bridget has committed to learning how to make a pretty decent Al Fredo sauce. This is all. One sauce. And this desire evolves from nothing more than the fact that she, like the three of us, is a picky eater, and she is not wealthy. She has to eat, she can’t always eat out, and her boyfriend is not always available. And she LOVES Al Fredo.

But eating? That idea of “having to eat,” is the real story for us. We agree that food is good, but eating? Eating is an activity that, unfortunately, can fall to the wayside. The three of us stay busy. Hours may go by. Before we know it, we find ourselves asking the question, of ourselves, ‘when did I eat?’ Or, we find a loved one asking us, with a bit of sting in their voice, “Have you eaten anything?”

I offer up my own guilt in the matter, and their father’s. We used eating as a weapon, and that is sad, but perhaps, not that uncommon? To use eating, or not eating as is more often the case, as a message, a red flag. A way to say, I’m pretty  . . . .  fill in the blank. Pissed off. Upset. Anxious.

If the girls’ dad and I had a row anywhere near meal time, which pretty much could be any of three times a day; and I was cooking, and I usually was; he would walk from the room, or leave the table, saying, “I’m not hungry.” Good food went bad.

It is most decidedly impossible to eat food that has become a tool of disdain. Even if I, and/or the girls, trudged through the chow that was set down before us, post or during the fight, or even if it was not an outright fight, but definitely a tense mealtime episode, it simply became hard to swallow. And the leftovers?

They sat in the fridge for days having lost any sensual glory. No matter how good the food once smelled, what aromas and expectations it had once sent to taste buds or to stomachs. Now it just smelled of dis-ease. Until it became part of the garbage. And even there it was probably rejected.

It is, in fact, the swallowing that becomes impossible for me in my greatest stress. My swallow button turns off in the same protest as if to say, “I’m not eating that! I’d rather starve.” Bring on a funeral, a divorce, selling and buying a home, and that switch disconnects itself with an invisible swipe.  Pounds drop. “Shit, I gotta eat!” I’ll say to myself, over and again.

The girls have the same symptom, and neither of them have any room for a poundage drop as they’re both thin. But as a trio we are aware of this in each other, and they will hear it from me, and I suspect they hear it from each other. “Eat!”

Yes, yes, I experienced the ‘Divorce 30’. I learned that it was a thing: that women, I don’t know about men, usually lose (maybe can also gain?) in the neighborhood of thirty pounds as the whole divorce thing proceeds.

Jeez. Even I worried; my sallow cheeks, sunken eyes, waif-like limbs, and OMG size six jeans. My doctor, in particular, was worried. “Just eat, Anne Marie,” she said. “Anything.” This coming from a woman of staunch and enviable good eating habits.  When she gave me permission to eat cookies, if that was what it took, I knew it was serious. Brownies or gummy bears. “Well, nuts would be better,” she told me. “Just eat.”

I did. Little tiny meals. A handful of nuts. Half a power bar. A carrot. Jeez. I was delighted, I must say, when it was all over, and I took the whole lot of size six clothing to Goodwill. Wiped my hands of that mess, and was back to my normal weight. “Just eat.”

Is this where the mantra between the girls and me, evolved? And the question when we notice that tension: “Have you eaten?” If the response is ”I am not hungry,” and the behavior is pretty, well, crabby, we pretty much know that trouble is in the vicinity and aforementioned knickers are duly twisted.

I’m glad we have a fail-safe, and I find redemption in the fact that they are both wonderful and active artists who use their artistic abilities to work through the same disdain, anger, sadness or tension that may also take away their appetite, or simply distract them from eating. So we’re okay, the three of us.

I do not remember using food as an expression of anything but hunger as a child. I do not remember ever saying, “I’m not hungry” to my mother and it being a way of telling her or a sibling that I was pissed off. Nope, not me. I ate, ate well, ate often, ate a lot, and ended up weighing a bit more upon high school graduation than I do now. Quite a bit more. Think “Brick House.”

Needless to say, I was blessed with two parents who both loved to cook, and bake, and did so quite well.

My dad was most proficient at soups and sauces. Navy bean soup. Beef au jus that he served with salted bagels. Split pea soup with pink chunks of ham floating like little ships of flavor. Chipped beef – oh the ooey gooey of it.  YUM! He was also a butcher’s assistant as a boy, and into his adulthood, so he knew cold cuts and cheeses, and Oscar Mayer simply had no place in our refrigerator.

Mom was the casserole queen. Tuna noodle anyone? Or roasts! Pork, beef, and the turkey at Thanksgiving. And the muffins, cakes or snickerdoodles! And as far away as my father stayed from packaged meats, my mother stayed that close to the boxed mix. She had nine kids and a house to keep. Boxes and cans, frozen and packaged goods? Bring. It. On.

In wondering how it is that our food behavior evolved, I think often about the absolute cravings for everything healthy I experienced while pregnant with Riana. I was eating fruits and veggies I didn’t even know that I liked. And one that I ended up not liking.

Grape juice. Didn’t know that my body was unhappy with it until morning sickness came on while in the parking lot outside work. And just as my boss walked by, and greeted me, I heaved up a purple river. He smiled weakly as I stood in the subsequent purple puddle. Poor thing, I am sure he thought, shaking his head.

Riana tells me, to this day, she hates grape juice. Go figure.

With Bridget? I craved everything absolutely un-healthy, especially potato chips and red licorice twists. I made me, and my dentist, happy during those 40 weeks. And is that why Bridget is my sugar bug? Not that licorice is her thing, but holy Toledo that girl can put away the candy.

As a mother I feel a responsibility for my daughters’ food. I cook and bake like a maniac before their visits. I am all about feeding them now, and when they were growing up. I love this part of my role, this part of my motherhood. I love it the way my own mother loved it. Or at least did it lovingly and with a song, though I don’t ever remember her actually saying, “I love to cook for the ten of you.” But I remember her singing!

As responsible as I feel to make them food, what is my role in making them eat?  I don’t remember stories of eating disorders as a kid. I remember the oddity of learning that Mary P., a gal in high school, one of the smartest and thinnest I seem to remember, was suddenly hospitalized. The rumor mill of a small Catholic high school was bitter and feverish, saying that she had only eaten lettuce for a few months.

What an odd thing I remember thinking. Why lettuce? Anorexia and bulimia were not topics of conversation or articles in magazines back then, not until later, so we really had no basis upon which to draw to understand this beyond its presented facts. Lettuce diet. Hospitalized.

Well, for all of the food stories there are, and there are so many, I guess my point is, “Just eat.” Down and out? Just eat. Nervous or sad? Just eat. Eat a little something. And when you notice someone you love getting a little bitey–perfect adjective–if it’s one of us, ask the question. “Have you eaten?” and offer a handful of nuts, or a smoothie. Just beware of the glass.

Side note: yes, they did call me “Annie Bananie with the Big Fat Fanny,” as a child. Nothing more to say.


And the poem? Well, please find the partner poem to this piece, “Three Variations of Raspberry Jam,” in a subsequent blog post. 

The image is simply a Google find.