Tag Archives: ordinary details

burned tortillas

I drop my son off at preschool three mornings a week at 9:00,
and after circle time I sprint for the car
get home by 9:20
and work feverishly till 11:50,
when i dash back to preschool for pickup.
at home I make his lunch while he plays or watches a show

not infrequently, i burn something while trying to multitask
sending off the last few professional emails in broken bursts
while sweeping up the mud from rubber boots and eight large dog paws
opening the mail
filing bills
talking about his day
and confirming childcare swaps via text message

the acrid smell of a too-hot skillet eddies in from the kitchen
snapping me back to the primary task at hand
and i rush in to tend to lunch two minutes too late

stand over the sink cracking crispy bubbles of burned tortilla
off his quesadilla with a wooden spoon
quietly cursing myself for doing too many things at once
while he breaks down into tears over the news
that I have to work at the restaurant tonight
(as i do every Wednesday)
and I watch myself trying to handle his separation anxiety
wondering if i’m making it worse
and if my networking emails were coherent
and if i moved the laundry into the dryer

i wonder if he associates the acrid smell of burned tortillas
with the heat of his anger
or the bitterness of his disappointment
over things not being easier
I certainly do

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Filed under motherhood, Ordinary, work

a dead gull and a map of the world

(orderpad note 1/19)

Driving home from Violet’s 2nd birthday party,
which was sweet in every way imaginable,
Callum and I discussed the colors of the things we passed,
orange backhoes and green trees, yellow cars and blue signs.

I passed a seagull in the righthand lane,
its wings were outstretched,
and it had been run over several times.
And I thought about the colors of the scene,
and about flying
and how sometimes life is wrought
with unpredictable happenings.

Callum chattered in the backseat, showing me his party favors in the rearview
Ahead, I saw a crumpled piece of trash dancing along the shoulder of the highway
I reached one hand into the backseat to receive
the item my son needed help with
and in that moment
the trash lifted up into the wintersky
and was unfurled
by the wind

revealing before me a perfectly unfolded
map of the world

i exited the highway
and drove up the hill to our house
demonstrating
how to blow into a paper whistle party favor
which was yellow
and unfurled with a tweet
at the end of the curl of paper,
much to my two-year old son’s delight.

and that was the end of the poem.

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Filed under basic goodness, doldrums, gathering, gratitude, January, love, meditation, motherhood, on writing, Ordinary, outside, Peace, poetry

scraps

I am sitting cross-legged on a bench,
in the high-ceilinged lobby of a downtown office building
Callum is sleeping beside me, and I am writing cards
waiting for Ryan to get done with a massage appointment a dozen floors upstairs
good warm sun for the garden today
have to cover the greens bed as soon as the winter planting shows itself
the wind in the oak trees outside is scattering sunshadows across the baby’s face
not a scrap of poetry in me right now
maybe a grocery list though.
soymilk, bread, pasta, sundried tomatoes, peanut butter

Callum, 8 weeks, sharing a pillow with Assata

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Filed under basic goodness, love, motherhood, Ordinary, poetry

I am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness.

spend the morning watching rain beading on freshsprung march buds
daffodils are blossoming yellow and damp alongside covert crocuses
they seem more nuanced, as flowers,
when the sky is dim, and grey
more capable of the lesser human emotions

i am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness

there are asbestos-containing-materials in our new house
and its not shocking, i guess
but i am furious anyway.
Not that a house built in 1930 would have
asbestos ceilings
and asbestos glue under ugly flooring
but furious that anyone was ever fooled into thinking this was a good idea
that the newest laboratory innovation was really going to make life better
and now we’re left to clean it up

midway through the morning it occurs to me:
there’s nothing shocking here.
maybe in getting pissed about the mistakes of previous generations i am missing the point
Everybody wants it cheap, and easy.
Everyone wants to have their cake
and eat it too
my generation is just as willing to overlook the risks
Goodbye Asbestos, hello vinyl siding and polychlorinated biphenyls.
goodbye styrofoam,
hello nalgene bottles with bisphenol-A
goodbye oil hello nuclear power
goodbye coca-cola with cocaine
hello diet coke with aspartame

i am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness.

there is a wind gust and a raven swoops upward suddenly over the ravine
then turns its head into the invisible force
and strikes out northwest
i am looking forward to years of wandering my own yard
clipping branches from familiar trees
for ikebana
at all seasons

somedays i chide myself for writing much about Ordinary Life
when there are So Many Big Issues playing out in the World
big issues that i care about,
big issues where my voice is relevant to the discussion
and i have something to say
But then I have moments
in which i remember:

This is All there is.

This ordinary moment each of us is living:
right Now,
is all there is.
All those Big Issues are Here, Now.
in our breakfast cereal,
in the set of choices we have before us
Ecology, “Politics,” Gender Issues, Violence, Pollution, Economics, “History”
coffee, dogshit, bills paid, weather, food in the fridge, the water coming out of the tap, the inventory of the kitchen trash, the history my body carries as it walks around the house, the dust in the vents, the microchips in my cell phone, the corporate giants who own my organic feel good toothpaste.

i wander around the yard in a hoodie snapping pictures of spring flowers against the grey sky
the dog refuses to join me,
because of the rain
and stays inside on the couch
with pillows

i make soy hot chocolate on the stove top
put on an ani album from ten years ago
and start packing photo albums and journals
into discarded archival boxes

midway through the afternoon, i hitch my shirt up over my belly
and stare at it, waiting for him to move
I haven’t really been certain yet
if the flutterings are actually him
and not my blood pumping, or my stomach working,
or my ligaments stretching
suddenly,
the skin pops up alongside my bellybutton
and returns to level so quickly i’m not sure i really saw it
so i wait
and there he is again
and again
i watch, entranced, for forty-five minutes
as his limbs surface under my skin like the fins of whales

i am picking my battles
and looking out for basic goodness

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Filed under Americana, Assata, basic goodness, Change, fathoming, habitat, Ordinary, outside, Peace, photographs, poetry, Pregnancy, violence, watching it all go by