A Memory for Mother’s Day

this is a couple of years old but it’s one of my favourite “Mothering” stories

 

I married a bass player when I was seventeen.

He had such confidence. His presence filled a room. His laugh was beyond contagious. It cast a spell over you and you couldn’t help but laugh with him. He was sexy and funny and loved by everyone. I adored him. And I loved him long after we parted ways because we both left pieces of our hearts behind.

He was also one of the most talented musicians, singers and songwriters I have ever met and he gave me my little boy.

But this one isn’t about him really. It’s about me again.

One hot Oklahoma summer, a guy with a banjo and a guitar and a guy learning to play guitar and two hippie chicks, with long hair that would catch in the breeze and float like feminine banners to the Goddess, decided they needed a weekend in the country. We drove to Madill, Oklahoma. On a few acres of land was a dilapidated two room farmhouse belonging to the guitar player’s grandfather. We wandered the hills during the day, making grand plans of communal living with music and art and organic farming and ovens baking manna from heaven.

However, that night the two boys played guitar by the light of the moon and a few kerosene lamps while the chicks sang along. One of the songs they played was this one. They always played this one. The guitar player was a perfectionist. I suppose most good musicians are. The hippie chick with the long dark hair had a tendency to go a bit flat or run out of breath. It frustrated him.

So she learned how to stand perfectly still in the moonlight in a pair of low slung bell bottom jeans that dragged the ground, a thin magenta halter top that exposed her belly, her baby boy in nothing but a diaper perched on her hip with one hand reaching for her long dangling earring while the other pulled on her soft, straight Cherokee hair, and sing softly to the one being who possessed the most amazing ability to love her unconditionally.

And in that moment in a deserted piece of countryside under a moon filled, starlit night, with her baby in her arms, a shy mother sang to her little boy and the world could not have been more perfect.

 

 

 

 

More thoughts on blackbirds: Chemo ramblings

I think
but I could be wrong

It’s a hard choice to make

but I think
my favourite thing
about summer
is the sound
of blackbirds
singing
just outside
my bedroom window
early in the morning

They’re nesting
in the plum trees
just across
the road

and in my heart.

10 May 2018

A word or two…

I have started a number of posts attempting to describe where my head’s at these days but I get bored with them after the second paragraph.

They tell me cancer takes over your life. They’re not wrong but it doesn’t mean I want to talk about it. It’s just so boring.

Yet, it’s everywhere, impacts everything.

I’ll just say the chemo drugs and my body are not getting along. I have mysterious fevers and blood work indicating I’m fighting an inflammation of some kind but they can’t find a source.

Until those inflammation indicators come down chemotherapy has been deferred which means cancer has been given a reprieve which is depressing.

Unfortunately the high fevers are exhausting. I sleep a lot. I’m spacey a lot. I read a lot of poetry.

I find my writing a bit banal. I’m never happy with it. It seems off in some way. Sometimes I think I try too hard.

So I just read more and sleep more.

That’s where my head’s at.

Blessings.

William Shakespeare

Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday. Actually that’s not entirely true. We don’t know the date of his birth but this is the day we celebrate the birth of the Bard and also the day of his death.

One year I spent an entire day wandering the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon. It was Shakespeare’s birthday. In the  afternoon I sat in the garden of his place of birth and reflected on the magic of life and the adventures it affords us. And I took the photograph below.

Here’s a short song from Henry VIII that I like:

Song: “Orpheus with his lute made trees”

(from Henry VIII)
Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Blessings
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The Blessing of a Scar

She doesn’t look at her reflection anymore. It doesn’t look like her anymore.

On her spacey days when the poisonous magic racing through her veins is too much for her brain to bear, she sits idly in the sun and wonders what it would be like to have no reflection like a handsome vampire who can’t see how devastating his beauty is.

Today the sun is harsh, not like England at all. It crashes into the mirror in front of her. For a moment she dreams of an explosion of sharp shards of glass.

She promised her she would look.

She remembers the sorrow in the surgeon’s voice as, while drawing a diagram, he explained what needed to be done to save her life. She remembers the quiet stillness of her husband standing somewhere behind her.

“I’m sorry but we won’t be able to save your nipple,” he says.

When she was younger she fell in love with women after nothing more than a kiss or the feel of soft breasts pressing against hers. She loved the beauty and sanctuary of women’s breasts.

She didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to think.

She wore stretchy yoga tops instead of bras now because the right breast was misshapen and small and no longer even the tiniest bit symmetrical and couldn’t fill up a normal bra, much less one masquerading as lingerie.

Still.

She promised her.

And there it was, a small smooth mound with a slight dent and a blue bruise on the edge of where the nipple used to be, where blue dye was used to locate her vanquished nodes. There were no peaks and no valleys, just a small, smooth, slightly misshapen sloping hill with one dark line, still a shiny red ridge of flesh, from where the nipple used to be straight across to just under her arm like a symbolic, if imaginary, equator.

She didn’t feel any particular way about the change in her body, the end of an era, perhaps.

Some will say it is a badge of honour but it isn’t. There is nothing that feels more passive than fighting cancer. It is a tragedy that just happens because sometimes they do, you know. It is an ice storm one must soldier through, head down against the elements, pushing bullishly through to the other side. When you take your first wailing breath, you promise to survive and so you never stop pushing. Not ever.

She was still caught up in the storm and would be for the best part of a year.

But her breast, or what was left after saving it, was an island of calm, abandoned and forgotten.

Watching her reflection in the mirror, she lightly traced the scar with her index finger.

She never even felt the single tear as it travelled down her face only to land on her breast in a kind of benediction.

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”

scabulous: proud of a scar on your body, an autograph signed by you by a world grateful for your continued willingness to play with her, even when you don’t feel like it.

5 April 2018
Sussex Coast, England

Mendocino Village and Headlands
Mendocino Village and Headlands ~ photography by (c) Robin Dalton, 2003

 

 

I married a man

I married a man
sixteen years ago

today

One day I left him

He let me go
and waited
and rescued me
over and over again

Now
I’m dying
or fighting death
hard
with more death

And I wonder
about Love
and constancy
and patient
persistence

Yesterday
I told a few people
who remember me
still
that sometimes
I think the true healers
are those
who can hold our hand
in silence

I’m tired
I’m tired a lot now

But there is a man
who never lets go
of my hand

And there’s a kind of
magic in that

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Finding yourself between the pages of a book…

“The shadow past is shaped by everything that never happened.” ~ Anne Michaels

My therapist gives me assignments. Sometimes poems to write and sometimes books to read.

We talk a lot about my cancer diagnosis these days. There aren’t many people that can bear talking about it. My thoughts and feelings have reached a crashing crescendo of intensity. Yesterday she said when you are faced with your mortality in the way I am, the sense of time just falls away. You are left exposed and raw. So I don’t talk much. I think and feel… quietly.

Yesterday I was told to read this book. “I think you will find yourself in its pages,” she said. It’s another kind of grace, I think.

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