Thursday, May 21, 2015


In the blue afternoon
In between the peas and the carrots
Of four shepherd's pies
Lined up for assembly on my kitchen table
While the rich sauce simmers,
And one child naps,
A second sits intently piecing a puzzle,
And the remaining three are pinning a moth
Under a glass jar in the green backyard,
The phone rings

It is only the school calling to renege
On the services they'd led me to believe
They would provide for my daughters
Who have enough to fight for in this life
And my strong voice cracks
While the carrots grow cold
And the rich sauce scorches
While hot tears squeeze out

That's how grief steals back in
Tipping the delicate balance with one drop too much
For a heart already torn
Tracking grimy footprints
Across my freshly mopped mind
And I want to snap that mop in half
And slam it through a window

I swallow hard
Draw a long, slow breath, throat aching
Thankful that she's talking now
Babbling on about how this isn't her decision
My voice squeaks, obviously shaken
While I ask, "Exactly which law are we referencing here?"
"I need you to give me specifics"
"Is this in IDEA or Article 7?"
Growing stronger now, louder, clearer
She says she'll get back to me

I spend the rest of the day
Wiping up my spilled heart
Scrubbing the grimy prints off my mind
Hating this fight
I google laws, scan tedious documents
Straining to decipher painfully vague and subjective language
I call the VP of the NFB
Who is blind himself and has been walking beside us
To ask if what the school is now offering
Is anywhere near enough for my girls to really learn braille
But reach only his voicemail

She calls again, her voice annoyingly sweet
Mine much steadier now, determined
I state clearly now the information I need her to gather
Before I can know how much we're at war
She tells me we'll meet in two days at 10:30

Slogging back to the kitchen
I layer cold carrots onto peas
And drizzle them with scorched sauce
And yell at the children
Proudly holding their bottled moth
While tracking grimy footprints
Across my kitchen floor

I am surprised at my depletion
I should be used to this
Should be OK with this
Should be steel by now
I sigh
Admire the moth,
Admire the puzzle,
Make a jelly sandwich
For the fuzzy-headed three-year-old emerging from his nap
Slip one casserole in the oven
And three in the freezer for later
Re-wipe the floors
Re-balance the scales
And go on

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Sometimes between a rising and a setting
There's a neighbor at my table asking if I have coffee
And what it looks like to love a wife
Who hardly seems like his wife anymore
And whether the baby will bring her back
Or make her more a stranger
And how he's supposed to hold on

There's a phone call from a girl who hasn't felt cherished
Since the day he vowed he would
And she wants to know how to hold on
To a back that's been turned for a year now

There are dirty little faces at my back door
Looking for playmates, and a meal that doesn't come in cellophane,
A soft voice, a silent hug, and someone to call the police
Because Daddy's hurting Mommy

Sometimes the sorrow is choking
Sometimes I gasp with the pain
Wound around the lives around me

And a tall man's knocking to tell me he's new here
Because he just lost his wife and nine children
To greed or misunderstanding or neglect
His or hers I'll never know
But I know that's how it happens here
Day after day

A young mom sends a message asking
How to raise this baby that is not the child she thought she'd have
How to understand this doctor's foreign words
How to learn the skills she never knew she'd need
How to let herself love the child she might lose

But the phone is ringing again
With the school psychologist who needs a meeting with me
To discuss when my girls will come to learn braille
And how to use a white cane
And how to make their way in this world

And sometimes I have no words of advice
For the brokenness around me
For the sorrow we're all breathing here
In between the little joys
Sometimes it's choking

So I tell them I don't know
That we're all just holding on here
But I know there's a designer
Who's calling us back to find him
And maybe he's driving us out of loving this life
With sorrow like smoke of a house that's on fire
Driving us to fresh air
To home
Somewhere beyond here

Sometimes on my porch the air is soft
The shadows are cool
Like still waters and green pastures
And I am refreshed for another rising
With his staff beside me
Guiding me through suffering
For his renown