Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Carol, I am making sun tea on my window sill.

You'd approave of the crimson pomegrante that takes it's time and works thru the clear water all the day. this is the way i saw my life: a place of beauty and light and when i think of your home, that is what i remember. how you welcomed a small girl with chewed nails and stinky keds summer day after summer day into your home. how did you make me feel so welcome? adding me into the blessing at dinner time. (we are holding hands, the room is golden with skylight. we are singing Johnny Apple Seed. you are thanking jesus for bringing me to your home. these are blessings, you say. and i believe you. i believe you.)

Carol, the other night i had a dream i was at your table again and i woke aching for your cassarole and your love. because that is what you showed me. bringing me far out of the city to The Garden where i caught frogs and escaped sidewalks and tore through wild, lashing grasses taller than myself. where i stripped beans to their internal perfect pelllets from my teeth and just rolled them on my tongue.

K was so young then. her skin as white as the Dessitin I'd smear on her backside, then carefully pin on her diaper with the yellow duckie pins.

here is what i took away:
sitting in your living room rug leaning over the record player with Bookends in my hand. listening to how quiet a voice can be in song.
here is what you gave me:

i cannot say how much the love you showed me gave me. standing in your kitchen, the glass jar steeping sun tea on the counter behind me, i wash our dinner dishes because the sink is full and then i wash them and they are clean and the job is finished. (at my house, any job moves forward and then slides back over you, never finished. greek. tragic.) i wash the ziplock bags to use again. they dry alongside the bubble glass glasses and the green flowered plates.

I sit on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees and watch you golden daughters run piano scales. I bury my hands into the thick orange carpet and never want to leave. The alley has smashes of bottles and its the endnof summer so I've been barefoot for days now and living in my knobby swimsuit and jean shorts.

Now, when so much of my life can be spent doubting, casting ugly motives on those who call themselves Christian and offer help, I see you as a true Christian whose love I drew in closer to and can only feel that any part of the world is more blessed by your presence of grace and beauty and that light, what is that light you hold? I am so grateful that I had you in my life, that you welcomes that little girl at your table and held her hand and blessed her with your light.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

After my first baby, I spent so many days feeling lonely in a pack of new moms, looking for some solace and finding little to none. Playgrounds, meet-ups at someone's apt, library story-times. I ached to connect to someone else who could sympathize about waking up every two hours to breast-feed, someone who had been cut off from the world that she had once called her own: long, lazy afternoons spent reading Salinger for the millionth time, watching the green crawl all over Thompson Square Park. Late night drinks with friends just because. All this and so much more had been lost to me and I wanted someone to tell me it was going to be OK, to tell me a dirty joke, to talk politics. I wanted to be the old me with someone who could relate to the new me. But I almost never found it for years.

Sitting with a slew of Moms and the one, balding father who kept chiming in his wife's pre-pregnancy breast size at innapropriate moments (but then, when would be an APPROPRIATE moment to chat about that?), a little puppet of a child strung out over his chest, arms and legs dangling, white flowered hat perched on her head.
"Well, we are at 40% of our income two years ago..." Drone.

I just swallow another bite of my chicken salad, pop another bread stick into my baby's mouth and look across the cafe to a beautiful girl. Heavy, dark braids newly stitched to her head tight off her face. Bright eyes and silver lips eating pizza with silked fingertips.

"What about you?" Brings me back to the chinless women gappling.

"When do you want to have your next one?"

I'm not chiming in on this one. No, I don't feel like chatting with them.

It's not enough that we're all mothers. That doesn't just make us all friends. And it hits me. It's just me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


When I come home and walk down my hallway, I know Norma has her apt. door propped open when I feel the breeze circulating and smell the fresh scent of starch and hear her stove CLick, CLick, CLick, the burner turned all the way up past high. She is boiling potatoes. The chicken she will fry after and then set beside the potatoes, cooled, cut in half, covered in a mixture of egg yolk, garlic, garlic, maybe a little mayo and then on top, halved red olives.

Norma is maybe 75 years old. Her short white hair and thick glasses, she calls me Merrry with her accent still thick if El Salvador even after 35 years in Queens and when she gives me a card on mother's day, she even spells my name this way: Merry.

During the winter, when I make soup, which is every day or every other day (I make it to survive the ice that remains piled up, rotten garbage underneath, dog shit laid in in every which step you take), I bring her a bowl of it boiling hot. We both love lentil and she is curious about what grain barley is. She brings back the bowl, impossibly clean, to me always when I have the kids in bed, quieting down and ready to sleep, "Thank you, Merry. Thank you." Big smile and she goes back next door.

We complain about the landlord's stingy grip on the heat. From 10:30 PM until 5:30 AM not a blast of hot steam releases from our radiators, no matter how low the thermometer drops. Within the letter of the law, but still.

When I walk past I call into her apt, "Norma, Hi!" And standing in her doorway we'll chat about this and that. Which medications she has been to buy today, which are still on order, which cost her more than $100 each. She's lonely mostly, and maybe I am too. It's comforting to have someone always next door to me. I hear her asthmatic cough when I am chopping onions in the kitchen, her window on the fire escape, my window on the fire escape. It feels safer with her there. Always watching over our floor.