Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chocolate Cream of Wheat

Flannel jammies. Navy with tiny pink flowers. Hand-sewn by my mom so we could sleep free of non-flammable toxicity while dreaming.

My dad's stories: the farm, the air force, anything in his caramely deep voice. His smile shined through the dark from the corner where he sat in the hand-painted blue chair that my parents stole from a bar in Red Lake Falls.

In the darkness alone, partial dreamland. Wondering if this is real. When will I wake up? Why hasn't the world stopped? Was it all a dream?

My mom stumbles along, one foot in front of the other. Barely upright. Trying not to die herself of grief. Each morning she prepares chocolate Cream of Wheat for Carrie and me before school.

Bouncing along the green vinyl seats in our yellow Bluebird bus. Gus at the wheel. French-braiding Carrie's hair as we rolled through the countryside to Douglas Elementary. Trying my best to put things back in order.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

coming home

the hush of the portland airport
jeans and plaid and backpacks and beards
lumbering along the wacky teal carpet
i sigh and exhale--  the relief of familiarity

sherbet fog hovering over the morning landscape
white shimmery mount hood peeking out of the ground
year round velvety green grass
that smell of moist winter air- not too hot, not too cool
plodding through the wet grass
squishing in the mud running through fernhill

walking to our grocery store
bailey leading the way
piles of organic produce
neighbors eating quietly

i forget sometimes how nice it is here.

after nine days on an island out east
so glad to be home.

Friday, January 2, 2015


The enclosed space of heat and water. The air so thick with chlorine and humidity it’s hard to see the other side. The ceiling feels like it’s hanging too low and closing in. A few glass-topped round tables and chairs are scattered along the side for parents and guests. We’re in the pool at the Holiday Inn and my dad is supposed to be watching us.

I cautiously drift down the stairs, sensing the pull of the water wanting to suck me in. At the bottom, my feet reach for the ground. I feel nothing but space and movement. I know I should not go further. So I hold onto the slippery silver handrail while I kick and flutter. Feeling the warm water moving between my toes and legs.

I look up. My sister’s coming in too. Down the stairs and right into the too deep water without realising the consequences. I hang tightly onto the shiny railing as she grasps at me, trying to get back to safety. Flailing and panicking, she loosens my grip from the handle and we slide into the deep water.

Tenuous. Life is.

We jump in before we know where we’re going. 

Sometimes we take those we love most with us.

The water's warm and bubbly.

We bob up and down. Gasping for air.

I know she didn’t mean to get us into this place.

She is holding on with a vice grip. Visceral animal fear. Fighting for her life like all beings do.

I’m trying to swim us back, but I can’t move. I try to scream but it's lost underwater. We’re going under. I’m gasping water. Thinking it's the end. I love my sister, but I can’t save us.

If only she hadn’t jumped in.

I keep remembering this. Like a feedback loop. She didn’t mean to. We are drowning and nothing can be done.  

We are still in the pool. Treading water. Trying to save our lives.  

She goes, and I go. I won't push her off and let her drown.

Just when I think we took our last breath, someone jumps in and pulls us out of the pool. It is not the end after all. We get another chance.