If I Were a Kitchen

If I were a kitchen,
I’d want an old-fashioned woman
at my counters – rolling dough
canning pickles, chutney, jam,
homemade pasta sauce,
and every Sunday, a roast.
She’d wear her sweat like a saint,
ignore her aching back –
one practiced hand feeding
her Carnation baby, while
other children flocked to Formica,
hot flesh sticking to vinyl
as they picked at fresh made
sweet buns, the pot on the stove
perpetually simmering.

Or give me modern efficiency –
ninjas and presses, air fryers
and induction cookers –
let the children belly up
to the breakfast bar, chomp
on veggies and humus, while
cook totes baby in a sling,
and preps bone broth,
strains of Baby Einstein
emitting from a propped up iPad,
while a cellphone vibrates
on granite, and the Keurig
spits out Starbucks Pike.

Just don’t abandon me,
piles of unopened mail,
or tossed aside receipts
company for coffee rings
on my counters.
Please don’t litter my surfaces
with rotting takeout containers, or
dishes caked with processed cheese –
don’t leave my stainless steel sinks
stained, spoiled food reeking
in the refrigerator, traces
of late night mishaps curdling
on the floor; absence of familiar
sounds declaring my presence invalid.

(Rewrite of a rewrite. Image my own)

Shifting to Acceptance

In illness, I am passenger –
no matter how venturous
mind’s reach, the raw truth
is that limitations confine

This is not a sentence
for some perceived crime,
but a re-framing – attitude
shifting to acceptance

Choice becomes thoughtful –
time allows for that now –
and gratitude takes hold
in every corner of “I can”.

(Art my own)

Mental-Pause

Where do the words go
when they slip through the cracks
of my mental filing system?

And where is recognition
when words reappear,
no longer categorized
or referenced –
out of alphabetical order –

not even an inkling of recall
as if our acquaintance
is akin to discovery?

(Mental-pause first appeared here January, 2018. This version edited.
Image my own.)

Maybe

Maybe I just needed a new perspective –
like the famed Hanged Man of tarot –
committed to some deep, internal need,
I willed a horizontal shift; landed with intent.

Maybe it is not my legs that are disabled,
but a soul longing to escape the continual
discord of perpetual motion, a never-ending
to-do list of the success-driven persona.

Maybe there is a greater purpose for being
that is not encompassed by outer drive –
a mysterious meaning that is revealed only
in the quiet stillness in which I now dwell.

Maybe I have been called to a personal
pilgrimage – a Camino of sorts – a crusade
of spirit designed to cleanse and enlighten –
the journey is certainly arduous enough.

Maybe it is through acceptance, finally
having released a need to control, move,
achieve, accomplish that I am able to
embrace the true lessons of suffering.

Maybe this cocooning is an act of Grace
demanding surrender before the actual
transformation occurs, and I will emerge,
legless or not, winged and ready to soar.

Maybe, just maybe, this stripped down,
barren existence is not a penance for
shameful living, but a desert crossing,
offering re-alignment: hard-fought peace.

(Maybe first appeared here Feb. 2017. Image my own)

The Same, But Broken

Fragility blindsides me –
I am a strong woman,
not courageous
but accepting
in face of pain,
grief,
illness.

Fragility is pervasive –
body fibres stretched
and torn, on brink
of brokenness;
mind overwhelmed,
obsesses, unable to organize
or let go…

If only I could let go.

I am weeping and not –
weeping from frustration
of immediate impossibility;
unwilling to weep, for totality
of loss is beyond me.

Outside these walls,
life continues,
regards me with disgust/
indifference/repulsion –
equality ignores the ailing.

And, yet…

in this state of rawness,
stripped of busy-ness,
I am as any other –

Just a soul seeking
a meaningful existence.

(The Same, But Broken first appeared here December, 2014. This edition has been revised. Art my own.)

The Leap

Freezing drizzle
and aching joints
elevate doubt

We are forging
into unknowns,
claiming change

His motivation
drive for both –
I quiet objections

Faith, I have in him
Trust, I have in process,
Hope as my beacon

Many a storm
has passed our way –
the choice is easy

Stay and rot
or risk and thrive –
hand in hand, we leap.

(Four years ago, Ric and I sold our house and all our possessions and headed south in a motor home.  Both of us had experienced life-altering medical crises, and the alternative – staying put and waiting for the next health challenge – was not appealing, so we took the leap.  After two years, we returned and settled in a small community not far from family.  Health continues to be an issue, but armed with the memories of our travels, we face each day grateful for our choices.)

Image my own.

Sufficiency

Disability corners me
twixt two directions –
the hurried rush
of ambition’s call
and the gentle nudge
of wisdom settling

Confined to four rooms
I am distanced from –
invisible to –
the weekend warriors
whose self-satisfied grimaces
race by my window

I remember that push –
not enough hours to the day
not enough money to succeed
never thin enough, fit enough
always grasping for more…

Legless and exhausted,
I am disqualified
from competing,
immersed in retrospection,
luxuriating in perspective –

I’ve always had, indeed,
continue to have
everything I need:
a home I can navigate,
the endless beauty of nature
and the care of loved ones.

Abundance, I’ve discovered, is attitude:
recognition and acceptance
that life is sufficiency

(I’ve derived this poem from a post by the same name, dated October 2014.
At the time, I was five months into the losses that were Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Image my own)

Good Afternoon

Dawn breathes an invitation and Rumi’s words taunt me: Do not go back to sleep. I am loathe to greet the day – not that I despise its arrival, rather that waking has become laborious since the onset of chronic illness. Daughter of a military man, I am conditioned to rise before the sun, have a lifetime of such anecdotes to my credit, however; while the brain is still willing, the body groans, and aches wail with renewed emphasis as the numbing cocoon of sleep loosens. Hours dwindle from the first inkling of consciousness until muscles comply with movement, and I am lucky if I’m actually able to utter “Good Morning.”

Rays, like razors, slice,
invade sleep’s cocoon – absent
winged emergence.

(Good Afternoon first appeared here Sept 2018. Edited for this edition. The poetry form is haibun. I am pleased to report that waking has become easier, and most days I am able to greet the morning.)