My Mother’s Washboard

image from fineartamerica.com photo by H. Armstrong Roberts
The old washboard

stands in a five dollar flea market tub
with three faded, scratched up tall coke bottles,
a rusted plaid patterned lunch pail,
a red plastic mesh bag filled with used beach toys,
a broken hobby horse some kid rode once
while yelling, Hi, Ho, Silver! Away!

Among this disregarded dusty junk,
the old washboard looks fragile
as if the wood surrounding the corrugated steel
might fracture should a woman grasp it
intending to use it to scrub stains
from familial laundry
like my mother did with her’s.

I remember my mother’s washboard
standing in her soaking bucket,
filled with 20 Mule Team Borax, Biz, and hot water,
which stood in the concrete laundry tubs
in the basement of the house.

I remember how her knuckles turned red,
the skin raw looking, as she scrubbed blood
from a blouse, pouring salt from a Morton’s
salt container onto the stain then scrubbing
up and down, up and down on the washboard,
then dunking the blouse twice
to see if the stain was gone.
Pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
The pattern, the rhythm, until the stain erased.

I have no soaking bucket,
no Twenty Mule Team Borax, no Biz,
no washboard
to get my stains out.
My bottle of Oxi Clean Stain Remover
pales in memory
of my mother’s washboard.

Winter’s Will

image courtesy of ALEX VASILYEV on wired.com

No understanding in

how winter comes.

For it arrives uninvited

at too many times,

often when it shouldn’t,

snatching away all the covers,

driving out the flames,

or

slowly, softly,

tenderly

like a gentle, timid lover

will winter drift into days

as autumn delicately falls,

little dip by little dip, into winter’s icy arms

then a frozen world is made.

At times, making a last stand

against the coming thaw,

winter rides

with sword drawn

to wreak havoc on all things

green and growing

into spring,

stilling all hearts

feeling the flow of life begin.

At those times, winter rides

until sweated out

in the course of time.

Yet winter may freeze us solid

in the midsts of summer’s heatwaves

as we stand over the gaping mouths of graves.

As some breathe in the hope of spring,

others, being eaten by winter’s black ice

of hunger and need, stand as witnesses

to winter’s winter growing larger still:

beyond artic, beyond talk of tundra,

or whispers of permafrost—

but something too many know.

We will not end in fire

nor will we end in ice,

as Frost once wondered.

In the end,

it will be the lukewarm breeze

of indifference,

the one to do us in.

It is the official release day!

Cover designed by Tara Caribou
It is the official release day! I’m honored and grateful that my friend, Candice Louisa Daquin, “gently” nudged me to do this.  Additionally, I am indebted to Candice for believing in me and for her diligent work in editing.  Thank you, Candice. You are one of the most giving people I know.  I want to thank Tara Caribou of Raw Earth Ink who has been patient with this novice at every step in the publishing process.  

https://www.lulu.com/shop/annette-kalandros/the-gift-of-mercy/paperback/product-qv9e7w.html?page=1&pageSize=4

https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Mercy-Annette-Kalandros/dp/B0BJYJTG5Z

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-gift-of-mercy-annette-kalandros/1142590195

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63030682-the-gift-of-mercy

I also owe a debt of gratitude to Susi Bocks,
Ivor Steven, and M. Brazfield who were willing to provide advance reviews on short notice. Thank you so much.

Twilight Days

image is my own

days spinning faster

now toward twilight it seems

hours before dawn

 

years ago hours

lived, died, born again screaming

before twilight’s edge

 

watch the dawn hours

spin, dizzy and drunk with years,

into twilight’s grave

https://godoggocafe.com/2022/11/08/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-november-8-2022/

Ghost Marks

Image courtesy of depositphotos.com

Before
morning,
she wakes,
adrift
still
in half-remembered dreams,
dirtied by ghost footprints 
upon the waking
to muddy tread marks ever present,
no matter the hours spent in scrubbing—
the marks indelible—
tattoos of mud.
Leave her to the simple tasks of morning,
to her daily reckoning,
preparations of covers and cases required,
all the hiding away,
layering as if for winter,
this bandaging of tender spots.

Orchid

Image courtesy of Orchidresourcecenter.com

My militant mind reels,

victorious over sleep,

now warring with the words—

I grapple, attempting to find

the right ones,

the ones I left behind in dreams

or at war with other chores,

so in these early hours,

during a brief cease fire,

I stop

watch the sky

begin to pink

in the east.

I do not want to wish

yet it is easy,

to think

to want

to believe

I have Samson’s strength

to break this encasement

of fear of longing,

this fear of loss.

Others say

nothing ventured

nothing gained —

I used to think that way

before the drought

came and withered

hope away before

any intercession

could be made

and that thing

inside became like

the stalks of an orchid

shedding the petals of spent,

exhausted blossoms,

thin and dry as parchment paper,

falling, drifiting to the floor,

leaving the stalk empty.

I may wish to reach my hand,

twitching with something

resembling longing,

to the eastern horizon,

where I imagine you

warm and dreaming still

but fear cements me still,

fear of longing

fear of loss

for that place inside

cradles no hope

for green stalks

holding buds

yielding blossoms.