For White Pearls

Image courtesy of http://www.thepearlsource.com

Faceless, nameless

Are the multitudes

Who still exist

Within the air

Of a past colliding

Upon your present.

Unpleasant for you,

I know, disruption

To the course of your

Day to day

Good morning harmony,

The dripping sugar whiteness

Of your “girl next door” hood.

You are not faceless.

You are not nameless.

Your language drips privileged

White pearls of empty empathy.

Turn your television off with white pride,

The faceless and the nameless

Will not apologize for the noose

You feel tightening around

Your Good Morning Positivity

As faced and named change comes

To Our Nation.

 

Spirit of Stone

Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt Veiled #writephoto

For visually challenged writers, the image shows a green horizon, beyond which the mist veils a hill topped with strange rock formations.

I knelt before God

as the earth was formed.

For ages I have been here,

spirit of stone unmoving,

waiting above the forest land.

I am the tonnage of stones,

living veiled behind swirling mists.

Yet, I am billions of stones,

existing beyond the veil.

I press the earth for meaning

when I hear the children of earth wail

of suffering through centuries.

I rise above the peace of forest land,

lifting the tonnage of anger I carry.

I am the billions of stones now,

moving beyond the veil.

I have risen, the world,

carrying justice

in the weight of stone,

the children of earth will not be moved.

Behind the veil, I am the tonnage of stones.

I will retreat there when this time is done.

 

Silent No More

We were silent,

Back in the day,

When death came

In white hoods, noose in hand

To hang our darker sisters and brothers.

We were silent

When death went

Across an ocean

With bent crosses, yellow stars, and gasses

for the Jew.

We were silent

Back in the day

When death came

For our gay brothers

Who pleaded with us–

Silence equals death.

A lesson we’ve not learned yet.

No words for all this

As we shake our heads

Our silence kills yet again

And another black man dies,

Crushed under authority.

Yes, silence equals death.

We cannot stay silent

If we believe a nation’s promise

Time for us to stand up

And find the words to say–

Should you do this

To our darker sisters and brothers

You do it to us all.

We are the burning flame

Burning away the old ways.

https://onewomansquest.org/2020/06/01/vjs-weekly-challenge-98-no-words/

We, Intrepid Shield

6th and Jefferson in Louisville. This is a line of white people forming a barrier between Black protestors and the police. This is love. This is what you do with your privilege. #NoJusticeNoPeace #SayHerName #BreonnaTaylor
Photo credit: Tim Druck

Although I am not white, I admit I enjoy white privilege because most people perceive me as white.  My mother was Melungeon, a mix raced people of Appalachia, and my real father was of Hispanic heritage.  Most people look at me and see white features and assume a Greek or Italian heritage.  Yes, some ignorant people have said stupid, racist things to me because of their assumption of my whiteness.  In light of recent events, the privilege given to me by my features and skin color demands that I stand up to help.

 

We sat silent, complacent too long

Our children safe.

 

Between threats to our black and brown

Sisters and brothers,

We must shield– intrepid, resolute,

 taking spit, hits,

 gas, lash, bricks

 even death, should it come to that

So nothing touches them.

 

We must fulfill the promise of our nation—

              All are equal

 

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/weekend-writing-prompt-159-intrepid/

 

Definition of a Wife or a Valentine to My Wife

This piece came to me after reading a thread in a lesbian political group on Facebook. The thread was not about marriage or what you call your spouse but made in a conversation about a political topic. The comment was not argumentative, really it was rather simply stated that this woman would not call her partner, were they to ever marry, her wife since the term “wife” was part of the language of the patriarchy. I filtered this comment through my experience. You see, my late wife warned me before she died that her family would turn their backs on me no matter how supportive they seemed presently because they did not see our relationship as being equal to a heterosexual one, our love was “less than.” She said they would do this even though they had participated in our wedding. I was convinced they would not. Her prediction came true. They did see our relationship as less than, and based on their actions, I believe they would have taken everything from me if I hadn’t had that marriage license. Let’s face it, some in straight society will never want us to have rights or see us as equal. But some will eventually see our love, our grief, our struggles in the same light as their own if we use their language, their terms. Language is how we define and compare experiences. Language is our filter. My wife was my wife. No other term conveys the struggles, the grief, and the love contained in the time we had.

We all wanted the equality of marriage.
Yet some struggle with the titles and terms.
To say wife brings images of June Cleaver,
Perfectly coifed, perfectly applied makeup,
Wearing pearls as she cleans and cooks.
To say wife embraces the chains of the patriarchy,
At least, some say.

If we embrace the equality of marriage,
And not the trappings of a wedding,
What is the definition of a wife?
What does it mean to be a wife?

Doing the daily things to keep a home going
That’s what a wife means.
Yes, it means the cooking, cleaning, laundry,
And more. Sometimes it means staying
When you feel like walking out.
Even before the government says
It is legal to call
Your wife your wife–
It means pulling yourself together
After you hear your wife has stage four ovarian cancer,
So you can be the one to break the news
When she wakes from the anesthesia
Of an emergency surgery.

That’s what it means to be a wife.

When a month later,
Late at night,
After another surgery,
Your wife turns her frightened eyes to you
And says that she doesn’t want chemo
Unless you are home to care for her.
Your choice—your career or her chance at life.
You resign the next day.

That’s the definition of a wife.

And so, it goes—
Surgeries and chemo—
But a prognosis of eighteen months
Turns into nearly five years—
In those years,
The Supreme Court says
You can finally call each other wife.
And marry to make it so.
Your daughter, thrilled,
Speaks eloquently about the love
Between the two of you encompassing her,
Protecting her.
You both cry. Neither of you had any idea
What the thirteen-year-old would say
When she stood to speak.
You kiss your wife’s bald head as she bows it
To wipe tears away.

That’s what it means to be a wife.

And then, very near the end,
You find them among
A mass of papers and bills
Your wife had run rampant through.
Hotel receipts. Hotel receipts
When you thought she had gone
To the casino with a friend.
You watch your wife sleep peacefully.
Heavy doses of morphine now.
Rarely does she wake. When she does,
She is thirsty and hungry.
She is wasting away.
Skin over a skeleton.
If she eats or drinks,
She vomits green bile
And the pain is like nothing
You’ve ever seen.
There will be no confrontation
Over hotel receipts.
So, she had another fling
With her high school flame,
A woman she first loved,
A woman who, for spite,
Married her husband
On your wife’s birthday.
Yes, your wife turned selfish this last
Year. Some dying turn generous and
Some turn selfish.
But you couldn’t deny the logic.
Afterall, your wife was the one dying,
As she was to always remind you.
You shred the hotel receipts.
Your daughter should never find them.
It would destroy her to know this.
And then you feel it.
Something is chiseled out of you,
Sharp edges remain.
Your wife cries out.
You run to the bedroom.
She has fallen and shit herself.
You get her up and to the bathroom.
You clean and bathe her.
Get her back into the bed.
She begs you for enough morphine to end it.
When you tell her you can’t do that,
She calls you a selfish bitch.
You give what’s prescribed by hospice.
She sleeps and so do you.

That’s the definition of a wife.

Hospice increases the morphine dose and strength.
To be given hourly.
The nurse wants to know if you want a nurse
Around the clock.
You say your wife said no.
She said she didn’t want that.
You honor every wish she had.

That’s what it means to be a wife.

For five days she does not wake.
For five days you do not sleep.
Energy drinks and coffee are your magic elixirs.
You administer the morphine as the hospice nurse instructed.
You know what they are having you do.
Slowly, slowly, this increased strength and hourly dose
Is killing your wife, shutting down her organs.

Yes, it is a mercy.
She couldn’t drink or eat.
The hospice nurse visits every day.
She says the pulse is weak in your wife’s ankles.
24 to 48 hours at the most she says on day four.
The nurse clasps your shoulder on the way out.

That’s the definition of a wife.

Your wife mutters,
“I’m sorry, so sorry.”
Three times before
Midnight of the fifth day.
You do not know to whom
Or for what your wife apologizes.
Her words have no reference point
And never will.
Your daughter comes home
From a friend’s birthday party
At ten o’clock.
She checks on you and your wife.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,”
Your wife mutters for the last time.
Your daughter asks why she’s saying that.
You say you don’t know.
The rain starts. It’s pouring down.
Eleven o’clock– a dose of morphine.
The rain hasn’t stopped.
Midnight. Your daughter checks to see if you need anything.
You ask her to make a pot of coffee.
Another dose of morphine.
You swipe your wife’s lips with a sponge
To keep them moist.
As you are rinsing the oral syringe,
You hear the breath, the rattle.
You walk to the bed.
Place your hand on your wife’s chest.
It is still. No rise. No fall. Still.
Your head falls upon your hand.
Your daughter comes in and asks
What is wrong. You tell her it is over. Done.
She places her hand next to yours.
She feels the stillness.
She screams no.
And runs to her room,
Slamming her door
As if it would shut out
Time and death.

That’s what it means to be a wife.

You call your wife’s parents next,
The hospice nurse after them,
The funeral director is called last.
You endure the parents
Because you can’t imagine their pain.
They must bury a child.
The nurse certifies the death and tosses
The drugs and leaves. She handles it all
Efficiently. Then the funeral director arrives.

It is still pouring rain.
They wait patiently in the hall.
The parents leave.
You ask your daughter if she wants a moment
To say good-bye.
She takes it, telling you she’d like to be alone with your wife.
You wait patiently with the funeral director and the assistant
In the hallway.
Something hollow settles in your chest.
Your daughter leaves the bedroom
And you take your turn.
Your wife is gone.
You stroke her forehead.
Take her hand.
It is over. It is done.
Five years of grieving,
Losing pieces of your lives together,
Watching plans melt away,
Watching the woman you love disappear
As the cancer spread to the brain
And behavior became irrational,
Accusing, and you became the
Whipping post for all the things lost,
All the things your wife felt slipping away.
You wonder how much grief there could be left,
How much more could be felt after all this?
You let the funeral director and assistant
Take your wife away. They tell you to look away
And so gently close the door.
She is covered on the gurney when they open the door.
It is still pouring rain
As they take her out the front door and into the hearse.
You close the door. There is much to do.
You drink coffee until sunrise. It stops raining.
You will sleep today, you suppose. Later.
After…After so many things to do…
After the hollowness inside is hollowed out
After the sharp edges wear away
When feeling returns

That’s the definition of a wife.

For better and for worse.
In sickness and in health.
Love and cherish
To have and to hold

This is all of it—
The equality of love.
This is a marriage.
This is the definition, the meaning
Of what it is to be a wife,
And what it can convey of a heart.

American Dream

America, we never were a great nation.
Not with the genocide of native peoples, slave auctions
And slavery, Jim Crow, The Trail of Tears,
Japanese Internments, and the KKK.
No, we were never great.
We are always a nation of becoming.
A nation of ideals.
A nation great in flickering moments
Like old news reel footage:
When Harriet led her railroad,
When the suffragettes marched for the vote,
When Rosa would not be moved,
When Martin believed in the one day
Every child would have,
When Edie and Thea showed
Marriage should be defined by love,
Not biological gender.
We are a people of hope, of dreams,
Of knowing life would be better
When we made each other great.

Now, hate ripples from one sea
To another, and neither shines any longer
With Liberty because her torch
Grows dim with this reign of hate.
And there are many who want to forge once again
The chains to her ankles, shackling her in place,
Because they want to keep her,
But just for looks sake. Her mate, Justice, remains
On life support, having been beaten to a bloody pulp
By those who see color, who see gender,
Who see all the women who need
To be put in their place,
Who see a society where Justice serves only
The white Christian right, or rather, where Justice is made
Their slave. No, this is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can bully and spew hate
While the First Lady urges kids
“Be Best” in a limp campaign to not do the same
And few mention the irony.
This is not a great nation.

This is not a great nation
When a leader can urge violence
Against the media, immigrants, those who disagree
And so few carry an outcry.
This not a great nation
Where 18 trans women, 17 of them of color,
Can be murdered within less than a year
Yet our highest court must hear how
Laws do not apply to LGBTQ.
No, this is not a great nation
When so many must blame, exclude, and hate,
When so many must abase another to uplift themselves,
All the while professing Christianity.

Our founders gave us rules of law to make us better than this.
We are not a great nation
Until we realize the American Dream
Doesn’t see color or gender,
Doesn’t see race or religion,
Doesn’t see sexual identity,
Until none of us need to stand on the backs
Of others to feel better about ourselves—
Until we realize the American Dream is freedom and equality
And there is enough for all to go around,
We can not be a great nation.

But the greatness in our nation is this:
That we can be
If we recognize our humanity.

RATS INFEST

Beware us rats,
You know,
We may have been complacent
With the history of 44.
But now we will rise
With the hate spewing from 45.

We have scurried in fear
Of what this hate might inspire.
But no more.
Rats could feast on the hearts of slumlords.
Rats could floss with the sinew of fearmongers.
But we will not.
Rats have a better way to fight.

Remember, we rats are brave
Because we know the true
Meaning of red, white, and blue.
We’ve shown our bravery before,
Remember your history.
We will brave the dogs.
We will brave the hoses.
We will brave the guns.
And we know
you will send haters
in the dark to kill us too,
But we will survive to outlast you.

You see,
Rats will
Rally
Against
Tyranny.

The Mixed

Too dark
Too light
Too in between
Too bright
Too rosy
Too peach–

Just too much
Or not enough at all.
This has always been my plight.

I am African-American
But not black enough .
I am Native American
But not red enough.
I am Latina
But not brown enough.

Just mixed enough for most
To assume whiteness of me,
Sparking comments about a whitey master
in the woodpile of my ancestors.

In this ocean of the mixed
There’s affinity
But no belonging
As I reach for a new shade of blush
That is just close enough.

The Brave Ones

(A Tribute to Christine Blasey Ford)

We reject the mother
Born to subservience
of ripped rib bone.
No longer will we accept
Bloody beatings and brutality,
Rape and rage,
Silent,
Powerless,
Fearful.
No longer do we accept this pain
As payment for the sin
Of seeking knowledge.

For millennia, we were lucky to live unbruised
As long as we were your possessions:
Your mothers, your daughters,
Your sisters, your wives.
As long as you owned us
And we did as we were told.

But through the ages,
The brave ones have shown us another way:
To seek the spirit of our true mother,
The one born in the same earth of equality.

So we find her voice and our own.
We speak.
Though you would silence us
With vitriol and mockery,
The brave ones have taught us well;
We will never be silent again.

Definitions of Us

Mother, widow,
Writer, teacher, friend
Titles I wear
That others use
To make a definition
Of me.

But I am more
Than any definition
Clown and comedienne
Actress and writer
Sinner and saint
A bit of Medea and Medusa
Shaken and stirred
With a touch
Of Mother Theresa
And Margaret Mead
And an added dash
Of Lucille Ball
For good measure.

My Lady MacBeth stays
Securely Locked Away,
Crying for some Germ-X
For her hands.
Wuornos, her cellmate,
Just doesn’t give a shit
And is it any wonder?

But I’ve no soft purr
With words
Like a Bishop or a Plath
Or a Browning,
But I could bake brownies
That might make you cry.

Yes, full of contradictions and complications
That’s what we women are
A bit of the Madonna
A bit of the Whore
A bit of the Wise One
And more
Too much and too little
To list
And define
Except by what we,
Ourselves, design