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.

A Prayer to the Ancestors

Image courtesy of BBC

What would I learn 
Could I raise your bones
From the earth?
And like some ancient medicine woman
Scatter them like runes to read
Or use them in the making
Of a sacred instrument
To rattle next to my ear?
What would their music tell me?
Would their rhythms move me?
Would there be some wisdom spoken?
Hidden within the notes of rattled rhythms
Of all your dried out unearthed bones
Is there enough marrow left to have
All my ancestors speak to me?
Should I, in some ancient tribal ritual
Of ancestral cannibalism,
Ingest your ground bones
Mixed with magic into an elixir
Infused with your ancestral spirits, 
Be given the power of thunder
And lightening that is your strength
Earned by you through the ages?
Is this how your spirits will travel through me
Teaching me of all the earth and sky?
Is there a way to know, to learn
To hear all the secrets you deem I need,
Need to know in this time, this place
For this, this last chapter
Of what I have left to me?
My ancestors, for I have wasted 
Away pages and chapters,
Squandered decades of the anthology
You have written into me.
Ancestors, speak to me, 
So I waste not the years
Left to be written 
By your spirits into me.

Turn It All Back

Image courtesy of Jon Tyson on Unsplash.com
Marshal forces
Of the earth, moon, orbits of planets,
Laws of time,
All we hold mighty and true,
Stop everything in its tracks,
Turn it all back
Before the start of any of it,
Falling away,
Marshaled from memory.

Bloodied

Image courtesy of Reddit.com
Weekend Writing Prompt #193 – Faction | Sammi Cox (wordpress.com)

Factions of the past

Still here–

The many monsters,

Gods and Goddesses all,

Worshiped and created

By a thousand wars

Humanity fought

Against itself

And fights still

Against the poisons

Standing on the battlements

Within humanity’s own

Bloodied heart.

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.

 

Dance

https://scvincent.com/2020/05/14/thursday-photo-prompt-dance-writephoto/

This week’s prompt ~ Dance

For visually challenged writers, the image shows a pale sun piercing the mists above a green path through a golden field, leading into the center of a circle of stones.

A mist of souls weaves among the stones

A dance between grasses of green and gold

Breezes chant in ancient secret runes,

Speaking in tongues of priestesses and druids–

A single soul leaps toward a shrouded sun,

And something in our blood no longer runs—

At all fluid.

Arrival of Spring

From google images

Spring arrived

Barely seen.

Our eyes turned inward.

Suspicious of air,

We could not take spring

Deeply into our lungs,

Feel the warmth of it on our skin,

Taste the freshness of it on our tongues

For fear.

We counted our first born

And tried prayer.

Had we forgotten the blood of the lamb

Above the lintel?

We sought protection in distance,

longing for human touch.

Hate and fear drained us.

We grew weary hearing–

Wash your hands

Don’t touch your face

Wash your hands

Prayed Mother Mary full of grace

Six to ten feet apart we must stand

We feared to touch

Our mothers

Our fathers

Our sisters

Our brothers

Our sons

Our daughters

And longed–

All the more–

For touch.

Yes, this will make us aware—

Appreciate what now

We could not do.

Yes, we would improve,

We would appreciate all.

Technology would see us through.

Somewhere in our collective soul

We had doubts, questions–

We had to know–

Hadn’t there been signs?

HIV, Ebola, Bird flu, Swine flu,

Zika, West Nile too,

All killers, all unseen—

Hurricanes, droughts,

Famines, earthquakes—

Natural disasters ripping

The world to shreds.

Had we done this to ourselves?

We hadn’t been the good stewards

We were charged to be.

Drowning seas with plastic, killing bees,

Melting ice caps, making greenhouse gases–

Killing the mother God gave us.

We hadn’t loved each other as we were loved,

As we were instructed to do. 

Then our arrogance, a weed within our souls grew.

We killed, pillaged, maimed, raped, started wars–

For the one skin that made us master,

For the name of God, the only one to worship,

For riches, since the strong should prey upon the weak,

For gender, after all women were things to use,

For sexuality, holy books said there’s but one way to love,

For everything was ours to take.

We’d killed each other

For these grotesquely grandiose ideas,

While calling ourselves Godly,

Saying our actions were sanctioned

By our God, our religion.

Only we knew the natural order of things.

In pride, we claimed

Where we walked—

Holy Ground.

Then guilt filled our lungs,

We finally questioned—

Was this it–

The fourth seal broken?

Had the pale rider been loosed

Upon the land?

While wanting to believe

It was all simply science.

Drying Time

Turn toward the hours passed.
Size them and arrange.
Let soak in dyes of prism colors
As the minutes pass away and then
Lift them, dripping dye,
To hang in the warming sun
Over tight strung wire.
Watch the colors drip, splashing on the floor.
Wet splotches collecting in puddles
Of liquid silk to be mopped away
As the hours drip colored dye
In the drying of time.

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.

Disowned 

More delicate than our dying Earth,

The fragile blood of our children dries,

Blistering in a baking sun

While we watch 

Our babies gasping 

Like hooked fish.

Our humanity broken,

We are wooden pawns 

In the game of masters,

Men who would be kings

Posturing outrage 

Over plans known

By them alone

Made in black secret rooms,

Selling us all to Mephistopheles,

Trading on the fragility of our attention 

With the lives of our children,

Who made us human. 

Nothing is left to wonder at,

But if this is the day 

Humanity made

God tearless.