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.

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/

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.

 

Plantings

Image courtesy of https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Green-grapes-on-the-vine-with-morning-gl/0F474D245DD85FB8
I tire of seeing memes about having a positive attitude and choosing one’s feelings plastered
social media. It is no surprise our young people are in the midst of a mental health crisis when constantly bombarded with messages telling them, in essence, “The only reason you are sad is because you are making the choice to be sad,” or, (one of my favorites for sabotaging anyone’s self esteem) “You have a choice to make your day wonderful or not.” While such simplistic messages are well meaning, I believe they are sometimes extremely toxic. After all, what if your parent died on that day? Did you make the choice to have a horrible day? What if you go home to a toxic abusive environment? How can you choose to make your day wonderful? So before reposting those wonderful positive messages on social media, let’s all take a step back and think about what we are really saying to someone who may be going through something or in an environment where there is no choice in the matter but to feel what he or she feels. Let’s send messages that say it’s okay to feel what you feel and acknowledge it and to take time to feel it all,so something can be gained from it—a lesson, a positive action taken, whatever it may be, so we know our suffering was not for naught. Hence, this piece.

I gathered my despair,

my tears, my losses, all my grief.

Sat with each,

held them close,

let them dry,

waiting for spring.

 

When the ground warms,

softening, ready for tilling,

I will plant my despair,

sow my tears,

plough rows for my losses,

dig a hole deep enough to hold all my grief.

 

In the turning of time,

from the shrubs of my despair,

I will snip flowers and herbs

for healing others.

From the vines of my tears,

I will pluck the fruits and vegetables

to pile upon the table for all who need.

From the fields of my losses,

I will reap the harvest grain

to store for when a time of need arrives.

Finally, from the tree of all I grieve.

I will pick the sweetest fruit

of memory.

 

 

Tightrope

(Maria Spelterini crossing the Niagara gorge on a tightrope, 1876)
Image courtesy of
i.imgur.com



Since I drove right by it

on my GPS selected route

on my way to dinner

with friends,

I had to stop:



Here now— pulled over, paying reverence,

to time, youth, innocence, tragedy

When we loved each other

in this home we made together.



Here— this moment of reverence paid

unlocks the door of a room

where you are kept

preserved in perfection,

untainted by guilt

by tragedy

by the judgement

I rendered upon you

in my innocent ignorant self-righteousness

and so unleashed our tragedy upon us.



Now— could I travel that twisted high wire of time

back through the forty years

yet keep the wisdom of lessons

learned of forgiveness and judgment—

we would be young lovers

starting out again

and I would gift

you treasures of ancient gods and goddesses—

olive oil, an olive tree to plant,

casks of rose water,

roughly hewn amber, the mythic tears,

in which we could be captured.



I raise my head, turn my eyes to the road ahead,

locking the door to that place

where you are kept

preserved in perfection:

Sitting in the window seat,

your head tilted to the light,

sunlight glistening off your copper color hair,

smile wide as you lift your drawing pad
and pencil,

and begin to sketch,

your thin lovely hand floating
in movement above the page.

There,I leave you once again,

As I drive away.







 

 

 

 

 

Hardened Earth

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

dry, drought ridden earth

riddled with cracks inches wide

forms chasms decades deep

 

layered in dry dust

rising as rain pelts away,

determined to flood

 

chasms, erasing all cracks

but this earth is too hardened

unyielding to any rain,

seeking to soften hard soil

Crumbs

Inspired by this line from Mary Oliver

Feast not too often on meager crumbs of joy,

fallen haphazardly from someone else’s table.
Thinking yourself filled, sated,
you will find yourself crouching, smiling,
lowering your head to be patted by the hand
that cares nothing for you.

Then, when beaten back from the table,
you will scuttle away crouching low,
spirit yielding to fear.
But rise, rise then, standing—
staring eye to eye.
Lift your head and turn,
walk to new horizons.

There, build a table all your own
where you feast wholeheartedly
upon the delightful dishes of joy
you create,
inviting others to share.
Each one partaking in as much joy
as can be held
at your table
where no one
need feast on crumbs.

Bandaged, She Walks

image courtesy of drnimaplasticsurgery.com

Bandaged, gauze covered, blanketed--
now--

She never thought of bandages
until one wound oozed infection,
a malevolent fluid.

Thus, she learned of cleansing wounds,
bandaging them for protection,
changing dressings.

Twice, she thought her wound healed, scarred over,
rejoicing, removed her bandage.
Twice, her scar split open, infection returning.

Resigned, resolving to keep her bandage always,
Refreshed daily, keeping infection at bay.


https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/category/weekend-writing-prompt/

Return

pexels-miriam-fischer-2671074
Weekend Writing Prompt #267: This weekend your challenge is to write a poem or a piece of prose in exactly 31 words using the word “Return”.
https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/category/weekend-writing-prompt/

I envy the monarch’s, the hummingbird’s arc of return,
infinite, eternal.
My jealousy consumes as I have
no return, no cycle—
Only the damnation of this linear thing,
finite, directionless.