Friday, October 24, 2008

#134 Awesome Sunday Scribblings

This week Sunday Scribblings asks us to brag. Here's the prompt: "What's awesome about you? You can pick one awesome thing, or list as many as you can. Don't be shy."

I can’t find a poem in this week’s musing. I’m finding it far easier to write about anything but myself. I like that I am a survivor. Sometimes I call myself Chicken Little and startle at the slightest noise, and yet, I know that I am strong, feisty, sometimes impatient, sometimes creative, always hard working. I can function at once in the morning, without coffee. I’m not intimidated by libraries or computers. I need very little: a library card, my laptop, my passport, five changes of clothing in a suitcase, and my dear traveling companion. Family and friends are a given.

I love my love of nature. Here, for now, Mt. Hood floats above the Columbia River, weathering this afternoon’s pink clouds, while trees along the foothills change from green to glowing yellow. Underneath a mostly mild and quiet exterior, I submerge myself in writing, a massive three-year project, storytelling, re-seeing history through shifting points of view. A glance and I’m no longer here; I’m in a different century.

I feel larger than life. I speak my own mind. If I wanted to, I could dye my gray hair to mermaid colors or bake bread. I’m thankful I do not have to say, “Why is this happening to me?” Yet, I like to think I’m not remarkable or awesome. I worry about the world, yet I still have hope in the future. I still have dreams.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

#132 What if I lived in medieval Sweden?

This week’s prompt from Sunday Scribblings asks us to imagine what if we had to live at a different time in history. I’ve always been drawn to medieval Sweden because my grandmother’s people can trace their family back to the 1600s, but I’ve never seen myself as a lady in a castle. Even if time travel were possible, the odds are against it, and I’d most likely find myself living in the lower classes. So despite today’s writing, I’m really happy to be in the 21st century, with my laptop and internet, sewing machine for quilting, and library cards for as many books as I could ever wish for.

Our castle is very cold, despite its fireplaces belching smoke. Even the immense and colorful tapestries of spring on the wall don’t help stop the cold air bristling down the corridors and hallways while furious winds swirl outside. I’m working in the kitchen. My backside is warm, but my hands are cold and so are my bare feet. I know I’ll have to carry the trays upstairs again, and the house thralls will be pinching me if I don’t go fast enough. I don’t like the dark spaces. Too many spiders.

Marta saw a rat the other day, sitting on top of a bag of oatmeal like he owned it, daring her to smack him. At least they let us sleep in the kitchen, Marta and me, beside the fireplace, when all the pots have been scoured with sand and the flagstones swept.

Yesternight strangers came, and our housecarls put on their padded armour and carried their battle-axes into dinner. I didn’t like stepping over their war gear and slipping on the bits of meat they’d thrown to the dogs. Better they’d thrown meat to me, though I’d snuck a bite or two as I carried heavy trays through the wide door and entered into the great room, where our jarl and his lady sat on a dias above a long trestle table. The men shouted at each other and drank deep from silver horns tied at their waists after pledging honor to our jarl.

I nearly dropped the tray more than once, as they jabbed their knives into the roast venison on my tray, tearing it away, the smell of their sweat mingling with the smell of sweet venison. Two strangers tried to grab me, but I got away. Marta was not so lucky; I’ll sleep alone tonight. I suppose I hate the cold most. I’ve heard it’s warmer south of Jutland.

Friday, October 03, 2008

#131 Forbidden

I wake with lines of poetry thrumming in my head, each off in different directions. What to write about this week that’s forbidden, the prompt from Sunday Scribblings. I thought of sex, but that’s too private to write about, the draw of what is forbidden adding to what we wish, to be loved, first kiss, first touching, first sex.

Then I remembered my stepfather’s steel-tipped boots. He worked in a steel mill, and was laid off. Beer drinking, a bear of a man, frustrated once too often by my Hollywood mother, he would explode into violence. His rage was forbidden. And me, I left that place, pretending I didn’t belong. Every day at school, I passed for one of them, the middle class, those so polite people who looked as if they never got dirty, who didn’t move to a different school every year, who didn’t wear second-hand clothes. How shocked I was to hear them swear, to finally learn that wife beating was as common there as anywhere else.

And so I lost myself in libraries, worked my way through school to be in that place where books were valued. I found that some people did create harmony and beauty, not so wild a dream, and I finally fell truly in love. Then my child was born, and all that I wanted for me, I wanted for her. The years passed. My daughter grew up a musician and today is everything I could not be, yet herself. Perhaps it was forbidden to dream this life I now lead, but I do not think so.


From the first bite of the apple, even so
Eve knew more than we give her credit,
that line separating innocence from experience,
once crossed,
disappears. And yet, I want to know
when she first saw the apple,
was she curious
as she reached out and tasted?
Was it because of Snake hissing words
that promised godhood?

Sometimes we must say no
to ourselves first and to others.
Even the smallest steps take us to a different place,
out the gates and into the world.

Lillith knew this as well. She chose the blood
of babies and yet flies absolutely free,
seductive and dreaded in some evil fantasy.
The rest of us know that choice remains:
Do we honor Eve or Lillith?
Or is there something more?
We make our own reality as we go,
renouncing what is forbidden.

Read what others have written on this week's theme at Sunday Scribblings.