Oddments

In search of story


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November 23.20: Coping

Fear is served,

heaped, cold, on unseen platter

where empty table

speaks to us.

There was picnic once,

soda fizz

and bright mustard,

where now only air

teasing whispers from

dry grass.

In barren quiet

the words come:

what if I’m the only one?

 

 

In this country, dear reader, we enter Thanksgiving week torn. No: shredded. How do we celebrate isolation and dread? If we try to “count our blessings,” how are we not trivializing the losses among us?

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg for this poignant image.

 


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October 31.20: Coping

All Hallows’ Eve,

and my muse has gone astray.

When last seen, a bluebird,

most likely bat today.

I’ve written and deleted

a tome or two of late;

nothing’s any good —

I’ve just an addled pate.

Where are those perfect words

that say just what I mean?

Have they been scared away

by this looming Halloween?

I think it’s much more likely

my muse is somewhere stuck

among the fangs and broomsticks

of politics run amuck.

 

Thanks to photographer D.J. Berg,

and a salute to her complimentary Halloween bar.

 


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September 4.20: Coping

The world is too much with us,

so let us find some sticks,

and build us walls more sturdy

than paltry stone and bricks.

We’ll build a fort so mighty

that it will long endure,

then we can crawl inside

and all the mean abjure.

We’ll hug our knees and revel

in a world of let’s-pretend,

and make believe our hide-out

is where the rainbows end.

We’ll think of things so perfect

the world will be reborn,

and, while we’re at it, capture

and tame a unicorn.

 

With thanks to William Wordsworth,

to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to Ritchey Woods, Fishers, IN.


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August 16.20: Coping

Discouragement abounds,

angst, depression, fears;

my pate completely addled,

my brains ooze out my ears.

I feel as though I’m squeezed

by vise of pointless tripe;

innuendo and conspiracy

spring up in endless hype.

And isolation never helped

the cause of sanity;

it gives the upper hand

to crazed inanity.

I look for logic, reason,

a sense of what should be;

I find it in the bakery

in sweet geometry.

 

 

I do not make light, dear reader, of those who have little food. Or none at all. I know how fortunate I am to think about desserts.

 

Many thanks to photographer S.W. Berg

and to the artist-bakers at la Madeleine.


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June 18.20: Coping

I see many references to isolation and aloneness these days. As an introvert, I’m comfortable with aloneness. Usually content with my own company, I do not crave the madding crowd. Aloneness isn’t always loneliness.

But I haven’t been with my family since March 6. No hugs for three months! There’s loneliness in that, as many elderly (and not-so-elderly) know.

It has recently occurred to me that there is another dimension to my aloneness. My close friends vary in age, but all of us have experienced family death in our parents’ generation. However, among my friends, I am the only one to have lost the sibling connection to the past; I’m the first to be The Last. This hit me as a revelation. Unaware, I’ve been grappling with a sense of aloneness among my friends.

I am an old single parent who is also The Last One of the family she grew up with — those are my particular circumstances — but I think most of us are grappling with some kind of aloneness, and maybe loneliness too, at this time. It doesn’t mean we have the same life experiences, only that we are in the same human condition. Human, but dangerously corrosive, all the more so swirled as it is with anger.

As I’ve said before, I think writers write about two things: what is, and what could be. Sometimes we can’t write about what could be until we write about what is. For me, this is what is.

 

 


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May 27.20: Coping

You’ve seen “The Scream,” yes, dear reader? This is “The Gasp.” I made this! I, who scotch-taped pieces of fabric together to make doll clothes, made this mask with actual needle and thread. And no blood stains! I did, of course, draw blood because one of the rules of sewing is┬áStab yourself with the needle, but for once I didn’t get it on the material. Sometimes I amaze myself.

When I stepped away from the blog a couple weeks ago, my intention was to do what I could to re-arrange my head to survive this barrage of grief and flim-flam. What does one do with such resentment and frustration and creeping hopelessness in isolation? One grabs a dust rag and follows the lead of her ancestors.

Yes, I’ve been cleaning. To be clear, my housecleaning would never pass inspection by my mother or grandmothers. But I told their ghosts to shove off. I’ve cleaned, thrown out, packed away. It is symbolic, of course, but it is also a proven way to clear my head. If I can dig into something physically, I can dig out mentally.

I have baked, continuing my search for the El Dorado of gluten-free blueberry muffins.

Gardening beckoned but opportunity was limited to occasional cold and soggy weeding. Now overnight it’s the Amazon. I have mourned the death of spring in keeping with this season of requiem.

I started to go out last week, feeling like one of these emerging cicadas.

I made a mask!

Physically I’m better, but still get short of breath and tired. Fortunately, I was born pokey so slowing down comes naturally to me.

I have missed you and been concerned about you, dear reader. I hope you’ve managed to keep safe and sane.


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May 14.20: Coping

Thus far, dear reader, I have coped by writing and by baking, two time-tested strategies for me. They aren’t working any more. A few days ago, we were bloodied once again through the reports of a terror attack on new babies and new mothers. That was one too many for me, awash as we are in grief and fear.

I’ve been sick, as some of you know. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from being complacent. I don’t know that I had COVID; we still don’t know if my “presumed positive” son had it. We still don’t know much about COVID. “Don’t know” is the only wisdom we have.

Having seen my family only from a distance, unable to touch them, for two months, I think I have a sliver of understanding of what it might mean to die among strangers in Intensive Care.

I am disgusted and exhausted by the flim-flam.

I’m going to step away from the blog for a few days. Each of us has to find ways to stay human in this very dehumanizing time. I am looking for my ways.

Thanks for being with me in my blog. I worry about all of you and hope you endure.

 


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May 8.20: Coping

Sometimes perfect form

is jarring to the brain,

absolute alignment

inhospitable, profane.

A disordered kind of order

comes with emptiness;

we’re healthier by far

with a little bit of mess.

 

 

This, dear reader, is not an argument for opening up

before we are medically ready,

but only my commentary

on what is.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.