Oddments

In search of story


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April 14.21: Coping

I hate the isolation,

the sameness of the days,

the clouds of obfuscation

that politicians raise.

I hate the guns and beatings,

our bloody violent spate,

the toxic finger-pointing —

in sum, I hate the hate.

My scowl has been perfected,

my grumpiness assured,

my energy and spirit

effectively tonsured.

That is why the pansy

is at my closed front door,

hermetically sealed

against the global gore.

Such little flower that nods

congenial purple hope

can compensate for certain

resident misanthrope.

So if there’s a cheery face

as my homey welcome sign,

you know that it’s the pansy’s;

it most surely isn’t mine.

 

 


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Face value

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Just another pretty face? I don’t think so.

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Can you look at a pansy and not be smitten by the pretty face before you? There is no “just” about it; it is mesmerizing in its velvety contour and coquettish symmetry. And what about that radiant depth of purple and magenta? Westminster never saw the like.

Unbidden, a Mom memory pops up as I contemplate prettiness: my mother told me I was not a pretty baby. Really now. Aren’t mothers supposed to deal in superlatives? As in My baby is the prettiest/cutest/smartest? She said I was a sweet baby. Sweet? Sweet never set anyone on a path to fame and fortune! Who wants to be sweet?

I had long been aware that my mother was disappointed in my looks. She SO wanted a Ginger Rogers, but she got me. I had no idea — until advanced adulthood — that she hadn’t even thought I was a pretty baby.

Life has introduced me to many other women who tell similar stories: their mothers were disappointed in them and made it known. What’s up with that? Why the heaping tablespoon of daily criticism?

I have read that in some traditions mothers call their daughters horrible things in order to keep the devil away. Mom’s mom never had a kind word to say to or about her — was she protecting Mom from the devil? Do I wear the amulet of generations of harsh words? If so, its power will protect my female descendants into perpetuity.

A mother’s approval is not a jinx. The pansies and I say so.

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