Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

For the Mormon women of Green Haven Ward
that November day of 1999—
in the circle of condominiums known as Washington Square—
home of Mindy & Carl Wiley,
a consensus was reached:
If the wearing of the lingerie led to the act of procreation,
the ends justified the means.

A restlessness began to stir within me that winter.
I began to change as the leaves did.
I began to imagine what it would be like
to be independent of my nuclear family—
the power plant that had given me a rock
upon which to build my life,
if not my faith.
I wanted to be strong & independent
when Elder Roberts came back for me,
but I couldn’t pray to God about it,
for if the Church was true,
He would be against our love.
The only comfort I had was in knowing
that God’s will was not always done.

Contentment had been my life before the Church—
enjoying only the contributions of others
while contributing nothing myself.
Mother had her Church & David,
Caitlin had her piano & dance,
David had his art & professorship,
but the Church had made me want more,
& so I had to be more.

The three of us stood before a Mormon temple—
a tableau of what I felt was another time,
a time of bygone days:
A pastel pink rose rested on a black, baby grand piano,
& sitting before the piano was a woman
whose back faced the viewer,
adding to the painting’s mysterious quality.
Long, luxurious dark hair fell not in waves but ripples,
like the notes I imagined flying from her fingers.
Something about the scene was familiar,
but I couldn’t place it.
I blinked, & the painting was as it had been before.

She had been Annie McCarrick,
but I had only ever known her as Laurie Nolan—
a dark beauty who had reinvented herself from the poor only child
of an Irish father & a Russian mother
to become a common hausfrau to an Irishman like her father,
to the uncommon paramour of a man so unlike any man,
whose identity was as mysterious as his past.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Micropoetry Monday: Autobiography

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Her obsession with Mother Goose,
Post-It notes,
& Dove candy wrappers
gave her life not only cadence
but a sticky sweetness
that made every day a Friday
with a 5 o’clock shadow.

She let her daughter watch her read,
to show that it was fun.
She let her watch her write,
to show that it was hard work.
She let her watch her write letters,
to show that handwriting still mattered.
She let her watch her
make Christmas cards & bookmarks
& all manner of 2-D textured art,
to show that creativity
didn’t always happen in front of a screen.
She let her watch her exercise,
to show that movement,
in whatever direction,
was the way to a better life.
She let her watch her bake,
to show that good things—
like cake flour–
could come from a box.
She let her watch her eat vegetables,
to show that,
when prepared properly,
they were delicious.
She let her watch her watching her,
to show that the little things she did
were of interest to her.
Her mothering wasn’t just
in the lessons she told
but in all the words
she did not say.

She’d battled acne & algebra in her teens,
only to battle wrinkles & job insecurity in her thirties.
Her twenties had been that interlude
between coming-of-age
& being of advanced maternal age—
when she had floundered
in the DNA soup of uncertainty
that crashed inside her,
sometimes drowning in her own blood.
Then the surprise child—
a gift from God through His patented design—
had snapped her out of her dreamlike existence,
& it was then,
& only then,
that she began to fully live her dream.

Micropoetry Monday: Hymns of Motherhood

Hymns of Motherhood

The Shutterfly Edition

All through her childhood,
her mother had been behind her,
safeguarding the cupboards
& pantry
& cabinets under the sink,
making sure her food & baths
were not “Papa Bear hot”
& her feet not “Mama Bear cold,”
pulling the car over
to fix the straps on her car seat,
remedying hazards she had created
(which always included Legos),
watching her when she took her to the park,
keeping one hand on the grocery cart,
& following her closely when she wanted the freedom
to walk around & look at toys,
& checking all the locks
on the doors & windows,
because so many in the big world
wanted a little girl,
though her mother never told her why
until she already knew why.

According to the world’s standards,
her child was neither the sharpest
nor the brightest;
she would never know how to solve
the world’s problems,
maybe not even her own,
but if more people were like her—
possessing an empathy so many lacked—
there would be fewer problems to solve.

She had grown up believing that children
should only be seen & never heard,
but when she realized
the errors of her raising,
her children were too deep
into their electronic devices
to want to say anything.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

Her maiden name was her something old—
far removed from who she had become.
Her married name was her something new—
in her newly-widowed state.
Her something borrowed was a string of pearls,
for they represented perfection & integrity,
longevity & fertility.
Her something blue was the cameo
David had custom-made by a jeweler
for the only daughter
of a poor Irish father & strict Russian mother—
this daughter who had remodeled herself
into the All-American housewife, circa 1958,
& into someone unrecognizable to me.

Donna, ever practical, despised Valentine’s Day
as others despised Christmas songs before Thanksgiving.
Bearing tidings of clean living,
she had brought a plastic laundry basket filled with sundries:
soap, for washing the body after sex,
toothpaste, for washing out the mouth after sex,
& laundry detergent, for washing the sheets after sex—
items that would be donated to the local women’s shelter
to which Mother gave all her old clothes but never new ones.

Sister Kyle presented a wooden box
that looked suspiciously like a cigar box.
The pillowy satin glued to the inside reminded Caitlin of a coffin,
&, resting on the unblemished, flesh-colored material
was a set of real scriptures—not the Church-issued ones.
That vessel would become a Pandora’s box—
filled with a corpus my mother would live by . . .
& die by.

Sister Thompson, who had just turned “Social Security eligible,”
handed Mother a bag with Happy Birthday on it.
Inside was a gaudy bowl with all the characteristics of a recycled gift,
for no markings indicated it was new;
Sister Bear gave Mother a coupon organizer stuffed with starter coupons,
though we wouldn’t know most of them had expired
until we had gotten home,
which was like getting a gift certificate to a restaurant,
only to find that the restaurant had gone out of business.
Sister Batts had not brought a gift but a Ramen salad,
which Sister Wiley had hidden as if it were a meager offering,
akin to Cain’s vegetables,
for worse than a recycled gift
was recycled food.

When Mother held up a lacy black negligee,
the conversation veered into when it was permissible
to remove the sacred garments to don the naughty lingerie.
One-third of those present believed that the material
created a barrier to intimacy when worn right after sex,
but two-thirds of these hostesses
of this manufactured heaven in this mortal life—
like the valiant souls who had been given the opportunity
in the premortal life to live this one—
believed it was most pleasing to the Lord
that garments be replaced immediately
after the act of procreation ceased,
& I knew then,
as sure as I knew my name,
that just as the fancy black would bring Mother & David closer,
the plain white would come between them.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Micropoetry Monday: Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel

From Wheel of Fortune
she learned that consonants
were worth far more than vowels;
from Jeopardy,
she learned that it was okay
to answer a question with a question.
However, from The Price is Right,
she learned that any show
that wanted you to act like a fool
was not a thinking game,
but rather,
a guessing game.

He was Jeopardy,
she, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
He was quick
with the answers
to the questions
that were over everyone’s head
while she talked too much
& took too long
to get to her answer.
When they met Wheel of Fortune
where every contestant had
a “ridiculously handsome husband,”
a “rockstar wife,”
&/or “just the greatest kids in the world,”
they thought they’d found perfection.

For the former contestant who’d coined the term
“my hotsomesauce husband,”
the “Wheel of Misfortune” was a cross
between a waxy red round of gouda
& a disk of The Laughing Cow—
with two black lines of mold that spoiled the whole thing.
She bemoaned the agonizing minutes she’d spent,
waiting for the other contestants to complete the suffix
to the gerund in “What are you doing?”,
looking completely flummoxed when they landed on the Express,
making much ado about landing on the “million-dollar wedge”
then landing on Bankrupt the next turn,
pronouncing “n” as “en-uh”
“r” as “r-uh,”
& buying the vowel in puzzles like CHOCOLATE M_LK,
only to mispronounce the solve.
She hadn’t gone on to the bonus round
but had won a trip to a “developing country”
for which she had no other winnings to pay the taxes on.

Her Magical Childhood

1954 (10)

Her childhood had been sweet,
filled with marshmallow hugs & chocolate kisses,
of butterfly, angel, & Eskimo kisses,
of kisses that flew from her hands like cosmic dust
to decorate the sky,
& of kisses from Grandma
from that gold-paved paradise over the rainbow;
of stork bites & tales from the Cabbage Patch,
& monsters in the closet & under the bed
that disappeared with the always precise aim
of Mom’s crafty glue gun;
of make-believe games & make-it-yourself puzzles;
of art class with junk mail scraps & broken crayons,
& a refrigerator that had become a museum gallery,
with Lego magnets holding up hodgepodge collages;
of music class with the laminated lyrics
of hymns, folk songs, & Christmas carols;
of PE in the park,
field trips to everyday places,
& lunch where cookie butter & Nutella sandwiches
were always on the menu;
of science class on the beach & Sunday school under the trees;
of math class with numbers that had special significance—
in her life or the lives of others or the history of the world;
of a 24/7 library with fairy tales, folk tales, & tall tales,
& thick scrapbooks that told the family history—
the history she would end up repeating—
that of happy marriages & childhoods,
with written instructions & real-life examples
on how to make them happen.

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