Writing Lab Blues
Sometimes she just wanted to say,
or that the use of the words “thing” and “stuff”
& the overuse of “very” and “really”
qualified as “enough was enough.”
She was a 1000-piece puzzle
who lost a piece every time
she read an essay that sought to answer the question,
“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
So, she learned to start from scratch—
just as she had learned to bake—
for as much as she learned the Why
(even though she already knew the How),
she also learned that patience
was a learned virtue—
& that it was easier to do than teach.
The Last Willful Act and Final Testament of Mary Alice McCann
When she forgave her husband for his pornography addiction,
it continued to happen.
When she forgave her husband for his corporal punishment,
it continued to happen.
When she forgave her husband for showing their daughter
what to look for in a husband,
how to treat a woman,
the abuse continued to happen,
for she saw bearing under immense suffering as glorifying God.
After her husband’s temper finally got the best of her,
she realized that forgiveness never meant that she had to stay;
her God had died for her,
but she had,
in a sense,
died for Him.
The Persistence of Her Memory
When she lost her memories of adulthood,
she was seventeen again,
but in a body that had seen several oil changes.
She grieved for the second time for the grandparents she had lost,
except all at once;
she grieved for the friends who had grown up or grown apart,
not understanding why they couldn’t pick up where they had left off.
She read her own journal and recognized not the person in it,
for she was a stranger,
even to herself.
Every day she lived,
she would gain one day of memory back—
live a day, gain a day—
so that the old was as real to her as the new.
She spread old memories like a receiving blanket around all who’d known her
that year of nineteen-hundred-and-ninety-nine,
wrapping everyone up in what they thought they’d forgotten—
some queer little thing that would make them smile in remembrance,
illuminating a generation of people through shared nostalgia—
of Friday nights at Blockbuster and posing for Glamour Shots in the mall
when half the girls wanted to look like Claudia Schiffer,
of making fun of after-school special reruns and Harlequin romances,
of quiet libraries and talking on the telephone,
of politics not infiltrating every conversation,
of the era of Jesus freaks who wore the WWJD bracelets
and carried their Bibles on top of their textbooks,
of working at Baskin Robbins on Saturday mornings
and not finishing the ice cream cakes fast enough,
of high school graduation with Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”
and “Time of Your Life” by Green Day,
of her dreams of having a Little Lucy and a Little Ricky
with a man who looked like Prince William,
and a million other little things that had marked her teenage years,
had marked her.
Her husband waited for that day—
seven years into the future—
when she would remember the day she had fallen in love with him,
but time created new memories,
and she fell for him all over again,
for she could neither wait for time nor pass it,
Burn the Evidence
She’d been a patient in this institution called marriage for seven years,
and when she’d finished serving her seven-year sentence,
her husband’s death having separated their flesh so his could burn,
she lit not a candle to remember him by,
but a match to forget him with.
Hint of Infidelity
A streak of Hot Pants Pink by Orlane
smeared on his starched white collar,
the single, long blond hair that formed a wavy line down the back of his tweed coat,
the scent of a woman with an affinity for floral and honey,
a receipt in his pants pocket for two iced gingerbread lattes,
wrapped around a mysterious key,
the scratch marks on his back that seem like a form of pleasurable self-flagellation,
the wedding ring that seems to tighten around his finger like a noose,
the exhausted, distracted husband who comes home late from the office,
Rowena, the name he calls out in dreams…
She was Rowena a once, too–
till she asked to be called Rowan,
cut her hair,
and ditched her dresses for dungarees,
but who could blame him?
For she was not even half the woman he’d married,
half a man.
A Life of Games
When she played “Old Maid,”
she realized that no one wanted to be one,
yet never questioned why
there was never an “Old Bachelor” game.
When she played “Perfection,”
she realized that speed and accuracy
was the winning combination to more than games.
When she played “Operation,”
she knew the world would be better off
if she wasn’t a surgeon.
When she played “Checkers,”
she realized that once she mastered something,
she lost interest in it.
When she played “Clue,”
she realized how much she loved
figuring things out.
When she played “Scrabble,”
she realized that dictionaries were friends
to the right people.
But when she played video games,
she realized how much she hated them.
The Lost Girl Who Found Herself a Woman
She lost her religion,
but found her faith.
She lost her church family,
but found lifelong friends.
She lost her livelihood,
but not her life—
only her quality of life.
She lost her husband,
but found a better one—
one who saw not
what she could become,
but who she was
in the Here and Now.
She lost her mom,
but found new memories—
memories of who she’d been
when she hadn’t been
She’d spent her life
not paying attention—
to details or anything else—
but death and loss
had sharpened her senses,
if only to reclaim,
in some small way,
that which had been lost.