Sweet Little Nothings

Today is your day chocolate

She’d graduated without laude
but with writing awards,
with friendships, experiences,
& a confidence she’d lacked before.
She learned that it was okay to be an introvert,
even as she tried to perform exemplary work
to make up for it;
she learned that it was okay to be a team player
rather than a leader—
to follow what worked & fix what didn’t.
And, in her new, post-graduate life,
she stayed on where she had learned so much,
but when her last article
for the college newspaper
came into print,
she experienced
a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment.
She learned that no one could hold the presses,
no matter how much they had or
chose to give away,
& she was reminded
of a wise little girl named Pollyanna
who had said that “Nobody could own a church,”
for there was no place for censorship
at a school where critical thinking
was a prerequisite
to finishing.

Sweet Little Nothings

Inhale the future chocolate

When she’d been LDS—
a Molly Mormon on the outside
& some kind of nondenominational,
free-spirited Christian on the inside—
she’d had friends, good & plenty,
but when she’d lost her testimony
of Joseph Smith
& returned to her Protestant roots,
she reclaimed her creativity.
When she went back to school
at a liberal arts college,
where she was often
the red elephant in a room
full of donkeys
in varying shades of blue,
she realized that the life she was living
wasn’t a remake
but rather,
a sequel.

The Comely Bones

She didn’t yet have a name,
but she had a job—
to someday watch over the sister,
whom she would never outpace in age,
after their parents had returned to Heaven;
to watch over the sister
who some saw as a cute little dot
on a wide spectrum—
this blitheful child who wrote in smileys
& spoke in echoes
& laughed at movement,
not jokes,
& whose dreamlike gaze
noticed the page numbers
but not the words.
But as the mother looked at her rapidly expanding belly
that contained an entire universe of being,
she wondered if this unknown quantity
would outpace the one outside her body;
for every parent’s worry about their child
whose needs were different than most was
Who will love them when I am gone?

The Diminutive Form of Sarah

Missing the days of summer activities coming to a close
in air-conditioned oases;
of falling asleep on cool sheets under ceiling fans
to Alexa’s thunderstorm sounds;
of resting in peace & dreams,
knowing that the Ring will BOLO for trespassers,
porch pirates,
& all manner of opportunists.
Missing the days of piping hot food
& ice-cold drinks;
of barbecue leftovers in the oven
& banana pudding ice cream,
frozen solid;
missing the days of being blasted 
by the cold dark from the freezer
& bathed by the cool light from the fridge.
Missing the days of glassware that sparkles
& freshly-laundered clothes.
Missing the days of entering a warm shower
& exiting a cool one.
Missing the days of switches instead of wicks,
the security of half-full gas tanks,
& streetlights that banish the creeping, creepy night-dark.
Missing the days of waking up recharged,
with devices fully charged.

Life seems to stop
when the power stops:
For some,
it does,
for others,
time simply passes more slowly:
broken up by weather updates
& neighborhood watch texts—
like x’s on calendars
or dots on a timeline.
Some serve others,
while others wait for service;
still others simply leave
because they can,
taking their face coverings with them
to avoid the Godless wrath of Covid—
an unseen force jockeying with this other unseen force
to be the star of the 24/7 news programming.
In the back of our minds,
we all are pacing
in Life’s Waiting Room—
that most frustrating place to which we all go,
discovered in the lab of Dr. Seuss’s imagination—
except this space is muggy-hot & pitch-black,
dispelled only by the whisper of a breeze
or the flicker of a candle,
& we are suddenly aware of all 
that goes on behind the scenes
to improve our quality of life.

Sweet Little Nothings

In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take chocolate

Because she believed
that she wasn’t smart enough for college,
she’d quit,
toiling away in dead-end restaurant & retail work,
soaking up life experience,
which was often greasy.
When a little bun was placed in her oven,
she found it in herself
to believe in herself
again,
or maybe even for the first time,
for being little more than the miller’s daughter
who turned words into gold.

Betty Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

A bottle of White Diamonds perfume
next to the last paperback you were reading,
left on your crowded nightstand
with something as completely random
as a piece of junk mail
serving as a bookmark;
a Coca-Cola in the fridge,
half-full—
“an accident waiting to happen,”
as Dad would say;
a half a pack of cigarettes
with the lighter inside,
every book written by Lori Copeland and Kathleen Woodiwiss,
a hutch filled with Coca-Cola memorabilia.
So many reminders
of the things you enjoyed in life
remain,
their disuse telling the story that
even though you don’t live here anymore,
your memory does,
for it is protected from the elements of decay,
even as it is preserved in the minds
of those who knew you best.

Sweet Little Nothings

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations chocolate

Life had gotten hard
when her husband had gotten sick,
& their gender roles had,
out of necessity,
reversed.
There were the days
that he felt like he was
withering away in isolation,
becoming Mr. Mom & Mr. Dad;
there were the days
she felt like she was stuck somewhere between
Office Space & Groundhog Day.
But when they saw how far they had come
from almost becoming
cardboard-carrying members
of the cardboard box brigade,
saved only because they were not
alone in the world,
they knew they were each doing
what they had to do
to have the life they wanted—
not just for themselves
but for the daughter who walked between them.

Sweet Little Nothings

Always make your past self jealous chocolate

When Sarah went back in time,
she faced herself at age 17,
but the young Sarah
didn’t recognize the older Sarah.
The older Sarah,
now Sarah R.,
wanted to tell the young Sarah
that it would be 20 years
before she figured it all out.
She wanted to tell her not to wait—
to do what she’d missed out on the first time
all those years ago,
until she realized that to change a minute
might change everything.
Had her child not been born,
she could’ve done just that,
but she had to let then Sarah B.
find her own way—
just as she had.
This old Sarah who was the young Sarah
looked her way once more,
& the newer but older Sarah saw
a gleam of admiration in that brown-eyed girl
she once was.
And it was then
that the 37-year-old Sarah
suddenly remembered
seeing a woman who looked like her
all those years ago.