Dear Amelia

“Dear Amelia” was published in the summer 2021 issue of Bella Grace magazine.

Dear Amelia,
You have made me appreciate red wine,
pink champagne,
and the true spirits of tomato and orange juice
more than ever.

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for giving me an excuse
to take naps in the middle of the day
and for making me take the spring semester off;
I didn’t want to take those lit classes anyway.

Dear Amelia,
You have given me an outie
where there used to be an innie,
and it’s weird.

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for giving me a reason to replace
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
and the excuse to reread it;
to play peek-a-boo,
to teach you baby sign language,
to cut up the moon for you,
to show you that you don’t have to do it all
to have it all,
to show you that you can do anything a boy can do
(but that you don’t have to),
and to tell you about the people I wish you could know
and who I wish could know you.

Dear Amelia,
You have kicked me when I am down
(for the night),
but I don’t mind,
for it lets me know you are still there.

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for showing me how much
I can love someone I’ve never met
but know is there—
who I love even more than I love myself
(and that’s a lot!).

Dear Amelia,
You took your sweet time getting here,
yet you came at seemingly the perfect time,
for who I am now
is better than who I’ve ever been.

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for giving me another chance to do this . . . all over again.

Dear Amelia,
It took a while to get your name just right,
but know that what we chose to call you
was not to honor anyone but you.

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for coming to be a sister to my other little girl,
who will need you and share your toys for you from time to time.

Dear Amelia,
Enjoy the abundance of the girl who beat you to it
and who will be more than happy to share hers—
especially the Calico Critter house with the dog-eared bunnies.
Don’t mind their shabby appearance,
for they have endured the play of Hurricane Hannah.
Let her show you how milk makes the best bubbles,
how you can sound like an elephant if you blow your nose hard enough,
and how to play pretend with anything.

Dear Amelia,
Let this other little girl tell you what you have missed,
even as you will experience things she will miss.
Share your stories.
When your dad and I have gone,
stay close to her,
for no one else will have the same memories of us
that you two will.

Dear Amelia,
You are ready to meet the world,
but is the world ready to meet you?

Dear Amelia,
Thank you for showing the world
that even in times
of pandemics and all manner of upheaval,
life goes on,
for babies are still being born.
Children are precious,
for they are the future.

That said,
Dear Amelia,
I am so glad your lease is up on January 15, 2021—
with the prerequisite grace period, of course.

And always remember,
Dear Amelia,
that just as you will leave my body,
I will someday leave your life.
And I pray that I will have given you everything you need
to take care of yourself
(and hopefully others),
so take care,
and we will see you soon.

But most of all,
Dear Amelia,
remember that whatever you choose to do
may not be essential to the world,
but it will be essential to you,
for it will give you purpose and provide for you
and any who may come after you.
Know that you do not have to know
what it is you want to do
at the same time as everyone else,
for lifelong learning
includes learning about yourself.
Find your quiet place,
where you can take the time to reflect,
for when you know yourself,
you can be yourself,
Miss Amelia Skye.

Field of Daydreams

Her dad saw it as paying her respects;
for him & her mother’s mother,
the daughter went,
but never alone,
for she paid her respects every day
she continued to be someone
her mother would respect.
She didn’t need to see Mom’s name on a slab
to remember her,
for those who tended the graves of the fallen—
whether in combat
or long after they had honorably served—
honored the stones of the dead
that appeared to burst
from the gums of the earth
like teeth,
so polished & white,
the enamel worn off in places.
Some markers had crosses,
others, stars of David;
some had infinity symbols,
for belief in infinite beginnings,
others, atomic symbols,
for belief in a finite end;
innumerable other symbols
of faith or unfaith were unfamiliar to her,
though she took comfort in knowing
that in this hallowed ground,
these men & women,
despite who they served,
were equal because of what they served.

The Royal Order of Adjectives

When the Royal Order of Adjectives issued its decree,
the caste system was cast:
the Determiner came first,
for pronouns were all the rage;
then Quantity,
for one needed to see how many of these nouns he/she/they/xe/xem were dealing with:
how many persons and/or things were in how many places
(or how many things were in how many persons & vice versa);
Opinion squeezed in third,
for it just had to be heard (but not quite over the numbers);
Size mattered but not as much as one’s opinion of it;
Age was just a number in May–December romances,
in which size trumped mileage;
Shape defined one’s lines & curves (& if those lines were super acute or downright obtuse);
Color filled in what was in these curves (like coloring books done right);
Origin/material was the stuff of what all those lines & colors were made of
(for all are more than the shape of their body or the color of their skin);
but the Qualifier,
closest to the noun it was describing,
gave the noun its true identity,
showing that the last shall be first & the first shall be last,
for as important as pronouns were,
they weren’t fully qualified to describe a noun.

On a separate Post-It, the sentence, “Our single sassy 25-years-young hourglass-shaped whitish fleshy female human was making time with the married 50-year-old quarterback-built tannish fleshier male human,” did not tell but certainly showed why it was best to limit oneself to three adjectives for describing one noun.

For more information on the Royal Order of Adjectives: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/adjective-order/#:~:text=In%20English%2C%20the%20proper%20order,the%20Royal%20Order%20of%20Adjectives.

Letter to my daughter

My epistolary poem, “Miss Amelia Skye” (“Dear Amelia”) was just published in Bella Grace magazine. Amy Krause Rosenthal’s book, Dear Girl, was the inspiration behind the format. I have since created a Mixbook of this poem for my daughter (who will be turning 5 months in a few days); this book will go into a time capsule for her to open at the stroke of midnight in the year 2042 (which will make her 21, if my math is correct). 🙂

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sarahleastories/

Her Own Lifetime

Time was money:
Hours were dollars,
minutes were cents,
but there were no firsts
before seconds were gone
forever.
Dr. Samantha Beckett,
idealist extraordinaire,
traveled through time to the future
at the same rate as everyone else.
Though she could not change anyone’s history,
she built the history her children would remember—
changing their futures for the better.
And so,
Dr. Beckett,
having not leaped abruptly from life to life,
but stepped seamlessly
from one stage of hers into another,
learned that human beings fought time
but never won,
for time was an uncountable noun
that had no meaning except that
which people gave it.

LifeTime

It was the child who wiled away the time
reading under a blanket with a flashlight
& the student who stole time from sleep
to study under fluorescent lights;
it was the unscrupulous sort who made time
with married women,
the couple who shared their time
as they shared their responsibilities,
& the returning soldier who tried to make up for lost time;
it was the patient who killed time waiting in recovery
& the amnesiac who lost time;
it was the disgruntled worker who stole time;
it was the blackmailer who set the time
& the person being blackmailed who tried
to buy some time;
it was the firefighter who raced against time,
the cop who got there in the nick of time,
& the prisoner who served time
or was awarded time served;
it was the saint who gave their limited time,
the sinner who took their sweet time,
& the martyr who sacrificed their time forever;
it was the millionaire who saved time
& the poor who spent time;
it was the keen who used their time wisely;
it was the photographer who captured time,
the writer who documented time,
& the historian who depicted a time;
it was the parent who invested their time,
the mother who made the time
like she made everything else—
with love—
& the father who found the time
that his father had given away;
it was the grandparents who passed the time,
even as time passed them;
and it was the lover of life who made the most of her time
by having the time of her life,
for she was the patient living on borrowed time.

Below a Hole in the Universe

Mom: Rota, Spain, 1984

For my biggest fan since the day I was born

Who will be there to read the latest story I wrote, however unaccredited?
Who will be there to share my newest find from the bookstore?
Who will be there to listen to me at a poetry reading when Dad cannot?

Who will be there to call, worrying when I haven’t phoned in a couple of days?

Who will be there to binge-watch Big Love with me when I finally have the time?
Who will be there to say, “If I hear that one more time . . .” when I claim I am the Energizer bunny?
Who will be there to keep me company on the deck while Hannah is being a leaf-gathering and nest-making mama bird?

Who will be there to make lame-o “mom jokes” that were only funny in the way that Alice from The Brady Bunch is funny?
Who will be there to give me a reason to pray the car doesn’t break down somewhere because she’s wearing her zebra housecoat?
Who will be there to shake her head at me when I brag about not having tan lines?

Who will be there to yell at Dad about his driving when no one else is in the car?
Who will be there to yell “Be sure to tell them ‘hot fries!’” at Dad while he’s in the drive-through?
Who will be there to yell at Dad when he tries to pull the bait-and-switcheroo with off-brands from the grocery store?
Who will be there to yell at Dad?

Who will be there to eat Dad’s overcooked and underseasoned food?
Who will be there to ask me to get her a cup of ice because she doesn’t know her way around the refrigerator?
Who will be there to try my Grandmother Bernadean’s chocolate roll recipe, when I’ve finally perfected it?

Who will be there to outnumber Dad when he insists he’s right about some obscure fact?
Who will be there to remind Dad on how he’s hardly ever right about anything because he’s as stubborn as a Missouri mule? (We come from the “Show-Him” State, you know.)
Who will be there to ask, “Is there an echo in here?” when my dad and I say the same thing simultaneously, being on the same wavelength and all?

Who will be there to go with me to the World of Coke and the Campbell Peach Festival?
Who will be there to stay with me in the hospital when I am sick while my husband takes care of our daughter?

Who will be there to tell me I am beautiful, just because I am theirs?
Who will be there to tell me about myself, before I remembered myself?
Who will be there to tell me about Dad, before I was a gleam in his eye?

Who will be the proud mama when I finally graduate from college?
Who will be there for the Hannah Boo birthdays yet to be celebrated?
Who will be Grandma to my Hannah Banana?

Who will be the other mother to see me bring my Ryan or Madeleine into the world?
Who will be there to see them not only be good but do good in it?

Who will be you?

There were so many roles you filled
that no one will be able to play
the way you did;
some, no one will be able to play
at all.

There will just be your empty chair,
for you are neither here nor there,
but elsewhere.

Yet the distance between us,
between hello and good-bye,
is simply a wrinkle in time—
a wrinkle that will be ironed out
someday,
after I have lived my life—
the one you taught me to live.

*I read this poem—originally titled “Who Will Be You?”—at a student poetry reading at Pensacola State College in March 2018, one day after my mother, Betty Ann, was buried.

The Last Temptation of Christal Lord

Christal had grown up as the replacement child,
the third of Mr. & Mrs. Lord,
for their first had been taken & given back to God.
When Christal broke that barrier & turned back time
to have a chance to rescue the girl whose death
had given her life—
she saw her own life floating away before her eyes
& drown out of existence.
She thought of all the memories that would be wiped out,
even her very existence,
but in that last second,
she knew it was better to save a life by curing a death,
even if it meant preventing a birth,
& so she pulled the girl whose face she knew
as well as her own,
but whose face had remained frozen at the age of eight,
from the dark waters that now engulfed them both.
Flooding in tandem
with the memories of living in her dead sister’s shadow,
Christal had lived,
in another life & dimension,
in her living sister’s light,
where she was no longer the replacement child,
but the surprise one.