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?

21 Years + 1 Month, 2 Weeks, and 3 Days

He grew up with an absent father
but an omnipresent mother
who blamed him for losing the father
who hadn’t minded the ball
but hadn’t want the chain
attached to it.
She had given birth,
but she hadn’t given life,
and when he had the chance
to meet a girl
who loved his brokenness
because she believed
it complemented her wholeness,
he, so eager to prove that
he wasn’t his father’s son,
planted a part of himself in her,
only for her to do
what his mother had always wished
she had done.

Childhood Memories: A Father’s Day Message

(top left):  1981:  My dad and mom, with a new me.  (top right):  1953:  My grandfather, Joseph York, with my mom.  I always thought Joe looked just like Billy Graham.  (middle right):  Circa early 1970’s:  A trio of Booker dads:  My dad, Phil (Phillip Wayne), his dad, Paul Whitaker, and my uncle Bill (Paul William).  It had been Grandma’s idea to give them all the initials P.W.  (bottom):  The father of my child, on the night she was born.

This morning, as I let my daughter press the button on our coffee machine, I was reminded of all the times when I was about her age, growing up in Rota, Spain, when my dad would let me press the button on the bean grinder (ground being unavailable). Maybe that’s why java’s lusty aroma always makes me smile.

I never knew why the grinder was always on the floor (near a self-portrait of Albrecht Durer framed in “gold,” leaning against a closet), but now I know that it was so I could be a part of the process (if not a consumer of the product).

And that’s partly what parenthood–be it motherhood or fatherhood–is all about:  Taking the time with your children.

When I found out I was going to have a baby, it took me a while to realize that my parents’ example had given me all the tools I needed to be a good mom, for we learn how to parent from our parents (whether good or bad), just as they learned from theirs.

A man learns how to be a father from having one.

From my dad, I learned that you can survive horrendous cooking (so long as it errs on the side of overcooked), that you can put up with a lot of crap from another person because they put up with a lot of crap from you, and that good acting isn’t using four-letter words and taking your clothes off.

But the greatest lesson learned was that I was just as valuable for being born a girl as my brother was for being a born a boy.


As for the father of my child, I can do what I do (go to school to better myself so that I can better our financial situation) because he does what he does (be a stay-at-home dad)—just as my dad supported my mom when she decided to join the military.

That’s what being a husband is sometimes: Not “letting” your wife do whatever she wants but supporting her so that she can feel good about doing what she needs.


Life with Griff

Dollars into dimes,
fast food made slow,
pots and pans instead of
plates and bowls.
That was life with Griff.

Random lunchbox items—
Almond Joys and Handi-Snacks—
and dinner often burned,
which even the dogs spurned.
That was life with Griff.

Mixing flat Coke with fresh,
the creator of the 10-second rule,
showing up at school in high-water shorts
and black knee-socks, all out of sorts.
That was life with Griff.

Matching sheets, an unnecessity,
clocks that didn’t synchronize
were not a problem for him,
for time was often improvised.
That was life with Griff.

Flipping out when a car got behind him,
taking the road not meant to be taken,
but always managing to “recover his fumble”,
with Mom hollering, “Hells bells, Griff Graff!”
That was life with Griff.

Trips to the Wag to do number two,
when the toilets were on the blink,
throwing whites in with darks,
all coming out motley, wrinkly,
and somewhat less stinky.
That was life with Griff.

The endless making us guess,
making everything a test,
the telling of a joke,
only to forget the punchline,
leaving us all in a poke.
That was life with Griff.

Mopping without first a-sweeping,
CPAP mask while a-sleeping,
every scrap of junk-mail a-keeping,
and long trips to the loo
with a binder or two.
That was life with Griff.

Important Relationships

From my father,
I learned a man could be just as happy
with a daughter, as with a son.

From my mother,
I learned a woman could have a career and family,
with a husband’s help at home.

From my brother,
I learned to share the love of Mom and Dad—
that love received from one does not take it from the other.

From my husband,
I’m learning to share my life,
even as we build one together.

From my daughter,
I’ve learned that one can teach themselves patience,
because of the love they have for the one who tests it.

From my friends,
I am learning to open up,
like the Lavender “Provence Blue.”

From my Lord,
I’m learning still, everything I need
to help these other relationships succeed.