Published in 2020, and a must read for anyone who cares about abused women, their rights, and how law enforcement often fails them, this book by Trethewey, 2007 Pulitzer Poetry Price winner for “Native Guard”, voices her struggle to deal with her mother’s untimely death. When Trethewey was nineteen and in college, her mother was shot and killed by her step-father after the police officer assigned to protect her mother left his post early. Additionally, the memoir details the effects of the racism she experienced as the child of a white father and black mother (married when it was illegal where they lived) in Mississippi and later in Atlanta in the 1970s and 80s before her mother’s murder in 1985. The book gets its title from the street on which her mother lived when she was murdered. Through this memoir Trethewey discusses how her parent’s divorce, her mother’s remarriage to an angry, abusive man, and her mother’s murder has informed her life and affected the enduring love she holds for her mother.
One Million Dead–We Must Remember
I see you, the dead, the too often forgotten,
you who lost your lives to Covid,
This is like wiping out the entire population of
wiping out all the people who live in
More of you died than live in the entire
North Dakota or
South Dakota or
This is like wiping out 1/2 the people in
Lest you who read this forget,
pretend all are dead in Columbus,
no one is left in Montana.
Envision the magnitude of
Grieve for them, their friends,
Do Not Forget.
I post these flowers in remembrance.
An Old Bowl and the Silver Spoon
My Aunt Julia, Mom’s sister, lived to 94. She loved fine antique china, linens, and French furniture. The ordinary bowl in this photo defies those inclinations, its origins a mystery. How did she acquire such a plain bowl and why? I will never know. In spite of its age, cracks, dull finish, I have used it every morning for decades. It is my breakfast bowl, filled with yogurt or cottage cheese with dried blueberries and a handful of walnuts, or, occasionally, oatmeal.
The spoon, on the other hand, is not ordinary, but rather good silver from the set Dad gave Mom on their first wedding anniversary. Unlike Mom, who saved her good silver for holidays and special occasions, I use these spoons daily and think of her unconditional love, strong will, determination, and love for beauty.
Today I made the first leg of my journey from living in the Panhandle of Texas to living in the San Gabriel Valley in LA County, Ca. I have crossed New Mexico many times at various times of the year. I doubt I will ever again drive all the way across it again. One thing was very different this time, green. Usually, by this time toward end of summer, it is dry and hot. Not this time. Emerald green contrasting with the red rock outcrops proved quite lovely and dramatic. The green prevailed all the way to Flagstaff. The hottest temperature today along I-40 was 83 in NM and briefly a bit above 90 for a few miles in Arizona.
Just before I left my daughter’s house in Amarillo, I took a few photos. I have been going to her house for more than 18 years. My 17 year old grandson has spent almost his whole life there until a month ago. Will I ever return? Probably not. Nevertheless, the lovely memories of their life in this house will linger for the rest of my lifetime.
In Honor of My Father
He lays on his back on the cold, hard, blue linoleum floor after
the midday dinner of homegrown roast beef, potatoes, wilted
lettuce salad, hot coffee, coconut topped cake. His left arm
forms a right angle at the elbow as the back of his wrist rests
on his forehead, touching the slight curliness of his not quite
black hair. His left leg stretched out straight, right one drawn
up, knee jutting out. The sleeves of his worn, pale blue dress
shirt rolled up; his overalls show signs of wear and washing.
Every day after dinner he naps in the same spot in this same
position for exactly fifteen minutes before returning to the field.
Seventeen years after his death, one day as I napped, slowly
driving off, astonishment stuck. There I lay exactly as my
father used to so many years ago, my left arm forming a right
angle, wrist on my forehead, left leg stretched out straight, right
one drawn up, knee jutting out. I remember not just in heart
The body always knows.
Taken at the top of Mt. Evans in Colorado when I was a child.
Flowers for Mother’s Day
Usually, my son sends me flowers for Mother’s Day even though he lives far away. He sometimes sends his sister in Amarillo flowers as well. Since none of us are participating in the flower rituals this year due to quarantining, I offer all of you mothers out there photos of my iris this year.
Happy Mother’s Day. Stay safe, be thankful, take a walk. Enjoy!
A Birthday Tale
Several weeks ago, the tail of my favorite horse, Miracle, disappeared. When she died from colic after giving birth several years ago, one young lady at the vets took hairs from her tail, made a braid, and gave it to me. Since then, it had hung in the hallway next to Dad’s spurs and a photo of the family farm above Dad’s parade saddle. Suddenly, it disappeared. Where could it have gone? No one had recently been to the house except Martina, my Italian exchange student, and me. My daughter and grandson had stopped by, but no one else. Nothing else had disappeared. It was a mystery like the time I found a handful of dry dog food under the saddle. I never solved that one and had given up on solving this one. I had even considered looking for something else to hang in its place.
On my birthday yesterday, the principal walked to my room with a bouquet of flowers and a package. The bouquet was from my grandson. I opened the package. Much to my astonishment, there was Miracle’s tail, the top of the braid carefully and colorfully wrapped, a thin copper wire winding through it, and and then wrapped around the bottom. My daughter had managed to take it without my seeing her do so, took it home, and had wrapped it so it would not come apart. When I originally told her about it, she and my grandson commented how strange it was and made note of the dog food incident as if some mystery lurked in that particular place in my house.
My grandson had picked out each individual flower. He obviously knows my favorite color is orange.
Then to top off the day my son also sent flowers. It dropped 50 degrees from yesterday afternoon to late last night, the wind shrieks, clouds loom dark and ominous. It is a good day for bright flowers.
Thoughts on New Year’s Day
16 degrees, windchill 2, flurries.
Keep warm, reflect, remember, don’t relive,
forgive, move on.
Work hard to become the change you want to see worldwide:
A Season of Gratitude
It started Thursday with the Winter Solstice and the full moon: the love, the presents, my astonishment. You cannot go wrong with moonlight hanging over a canyon. It never disappoints.
Then on Friday, astonishment. Teachers never expect what I received. I expect excellence and hope most learn something new, learn that books they will like exist, that they can do more than they ever dreamed. We do not expect presents.
By ten on Friday, my classroom was covered with gifts and food. Here is a list of some of the presents I received from my students:
frankincense and myrrh soap
a book about wine–yes, it seems they know me
a 4 by 4 black block that says Love, Smile, Enjoy, Laugh, Sing, Live
two gifts cards from a brother and sister for renting movies along with popcorn
a Picasso scarf
a thermal cup full of almonds–I received lots of almonds
all sorts of homemade candies, cookies, and other goodies
To top it all off, a mother walked into my room and handed me a bottle of red wine with this written on it: “Our child might be the reason you drink so enjoy this bottle on us, Merry Christmas.” I am still chuckling about this one.
My daughter and grandson are on a cruise and will get to see several ancient Mayan temples, my son is on his way here and will arrive around noon or early afternoon, I attended a beautiful Christmas Eve service last night, then came home and continued reading a fascinating book until late, and shortly I will make pumpkin bread using Mom’s old recipe.
The moon still shines, hanging in the Western horizon. I feel grateful.
Happy Holidays to everyone.
Note: The Christmas tree my parents gave me decades ago with a skirt, simple fabric brought from Africa many years ago.
A Letter to the Man I Loved the Most
Today is your birthday, June 6. I cannot wish you Happy Birthday because you fell into a coma a year and 1/2 ago and died several months later. Our daughter came over and over to see you, unconscious, eyes staring into empty space. She drove the five hours back and forth repeatedly. Sometimes I came with her.
What happened to you? Your mahogany hands and arms looked as they did when I first met you decades ago. I looked at the signs of aging on my own; yours seemed so young, ageless. But not your face. I wonder if I would have recognized you on the street. I remember the first time I saw you, sitting on a sofa–fancy, engraved silver tipped cowboy boots, shirt open half way down your chest, and your smile radiating across the room. I knew immediately I had to have you.
What happened to you? How could I have guessed I could be so wrong, decades of believing you just left, no explanation, nothing. Then after you are comatose and I cannot talk to you, I learn a far different truth, a truth that never leaves me, a truth from which I will never totally recover.
What happened to you? Charming, laughing, the man so many loved. That you. Did the other you finally dominate–the sad, disappointed, angry you? The you few knew, the hidden you, the one I often held, tried to protect. Now I talk to your cousin, the one you forbade to tell me the truth I never knew, the friend I thought I had lost forever. Yesterday we talked. Today she left me a message. She and I will never be the same, she filled with irreparable loss, your company, your mutual love, and I with a hole in my heart that can never be filled because I cannot talk to you.
What happened to you? A decade ago when you came to see our daughter, it was like I had seen you only yesterday, in so many ways as if we had never been apart. It haunted me. You could have told me then, the truth. But no, I had to learn it by accident from our daughter. She thought I knew, that you had told me.
What happened to you? I look at photos of us, young, filled with hope and love and promise, smiling brightly toward a camera. I wonder how different my life might have been. I will never know.