Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Sun Rises Early In Dixie

In the land of Dixie
A mother rises before dawn.
She turns on a pot of coffee, lays out the bacon.
Packs three lunches, feeds two cats and a dog.
She warms a bottle for the baby,
Pulls her husband’s jeans from the dryer,
And drapes them over the ironing board.

She will wake him with a cup of Joe and a smile,
And in return he will task her with finding his other sock.
Once the elusive article of clothing has been found,
She will quicken her pace to the other side of her single-wide palace –
Tossing eggs and bacon into a pan as she goes.

Inside a tiny bedroom, she will be greeted by six arms that groggily wrap themselves
around her waist, neck, and legs like limbs branching from the family tree.
“Shhhh.” She will plead as they lumber slowly from their beds,
past the baby’s crib over to the kitchen table.
The eggs and bacon, cooked to perfection (she’s had years of practice), will find their way
to the impatient mouths that she feeds every morning,
but like most mornings –
she will not remember serving them.

Instead, her mind will be twelve steps ahead,
Trying to remember where her husband left his wallet and keys,
 And going over the calendar she has hung in the back of her mind.
-          Soccer and tutoring end at 6, dance begins at 6:15.
Like every Thursday, she will have thirty minutes from the time she leaves the office,
To make her way across town, pick up the baby, grab chicken for dinner,
and be at the fields on time.

“Honey, where are my keys?”
Like clockwork.
Deductive reasoning will help her narrow down her husband’s hiding places.

“Did you bring them inside?”
“Were you carrying anything?”
“Check yesterday’s pants.”

Paying them no mind,
He will walk past his children to the laundry room
As their vocal crescendo becomes a “who can yell loudest” competition.
“Dad, did you know that Mark’s dad is a firefighter?”
“Mom, can I go to Sarah’s after dance?”
“My tummy hurts.”
“Ah ha!” He’s found them.
And the hi-hat baby cries out.

“Can you get him?” she will ask her husband, hoping for time-enough to put on pants.
“Sorry, I’m already running late.” He will conclude as he pecks her on the lips.
“See you at dinner.”
With that, he will grab his pre-packed breakfast and lunch and
disappear down the long dirt road
that separates them
from civilization.

With a baby on her hip, the young mother will clean up after breakfast,
Hop into a pair of scrubs on one foot, and manage her hair into a falling pony-tail.
She will chase children into the bathroom to brush their teeth,
Feed the baby with one hand, and sign permission slips with the other.
She will line up back packs and lunch boxes, hoist kids into car seats, and forget her biscuit on the counter.

She won’t  go back inside, for there is no time to worry about herself.
She will drop the baby at daycare, leave her oldest at the bus stop, and drive the twins to Kindergarten.
No one will tell her good morning.
No one will ask if she needs any help.
Instead her first patient will yell as she opens the office four minutes late.

This mother will work her nine to five (thirty) without a lunch break, chauffeur her children between after-school activities, conquer the quest of finding a meal-to-go, and find her husband asleep on the couch when she arrives home.  
She will let him sleep as she shifts her weight on swollen feet, warming the mashed potatoes,
And creaming the corn.

The baby cries un-apologetically, the kids run every last ounce of energy from their bodies,
And only after the meal has touched the table –
does her husband sit down, to tell her all about his busy day at the lumber mill.

After dinner, the mother will chase the children into the bathroom to brush their teeth, turn down their covers, bless their pillows, and kiss their foreheads.
She will tuck them in, say prayers, read another chapter from their bedtime story, and return to the kitchen to find dishes still scattered across the table and her husband captivated by "The Hunting Channel.".

As she runs the plates under hot water, she will thank God for her “alone time.”
Her husband will thank her for dinner, and consider it payment enough.
He will make his way to the bedroom, and she will follow
Knowing that he may very well want sex before sleep.
Just one more chore for the mother of four, who is allowed - finally - to turn in at nine.  

Because the sun rises early in Dixie. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stacked Standards

I fumble with the button on my pants.
I have no reason for taking them off, other than I’m lonely and she asked.
I’ve never heard of a flawless transition from “Us” to “Me”
And tonight, I’m no exception to the rule.

I’m over trying to pretend
That I know what the fuck is going on in my life.
So instead, I take another hit
And try not to flinch when she bites.

She doesn’t know why she’s here either.
Like we both just showed up one day
On the corner of Maybe and Why Not.
Her hands find my waist and they climb
                                  By inch
                                                Up my spine.

She pulls me down on top of her,
And her lips meet mine.
They’re cold.
My tongue searches for a place that I know
Somewhere I might have once called home
But I’ll never find it here.

I find her naked body still beneath the moonlight.
“What is it like?” she asks. “Sex with her?”

“Sex with the woman I loved?”

I want to tell her,
“It’s like when heaven meets the earth.
A constant ocean breeze on a day too hot to stand.
It’s… not like this.”
But I keep it to myself for fear that
she might take it as an invitation to fall.

“Complicated.” I offer instead.

Life is easier when it’s only physical.
Maybe I get calls to come over at two in the morning.
I wake up with more marks than a kid in catholic school,
And the chances of being surprised with an intellectual conversation are thin.

But she never expects to hear the words “I love you.”
And she will never ask me if I meant it when I said she was beautiful..

When I turn my head and bite my tongue
She will not take my face into the palm of her hands
And tell me that everything will be fine.
Instead, she will dig her nails into the soft of my back
And tell me to do that thing again with my tongue.

I oblige -
Because the bedroom is the first place I’ve found
Where I can live up to the standards
Stacked against me.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here In Pieces

I once claimed something was true when it wasn’t.
I said that I could only see you through the rearview mirror – and I’d never let you catch up to me again, but -
After the third time, I stopped saying it. 

Because every time I would, there you’d be with your long brown hair and dark eyes.
Whispering something about the cold air.

I’d give you my jacket and you’d stand there gazing up at the stars asking,          
“Whatever happened to us?”
Maybe I shouldn’t have assumed, but I thought you wanted to be loved by
                                    your heart on your sleeve
                                                and the gaze of your eye.

So, I would go on to open up the feelings that I had held for months locked inside.
Thoughts about where we went wrong, how we could mend things and maybe we should.
You would take me by the hand.
            Offer a distant “That sounds nice.”
And we’d sit quietly under the moonlight waiting for the world to turn.

Sitting in your bedroom floor, we shared secrets of our past
And foundations for our future.
But standing here tonight in this bar
We share nothing at all.
Not even an appetizer.

Her hand keeps finding it’s way towards your lower back,
And your fingers keep searching for mine.
I am not prepared to be your plan B, so I sneak off to a corner
With some girl named Rachel,
I’ve always liked that name.

Your gaze finds me again, your fingers wrapped tightly around your drink
Giving me the very look you gave me the first time we met.
It’s the same one I got the night that you told me that we were supposed to be together.
And it’s the one you gave me when you drove away.

It’s a look that says, “I’m broken, but please don’t fix me.

                                                            I had rather be loved here in pieces.”