Monday, November 30, 2009

Writing Prompt: Mushrooms

"If it's a fungus, how come it doesn't have a smell?"

Margot fingered the mushroom from the stem and sniffed it for the millionth time. She held it up to the sunlight and peered under the white curved head as if staring at it would set the funk free. Holding it up over her head like that reminded me of the clown we saw on that TV show who tried to shield himself from a downpour with the tiniest umbrella. The thought of it made me burst out laughing, clutching my stomach and gasping for air. Of course, Little Miss Sensitive took offense to my antics. She whined that I was making fun of her for asking a stupid question then threw the mushroom at my head. It landed in a thud at her feet–exactly what happened to that poor clown–which made me laugh even harder. As the baby of the family Margot thought everything was all about her. When she began to pout, I straightened up. We were having fun outside being together in the garden, trying to get along for Mom's sake.

"It's a different kind of fungus," I explained. "Not like Joe's athlete's foot that grows because he doesn't change his stinky sweaty socks or that gross stuff living in the nasty showers up at Camp Winnatonka. Most mushrooms are edible."

"Edible? What's that?"

"It means they are fit for human consumption, or in words that a fifth grader would understand, it means you can eat them."

"Oh I get it," Margot said "If mushrooms had a bad smell, we wouldn't eat them."


Margot picked up another mushroom from the ground, twirled it between her fingers, sniffed at it, peered under the brim and then set it back down.

"So cancer must be a fungus like mushrooms. If it had a smell, maybe Mom would have known it was there."

I pulled my little sister close to me and said, "Maybe, Margot. Maybe."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I Am Thankful For Friends Who. . .

. . .create reasons to pack my bags,
. . .teach my heart to travel light,
. . .give me clothes off backs and out of closets,
. . .inspire me to follow a creative path,
. . .read and re-read and re-read drafts,
. . .listen with warm hearts,
. . .hug with warm souls,
. . .email or text to say hello,
. . .call to hear my voice,
. . .share the beauty of art,
. . .express the depths of love,
. . .demonstrate the possibility of forgiveness,
. . .confirm the promise of happiness,
. . .dance with contagious joy,
. . .deepen my appreciation for yoga,
. . .allow me to support them at their best and worst,
. . .return the favor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baby Games

He turns to me and coos.
Cherubic cheeks lift,
reveal tiny pearls of white
on the bottom row.
He looks at me–then away,
looks at me–then away,
a peek-a-boo game
he wants me to join.
He writhes beyond Papa’s arms,
reaches out, coaxes me
to tickle him, sing silly songs,
smile with googly eyes.
Then his gaze turns, drawn by
the shiny silver trash bin
across the room. As he waddles
to his new conquest, I marvel
how in eleven months he’s mastered
breaking women’s hearts.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Writing Prompt: Does She Know I Have Your Keys in My Pocket?

Grandpa wants to take Nana out for a spin
in the Mercedes two-seater with the diesel engine,

to relive the moment she agreed to be his bride
in the hopes the old park would help her recognize

something from their past that matters
instead of all the random chatter

filling her brain, wearing Nana away
from the woman he knows, day after day.

I’ve heard their story a thousand times
how they made lemonade with limes,

a picnic in Pullen Park under the oak tree,
a keepsake he gave her with his picture and key,

before the Alzheimer's began eating her alive,
before the doctor told Grandpa not to drive.

He’s found everything he needs–the basket, the locket–
except for the car keys I have in my pocket.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dying Breed

They observed signs For Coloreds Only

(and those less polite), but then took front seats

on buses, sat at Woolworth lunch counters like normal

people in defiance of accepted rules.

Though laws changed, they knew

the rules would not. They worked

twice as hard to get half as far, pushed

their children toward equal footing.

Each time they were passed over or denied

for so-called legitimate reasons proved

that their skin factored in decisions,

that prejudice colored the system.

They still do not trust the Man–

despite working side-by-side at assembly lines,

accepting his children as part of their families–

because colorblind promises remained unfulfilled.

Each time their children grasped the dream

tears gleamed in their eyes, hearts full

of gratification for success of the one,

of lament for the others who were failed.

They still sing for freedom, a luta continua

carried on collective breath with the hope

that when the last of them is gone,

the rest of us continue the struggle.