Inspiration: This poem is written to whatever has been making itself at home in our attic. For months, I’ve complained of noises in the walls only to have my husband tell me it was squirrels on the roof. Whenever I called him to hear the clawing sounds for himself, it would stop. He’d pass me a I-think-you’ve-lost-your-mind look and head back downstairs. (I don’t know for sure, but writing poetry to attic-dwelling animals could be a solid sign of insanity!)
Well, crazy must be contagious because the kids heard the noises, too. And the cats began pouncing at walls (chasing noises that up until that point, the crafty creature made me suspect were only in my head.)
Finally, last weekend, my husband heard scratching/scampering and asked me, “Did you hear that?”
A small part of me wanted to say, “no” and play it off like he was nuts. Instead, I replied, “I told you something is in the attic!”
Divide and conquer… originally, used to describe a military technique that maintains control by dividing the masses. If they don’t band together, they are easier to manage. They don’t get together and rally against the ruler.
In my life, divide and conquer has come to mean dividing our resources so our to-do list doesn’t control us. Most recently, this thought came to mind when I over-booked our calendar. On the same day, we now have a Boy Scout camp out and putting up Christmas decorations at church. We also had a conflict with my older son’s band activities and our younger son’s doctor’s appointment. Divide and conquer.
I got to thinking – while our ‘to-do’ list is whimpering from our efforts, dividing our resources to manage it could have the opposite effect by bringing us to our knees. The more things we don’t do as a family, the more memories we miss making as a family. Years from now, it means fewer things we can talk about that we all remember- because we experienced them together. Divide and conquer needs to be our last resort, not our go-to strategy.
This time of year feels like life has been put on “fast forward.” I guess my thoughts needed to go down this path as a reminder that less is more. Even as I write this, I feel a little guilty because I’ve declined to be a leader in Cub Scouts this year. Not because I don’t think it’s valuable, but because I have so little time- and I feel like I’ve over-spent it.
It’s kind of been my thing lately to share the inspiration behind my fiction and the meaning behind my poetry. I’m not sure where to begin with this one. Really.
Deep breath.Exhale. This one is partially in code- my inner thoughts intertwined with metaphors that make me feel like my soul isn’t splayed out on the screen. I hate what this is about, but I’m going to break it down anyway. Here goes…
I lose myself in my ideas- my fiction. For a time, when I’m writing short stories, (and working on my novel) I am distracted from things that bother me. The reference to “grey” is me stumbling over things that aren’t black and white- the things that aren’t all good, or all bad.
The “amber lies” refers to a beer bottle I found poking through a trash bag when I dumped some leaves I’d cleaned up into the bin. This bothered me because my husband knows I don’t like him drinking. When drinking, he acts like an idiot (last month, he was removed from a public place for such behavior.) So, it hurt to find that he’s drinking- just not when I’m around.
On the surface, the golds and reds dying refers to the autumn leaves – like those on my maple tree in the photo. What it really means is sometimes I wonder if this is a season; if my life will blossom again, like nature does in the spring. The next lines refer to the passing of time and the effects of age; specifically being weary from all the years of trying to save him from himself and his heredity.
The ending is me, settled in with my familiar indecision on what to do next. Do I confront him? Pretend I didn’t see it? Do I bother getting angry or just let it go? These questions are all rhetorical in my mind. If things were bad all the time, the decision would be easy. It’s the grey that makes me stay.
The reference to Absolut is a literal play on words. I found vodka and poured it out… there is no Absolut :)
Oh, and the shape of the poem (supposed to be a martini glass) came last. I like irony.
I hope the poem makes more sense after reading the background behind it. Writing/reading about ‘heavy’ stuff can be awkward and you may shy away from leaving a comment because you don’t know what to write. Let me help – be fun. Be humorous – I love to laugh and won’t be offended by it all. And I like comments… a lot :)
Most days, I can find the happiness tucked behind the prominent list of things that serve the sole purpose of bringing me down. Most days, my prayers for internal rest are at least partially answered. Most days, I can believe with the greater portion of my heart that tomorrow will be better.
But this isn’t most days.
Today, the muck of life seems to have suctioned onto my wading boots. It’s as if I try to fight it, I’ll wind up flat on my face, completely submerged. So I do nothing.
Well, not exactly “nothing.” The fuse of my resentment is burning fast. It turns out that stewing about what I can’t change is like blowing on a fire. Eventually, the pressure will release and I worry about what my world will look like after that happens.
He groans and rolls over, nearly falling off the couch.
I place the crinkled receipt between the pages and close my book. I walk over to the wall of windows and open all of the blinds.
He buries his face between the cushions and mumbles something unintelligible.
Ashley stared at the red numbers projected onto her wall by her bedside alarm clock: 11:58. For two nights now, the phone rang at precisely 12:15. Each time she answered, there had been a pause and then the connection broke. Intrigued by the timing (not many people call after midnight) and the origin of the call (The Morrow House, an assisted living facility) she anticipated the shrill staccato that would disturb the gentle snoring of her beagle, Elvis.
As if sensing the internal restlessness of his motionless companion, Elvis, curled at her feet, raised his head and gave her a tilted head glance.
“Come here, boy,” she whispered. That was enough to convince him to bathe her face in slobbery kisses before collapsing in her arms; his exposed underside the not-so-subtle invitation to rub his belly. She didn’t know the precise moment when she became lonely enough to look forward to a late-night hang up call, but she suspected it may have been when the door clicked behind Brent as he carried the last of his belongings to his Chevy Blazer. The thought had crossed her mind to beg him to stay, but as much as she wanted to, she could sense he wanted to leave more. So she let him go.
Six years together disappeared in two carloads. For the first few months, Ashley expected him to come back, realizing the error in his choice. Now, going on the fifth month, with divorce papers on her nightstand waiting on her signature, she’d learned that setting one free with the notion he’d return was just foolish hope harbored by the naiveté of a romantic heart.
She’d never make that mistake again.
The sharp ring of the phone cut through the silence, startling Ashley. Elvis barely raised his head.
“I know you’re there. Please talk to me.” She detected two shallow, raspy breaths that made her question her sanity. I’m asking for trouble.
“Edith. Is that you?” A man asked.
Ashley let out a surprised gasp. “My middle name is Edith.” She rarely admitted it because, although she was named after her great-grandmother, she found it too old-fashioned. “Who is this?”
“David. They won’t let me come home to you. They say this is home now.”
She remembered driving by The Morrow House and from the outside, it looked like a warm, well-kept building.
“Do they take good care of you?”
He sighed. “I suppose.” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “But no one took care of the Colonel like you did.”
“What is your favorite meal?”
“Always turkey dumplings.”
“Oh, I love to make those. Most people use chicken, but turkey adds more flavor.” Without expecting it, she blurted another question. “What about dessert?”
“I don’t get sweets much but if I could sneak another bite of lemon meringue pie…” He paused. “Someone’s coming.”
Before she could answer, the call disconnected. In an instant she knew what she’d do. She had recipes for turkey dumplings and lemon meringue pie, passed down in her family for generations. “We’re going to give David a taste of home,” she said.
Elvis wasn’t impressed. Drool pooled under his loose lips and his eyes twitched beneath closed lids.
She rolled onto her side ran her fingers down his back. It wouldn’t be long before his steady snore would lull her to sleep.