As the ink flows onto the page, 

each word creating and tumbling into another,

she wonders aloud to no one in particular,

“are these sleeping memories

left in the shadows of grief …

a past writing on and on

this tale and that …

moving my pen across the page

as if a bridge to yesterday?” 

my face – my mother’s

lingering scent of sweet peas

mirrored reunion.

meandering tales

beyond a haze of tear drops

my mother’s face – mine.

faded looking glass

a cup or two of coffee,

“Let’s linger a bit.”

Adopted 70 – 74 years ago. A teddy bear, 12 inches tall and 9 inches wide.   A child’s toy stuffed with long, fine wood shavings. A faded pink ribbon … placed around the neck … frayed … a limp bow.  A mishmash nose …the tip reconstructed with thick black thread. Missing mouth and eyes.  Matted and worn wool body  … the muted yellowish brown colors of early spring.

Well traveled … bits of time along the east and west coastlines of the United States as well as the mid-west and Rocky Mountains. Deployed with the family for 2 years in Australia. 

The numerous times the childhood family and then my family moved … household items, furniture, toys, clothes left behind … moving sales, yard sales, donations, and tossed in the trash things … a shedding of things…leaving a trail of chosen and then discarded things.  

Never though … photograph albums … ones she created for each of her children, her marriages, and her childhood family.  Each one a chapter within a visual memoir … validating her life.  

But why this one teddy bear … adopted during the first chapter of her life as a wife… a young mother of two girls?

A teddy bear … a child’s gift tucked away for safe keeping.  Later an adult’s re-given gift of a mom’s unspoken memories kept close to her heart.  

olden memories

so brisk

in their fading

100 days 56

A pocket-sized hard board notebook…forest green within a package mailed from California.  Black and white photographs of extended family…lent not given…to be returned to sender.  

Within the notebook her father’s carefully written numbers…some lists seemed to be Union Pacific Railroad time schedules while others household expenses.  In the back – two facing pages – a written exchange between a father and daughter.

She was his first born.  She loved him.  She felt his love and his gift of inclusiveness.  

She knew her grandmother’s love.  Sitting together in a rocking chair her grandmother reading aloud biblical scriptures, “I did not know what she was reading from the Bible. It was enough sitting on her lap…being close.”

His smoking…she loved watching him roll his cigarettes…and evenings at the neighborhood bar, two sources of discontent within the family.

It has been told that she sometimes accompanied him to that bar during family visits.  There was that time, father and daughter sitting together at the bar … her mother and siblings outside at the window looking in.

They were walking together to the train station…the state mandated her education be a placement within a school for the deaf.  When she first began school she was enrolled in the school in Idaho. Later, a transfer to Salem, a new state requirement – enrollments to be within the state.  Home visits, family celebrations and holidays were now difficult to arrange.

His words … written words messaging understanding and reassurance.  A writing style evoking calm.  Her writing  – a resigned resistance.

When she was 14 … away at school, a fatality at the railway roundhouse. 

spring’s rain

memories of lost years

left by a cloud

I searched for her … my mother …. I waited through lunch, but she did not visit today.   I sat, meditated, read a page or two.  Yet, the scattered crumbs of memory blew away in a whirlwind of restlessness. 

My grandmother did visit for a bit and left me wondering…am I like you?  Sensitive, irritable, exhausted.  As a child I was often overwhelmed by my own sensitivity to her presence…once I carried a long forgotten incident between us to my mother seeking resolution … comfort. I instead found,  “That is her way.” 

That is her way…

It seemed as though in her absence L was invited to visit as I remembered his poetry.  With a manual typewriter, his carefully composed words on white paper.  Where are those papers?

Where are the poems hand written on scraps of paper…recycled holiday cards…mailed over the years?  Poems written before the tremors silenced my mother’s hands…where are they?  One spoke to me of acceptance…how her walker was her friend. 

Slipped into books…as if they were flower blossoms?  Tucked away into little wooden boxes … as they are treasures?

Where are those books…the wooden boxes?  

Were they given away?  Did I cast them aside unknowing ….

blossoms scatter

never knowing

our regrets

          ~Ouchi Masahiro*

100days...33days

 

Fragments of memories sewed together with multiple threads of colored thoughts and feelings. As if to create a quilt…a quilt of memories…a life confirmed. Memories forgotten, hidden away, rejected…invisible quilt pieces…segments of emptiness.

My mother knew marginalization from the moment scarlet fever left her in a sound-void world reliant upon sight, touch, and feeling: dancing hands in the air, a light touch upon the shoulder, and pulsating vibrations.

She silently connected with her children through changes of vibrations…walking from one room to another, closing and opening of drawers, cupboards, and doors. Children free from “indoor voice” restraints; yet, moderated through visual and vibrating variations.

The house will filled with the sounds of snapping and clapping of hands dancing in the air – accompanied with spontaneous voice sounds.  Feet stomping on floors, hands hitting flat surfaces or waving in the air, replacing a voice calling for another.  The sounds of family games played simply for the fun of playing inserted with the sound of joy’s winning. And then followed with her graceful hands that sang, ”Should we play again?” 

My mother and I blush…we most likely were the loudest family in the neighborhood.

As the sound of a single birdsong came into the window, my mother’s eyes watched as my hands clumsily hesitated in the air. The faded muscle memory of our home language tried to question if I learned to “read and formulate internal speech” through a greater reliance on sight, touch, and feeling than hearing.

I see her words…I piecemeal each movement together…I formulate sentences…I hear her words.

There is sadness in the shared remembrance of the moment our confidence in understanding one another suddenly vanished. She, a patient, recovering from carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists. She, lying in the hospital bed, unable to sign, speaking…saying words I could not understand … no vague sense of knowing, just variations of a high pitched voice. 

I left the hospital room… a segment of our relationship had been severed. Saddened and overwhelmed by the experience of my loss and her vulnerable and alone helplessness.

*cited:

Haiku before Haiku

Trans: S Carter

Morning haze

jewels of rain, falling

in a dream

100days...raindrop

My mother came to visit … she sat quietly as my stream of consciousness meandered through childhood valleys of fairness…equity…justice.

Exhaustion seemed to fill the home whenever as she strived to moderate peace and calm, especially calm, during sibling battles that suddenly erupted at the kitchen table – cause … long forgotten, exploded during board games – cause … clear evidence of cheating, erupted during Saturday’s chores – cause … unequal distribution of work assignments, shattered during floor rough and tumble play – cause … physical injury.

“I told you to quit before someone got hurt!”

Within a photo album, a polaroid image of a smiling young me in a light blue coat. With long strawberry blond hair, I stand with a Coke in hand. A princess with a trophy in hand.

A Coke or any soda pop was a rare treat…Koolaid was, “a good enough” drink. What one cannot discern from the photograph is, “You need to finish that before we leave. I don’t want to hear, It’s not fair.”

A photo tucked away in her purse. Hidden evidence of unfairness…a momentary gift of peace.

Glossy branches of jasper, 
A sprinkling of early blossoms,
Touched up by snow bring,
The first tidings of spring.
Soft and delicate in her new make-up,
Fragrant face half showing,
She emerges in the middle of the courtyard--
A beauty in the flower of youth fresh from her bath. 
spring
Nature must have regarded her with special favor,
To lavish on her such splendid moonbeams.
Come drain these golden cups of emerald
Till we are drunk.
Of all flowers this the one beyond compare. ~Li Qingzhao 

(cited:   Jiaosheng Wang, Sino-Plantonic Papers The Complete Ci-poems of Li Qingzhao: A New English Translation)

Like the morning moon,
Cold, unpitying was my love.
And since we parted,
I dislike nothing so much
As the breaking light of day. ~Mibu no Tadamine

morning light

In the peaceful light
Of the ever-shining sun
In the days of spring,
Why do the cherry’s new-blown blooms
Scatter like restless thoughts? ~Ki no Tomonori

morning light

This week Amy invites photographers to share their work using natural light.

Regret that dropping sun’s dusk;
Love this cold stream’s clearness.
Western beams follow flowing water;
Stir a ripple in wandering person’s mind.
Idly sing, gazing at cloudy moon;
Song done—sound of tall pines 
~ Li Po  (Translated: Arthur Waley, The Poet Li Po The Project Gutenberg
Nikon D750 f/3.2 1/1600s 40mm

Pale green night and flowers all melting into one 
    in the soft haze–
Everywhere the moon, glimmering in the Spring night
~The Sarashina Diary (cited: Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Nikon 750 f/3.2 1/1600s 40mm

Wait on, never forsake your hope, 
For when the plum-tree is in flower 
Even the unpromised, the unexpected, will come to you.
~The Sarashina Diary (cited: Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Nikon D750 f/3.5 1/800 40mm

morning-glories
softly floating…
in the teacup
~Issa (cited: haikuguy.com)

Nikon D750 f/3.5 1/1000s 40mm

Hop on over to Leya‘s to share your interpretation of Soft