Recently my beautiful daughter and I were sitting on a bench in a city we do not live in but nonetheless love watching a slow train go by.  I told her I would not do this but I could see someone (not me) jumping on the ladder up to the platform betwixt each huge metal box and climbing one side then down to the other as the cars lumbered by.  I timed them-one Mississippi, two Mississippi and it took 10 seconds for each to travel from one side of the intersection to the other, slow, quiet, heavy-climb up, walk over climb down, jump off.

It only takes a second for a jump to go wrong, not on the hypothetical slow train but in a real basketball scrimmage-up one, shoot, full force of the other girl driving into my daughter’s knee.

Months later the kids tell me they thing we lost the indoor basketball that day.  We all know we lost more than that, coming so close on the heals of my spectacular gesture, ensuing protest and unraveling attendance at the ski ranch, leaving, being told to leave, when the ropes began separating, things falling in pieces, bodies in the murky brown water.

Basketball was supposed to be the rebound sport, but the breakup came too fast and we resorted to RICE, returned to MRIs, visited new ortho docs.

Each thing-the leave-yourself-behind move, the extreme sports, the regular sports, the injuries, just slow moving heavy boxes full of pebbles clicking slowly by-one Mississippi, two Mississippi, all the way down the line….

To rehab.  Not Amy Winehouse rehab-kneehab I coin it-another ordinary rectangular box, up then down, one Mississippi, two Mississippi.

I took M to rehab as soon as I could, wanted as soon as I could to assuage the hurt-fear-loss.  They iced it and I stayed with her or she would have been alone. 

Part One of two…

If you were to drive through sleepy a certain sleepy looking hamlet nestled in the farm-to market hypotenuse of I-10 east of San Antonio and I-35 south of San Marcos you would think it was a convenience store, a cafe, and maybe a bar or two.

If you approached that hamlet from the water side you would find a rather dazzling array of lake houses, boats, docks, and water sport paraphernalia.  All the houses say money and privilege but one stands out among them-a vast building or set of buildings so sprawling as to be a hotel or resort of some sort.

The, house, with its array of water skis, and wakeboards, belongs to an orthopedic doctor.  His patients could easily be his neighbors, and his collection of toys are often the vehicles for the injuries he surgically repairs.

Seems an uneasy tautology at best- knee surgeries caused by wakeboards, wakeboards bought by knee surgeries…

I stood on an accurate scale and despaired at its arbitrary number.  Then whined to God: why can’t I lose weight?

His answer: trust your body.

As usual, for Him, anchoring words.

Perhaps youth is always hubris 

Although not always so baldly unhinged

I can still see

The mistaken room, ensuing melee

As though an intimate troupe of primate acrobats 

Had used their clever

Prehensile tails to

Tornado the borrowed room

Swing from the wooden dowel in the closet

Tear the beloved childhood

Memories apart, just words on pages

isolated pictures

can summon the ghosts

Of me and you and us

All gone now

Illusion I could

change you into angels

Can’t 

Sleep or

Administer the antidote

With words of

Your mispelled sins

All our

broken 

Promises rise

To life.

You were the only in utero child who did this–little kicks right under my rib cage.  I figured either you were a future soccer player or letting me know you were ready for the outside world. Like a man kicking a locked door down…

At that time I had two kids who made me doubt my maternal instinct, one who restored it, and I had learned to grieve as I lost.

You kept me in the game and at the same time reminded me that the world was so scary and I wasn’t much help against the monsters.

So now, after all these years of wonder, I face the monsters again.

I wish you had the guarantee of comfort, success, and deep love.  Which you actually do, not from a fickle world but from our mutual strong tower and savior-Jesus.

Stick close to him no matter what.

Which is, tangentially, the name the monster-no matter what.

Typical of Jesus- to name the monsters sleeping menacingly at our feet, then slay them, then somehow, miraculously, resurrect them as lambs.

When I retold the horrible, awful, unbearable story of my adopted son’s  felonies, I usually punctuated the facts, the most basic, anodyne facts, with an unsolicited analysis of my grief-filled rage.

I said I wanted to take him down the street to the local biker bar, announce his sins to the crowd and then hold the door shut behind him.

It was such a clumsy, elliptical way to say that I wanted catharsis.

Now I know how to cathart, and do so a few times a week on a very uncomplaining heavy bag.

Lately I have had a single terrible image motivating each punch–an eleven year old boy crying out for mercy  moments after his rape and before his murder.

I grieve for him, the unmitigated loss.  I grieve; we let him down.

So I fight the mute bag, acknowledging that the words, when they come, will each be placeholders for the blows to the bag, which is in turn a scapegoat for  anger.

Not just toward the evil against this child, any child, but all the ways we look the other way, grow circumspect and pragmatic…

and let the monsters own the story…

and the dark.

strange to think something like that 

was eleven years ago

this reckoning of self

in spray-tan culture

you look in the mirror

weigh yourself

tempted, perhaps to lie about

the accuracy of the scale

we use to measure “us”

but young women cannot know

what old ones do

this house, light through windows house

we call home

has always been borrowed

prone to show true age

not a bad thing actually

to see the signs of years on a once-familiar face

tell yourself you are already one hundred

lie up about your age 

so that when you get there you can

say you have been 

a beautiful one hundred years-old 

For at least the last

sixty