Archives for category: children

The rock star, exposed soul and pecs with a rousing speech in front of thousands supporting tolerance (always good, right?) by announcing that anyone should be able to love who they want to love.

Oh. Really?

And then within a week I saw a piece in NYT’s Modern Love section devoted to the musings of a woman who had, apparently learned stuff from sleeping with married men.

Good thing people can “love who they want to love,” right?

In both situations it seems like the easiest way to strike a balance between my dismay and anger at the public aggrandizement of poorly lit behavior and my own private belief is to focus on that one, badly abused, word-

Love used to mean something. It used to be anchored to some pretty badass acts of self-sacrifice, public service, private solace, intimate compassion.

By co-opting a word of profound philosophical and etymological roots to stand in for other things, some of them very unlovely, transgressive, even illegal, we stand on the brink of meaningless cultural narcissism.

All while we insist on calling it



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


Sleep or

Administer the antidote

With words of

Your mispelled sins

All our


Promises rise

To life.

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.

For the last 30 plus years a central part of my self-concept has come from my ability to bear children.

That is code for sex.  The possession of breast.  The gaze of men.

When I was young I was a little oblivious to how pervasive the whole sex thing was for men.  

When I got a little older it was just-the-way-things-are.  But not in a good way.  I am kinda tired of dealing with the comparison, the cgi pics, razor thin models, fake breasts.

Time for a change.

I thought about it (with some help from my kids)–when I was six I was oblivious to the gaze of others.  Mirrors were for imaginary friends and maybe checking your teeth for spinach.

They were not weapons of comparison.  When I was six I never worried my butt was too big.

So I have decided to go back.  I have decided to apply the rules of sixishness to my forty-something self.

Mirrors are for imaginary friends and teeth checks.

Go confidently into the world, unselfconsciously confident.

Try to see everyone else as six too–potential friends at the playscape.

Focus on the joy.  

Realize you are just a kid.

I will let you know how this works for me.

In the meantime–

C’mon, let’s go play!

The love songs are easy
Dazzling protagonist
And happily-ever-afters
Voices grow hoarse
In the narrows
Of grief and ghosts

You lose your grip
I lose my girlish
Figure the children are beautiful
Make us more than who we were
But scary too, knowing how fragile we
adrift in this boat
Powered only by the wind
All alone at sea.

Sigh. There is some stuff I should be doing, but I can’t because I am holding a sleeping child. If I move, he wakes. So I don’t move.

When I was a kid I got to see Michelangelo’s Pieta. Beautiful, brilliant, and sad. Someone told me that Mary is physically so much bigger than Jesus in the statue because the weight of his stone figure had to be supported by hers. A simple matter of physics. The opposite of the story itself–the weight of his death holding up the weight of her life.

I love Ondaatje’s book Anil’s Ghost for many reasons including the pietas woven into the narrative.

Our lives are fragile and the love that holds us is either ephemeral or eternal, depending on your theology.

My theology is pietal–hold the child in your arms for he will grow so fast.

Or in your case, dearest girl, she will be taken.

One day we will all be found.