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


I think the boys kinda knew where I stood on the whole thing.  So when they said things like (insert name of famous wakeboarder) got a girl to do a push-up with him on her back!  I heard their frank admiration as I was registering my own very different reaction.

Someone or some ones had promoted the idea that a man on a public stage lying on the back of a college-age woman was great fun! Memorable.

I was not there when the coed let the wakeboarder ride her, but I do think it was memorable.  Plaintiff-lawyer, sexual-harassment, years-of-therapy, event-organizer-is-a-middle-aged-college-instructor, what-the-hell?!?-memorable.

Who had given these teenage boys the belief that this behavior wa not just socially acceptable but cool?

We all had.  Not just the adults who brought their kids to the event.  Not just the self-styled celebrity judges.

All of us. The churches who came to use the facilities.  Regular, ordinary wakeboarders who might go out of our way to avoid the bikini contest but did nothing to intervene.

Wakeboarding will be a boobs-n-beer sport until we shed light on the misogyny promoted by some people who are powerful in the sport and demand change.

Women in wakeboarding can do so much more than carry the boy-men of the sport on their backs.

I tie bandanas on each

Think she should name them

At some point in time

We must all name them

The right and the left

Outstretched arms

He did not reply and Pilate was amazed

Looked into the crowd of angry…

Helpless, broken 

Justice, mercy

Sorrow, hope

Pairs of things

With ancient, original and sacred names on them

File into the ark

Mute and two by two

Flood or resurrection

boat or Cross

Immissa, patibulum

Someone must carry them outside the sanctuary
Up the hill 

To his end

And our beginning 

Freed to walk, or even fly

But tied to Him, forever 

first the don’ts:

Don’t wax

Don’t spray tan anything 

Don’t take it too seriously

Don’t expect to win

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandchildren to see

Now the dos:


Accept your body

Embrace the humor

Ask why?

Honor the other participants

Give sound advice

Listen to their stories

Verify they are old enough for what is about to happen

Draw strength from the Cross

(Also, it helps if you can get some practice.  Things that helped me to prepare for my bikini contest were thankless jobs and other contests where I knew I would not win.)

I obsessed about it for weeks beforehand–what would I wear? What would I say?  What would I do to prevent getting embroiled in sexual degradation?

I mean, I had seen the videos.  Young, very young women in the barest of bikinis seemed to have lost leave of their position in front of the crowd, in front of the camera, and could be seen doing highly inappropriate things with their posteriors for all posterity.

I would go ordinary places and mentally remind myself that the cashier, the pedestrian, the librarian had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

They did not know that the very chubby, very middle-aged, nearly hairless specimen of womanhood before them was a “bikini contestant.”

Ultimately I had to let go of any shred of dignity to do this.  Or so I thought at the time.  Not because I planned to do anything untoward.  No.  

I had to fold up and discard notions of dignity because it wasn’t a bikini contest, it was a sexual cattle call.  And as heifers went, I was past my prime.