Courage enough.

May 24, 2013 § 4 Comments

I kneel in our vegetable garden, weeding.

The damp from the sandy soil would soak through the knees of my jeans if they had any, but both are blown.

My own winter-pale knees poke out, easy targets for the fire ants that share this southern garden.

Despite the ants, the jeans and I have been vegetable gardeners for a long time.

As I do every year when spring yields to summer, I am weeding, mulching, disrupting ants with a hand hoe and comparing this to other times in the garden.

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The great intangible.

May 17, 2013 § 10 Comments

At first, happiness was a store window, everything I wanted behind shiny plate-glass, unattainable, but brightly lit.

In my ordinary life I had a lot: a loving family, plenty to eat, other kids to play with. Still, I pressed my nose to the glass and yearned for more.

If I couldn’t touch happiness I could always describe it.

At ten, happiness looked like a pair of black patent leather T-strap shoes, with princess heels of course. The happiness that would be granted by putting on those shoes included confidence, head-turning beauty, a satisfying click as I paraded down the hall—the full happiness package.

Moo.A dog of my own was the happiness I craved throughout childhood until, after college I got one…and another… and another.

The dog of my imagination would love me as-is, would understand me, would not talk behind my back, would not care that I wasn’t popular, high-achieving or cool. Happiness had a wet  nose.

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Dear Mom,

May 8, 2013 § 13 Comments

My mother, Maria Bontempi FogelinMy last memory of you is from the hospital room.

The soul must escape through the open mouth, not caring about the terrible grimace it leaves behind. You were through with that home.

I knew even then that what was in the hospital bed was not you, but it was all I had left, so I sat beside the husk of what had been my mother and was bereft.

Even as a kid I’d known this moment would come. When I was ten, waiting for you to pick me up from piano lessons, if you were five minutes late I began to grieve. You had to be dead. Then the station wagon would pull up with you at the wheel and I’d take a breath.

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Drive by.

May 5, 2013 § 11 Comments

As I walk the edge of Rankin Avenue I picture you rolling your window down and tossing something out.

Unless that something is crawling with ants or is so flat-disgusting even a dog wouldn’t take a whiff, I’ll pick it up.

I don’t know you, but it’s easy to make assumptions.

You like to drink. Beer cans sheathed in brown paper bags squeezed tight and form-fitting, like buxom women in slinky dresses abound.

Just who do you think you’re fooling drinking out of a paper bag?

The long-neck amber beer bottles you fling as far as you can. You must like the weight leaving your hand—can you hit the bushes past the mown stretch by the road? Sure. The bottles poke up, cock-eyed, storing rain water, breeding mosquitoes.

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