Love poem no 2

I wasn’t looking for you—wasn’t thinking about you

When I first found you.

To think, I could have missed you—

But then, no, I couldn’t have ever missed you.

You are forever stamped into me—

Thank you for taking me by surprise that day.

Before I ever found you, you were already there.

You have always been there.

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We are alike

we both wake up early

every morning

with a few words

 

Yours are go outside

here’s your food

mine are a little more than that

or so I’d like to think

 

You pee outside, gobble up your breakfast

I sip my dark roast and play with my words

you go back to sleep

head on my leg

while I write

hoping to create

You said you need a what?

 

A few months ago, around 6:50 a.m., the boys and I were on our way to school when David, my 14-year-old, from the backseat says, “I guess I’m not going to my band concert tonight. It’s really not a big deal.”

I nearly swerved off the road. There are only two concerts a year, and they are both quite the events. “What? Of course you’re going. Why would you say you aren’t?”

“My white shirt and the black pants are too small.”

I nearly swerved off the road again. “Really? When were you going to tell me?”

“I forgot.”

“So you decide to tell me on the way to school on the day of the band concert when you know I have to work all day.”

“Sorry. I don’t need to go. It’s not a big deal. My band teacher will understand.”

“Oh, so she has been preparing you for months for this concert and you think she will totally understand if you don’t go because you failed to tell your mom in time that you need new clothes?”

“Maybe.”

I was afraid of anything that might spill out of my mouth and I guess they were, too, because  we drove to school in silence.

After work I rushed to Kohl’s to find the required white dress shirt and black pants and, of course, they weren’t on sale. What choice did I have? I was being held up at the point of a band concert. I bought the clothes and picked up David from wrestling practice 30 minutes before he had to be at the concert.

“You really didn’t need to worry about it Mom. My band teacher would understand. She’s pretty reasonable.”

Um, you’re welcome.

***

A few weeks later Kevin and I were sitting at David’s wrestling match. Now, these matches typically last around three hours or more, so a wrestling match night is a late night. Kevin, my 9-year-old, between bites of popcorn, said in the most nonchalant voice, “Mom, can we stop by Walmart on the way home?”

“Why?”

“I need something for a project.”

“What project?”

“Something about solar systems. It’s due tomorrow.”

“Kevin, please tell me this is a joke.”

“I forgot about it until just now.”

Frantic, I sent a text to his teacher, apologized for bothering her at home, and said Kevin told me he has a project due tomorrow and this is the first time I have heard anything about it. (No smiley face.)

She texted back promptly and said that, yes, there was a discovery project on the solar system due in the morning, and it was also the end of the grading period, so he couldn’t turn it in late.  (Smiley face and a thumbs up.)

That night was spent gluing and coloring Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Around and around we go.

The rules are simple: Tell me your due dates; give me notes from school when you get them; let me know what you need for a project a week ahead of time. Nowhere in the rules do the words “last minute” appear. I know they’re genetically capable of advance planning because when a friend is having a birthday party in two weeks, Kevin hands me the invitation right away and reminds me about it five times a day. They can do it; I just know they can.

 

That day you asked if I heard it–

I said no what is it? You started to cry and

left and came back hours later, and I asked you again,

What is it?  But you just smiled your sad smile, the one that

doesn’t touch your eyes, and said it’s OK.

Since then I still ask– what is it? What

happened on that day when you left and you came

back but it just really wasn’t you anymore? Not at all.

The yard is a triangular shape, lots of plants:

basil, rosemary, pansies, and other flowers that look cool, but I don’t know their names. Bird feeders—whimsical ones—scatter the yard. Squirrels eat peanuts from kitchen pans on the picnic tables. The birds chirp, the highway beside the house roars softly, the wind tingles against my skin. I can smell the ocean. Her grandma reminds me of my own. I’m sitting right beside her on the back deck. I hear a buzz. I see trees full of  colorful birds. I hear a car honk. She is reading her devotional book, The Upper Room, and I remember my gram reading the same book. She reads her Bible too. Has both books in her lap. Flips pages in her Bible. Points her finger along the page. Reads. Flips more pages. Reads. Rubs her worn but delicate hands together. Flips more pages. Reads. Rubs her wrist. Peers down at a verse. A blue jay hops really close to me. She looks up.  Throws it a peanut. “Uh oh,” she says as another one flies up, swoops down, snatches the peanut, and flies into a tree. She throws another peanut for the first blue jay. “This house was built in 1990, and we bought it in 1998…” she explains. I nod. “We have been here ever since.” There are doves. They gather on the roof of the house, looks like a conference is happening. “The blackbirds eat up everything!” she says. I breathe in the ocean air, wishing I could lock this moment. Instead I store it away and come back to it whenever I need it. I whisper a Thank you prayer as a blue jay swoops down again, looking for a peanut.