I’m not sure if it’s #45 or #metoo or Menopause, but suddenly I have access to something I never had before and it’s something which I expend too easily like the first paycheck in my kid’s pocket.
“Don’t be a fucking idiot!”
A few weeks back, I spewed this at him.
(This, in a household, where I’ve long drawn a fierce line at: Shut up.)
Actually, a stream of sentences with fuck (highlighted in various forms) came out of my 54-year-old mouth, one after the other, none of which I could entirely recollect afterward–a sure sign of trance–but not one I’d so fully occupied before.
Not just at the behavior at hand, or the accumulated attitude of his adolescent years or that combined with his older brother’s (and even their father’s) but all the ways that all women/mothers/wives are maligned for the same things for which we are relied upon.
“I’m sorry that I put that all on you,” I said to my son when he returned from hitting the speed bag in the basement.
But what I didn’t regret was the line that I had drawn, and that I will now draw forevermore, and which I appreciate that he also drew for me:
“We don’t talk to each other that way, Mom.”
While our 17-year-old set out to march, my husband and I opted for our regular Saturday morning practice on the mat, surprised and touched to find our longtime teacher speaking to the day’s events, not just at the opening of class but into the practice, naming the young voices he admired so much–Emma Gonzales and David Hogg–and choking up as he talked about the Stoneman Douglass Ice Hockey team, so that I when I found myself, supine, in Baddha Konasana–hips and heart wide open–tears slid down & around my cheeks, and into my hair, and onto my mat, without thought, without attachment or emotion, and continued as I came into a twist, and later, off the mat, and into the day, I was struck again, as I was on Valentines Day, at how precious the sight of each and every teenager, and I understood that it is not only our relationship with masculinity and guns that will be transformed but our hatred of our young as they come of age.
Once the weather grows cold we often prepare soup for breakfast. On Sunday, a butternut squash with mushrooms. To the small bowl he served himself, my son added not one but 4 pieces of buttered toast, dismissing my raised eyebrows by marveling over the invention of bread, “Who was the first to think of this,” he said, “It must have been life changing,” which left me marveling over the synchronicity of the poem of the day read by Garrison Keillor on the The Writer’s Almanac.
Bread and Butter
I often wonder how people figured
things out—simple things like bread
and butter. How did the first person know
to grind and knead and bake,
to milk and skim and churn?
How did someone realize they could soak
olives in lye or let grape juice ferment
inside casks of oak? How, when
we first leaned toward each other,
did our tongues know to touch
before our brains knew
we were going to kiss at all?
“Bread and Butter” by Gayle Brandeis from The Selfless Bliss of the Body. © Finishing Line Press, 2017.
Breakfast bonus poem:
I’m scrambling an egg for my daughter.
“Why are you always whistling?” she asks.
“Because I’m happy.”
And it’s true,
Though it stuns me to say it aloud;
There was a time when I wouldn’t
Have seen it as my future.
It’s partly a matter
Of who is there to eat the egg:
The self fallen out of love with itself
Through the tedium of familiarity,
Or this little self,
So curious, so hungry,
Who emerged from the woman I love,
A woman who loves me in a way
I’ve come to think I deserve,
Now that it arrives from outside me.
Everything changes, we’re told,
And now the changes are everywhere:
The house with its morning light
That fills me like a revelation,
The yard with its trees
That cast a bit more shade each summer,
The love of a woman
That both is and isn’t confounding,
And the love
Of this clamor of questions at my waist.
Clamor of questions,
You clamor of answers,
Here’s your egg.
“Egg” by C.G. Hanzlicek from Against Dreaming. © University of Missouri Press, 1994.
(RIP Writers Almanac)