Testing, Testing…

four hours of tests
 in this windowless hell fest
 Spanish comes to mind
 
 lunch union meeting
 complaints about white privilege
 first world problems
 
 (i want to tell them
 comparison is joy’s thief
 but they won’t listen)
 
 afternoon calls home
 to parents of failing kids
 Spanish practice dos
 
 then video view
 lesson to evaluate
 slim chance at progress
 
 audio walk home
 on a windswept cloudy March
 words too fast to grasp
 
 (Alice wonders why–
 in Carroll’s Spanish version
 –so many choices)
 
 then daughters’ chess meet
 and oldest’s plea for pi day
 (dough pulled from freezer)
 
 kitchen now stolen
 by eggs, bowls and pastry cream
 we drive to Wahoo’s
 
 kids eat free tonight
 run wild while hipsters drink

 (we rush home to bake)



 
 tripod ends my night
 (yoga the only answer
 to this chaos)
 
 and now i’m writing
 resolution of ideas
 not broken by tests

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My Truths Are Their Truths

I’m angry because even a good day with the kids can end as a hard day of being a parent. Because I fight for those closest to me, I put them first, and I still feel like I am driven into hell in the process. Because I love them so fiercely that it hurts, and their tears are my tears and my truths are their truths.

I’m angry because I am a friend, a true friend. I AM the one you can call on drink number four in the airport on your way to rehab after your family’s intervention, and I will listen to every damn slurred word and offer my condolences and love you and be right damn there for you when you come back and fight for you and defend you and take fucking sides for you and build up my enemies like walls against my progress in this life. Because I am your friend.

My loyalties are fierce and my bitterness is fiercer.

I would never beg to make plans and then cancel them. Twice. I would never rearrange my entire schedule to be absentmindedly forgotten for a snooze button. I would never let my best friend go, though she hated me off and on for years, because I knew she was meant for me, and I fucking fought for her, and I got her back, and I damn well will never lose her again. I would never say I am too busy for the person I once swore I loved as much as my husband of seventeen years.

Instead, this Saturday, we play Life. It lasts too long, he rushes us through the end, and Mythili wins (OF COURSE). We go to the park, the Perk, sip tea and nibble scones, Isabella does her interminable homework with her blue-collar Bud-Light-neon-signs-in-house best friend and my mother texts me wondering why we never ask her to come to the park since they live so close now. I offer the zoo for tomorrow and after an existential pause that lasts between two doses of learning the yoga headstand from Adriene, three piano songs played alongside my baby, and reenacting our Oxford memories with a hacky sack we toss across the living room knocking over pictures and plants, she replies with, “Your father isn’t interested in the zoo.” Though they live ten blocks from it. “Is he interested in seeing his granddaughters?” I die to text back. But I’ve learned to hold my tongue. And my fingers.

I’m angry because when I put them to bed there is a flashlight fight and search and a reminder of two nights ago. And I pull the Target bag off the top shelf and dig through the bug spray, the spare brush, the sunblock, the sweat-wicking longsleeved shirt, the set-aside items for a summer camp that’s never going to happen and find the fucking flashlights because Mythili will NOT go to bed without her book.

I’m angry because he murmurs from the room about my tenacity in setting aside these items, never to be touched between June and June and the baby going to her first summer camp this year, and because my dumb semi-drunk mouth just spills it all out in front of them: “It doesn’t matter because they’re not going to camp this year anyway since we don’t have the money.”

I’m angry because my mother sends these random texts such as: “I’m just wondering about life” and tells me about her millionaire uncle dying without a will and how tracking down his thirty-three nieces and nephews will take years as most of them don’t talk to each other and I have put nothing but Love and Love and Hugs and Cuddles into the lives of my three girls and I do NOT. Do NOT. Want to put my baby to bed crying tonight because she doesn’t even get to go to camp for her first year because I don’t have the damn money and we spent it all on a fucking car and my millionaire mom is going to inherit another thirty thousand but won’t even come to the goddamn zoo even when I offer her a free ticket.

I’m angry because I try so hard to be there. To find joy in those small moments that make up a day, like spinning them on a tire swing or singing along to Taylor Swift videos or opening up the yoga book or cuddling with our books in the corner of the couch or piling on top of each other in an array of pink to red.

And I would be there for the friends who ditch me. For the colleague who won’t even eat lunch in my presence. For any task at any job anyone would ever ask me to do.

And why can’t they? Why can’t you?

Just be there. Fucking. Be. There.



Simple Saturdays

four a.m. alarm
(Spanish happy hour lost
from my Friday night)

i eat, skip shower
dressed for skiing, snowpants on
but she doesn’t show

friend complications
include the plans i canceled
for her desperate plea

i fill my morning:
yoga followed by a bath
she begs forgiveness

i reschedule date
–best friend dates as good as love–
know all is not lost

in the midst of this
i discover oldest’s lie
and fear my strictness

i write a letter
she reads it over breakfast
with tears, she accepts

younger two travel
separate rows for the long drive
(friends with my friend’s kids)

sleepover ends day
three extra girls in our house
screams, doors, stomps, giggles

simple Saturdays
for the married family set
are never simple

alarm sets the tone:
puzzle-piece plans made for friends
(single, she hits snooze

sleeps the day away)
but she lives with the burden
of no love-led life

With These Words

a guilty headache
writing, yoga abandoned
for Spanish test prayers

four-forty a.m.:
swallow last night’s leftovers
extend my commute

four ibuprofens
dawn on a two-mile walk:
sunrise on my school

early arrival
i make lesson plans and grade
till they shuffle in

solid essay work
they have surprised me again
with how i love them

early return home
to intense yoga practice
this happy hour

headache free, i’ll sleep
ready for a new sunrise
guiltless with these words

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Teacher Mother Prayer

headstand of success
to top a sunny work week
filled with teenage grins

plan for our future
money’s tight, love is tighter
let’s let loose the strings

all of my children
wrapped in a challenging pose
namaste, my soul

Rules of Childhood

challenging poses
stave off pre-holiday cold
virus can’t beat me

candy-scented home
bowls brimming with sugar dreams
homage to his mom

girls learn gift giving
how to think beyond themselves
wrapped in red ribbon

i’d wrap happiness
and place it under the tree
if it would save them

childhood rules us
far beyond its eighteen years
may theirs be happy

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Piles

flooded by piles
poorly-written papers burn
insides of my eyes

my stalking student
piles breakfast, lunch, dinner
always needing help

close and lock the door
is what the experts tell me
what if that were me?

i bring home piles
that pile bags under eyes
and work in silence

quick pasta dinner
vibrant girls’ homework piles
i rush to the gym

breathe in, then breathe out
my body piles relief
yoga saves the day