Friday, March 23, 2012


March 23, 2012.

Dear Andrea,

I am moving. 

It is hard to be still.

My house is mine again.  The  smell of muddy man boots, Carhart jeans, jackets are gone. The wet wood, the damaged molded parts have all been ripped out, thrown out, dried out, disinfected.  Wood has been replaced by slate.  Slate from India.  Tumbled slate, mosaic slate, slate pavers.  My bare feet caress the cool roughness of stone.

Dressed in an abeurgine colored silk negligee and matching robe, both trimmed in black lace I dance to the regular beat of Baba Mall as I unpack boxes, take my time.  Contemplate  substance, texture of everything collected.  Only I understand the full meaning of these items.  Someday, someone will inherit all of this.  Should I leave notes for them?  “I bought this collection of fabric dolls from a little shop in Tallin..”

You would know that. 

I take the mundane and turn it into something exquisite.  This experience of moving. 

Of music that touches me, rocks me elementally.

I bend to pick something up from the floor.  My necklace, 18k gold, your name in Arabic, thin as a sheet of paper, falls in my mouth.  I bite it gently.  I remember when you bought this.  Its history.

Yesterday I saw a ghost of you in WalMart. 

From the back, the way the girl stood at the counter, the way her pants were just a little too tight, her fleshy sides spilling out over the waistband, the color of her hair, the wave in it she tried to tame, the casually tense way she held herself.  I walked past her, holding my breath, listening for your voice.

I wanted her to be you.  I wanted to go up to her, wrap my arms around, bury my nose in her neck, whisper, “I love you”, kiss her cheek.

I was in the laundry soap aisle before I could breathe again.  But I did not cry.  I don’t count tearing up as crying anymore.

Rehanging pictures of you as a baby, resetting your baby shoes on their shelf, I feel the pull of your mouth, the movement of your tongue against my nipple hungry for nourishment.  Our eyes meet.  You smile. Milk pours out the side of your mouth. 

Your sister texted me today.  She is moving.  She has a box of used sharps that were yours.  Do I want them?

Not really. 

I tell her she can dispose of them.  Good luck on her move.

No reply.

Moving in.  Moving out.

Moving in again I keep only the important stuff. 

I arrange and rearrange. 

Nothing ever goes back the same way it was.  

I re create my space.  My self.     

Moving out.  Moving in.

I disinfect, polish to perfect shine, leave no smears.

Before I can move away, dust collects again, begins to settle. 

You are dust now.  Ashes. 

Alone beneath the blanket I tucked around you at night, the Easter Bunny I gave you when you were two, the five and dime tiara.

In my closet.  Hidden behind my suits and jackets.

I was a mother.

I am a mother.


This I cannot move in or out of.

I love you—Mom

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full Moon Rising

March 10, 2012

Friday night, as Steve and I left my house, making a right turn on
Linwood street
I gasped.  In front of us was a full moon climbing hills of sherbert clouds. 

“Stop.”  I demanded.

“What?” Steve asked looking in the rearview mirror and all around him for signs of impending collision.

“The moon.”  I told him, pointing straight ahead. 

“I can’t stop in the middle of the road.  Let’s find a better view point.” 

The rising moon played hide and seek with us as we drove down 2nd Street, turned right on North Street, crossed the overpass leading to the long abandoned Olympia Brewery, turned right on the little side street leading to the entrance to I-5 North. 

We never found a better viewpoint.  We never stopped.

The moon stayed to the east of us, an ice ring rainbow encircling it. 

Since January 25 I have been a nomad.  Traveling from house to house with my toothbrush, a pillow, a change of clothes and Sadie.  The water damage to the house has been a phenomenon.  My stove sits in the middle of the kitchen floor that is waiting to be tiled next week.  My pots and pans, mixing bowls, cooking utensils are all in boxes.  My silverware and dishes are covered in sawdust.  The living room looks like a storage unit.

The only thing that remains intact is my sense of humor.  And even that is lost amidst the chaos sometimes. 

Steve has been studying the Indian tribes of Washington, Idaho and Oregon.  I sat down at a space cleared on my dining room table for the laptop computer and saw the home page for the Coeur d’Alene tribe.  I clicked on the Warrior Society tab and read about tribe members who joined the military services in WWII, tribal members who serve our country now.  I clicked on the tab Culture.
As I watched the moon rising, Steve driving my Subaru towards “our” other home (really his home) in Issaquah, I could not help but think of the tribe of Coeur d’Alene  Indians.  I mentioned this to Steve. 
The Homeland is still home. The place "where the old ones walked" includes almost 5,000,000 acres of what is now north Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. The "old ones" were extremely wealthy from an Indian perspective, with everything they needed close at hand. Unlike the tribes of the plains, the Coeur d'Alene's and their neighbors, the Spokane's, the Kootenai, the Kalispel, the bands of the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Kootenai-Salish, or Flatheads, were not nomadic. Coeur d'Alene Indian villages were established along the Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, Clark Fork and Spokane Rivers. The homeland included numerous and permanent sites on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Orielle and Hayden Lake.
All ancient tribal trade routes and paths remain today. In fact, those very same routes are still used all across the country. Today, however, we call those tribal routes "Interstate highways."
The reservation now is smaller than it used to be.   Much smaller.  The website does not tell me how many acres, how much the tribe has lost.  Looking at the map, I understand.  There are not always words for loss.  It just is what it is.
“I wonder what the Old Ones thought when they saw a moon like this rising.”  I think out loud to Steve.  Because I am wondering. 
“Thought?” Steve queried.  “I think they watched the phases of the moon, saw it disappear a sliver at a time, waited for it to reappear again.  I think they felt the ebb and flow of forces beyond their control, listened to the movement of those forces, followed the course of rivers as they flowed away from and towards something bigger than themselves.  Turned their faces to a whispering breeze and found shelter from howling winds.”
I am reading Annie Dillard’s book, The Living—a old fashioned novel about the Pacific Northwest frontier.  Chapter One.  The first part of the book is about Ada’s loss of her son, Clare.  Three years old, Clare died after he fell from the wagon he was riding in and was run over by its wheels.
Children die year upon year.  Grief is invisible.
“The moon looks like a dilated pupil.  The pale white over the indigo sky looks like an iris—an iris ringed with dark red orange pigment.”  I tell Steve.
I am an “Old One”, a pioneer woman, a mother now who watches the moon rising on this Friday night—full, bright, ringed with an icy rainbow of color.
I try to pay attention to the ebb and flow of forces beyond my control, the way a river flows.  I turn my face toward a breeze and listen intently trying to discern what it is telling me.  I seek shelter from howling winds. 
I miss you.  There is no shelter from that.
Love you Andie—Mom