In keeping with poetry month, I am posting here the original poem that sparked the inspiration for my forthcoming book, CRAZY. It was the first of twenty poems that I wrote as a cathartic exercise to deal with my mother’s bipolar disorder. It was one of several that appeared in adult literary journals. When a friend suggested those twenty poems needed to expand into a novel, I began the task of writing that novel (through many revisions) and transitioning from an adult to a YA voice.
What shocking news one day to discover
not all oceans swallow the fiery ball whole;
blood and bruise-hued spectrums
slung against the edge of the earth,
life drips back into life.
We walk the wide empty beach
Daddy and I,
while Mother sits in the car.
It’s just a gentle mist, he says.
Sometimes in the steady drizzle
we discover the best treasures.
Once, a smiling duck
fashioned with tools of the deep,
gnarled in just the right contours.
Mother watches from the car.
Look. The sun peeks through,
hope in its purest form erupts.
Running and shouting discovery
into the rhythmic boom
becomes a necessity.
Like the seashell
I am compelled to roar.
Far out on the rocks
sea lions bask and bark
wisdom into the wind.
You have to rise with the sun
strategically position downwind
to catch the message.
It might not apply, but you listen.
Whether misting or windy
there must be a picnic fire
discovered again for the first time,
an intensity of self-preservation.
Huddled behind a burnt out log
left by some other primitive,
we let the flames heal weeks of frozen separation.
By now, khakis rolled up,
Daddy ventures in up to his knees.
Mother’s diseased feet,
more scarred by the ground they’ve covered
than ravages of nervous rash,
heal by a miraculous blend of sand
and a man’s undying, patient love.
Icy shock treatments.
Surely Mother prefers this to the state ward;
milligrams of fishy salty therapy.
And for me
a cautious day along the edge,
because only Daddy knows
where the best agates beach.
But the sunset,
the sunset is the whole purpose,
the only relevant point of the mission,
the day having built to a crescendo
a tribal urge to gather in one final ritual of unity.
Exploding down the horizon, the epiphany of color
pierces the windshield of our weathered green Chevy.
Now, late in life,
my children swim deep
and I learn, with resignation,
to relate to an ocean
that quietly turns out the lights
at the end of a long, hot day.
The Texas Review, October, 1995
Congratulations to Barbara Younger who won the drawing for a copy of Cupcake Cousins!!
Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.
Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?