Theme Friday: Lilacs

Posted in Theme Fridays on April 29, 2011 by clancyjane

Even in Kyoto/I hear the cuckoo sing/and long for Kyoto.  ~Basho


The car coasted to a stop on the gravel between the graves.

You comin’, Dad?

Nah.  I’ll just wait here.

I let the car door close behind me and started down the nearest row.  I’d only taken a few steps when he called me back.

Listen.  You tell Mom I’m not drinkin’ again, I just don’t feel good.

I’ll tell her, Dad.  But she knows that already.

I checked my watch and wondered if he was close to needing insulin.  I walked past Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ruth, Cousin Casey, and the other townspeople who’d gone on before us.  I stopped when I got to Dad’s folks, and, as he’d asked, tried to tell them what they knew already.

It was the lilacs, I think, carried on the summer breeze, that caught the words in my throat.  I looked back toward the car, catching  sight of the Thompson stone.  I thought of Alice, in another season, talking about the snow on Bethel’s grave.  She cried with no excuses.  It was winter then, and there were no lilacs to blame.

I couldn’t see them, but they were thick in the pure village air.  They grew in common at our house on the hill and by the old barn in Grandma’s back yard.  I’d sat there with Sean one day, our backs against the wooden door and our heels in the rich, black dirt.  I told him the Basho haiku that embodied Lucerne for me.

Well, that doesn’t make sense.  He’s in Kyoto, hears a bird sing, and longs for Kyoto, even though he’s in Kyoto?

It makes perfect sense.  It would be like saying, “Even in Lucerne, I smell the scent of Lilacs, and long for Lucerne”.  I’m in Lucerne, longing for the perfect Lucerne I knew– the ideal or idyllic Lucerne, which can’t exist anymore, because some of us are missing.

The sun signaled time to meet Mom for lunch.

I said goodbye to George and Myrtle and walked back to the car and their waiting son.

Did you tell her what I told you to?

Yeah, Dad, I did.  And she said to tell you you’re not too big for a spanking.

His laugh filled the lilac’d air around us and we were in an old Lucerne,  in a different time, and a different place, where everything was fine again for just a little while.


Christine and Annie take on Lilacs.


Theme Friday: April Showers

Posted in Theme Fridays on April 14, 2011 by clancyjane

We boarded and headed upstairs for lunch.  Something Phil said.  We were all laughing, big and loud.  There was no wine yet, and we hadn’t left shore, but the pleasure of being together had taken us some happy where else.   No one was thinking about headstones to order, or test results pending.

It went on like that with the laughing, into the next day, when something about something had me saying Mom would have sure liked that, and I remembered they were gone.  Matt.  Mom.  Dad.  In nearly one fell swoop.

They were gone, and me with the laughing.

I felt something on my lip and excused myself.  The tissue turned a sticky red, and the bleed continued for the next 30 minutes.  A crimson April shower.  No way of mistaking the blood on my hands.

We docked somewhere the next day.  I felt on the verge of a cold.  We saw something and made it back to the ship with moments to spare. The next day,  I was burning alive with fever.  Tonya sent medicine, but I wasn’t ready to feel better.  I went to sleep in a frenzied fire.

There was my Mom.  I couldn’t get to her.  Large thorns from a foreign tree held me tight.  I asked her to help pull me free, and she did– she on one arm and Mary and George on the other.  I went down hard when the thorns gave way.  I noticed I was wearing pajamas.  Soren was there, running loose.  I caught up to her and discovered a large gash on her head.  She was covered in blood.  And there was flooding to contend with, from the rain that wouldn’t stop.   I would have to hike to my car, but suddenly Mary’s was there and already filled with the things I needed to carry.  And there was Anggie saying something about a book overdue.  She motioned me over, but I wouldn’t go over there again for nothing.  The young man from the ship appeared, and became my Irishman from before the hostage taking and police involvement and deportation.  It was difficult to break free from him and the heat and the rain.

Morning came.   I was still on vacation.  Matt and Mom and Dad, still gone.  My fever burned, my throat was on fire, I couldn’t breathe or even see straight.

I was miserable at last, and that made me feel a whole lot better.


Christine and Annie take on April Showers.

A Kinder Matriphagy Than Some

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 by clancyjane

You might think it cruel

of the Black-Lace Weaver

to eat his parent alive

(within minutes!)

when he’s barely one week old,

but I think I’d be grateful

to the boy for making

such quick haste.

Some species draw it out 50 years,

leave their parents broke

and footless and ask them,

“Can I still have your jewelry?”

the night before they die.

Deb Asks Me What I Think Of Ichter’s Trees

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2011 by clancyjane

This morning, in the very early morning,

I ribboned through the Allegheny foothills aboard

an eastbound train, where I first saw the trees,

the closest trees to Ichter’s trees that I have ever seen.

These trees that postured upward

were hopeful, lean, and tall in the mist of a

Pennsylvania hillside,

in the midst of a hundred other trees that

were much more squat and half again as round-

happy with themselves just to root and make do.

I thought of the Ichter trees and the who

of  he that drew them, wondering if the child he once was

fashioned trees like these

and pinned them on the school hall wall

next to those of his classmates-

with the little round figures of

people-potatoes with legs,

and the requisite yellow sun,

burning bright with the hope for a bigger role

in the upper left hand corner of

the crinkled Big Chief page.

It’s hard to breathe on a moving train

with trees like these around and reaching

high on a Pennsylvania hillside

toward a lacustrine sky–

especially as the train moves on and

the trees give way to the stone remains

of Someone’s former home,

crumbling its grief around the remaining foundation.

Maybe one day in a long way later

I will tell Mr. Ichter about the

willows I grew up with,

whose branches lifted me dry

across creek beds on the way to the

train tracks that cut through Lucerne,

past the chert rock roads

and the beanfields and the Red Brush

water rushing someplace else.



Beautiful poem by my beautiful sister Mary

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 by clancyjane

West Putnam Ups and Downs


Stitching, seam after seam, it took her the rest of recess to secure my circle skirt to its top and

restore the dress my mom had made for me


I hadn’t yet learned all the lessons the slippery slide had in store


I knew—through siblings or smarter classmates—that wearing shorts underneath

prepared you for playing


I knew but didn’t

that day so now I know that

good as it gets, there is the capability of tearing things in two


It takes a skillful teacher to,

on one hand,

sew–despite it not being in the job description–on this side of the door and

send away sight-seekers standing on the other.


She made it seem effortless she seamed so smoothly; mending she made all things seem possible.


I learned a lot that day


My beautiful dress broke in half

it’s back together now -you can’t even see where it hurt my feelings, mom

thanks…to Mrs.Boland


and from skillful schoolteachers before and since…

have hopefully helped others learn some lessons


now all I need to know is

how to sew

a broken heart


Practicing: a years old repost for T, ‘coz I got nothin’ else

Posted in evil inherent in nature, life, moms on November 15, 2010 by clancyjane

I am underwater and her words reach me in waves:

Doctor unavailable.  Appointment rescheduled.  Circumstances beyond our control.

I remember drills designed to give my muscles memory

about when to look left and turn right and fake a defender

away from my jumpshot

repeating those same sets of movements

again and again until on game day

the feel of a forward’s breath over my left shoulder

told my arms and hips and head all they needed to know

to do what’s next.

I remembered those drills this morning

in the days before Dr. Dawn

with the phone in my hand and the out-of-town DoctorOfficeLady

telling me why my Mom has to wait again.

I force myself to listen to her vapid explanation as I watch my Mom

lower her head as

she labors to lift her hand

and I practice asking nicely

for reconsideration while other words with

Ms and Fs and the hardest K sounds catch silently in my throat

along with the sentences

I know where you are

and I’ll be coming around to show you

how a daughter feels

when her Mom is in pain

and the doctor unavailable again

and her appointment rescheduled again

and I’m really very sorry for the beating but, honest,

it’s beyond my control.


Well said. Enough to make a mother awfully proud. 

Posted by miriam on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 3:12 PM
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This is really powerful, Rosy. 

I like your use of DoctorOfficeLady.  The title that confers power over so many.

Posted by Sheila on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 3:31 PM
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Amy Cunningham

i have a feeling you were a kick ass basketball player too 

Posted by Amy Cunningham on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 3:45 PM
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yes, she was

Posted by miriam on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 11:57 PM
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Power and powerlessness at the same time.  Vapid explanations while mom struggles, trying to be nice while the feelings strangle you.  I’ve dealt with an aging mother (now deceased)  and the medical/home care establishments, thanks for putting into words how it feels. 

Posted by Ruby on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 4:01 PM
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Cranky Ricky

but then again, simple is soo boring. 

fyjfy — gove us some BORING!

Posted by Cranky Ricky on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 4:55 PM
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i checked the blog page and there was Practicing,
like a present.
Pleasant surprise! 

i like the description of sounds.
i saw the baby in the womb making ready.  Or maybe i am way off.
Either way, it’s difficult desiring to help, to change things, but feeling powerless to do so.

Posted by c on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 5:20 PM
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This is a multi-layered piece of work–there’s humor in the line about “Ms and Fs and Cs and Ss and hard K sounds” getting caught in your throat (and not just because do we know of a soft K sound?), but there’s also poignancy in your mother struggling to lift her hand, and no doctor available.  My mother had three months of quadriplegia following a bad operation, so I know the frustration of not being able to help the one who gave you life.  I keep going back and re-reading this, and it keeps getting better. 

Posted by jonnypravda on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 7:29 PM
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Big Bill

Damn, Rosy, you jammed on her. 


Posted by Big Bill on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 7:33 PM
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on target 

Posted by Neil on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 8:10 PM
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There is something jarring about being first immersed in water,
then lifting one’s head above it; only to be jerked back in–no matter
how familiar one is with negotiating rough waters.
Word-waves are powerful things. Yours are proof! 

Posted by Progressivo on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 9:49 PM
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i love how you put this together, it’s hard to parent your parent, but i’m sure you do it with as much heart as you write with 

Posted by rrrwomyn on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 10:50 PM
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This could almost read as a diary entry.  It reminds me a little of Sylvia Plath. The strong harsh words work well in this composition. Interesting juxtaposition of past, and present subject matter. 

Posted by Michelle on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 11:07 PM
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I forgot to add, I really like this sentence… 

I am under water and her words reach me in waves
A good opening line.

Posted by Michelle on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 11:11 PM
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The Back Porch Philosopher

i say grab a baseball bat and go for it! 

this is really well written and i am so sorry it had to be.

Posted by The Back Porch Philosopher on Thursday, February 01, 2007 at 9:28 AM
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This is a great representation of this very familiar experience. The description of the sounds rising in your throat is spot on. 

Posted by Philip on Friday, February 02, 2007 at 10:19 AM
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You dont know Jack

The ending kicks ass…and you
probably speak for many.  This
reminds me of some of my own
experiences several years ago.

Posted by You dont know Jack on Sunday, February 04, 2007 at 2:23 AM
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It is hard to see those who are our whole life reduced to tasks and time slots. 

Posted by Mojoman on Monday, February 05, 2007 at 5:47 PM
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My Dear Rosy….your writing has been sorely missed and I was glad to find this piece waiting here. I am in complete agreement with your expression of struggle. I hope to find more of your work soon. As Always…..Most Excellent! 

Posted by Slade on Thursday, February 08, 2007 at 7:13 AM
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The Day The Pines Fell

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2010 by clancyjane

I imagined myself back home.  With my sisters.  With my brothers.  With no home to go to.

I made an offer a door down from Auntie. And waited.

It’s not exactly the hill.  With a well.  With a hedge.  With the bones of our buried.

It might could still work.  I whisper.  So’s not to jinx it.

I slept and was wakened.  The sound of a big engine.  Dad’s boom truck.  I looked for Georgie, but couldn’t see him through the dark.  The sounds were farther than the back yard, and south, toward Stark’s, toward the backhill.  I understood.  Red Ross on the road grader.  I intuitively knew that Roy was with him.  Without seeing them.  Without seeing anything through the pitch black night of the Lucerne sky.

My eyes opened to the sound of a big engine.  Not a boom truck.  Not a maintainer.  Not under a black Lucerne sky.

The timber men were here.  The Georgia pines began to fall.

The call came.

It’s ours.

Two doors down from Auntie.

I slept that night on a bed full of feathers.  I awoke on the hill.  In the chill of December:  Mom warming soup on the oil burner, Dad dragging in the Christmas tree, and Georgie not yet walking.  Mary carried me to Grandma’s house in a frozen moment.  I stood with Gram between her two mirrors.  I  saw her go on forever.

My eyes opened to a light unexpected in this mis-shapen Missouri, through a window forever shadowed by a thick wall of Georgia pine.  I stepped outside.  I walked the red ground toward the empty land where the stand had been.

I looked up and saw the bright northern sky for the first time since I’ve been here.