I loved you in the darkest of night.
And somehow I expected the imperfect light
of the moon’s crooked smile
to light me up like daybreak.
But you were a lame sunrise.
You were a harrowing curve
and I was scattered as broken glass.
I was scattered as change spilled from your hand,
rolled across the hard, tiled floor.
I was a head’s down penny
and my copper had lost its luster,
so that even then,
in my weakest moments,
I was not worth the effort
I am ready to spill my skeletons,
open the door to the proverbial closet
and watch them perform an irreverent
skitter-dance across our bedroom carpet.
They will two-step in the moonlight
shining in jagged strips through the
wire screen against our window pane.
They will sing a false swan song
with lipless mouths and bones that
rattle as change in your pockets.
They will twist up on one another,
like a bow around a present,
and I’m giving you this gift,
because it is no longer possible
to keep them in my head.
I am dragging them out from under
the piles of old neglected things
that hinder our ability to speak freely
and humiliate what is left of our love.
I am giving you faceless truths
and praying that the melody of our past
is enough to string us back together.
There is promise in the new year, in the fresh turn of the calendar page.
There is a resolute melody of positive change and growth.
There is hope lingering in each little, numbered box.
There is a conscious resolve hanging on the edge of that shining Time’s Square ball, that pushes us forward in happy motion.
And yet, let the dates fly by until another birthday approaches.
Let the candles pile upon the cake and watch death’s shadow creep, unwelcomed, unbidden, to leave a black mark that mars this passing of time.
It’s amazing how we view the passing of time, how certain events leave us feeling hopeful, and others simply remind us that we only have a short time here on this earth. I hope you all have a wonderful new year and that you are living your life to the fullest.
Of few things am I certain,
but that there is something magical in the Christmas holiday,
and perhaps it is only the sparkling paper
and cinnamon scented kitchen air,
but you, I find, are transformed in these moments
and I see in your smile the boy you were
before you lost enough to turn you into the man you are.
We’re all standing.
We’re standing with San Bernardino.
We’re standing with Paris.
We’re standing with Planned Parenthood,
with #GunSense and #GunControl.
We’re standing with #BlackLivesMatter,
and we’re standing with #NotInMyName.
Hell, we’re one hashtag away from becoming
the nation that stood for everything.
We’re all striving to be Lady Liberty,
statue-strong and docile.
We’ve grown accustomed to the rinse and repeat motions
of shootings and suffering and grief and standing.
Another life lost,
another prayer given,
another hashtag made,
and then it’s all forgotten.
We’re so busy standing with everyone,
we never take a step forward for change.
I want to stand with Paris.
I want to stand with Beirut.
I want to stand with Egypt,
I want to stand and stand and stand
but I’ve hit my knees
and forgotten how to pray.
I know in a few years Paris will be a grainy photograph
stuck to a thin page in some history textbook
with the caption
“Attack on Paris by ISIS.”
They’ll wrap up all the heartache and loss into
five words and
Fourteen years of the War on Terror
takes less than fourteen pages
and it won’t tell you that everyone remembers where they were
when those towers fell.
It won’t show you the things we all lost in those sands.
Maybe it’ll give you statistics.
Two or three lines to describe the casualties.
And somewhere among those numbers I hope they add in
the loss of my marriage,
the loss of the ability of a man to father his children,
the loss of the love that was once held by two young people
crazy enough to dash naked through the snow
and lie for hours on the grass as if no one could see them.
I hope they add on every family like mine,
the loss that can’t be packed into a wooden box
and marked with a number
and a small white cross.
I hope in all the political shit
piled into the text of these next history books
it says that we stood united
in fear, and loss, and pain.
That we stood with Paris.
That we stood even when our knees gave out
and we stood when we forgot how to pray.
Growing up I wanted nothing more than to change my name. I went to school with a handful of other girls named Ashley and multiple others named Laura. As if that weren’t quite bad enough, my parents (lovely people that they are) decided to inflict eternal punishment on my brother and I by calling us by our middle names.
Which means I only answered to Ashley.
Or Laura Ashley Lord when I was in trouble. But more often than not, it was Ashley.
So I would go to school and the teacher would call on Laura, and I’d be looking around like a fool while twelve other hands went up and eventually it was narrowed down that she meant me. Now’s the fun part of explaining that I go by Ashley and watching the teacher scratch things out on her list, so the next time she called Ashley seven more hands could go up while I wondered if I was officially an Ashley now, or still Laura.
I wanted a new name.
By high school, I wanted a new image. I went through the goth stage where my closet looked like an Edgar Allan Poe wet dream. I went through the punk stage and wore pants with wide enough legs to be potentially used as parachutes if I happened to be dropped out of a plane. I went through the slut stage and dressed in the least amount of clothing the dress code would allow.
And I’ll never forget coming home with the Levi’s Too Super Low Ultra jeans and my father seeing that there were only two buttons and no zipper to them immediately made me return them. I was devastated…then. Now I’m thankful.
By the way, thank you Daddy.
I saw all this, because even now, at twenty-something years of age, I’m still trying to reinvent myself. I go through phases of wanted to strive to be something else other than who I am in that moment. I am surrounded by friends that call me Laura, and family that calls me Ashley. I have so many names. The children call me Mommy, or Shuggie, or Mama. The husband calls me baby, sweetcakes, or dork. Occasionally, my mother slips and calls me Cooterboo (what a wonderful nickname). My Uncle rarely refers to me by name, but I hold out hope that he remembers it. I’m Mrs. __________ now that I’m married and my author’s name remains my maiden name. Some of my paperwork is still in my previous married name. I’m the “Parent of _________”. I’m the taxi driver, the personal shopper, the chef, the doctor, and the one second genius next second ‘you know nothing’.
Is this adulthood? Would changing my name as a child have changed all that I’ve become today?
I love who I am today.
So when we went to my son’s first soccer game this past weekend and all the children were sitting in a circle introducing themselves for the first time, my son….of course, only my son…says his name is Mater.