Our Old House

Our old house had paneling on the walls –
slick with lacquer
that peeled up at the corners
in thin, wispy sheets,
the shedding skin of a home in
metamorphosis.

We hung photos on the walls
so that there were sparsely visible
little brown lines
framing each memory.

We turned that paneling into
our projected hippocampus,
because we could no longer rely
on our mind to remind us
from month to month
that we did, in fact,
love one another.

Our conversation was an impregnated thing
growing silently between us
with each reviling word that slipped
off loose tongues
and shattered in the light of our
cracked bedroom window.

We carried Medusa
hidden behind our teeth
so when we opened wide to let loose
a barrage of violent expressions,
we turned one another to stone –
frozen in the ache that can only be caused
by one who loves us enough
to speak the truth
and use “Sorry” as an empty balm.

And the day we became I,
when the old Thunderbird rolled in heavy dust clouds
down the driveway,
framed by Summer’s green tongued corn,
I never packed our pictures.
I left them hanging in their little square blocks
framed by the yellowed ash from
our woodstove, because

we needed reminding of who we had been
and I
only wanted to forget.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


I think it is true, that it is only possible to hate and to hurt those that we truly love. In that spirit I was reminded today of the past. Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for the wordle prompt.

Photo by Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Design by Book Genesis

3:30 AM

3:30 AM
and I am awaiting the hallucinogenic memories
that slip into my dreams
like we slid,
slick, hot bodies,
across the yellow vinyl of that ugly couch.

3:32 AM
and you are my gateway drug,
the little pill I pop under my tongue
while the shadow growth on your face
rubs a passionless rash
across my cheek.

3:35 AM
and I am as flat and stiff beneath you
as a carcass under the steady,
sharp beak of a vulture,
I pull away from you,
scalded by your touch.

3:48 AM
and your breathing has deepened
to the steady rhythm of slumber
and I dream of yellow vinyl couches
and the first time you slid,
slick, hot body, and shattered me like an ancient mosaic.

© Laura  A. Lord, 2016


I just finished a book, The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve, and without spoiling the story for you, because it is amazing and you should read it, the main character spoke numerous times about passion leaving a relationship as the time past. It inspired this piece, along with the wordle from MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie.

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Photo by Ales Krivec, Unsplash

Design by Book Genesis

Good Intentions

In the first few weeks after I met you,
you formed the habit of placing your hand
on the back of my neck
while I drove.

I thought it cute.

You were addictive
in your senseless charm
and I was a careless heart,
struggling to keep time
with the beat.

Decidedly, the tempo increased
and the knuckles scraped
a tap-dance slide
across concave cheekbones,
stark and thinned
by my hungering smile.

I thought to terminate the dance.

I thought to notify you of my intentions.

I thought to step back from passions raised
and push my narrow chin in the air,
to settle my shoulders back
and stiff as rigor mortis
my words would fall
and in their strength
would not break as they hit the ground.

Instead, you showed me the weakness of my spine
and your hand on my neck
tightened its grip
and my words fell hollow in the squeeze.

I watched them shatter,
as only sparkling good intentions can do.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


Sometimes thoughts drift to darker times. Regardless, I am thankful to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their wordle prompt this week.

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Photography by Jairo Alzate, Unsplash

 

Snow Race

The sun lit a glare on the snow
like daybreak had suddenly opened in the field
and a new sun was rising beneath
the deer tracks and branches heavy
with the irregular garland of ice.

You lurked at my periphery,
just enough out of the way that I had to
adjust to see you clearly.

It seemed the structure –
the baseline of you and of me –
had slowly been falling apart.

We were degrading as the
foundation of this house.

We were slipping concrete blocks
and creeping marshland.

We were winter snows
and bare feet, and you said,
“I’ll race you to the barn.”

I remember the thin slide
of my t-shirt and the way the cold air
terrorized my flesh.

There was a glint in your eyes,
something wild that sparkled,
and with each discarded piece of clothing
we were bare to one another
for the first time
in a long time.

And I think then, you saw me –

racing across the snow,
my bare feet leaving dark little
tattoos across the perfect crust –

I think you saw me and I know,
for a while,
I forgot all about us.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


There are bright moments in any ending. Yesterday we told our children the truth about my husband adopting them. We told them about their birth fathers, and it was, by far, the most difficult discussion of my life. This brought back so many memories, especially about how things ended. I remember this day in the snow and thank MindLoveMiserysMenagerie for her wordle that inspired me to think of this.

Photo by Roksolana Zasiadko, Unsplash

Photo Design by Book Genesis


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The Man You Call Dad, Is Not Your Father

The man you call dad, is not your father.

There. I said it.

And one day, I’m going to have to say it out loud, because one day you are going to come to me and you are going to ask. You are going to remember back to when your last name was different and you are going to be old enough to know that it didn’t change just because “mommy and daddy got married.” You are going to notice physical differences. You are going to hear things. You are going to end up in school with your half sister. You have multiple other half siblings out there.

You are half siblings yourselves, and you don’t even know it.

You don’t even know what a step-dad is.

I’m going to have to tell you all of these things.

Creative Commons: Lies Through a Lens, Father and Son
Creative Commons: Lies Through a Lens, Father and Son

I am still trying to piece together the story, the mixture of truth and sugar-coated, cherry-picked lies to give you. I’m going to lie to you. I can’t even pretend I won’t. I’m going to lie to you until you are old enough to read the court documents, until you decide to find out for yourselves, because I’m still your mother and I can’t stand the thought of hurting you.

I’m going to tell you, my daughter, that your father was there for me when I was in need. That there are people in this world who need to love broken things, and that he is that kind of person. That he will ignore his own life in an effort to fix those around him, and that when I was broken he wanted to do that for me. I will tell you that it didn’t work, and that we tried so hard to be good parents for you, but that he found someone else who needed him and moved on, as people like that do. I’m going to tell you that he chose your step-dad for you. That he looked at our piecemeal family and said, “Yes. He can adopt her.”

I’m not going to tell you how he stopped showing up. How he stopped calling. How he had a million and one excuses for why he couldn’t come see you. I’m not going to tell you that he had other children, that the woman in his life wanted you and I out of it, that he chose that. I’m not going to tell you any of that and I’m going to pray that you continue to forget any of it happened.

I’m going to tell you, my son, that your father and I were two live grenades bouncing around a room, waiting to blow. I’m going to tell you that we loved fiercely and burnt ourselves out. I’m going to tell you that he was a brave man, who served his country again and again, and became a little less of himself each time he did. I’m going to tell you that he was good enough to step back from your life when he knew that he couldn’t be the kind of father you needed. I’m going to tell you that he called me, he asked for your step-dad to adopt you, to make our family whole.

I’m not going to tell you about all the nasty pieces of our relationship. I’m not going to tell you about the cheating and the drugs, the alcohol and the fights. I’m not going to tell you about being poor and how the church brought us Christmas in big black trash bags. I’m not going to tell you that the last time you saw him you were just learning to walk.

The only father you two know is the one who has raised you.

But I dread the day that I have to tell you the truth, when last names no longer make up for DNA, when you want to find them, to meet them, to discover family you didn’t know you had.

I wish we would be enough, but I know it is coming.

I know we won’t be.


Domesticated Momster

The River

I don’t remember the way I loved you,
but it is seared in my mind,
that image of you at the edge of the water,
long strands of river algae curled around your legs
and clung like sticky tentacles on the muscle of your calf
water rolled in languid drops down the swell of your breast
dangled teasingly from the arched tip and fell,
a dramatic end to catch the sun’s glint.
I watched my reflection scatter and break in the droplets on your skin.
I think that’s where the problem was.
I think I saw myself too much in us.

© Laura A. Lord 2015

To Watch Him Love

I went through a year of horrendous online dating before I met the man who became my husband. I wasn’t exactly a poster girl for the most eligible bachelorette, but none of my hold-ups were much excuse for the sort of men I met. I was 24 years old and a full time student. I worked part time, lived with my parents, was divorced, and had two children under the age of five. I’m not an unattractive woman, but men weren’t exactly beating down my door to date me. More so, I knew that I needed a companion, not just a boyfriend.

I couldn’t seem to even meet a normal, down to earth man. Things became enough of a joke around the house that my mother would sit up at night and wait for me to get home, collapse on her bed and giggle while sharing all the terrible details of my odd nights out.

There was the man who was allergic to everything. I gave him an innocent kiss after our date, forgetting that I had eaten a piece of chicken, and almost killed him.

Then there was the guy who asked me to hold his belt while in the mall so I wouldn’t get lost.

The man who took the menu out of my hand and ordered food for me like I was three.

The guy who took me to a movie and proceeded to move down to the front row where there was only one open seat to “see better,” leaving me alone.

The man who figured out where I worked and spent an hour walking around the store trying out different women’s lotions before finally admitting he was one of the men I had denied a date request from on an online site.

The guy who took me shopping and then proceeded to tell me how I should dress.

The gentleman who stripped naked in his parent’s living room while I used their restroom.

The dude who attempted to suffocate me on my parent’s couch.

By the time I got around to talking to Mak, I was pretty wary of dates. A whole year of these kinds of dates will do that to a woman. I had a whole safety set-up – complete with emergency friend phone calls lined up and pepper spray.

Mak invited me over for dinner. I had such a good time that I ended up coming home and looking him up on Google and the case search program to see if he had some shady criminal past hiding. There had to be something wrong, considering my past history with online dating. He had a speeding ticket. That was it. Needless to say, I was impressed.

The next morning we had a quick conversation.

“I’m not really interested in playing around,” he said. “I like you. Let’s make this serious.”

If any other man I’d gone on a date with had said that to me I’d have gone running for the hills.

“Okay,” I said.

I don’t know why. I’d hate to chalk it up to some sort of fate thing, but maybe part of me knew he wasn’t a psycho killer. Maybe there was some deeper connection. Maybe I was just really brave.

Within a few weeks he had met my children and included them in our outings.

541497_397525856932511_2036391058_nA few months later was Easter and I was scrawling ‘I love you’ onto an egg and hiding it in the fridge.

“Go get the orange egg out of the fridge,” I told him.

He got up and I heard the fridge door open. After a moment it closed again and he came back to the couch.

Silence.

“Well…” I started.

“Well what?” He asked.

“What did you think?” I asked. It was the first time I’d attempted to tell the man I loved him and he was being completely stubborn about the whole thing.

“It’s cute,” he said.

“And…” I lead him.

“I love you, too,” he said. “You know that.”

By the end of the year he had moved in. We were blessed in our relationship. There hadn’t been many of the big challenging moments. His father passed a few weeks before our wedding, but it was expected, and while we mourned it hadn’t surprised us. Their relationship had been so strained, for so long. It was the first time though that I ever saw him cry – a moment that I think is imprinted in my memory. There is something about seeing a strong man mourn, something heartbreaking and frightening and so real it hurts that one simply doesn’t forget it.

I remember standing by his father’s bed. He sat in a chair across the room from me. I went to him, but he didn’t reach for me. I stepped back – gave him space. I didn’t know how to handle his grief. He took a few moments to himself and I watched him. I watched the years, the pain, the neglect from that relationship wash away. For those few moments there was love.

There hadn’t been many of those bring-you-to-your-knees moments. We didn’t even really fight or argue. We were thankful to have found a companion in one another that shared a similar sense of humor. Laughter got us through any time things seemed to be getting dark.

He stepped into the role of father as if it were all he’d ever known. It was never a look-at-me exercise, but came naturally. There was a gaping hole in our little family25248_108453875839712_7044406_n and he saw it, stepped into it, and never looked back. It was in the quiet way he made that transition that still never fails to amaze me.

He has a silent strength in him. A code of ethics that can’t be argued or even discussed. They simply are.

Perhaps it’s because of his quiet nature that people find him intimidating. Combining that with the sleeves of tattoos and long dark hair, it’s quite understandable. However, anyone watching him drink tea from a tiny porcelain cup with my daughter would realize how wrong they are.

Four years after that first date and I was talking to my brother in California, planning his trip home to visit.

“When is he coming home?” Mak asked.

“The end of June,” I said.

“Good,” he said. “We’ll get married then.”

Proposal. Date set. End of discussion.

I had a month to get everything planned and ready.

I love you, too. You know that.

After our wedding we decided to have a baby. A few short months later and I was excitedly waving those little pink lines around in the air. We were so excited we told everyone.

We were at his mother’s for a belated Thanksgiving dinner when I started miscarrying. My husband had the kids in the car while I stood white knuckled on the phone with the emergency room and watched my father-in-law toss the kids’ toys into their book bags. Hours and many tests later the doctor gave us the news.

“There’s no heartbeat.”

I’d known when I saw her face. I’d been crying since she came into the room. I looked across the room at my husband. I expected him to get up, to come to me. The doctor left and he still sat there for a few moments. In that space between us I watched him break, hit his emotional knees, mourn, and grieve. I watched him as he cared for himself and then he came to me. He put himself behind and cared for me.

For the following days he held me while I cried and found whatever ways he could to make me smile. We found laughter in the darkest moments. We suffered. We healed.

We spent months talking back and forth about whether or not to try again. The entire process had frightened him so badly. I learned to appreciate what pregnancy can do to a man. It’s a terrifying situation, especially for one who tends to like to be in control of things. There is no control with pregnancy.

He couldn’t see what was happening inside my body.

He couldn’t control what was happening.

He couldn’t stop me from being in pain, from hurting.

All he could do was be there and hope that I would heal.

“I’m not sure we should try again,” Mak said.

We were lying in bed, the lights off and waiting for one or both of us to become too tired to keep talking.

481829_525481010803661_775093643_n“We’ve got a girl and a boy,” he started. “You know? Maybe that’s enough.”

“You don’t want one of your own?” I asked.

“They are my own,” he said.

A few nights later we were repeating this whole thing again. It was like a record skipping, playing backwards, flinging all over the place. I never knew where we’d end up.

“We could try again,” he said.

“We’re not doing anything to stop it from happening,” I answered.

“If it does, it does,” he’d agree.

Three months of this back and forth indecision plagued us.

Finally he said, “I don’t think we should try again.”

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

We collapsed against one another laughing. For weeks we were quiet. We were so careful not to tell people too early. We went to each appointment with our heart in our throats. Every test was a negative, dangerous thing. Every symptom I had was cause to worry. We struggled to find joy.

Mak kept warning me not to get my hopes up.

I kept countering that he needed to not think so negatively.

We flew past each other, both of us on separate ends of our own emotional roller-coasters.

“Are you happy about the baby?” I finally asked him.

“Of course,” he said. “You know that.”

I love you, too. You know that.

I am five months pregnant today. A few weeks ago we went to the doctor and we got to hear the heartbeat. The tiny whomp whomp whomp sound filled the room. I was942205_603602919658136_1585711832_n laid back on the bed watching my husband. He didn’t stand up and come to me. For a few moments, he sat there and smiled. I watched him in this moment of joy and excitement and relief. I watched him take that moment for himself and then he came to me.

He kisses me every morning before he leaves for work. He tells me he loves me before we fall asleep. He doesn’t have to say that he loves me. I know he does. All I need are those few moments, where there is space between us and I have the chance to really see my husband. It is in those moments that I get to watch him love.