Victorious Triumphant Pose

I basked last night in Kris Jenkins’ victorious triumphant pose, arms held high.

A split second after the miraculous winning shot swished through the hoop.

The ball left his hands with .4 seconds on the clock.
His moment. Glory. Satisfaction. Joy.

Kris Jenkins’ victorious triumphant pose, arms held high, makes my heart happy.

I considered the images of my day, the 24 hours
Kris Jenkins’ magical shot
Kris Jenkin’s victorious triumphant pose, arms held high.

My day
1. Gorgeous sunset slipping behind a valley of purple flowers and ambling horses
2. Golden sunrise glow illuminating puffy clouds streaking clear morning sky
3. Annie the basset hound bounding joyfully shaking long floor sweeping ears
4. Sprouting tiny green leaf buds surrounding miniature berry clusters
5. Massage table draped for me with orange oil aromatherapy in the head cradle
6. Happy 87th Birthday surprise Mom your grandson & youngest great-granddaughter
6. Baby Eloise gleefully calling “snack” for one dried strawberry after another
7. A Pit special cooked medium rare with lettuce, tomato and sweet potato fries
8. My purring Pierre the cat curled on the back of the sofa behind my head

Me, victorious triumphant pose, 2 arms held high.


When he was 8 he always wore a hat
Never took it off it was a fight and struggle
For his mother who was partial to pink
And flounces of pink everything pink
Or should I say she always wore a hat?
That’s how we’d have described it then
That’s the part (one part) that’s hard when
Talking about the past is it she or he?
Because this person we love was she to us
If not (secretly) to himself for all those years

The hat was a problem at the school where kids
Were not allowed to wear hats to class
Back then I used to take him/her (you can see why
“They” and “ them” is preferred to he or she
But for a family where grammar and language
Is important the struggle to pluralize the singular
Is nearly impossible) along on work appointments
I’d call at 3 when he got home from school and say
I have to drive to Coatesville or Newark
I’d pick him up and he’d ride along in his hat

One clear full moon night when he was 5
He rode with me from my parents’ house
(His grand-parents house) to pick up
A pizza and we watched the moon follow the car
I told him about perspective from my 30-year
Old perspective he understood and I marveled at
His understanding of point of view and difference

In that year of the hat when he was 8 he asked
His father if they knew any gay people
“Susan’s gay” surprisingly this came as a surprise to him
Rendering him silent for a day “what’s the matter?”
“Everyone says I’m like Susan and I don’t want to be gay”

Later, queer was his word not gay or lesbian I didn’t
Understand at the time but now it’s clear like
The hat he wouldn’t remove for a year when we all
Tried to find hats for him that matched our
Perspective for a girl in 1990 when he was always a boy

The Woman on the Curb

I drive east to an appointment along Route 3 talking hands free with my mom making drawn out plans to attend a friend’s memorial on Monday. There are lots of details about time and place and dinner before or after. While I continue to talk I notice big police activity on the westbound shoulder. I’m staring at two black and white Suburbans in line with red and blue lights flashing. There sitting on the curb between the SUVs and an old beat up blue Toyota is a black woman with hands behind her back in handcuffs. Sobbing. Sobbing. Sobbing . Uniformed men form a circle around her. A third flashing car arrives, then a fourth. 6 or 8 men surround the woman now while she endures flooding tears with hands bound back. I continue east for half a mile until curiosity and concern trigger a U-turn. “What offense could a woman driving a shabby old car have committed to provoke handcuffs?” I ask my mom, talking to the air in the car as I drive. “Maybe she just killed someone, or stole the car…” she says more to discourage me than out of believing those reasons are actually real; she knows I’m thinking something different. I confirm her concerns as I say “or maybe they’ll take her to jail and she’ll be dead in 3 days.” And then “you know there is almost no way I’d ever end up in handcuffs on the side of the road.”

Now I’m slowly passing the scene for the 2nd time. The officers are peering into the rear window of the car as I turn the corner just past the action into a neighborhood of neat brick colonial homes. I make another U-turning and I return to the corner, creeping along to get a closer look. I stop the car and look left at the activity. An officer whose tight-fitting uniform stretches across his belly notices me watching while two others each take one of the woman’s arms to help her stand. One officer turns her around and removes the handcuffs. She rests her arms across her chest as two of the uniforms talk towards her while two more continue the rear window peering. Still more mill around and I am surprised that one township has so many officers.

I think the woman is safe now. I pull across the divided road to turn left heading east on my way again. My schedule is tight today and I have to hurry to stay on it. Half an hour or so later though I am heading back, retracing steps, approaching the scene anxious as I get close to see the flashing lights gone. They are gone, but standing alone on the side of the busy road is the woman with her phone flashing high in the air as her arm is raised above her head. I’m not sure if she’s talking or acting out frustration and I notice her stuff is in an eight-foot long line on the grass between the sidewalk and curb. The contents of her car seem to have been emptied there. I wonder if they had stood by while she removed each item before they took her car away, or if they helped her arrange everything in that neat line. I pull past and then turn back into the brick house neighborhood, one more time to U-turn and return to the corner.

This time I park. I’m wondering if it’s safe to offer the woman a ride; do I know for sure she is not dangerous? I get out and walk across the street and as I approach the woman stands alongside a hedge and she stares a stern look at me from behind dyed red plaits.

“I saw the police here before “ I say, “I wanted to see if you are OK.”
She responds, speaking in a Caribbean accent “Yes Ma’am, thank you, I’m waiting for a ride.”
“Someone’s coming to get you?”
“Yes Ma’am, thank you, someone’s coming.”
“I was worried about you” I say without thinking.
“Thank you Ma’am” she replies, as I turn to walk back to my car.

I wish she hadn’t called me Ma’am.


They say I make up memories

Baby memories I shouldn’t recall

I scoff, and run the memory movie

Giggling sister jumping on big bed

Me at her feet, little 2-year-old body bouncing

I laugh… laugh more…bounce higher, can’t stop laughing

9-year-old legs jump higher, bouncing my giggling body still higher

50s style sharp corner night table looms

Then, my dad, starched white shirt, skinny tie, shaking head

Me, head on Mom’s lap, scratchy sofa on bare legs

Bloody dishtowel wrapped ice pack covers my eye

“Again?” Dad asks

Sushi Night

Out to dinner at our regular Friday night sushi restaurant, we are seated and I’m sipping sparkling water. Earlier, a friend told me she sometimes feels invisible, and we are talking about what that must feel like. Nearby, at the table to my right, an uninhibited talker sucks me into his conversation. This loud talking middle-aged guy with thin hair and a blue sweater bellows “I was in court and said ‘your honor’” … I re-engage with my own conversation, simultaneously wondering if he is a lawyer or the plaintiff. I lift a piece of ginger with my chopsticks and place it over my spicy tuna roll, dipping it into wasabi-ized soy sauce. “What do you think it means to feel invisible?” I ask. Then the guy next to us steals a bit of my attention “And he wanted to have alternate weekends and split the summer 50-50” “Ok, he’s a divorce attorney with an overly loud voice” I think while also, actually, following our own conversation. “Having no control would make a person feel invisible” She says. Then I say “Or feeling condescended to” For a minute, we both ponder silently. To my left a late 30s couple with two shaggy pre-teen boys occupy a large booth. A woman dressed all in black with large hoop earrings and big hair joins them. She carries gift bags. “These aren’t really Easter gifts,” she says to the woman across the booth as she hands the bags to the boys and slides in next to them. The boys eagerly dig in. A bottle of white wine is delivered to their table. I consider their relationships: “She’s too young to be the grandmother. Well, maybe not. Or she could be an aunt…” We’ve finished our meal and ask for our check. Our conversation moved from invisibility, meandered through work, and finished with weekend plans. As we pay our bill, a loud version of Happy Birthday is heard from the main dining room. From my seat the crowded bar is in full view, and a late 50s looking guy in a golf sweater walks from his stool to the service bar, hands something to the bartender, and kisses her on the lips. “It’s the bartender’s birthday,” I say as we put on our coats. The singing comes to an end, and I add “she’s really popular” Walking to the car we pass a man with a sullen looking teenage girl who looks nothing like the man. They walk into the restaurant. I wonder if she’s his daughter, and if she’s adopted. We get into the car. Another Friday night sushi dinner.

Cinnamon Paws

“I need to find a poetry prompt”, I said as I sipped the last bit of my 2nd cup of coffee. “It’s been a couple of weeks since Mary Lambert’s poetry prompts ended, and I need something to keep it going” Then I headed to shower. “Cinnamon Paws” she called after me. “Cinnamon Paws?” I called back to her as I ascended the short flight of steps to our bedroom.  “Cinnamon Paws, what can I do with that,” I thought, as I blew my hair dry. Cinnamon Paws is nothing like an un-invented invention, a repeated phrase, or a letter to my younger self. But what did she mean by Cinnamon Paws? Our Mr. Pierre has special and rare charcoal black paws. What could she mean by Cinnamon Paws?  Does she (suddenly, unexpectedly) want a kitten to go with the perfect Mr. Pierre?  Dressed for work, I headed downstairs for a goodbye kiss. She was tucked-in on the purple couch in full work mode, computer on lap, 2 phones and headphone close by.  Mr. Pierre was right there, cuddled & snoozing on the comfy sling chair. I rubbed his head and lifted his front paw. “What did you mean? Cinnamon Paws? His paws are black” I said as I turned his paw and rubbed the jet black paw pad. “Are you thinking about a new kitten?” “Pierre’s are Cinnamon Paws,” she said.  And then, I saw, the top of the paw. Pure Cinnamon.