Saturday, December 30

It is depressing to shop at that market. A girl from high school talking about Nascar. A fat woman crouched in the aisle looking at stuffing bread. Chatter at the lottery counter.

I didn't tell you about the dream I had a few weeks back. Pinochet's brain became part of my head, at the back, and a mob was leading me around the city looking for the right place to execute Pinochet. When they had me up at Willowrest I saw my sister in the crowd. I could feel his brain mixing with mine at the edges and I wanted to see him dead. All I could do was let the crowd lead me.

Candies fruit and Jewish foods are on sale. I buy chips for the party. Cream to make more egg nog. At the checkout I see a can I thought was artichokes is chick peas. The girl double-bags glass bottles of pear juice. The boy puts them in more bags before putting them in my cart.

Driving home it is still snowing. This is what it will be like for her-- white covering things she knows are there, covering them until she questions what is there, until she forgets what was there altogether and then that anything was there at all.

At home Sam is coughing like a seal. Abigail is walking in circles looking for chocolate, saying I am so lucky. I am so lucky.

Sunday, November 19

She is lying on the table in a fetal position facing the wall. She looks younger this way, her skin smooth and her fancy underwear with a bow on the back. I stand at her head with my hand on the side of her face.

He feels her back, finds her spine. An inch out of place and nobody ever notices. Presses firmly here, and there, looking for the right place. He paints her back with an antiseptic sponge. Frames her spine with paper.

A shot to mask the pain. She doesn't flinch, she is sedated. The next needle shudders as it hits bone, stops and starts as it looks for a way through. I rub her cheek as she moans. It hurts, it hurts. Out and in again. Prodding.

He stops and looks for something else to stop the pain. I help him get the bottle out of the cabinet, hold it at an angle so he can fill the syringe. I was my hands afterward thinking I should have washed them first. I hold her head as he pricks her again.

The baby starts crying. We trade places, R. and I. The needle goes in again. She cries. The baby cries. Pain down her leg, her hip, her knees. I start to nurse. Blood trickles down her back. R. holds her head as she cries out, whimpers, moans. He ankles hurt. Her left leg jerks. She cries out in pain.

The baby is quiet. The needle moves in and out. R. is holding her head. She is crying. Nearly the right spot. Her legs kick. R. is holding her head. He tells her to be strong. Be strong for the babies. She is crying. Blood is trickling down her back.

Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Nearly an hour gone and finally it comes down the needle: clear fluid, like water dripping from a leaf. She is quiet as we watch it fall, drip by drip, into the vial. One vial. He turns the needle to see if it will flow faster. Two vials. She mutters and her body starts to unfold. Three vials. Four vials full from the needle in her spine. He takes out the needle. She is still as he washes her back. Puts a bandaid on.

I want to remember this so I don't judge her too harshly.

Wednesday, September 20

Quiet night, reading in bed when it comes in through the window like an anthem - the theme song for M*A*S*H. Almost every day for five years after Marnie got sick it came up the stairwell to our place. Almost every night growing up it came through the wall from my mother's room. For at least half of my life, one of the steadiest things I knew.

This morning cleaning like the Queen is coming. Sam nursing and crying and sleeping, nursing and sleeping and crying. Abby walking around with her doll singing a song to herself: Don't cry, Mommy, don't cry. Kitchen and bathroom mopped, chairs scrubbed, counters clean. Soup on the stove, soup on the stove. By six o'clock the three of us are sitting in the middle of a pile of laundry to fold, one of us crying. By nine I am the only one awake and not much of the day's work shows. By ten thirty the kitchen is clean again and I am done.

Sunday, September 17

To think about it wakes me up at night.

When Judy got sick they flew her east. They gave her the bedroom we had slept in and the tv room on the second floor. They scoffed at her diet of whole grains and raw vegetables.

When she got sicker they wheeled her out into the sun on a new wrought-iron chaise lounge. She sat in the sun and tanned. She sat in the sun and grew new hair as her baby girl walked on the grass of the hill. She sat in the sun while her eyes got empty. After I saw her for the last time I watched the parade from the corner in front of the art store. Two days later she was dead.

I know a man who kept his toenail clippings in a decorated pill box next to the bed. He slept under a print of two men sleeping next to eachother. His lover's daughter thought it was a picture of her father twice.

Saturday, September 16

Coming home from the orchard, a car burnt out just south of exit 15. Vermont plates, fire engine, ambulance, police cars. Trees turning red around us. Coming up on October, it'll be here soon, then November and December. Months get cold and colder.

On the second floor in the tv room we sat and ate oranges before bed. Marnie would peel them and split them between us. Elizabeth in her red and white pajamas. Robert in his velour tiger suit. A hug and a bug and a love and a kiss before bed. Us in the big house with our grandparents, her home alone in an empty room that would be mine. Crying.

When she was little she would climb into the bread oven beside the fireplace in the tv room and close the door. As he was emptying the house she climbed in again, in with old postcards and lost scrabble letters, the snakeskin from Peter's move west. The room almost empty but for the pictures on the mantle and my grandfather's grandfather's cradle. Pictures cut out and glued to a board, kids in turtlenecks. Judy smiling.

Wednesday, August 30


Originally uploaded by Mandy K.
This is Sam on his first day. Sam is now three weeks old. But here he is on the day of his birth: Samuel James Finnegan Cook.

Saturday, August 19

Thank goodness there's a cop at Tony's Porn and Lotto Mart. Me with my pram and the guy in the wheelchair playing Keno, barely enough room for one of us never mind two vehicles. Talking with the guy who collects scrap metal about those immigrants. They're workaholics. Take $10 an hour even if the going rate is $23. And the Americans are so lazy-- they win a few bucks on a scratch ticket, go out and get drunk, don't show up the next day. The cop directs me to the ramp, exit 12, he says, Seabrook, New Hampshire. Crosses his fingers in prayer for Samuel's health. Calls me Good Girl for my Moxie.

Sunday, July 2

Heat everywhere. Cars dive by with radios blaring. Kids light fireworks in the park. It is summer no matter how I try to deny it.

These are things I have meant to say:

The perfect tree on my street blossomed and then lost all of its blossoms. The little girl in the back yard has been stealing my peas. I saw the guy who looks like Jim at the market again. Small strokes.

The drive to Lynn was less rewarding than I had hoped.

Strawberres and rhubard, heavy cream. Peas with ginger and garlic. Morning sickness all over again. Tired, tired, tired. Belly big and ankles swollen. Counting down in weeks.

Baby sleeping. She's not so baby anymore, with letters and please and nipple and coffee. Trying to make this last month of just her count. Cddle, read, kiss and tickle.

World Cup fever.

Monday, June 5

Feeling like an orphan. Tired, worn out, coffee in bed, slow waking. Trying hard not to avoid things. People. Phone calls.

Mother quiet today, not hearing and not talking. The same questions again and again. I'm tired and I don't know what to do. We drive, around and around. She isn't hungry. She's starving. Just a soda. Coffee. Salad would be good. I default and spend more than I should on lunch to have an easy place, a place she knows. For the third time this year this is the first time we've gone.

Dropping her off she is tired and thankful. No words but thank you, thank you for coming. Abby says her name. I say her name. Across the street the near-blind and the drunk are waiting to catch the bus.

Wednesday, May 10

Wake up thirty. Cuddle in bed with the baby girl, tickle tickle wee.

Decide to take the day slowly. Sister calls, coffee then off to renew my liscence. No line no hassle. Something at the yarn store but not too much-- wool and cotton for the baby in my belly. Sister's again, a box of color, and home with the decision to do what I want. Email from Amanda and note from Zac. Father-in-law and brother-in-law. Flowers and Hamlet Machine when James gets home. Abby to Tad and Jane's, us off to sushi. Coffee.

Back to pick up Abby. Knit sushi from Jane! Home now, baby in bed, James asleep. Two messages. Birthday wishes from my brother. Stepmother calling to see if we will see her on Mother's Day.

Chuckle to myself, chuckle here. Happy to be thirty, happy to be me. Happy I can giggle thinking of who remembers and who doesn't. Happy to know what matters.

Friday, May 5


Originally uploaded by Mandy K.
Been sick lately, don't get out much, but I chose my company carefully when I do.

Wednesday, April 19

Trash out from the back when the white truck moves. Recycling out but not the paper. Not the cardboard. Toilet broken and fixed.

Baby crying in gasps on the telephone. Cat walking on the keyboard. Laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink. Stomach upset from chemical drinks and leftover ham.

Husband away. Peas coming up. Llama in the living room and pansies in the car. Letters photocopied. Baseball game on.

List of things to do. Seeds to plant. Curtains to fix. Rooms to clean and checkbooks to balance. Lonely, lonesome or alone?

Tuesday, April 18

I wish things were as lovely as cherry blossoms fallen on grass.

Wednesday, April 5

I am trying to convince myself that snow is good for a garden. That April 5 is a fine time for snow. That I am at work anyway so I shouldn't even care.

Monday, April 3

Play Ball

Abigail at Safeco Field
Originally uploaded by Mandy K.
Opening Day. 1:25, Abby down for a nap. All day preparing. Buy seeds, pansies, gloves and a trowel. Borrow wagon. Buy potting soil, composted manure.

Find extension cord. Radio outside. Batteries for the monitor. Glass of water.

Last year's tomoatoes, vines pale and dead, pull them out. Sweep sand from the top of the soil. Litter and leaves. Bamboo stakes.

Add peat moss. Add manure. Turn over, turn under. Gather seeds. Sugar Snap and Dwarf Gray Sugar peas. Bloomsdale spinach. Mesclun and mustard greens. Early Wonder beet and Cherry Belle radish. Bunching onion and Danvers Half Long carrot.

Bending over. Heart burn. Mark rows with broken stakes. Peas down the middle. Red Sox up by two. Sun gone, skin cold. Plant pansies on the stairs. Big Papi. Inside, dirty clothes off, jammies on. There's a lot to like about Lowell. Knit in bed next to a sleeping baby. Thank goodness for Coco Crisp.

Thursday, March 30

You can see the smoke from Stage Fort Park. Clouds of smoke from behind the hospital. He died in Florida, his first vacation in twelve years. It is hard to tell at first where the smoke is from. Lanesville? Annisquam? He had come from seeing the Red Sox in spring training. Driving down the Boulevard and up Centennial the smoke looks like the other clouds. Hit by a car. Frank from Gloucester isn't calling any shows for a week to show his respect.

The rotary is too low, can't see the smoke. Passing Addison Gilbert I see it. Up to Wheeler's Point. They brought the World Series trophy to see him at the resturant. Uncle Moe's. Down the streets to the left there smoke between the houses but no fire. No engines. Tommy Moses, local softball legend. Turn around, up Cocaine Lane. The smoke is closer to the water. Down Cherry Street. Toward the rotary. Up over the bridge. At the resturant he called me beautiful, got me coffee. He knew how much I liked coffee. Turn around at exit twelve. Him noting Abigail getting bigger. Back up over the bridge.

There is fire, open flames on Pole's Hill.

Monday, March 27

After they tore down his house we spent our time at an old fish shack down at the cove. Fish freezers waist-high covered the floor, furniture on top, the smell of old bait in the air and clinging to me I'm sure but I don't remember that or even know that I noticed. A space heater in the winter. Low light. The sound of old trucks on dirt roads. Wind and rain and the tide going in and out. Things were going downhill and we couldn't stop them.

Wednesday, March 22


I bought roses with Gerrit on Monday. He makes me buy flowers. He makes faces at Abigail. He coos and beeps. He says people think he is her grandfather. He beeps. I am missing a father. He coos.

They put vaseline in her hair. They make her sit. They make her drink a horrible drink. She can't find his phone number.

I am cold. I have avocado to eat and dill havarti. Abigail is singing upstairs, sailing to Botony Bay. I am missing a grandfather. I don't want to do anything. I have bills to pay.

We watch the trash truck come. Our barrel is only half full. I don't believe them when they say this is spring.

The heat comes on. For the first time in years she is at appointments without me. They put vaseline in her hair without even asking. It won't come out for days. They make her sit still. Tomorrow I won't be there when they tell her what it means. I'll be getting pictures of the baby in my belly. I can't tell her they didn't hurt her. Can't help her remember my name. I can't tell them when she counts her children four. Can't tell them when I do the same.

Friday, March 10

She doesn't like the picture of herself.

She was in an argument. Someone was yelling at her. She decided to drive away.

In Hamilton she came across a work horse. A big horse, tan, with black hair. Its tail was thirty feet long. It reared, its hooves right next to her. Its back was dappled. It jumped over her. It was just inches away.

It is probaby still there.

What is the name of the baby she gets pictures of? She asked that of them, that they name him that. She asked that they name him Richard.

At the art store she has two canvases, fifteen inches by thirty inches. She needs to pay for a tube of white paint she took another day. She has some canvas she needs to have stretched. Not here, the canvas is at home.

She has a wallet full of quarters. She takes out her bills and leaves them on the counter. She takes the quarters out and hands them to the man. Four, five dollars. Another handfull. Seven, eight dollars. One more. Thirteen dollars in quarters. Sixteen dollars in bills.

He'll wait until next time, he says. I pay for the rest. It's easier to remember that way.

At the hardware store she says she wants to spend a thousand dollars today. She tells the story of the man who is always convulsing. The story of the war over trash can covers. She shows me a rock in the shape of a bird. A rock that is a heart.

We drink iced coffee. She offers me her cook books. We drive around the coast. Ah, aquamarine. She tells the story of the sixteen-foot seal she found on the rocks. Dead. She didn't smell it because the wind was the other way. Its nails were so long.

At home she has a picture of the baby hanging next to the picture of a baby from a frame. The frame dimensions written on his chest. She has a new painting. A tree of life. A new tree of life.

Wednesday, March 8

Yesterday clouds crouched over the city like tigers ready to pounce. Today the air is warmer and the sky is blue. This morning with a bad start, sick stomach and tired eyes, overheard conversations and a tumble down the front steps.

Trying to fill the day with knitting and cleaning. Trying to make that enough. Sweaters drying on the deck, dishes waiting in the sink. Sit on sandy steps. Watch trucks take trash.

Hope for a better afternoon. Hope it is better before noon. Hope for better.

Sunday, March 5

Beehive hut, Dingle.
Originally uploaded by Mandy K.
They say as she grew older she shrank into a shadow of the people around her.

Friday, March 3

Sand everywhere. Errands run, baby asleep unexpectedly and nothing to do about it but drive. Eighteen-wheeler blocking rotary traffic. Policemen and DPW blocking Washington.

Sand everywhere.

Men in expensive cars try to cut me off. Gesture when I don't yield. I don't yield. I won't yield.

Seven messages on the answering machine. Amanda? Amanda? I don't know what to do. Hang up. Amanda? Hello? Seven messages in ten minutes. I am not going home.

All morning spent paying bills. Opening mail. Budgeting and planning. All morning. Peanut butter on my shirt, out of two-cent stamps, tired in my head. Sand everywhere and I'm not going home. Men in expensive cars trying to cut me off but I keep driving.

Tuesday, February 14

Originally uploaded by Mandy K.

What to make, what to bake. No Valentines out this year, not yet, but home today with little cupid and finally some room in my head. Love to you and you and you. Love to all of you.

Tuesday, February 7

I don't even know what to say about today.

Lottery. Purple scrunchie. Brothers Deli. Black and blue. Still lost.

Monday, January 30

Dreaming a lot lately, dreaming at night. Snakes in the gutters feet long and green. Nick Drake in an antique and yarn store at the mall, working and happy that people think he's dead. Living below my grandfather or above my grandfather and stuck there, stuck there. A deck all around the house and a dog rushing toward us, toward Abigail. Woods like where we used to play near Tide Rock.

Green. Green everywhere.

Wednesday, January 25

Drum Kit Abby

Drum Kit Abby
Originally uploaded by Mandy K.
What are little girls made of? Sticks and stones and rock and roll.