Saturday, December 29

Two days after Christmas and the emergency room is full. She didn't know what she was doing, a week's worth of pills. Forty-two pills. A week's worth.

In the next room a man has taken something and fallen off of a fishing boat. He is cold. He screams for two hours while they try to figure out his name. Down the hall a little girl is so sick they send her straight to Children's. An old woman wanders from room to room doing EKGs.

We watch as her heart speeds up and slows down. We wait to be moved. A woman with chest pains sits and waits alone. A man with a blown-out knee waits on a stretcher.

The next day when I go to the hospital to visit I find a slide on the wet pavement. The corner of the Public Garden by Beacon and Arlington. The corner I sat in so many times. The edge of the statue shows and I remember what it says. Neither shall there be any more pain.

Tuesday, December 25

Christmas night the day long and gone and a lot of good in it. Plastic toys rattle in the back of the car. Sam cries as we sit in traffic.

I am trying to keep the tender parts of me tender.

Pickup truck rolled over. Car smashed in. A peace in knowing she would not be alone. The rising of a voice brings me to tears. The way we light things up and call them joy.

I ask if I am doing all I can. Am I doing all I can.

Friday, December 14

Thursday night a mind of its own with snow and cold and no dinner and bourbon. There will be mistakes and I'm sorry for them but it's the way it is there are always mistakes.

So it's Thursday and it's blues night and we end up out, out with Shilo's brother, and eventually I'll call him Ryan but not tonight and the music's okay but loud and the night is ending and in comes Mac and he sits with us of course he sits with us and the music is ending and I let him buy us drinks because the night is nearly over and his wife is dead and I was thinking about her Sunday and we have whiskey and I dance with Mac because he is lonely.

And the music ends and we sit down and we talk and Dave Sag comes up and Dave knows Gregor I'm his right-hand-man and Dave knows Anne Marie and Dave came to Gloucester after her. And it is December 13th heading into December 14th and Dave tells m he held Galen in his arms when he was a baby and it is December 14th and I make Mac get me another drink and it is December and Dave knew Anne Marie when she was baking bread and I baked for Mac and it is December 14th Dave held Galen in his arms and I will remember that this morning when my baby wakes up I will remember Anne Marie whailing in my kitchen as her baby lay dead in Great Barrington.

And it is Thursday night and I haven't eaten and we are talking about Galen and Gloucester and Anne Marie and Mac says out of nowhere that he misses my father and hell I miss my father and we drink to that but I'm the only one drinking and I am a Lacey and Dave talks about my mother and he remembers her and she doesn't even remember herself. I drink to that. And the night ends and I stumble home in the snow and I reheat leftover spaghetti and I've had too much to drink but I love you and I miss you and this morning it is fifteen years and nearly four years and who knows when my mother started to lose it but I love you I love you all.

Wednesday, December 12

It's feeling like a hot stove life these days. I don't know who to talk to. I don't know who to trade.

I'm waiting for the Mitchell Report to blow it all up.

Monday, December 10

Today it is difficult not to drink. I mean not to drink early. This morning with ice over everything and no cream for coffee, like a sign or something that whiskey would do or bourbon or scotch or anything but coffee with no cream.

There is a smell in the house, a bad smell, like lost sippy cup or worse. Keep doing laundry. Close the gate upstairs and mop the floor. Replace the bad smell with the bad smell of bleach. Strip the beds.

Wash Sam's chair. Scrub yogurt from the grooves in the table. Bring the garbage outside. Knock the ice off the lid. Shovel the steps, the walk. Throw salt on it.

Watch the crows fly away. I forgot about winter, this way things have of freezing shut. The way windex freezes on a window.

At one o'clock Jane brings me cream. I give her soup. I set oranges and cloves to boil on the stove.

It is after noon and I haven't had a drink.

My streak stands unbroken.

Tuesday, December 4

My house is filled with balloons. The kitchen cabinet is falling off of the wall. My living room is filled with fabric from another of my mother's closets.

Today she watched Sam while I put parts of her life in boxes and into my car. She sat him on the counter and fed him pieces of bagel. She gave him antiques dolls to play. And when her dog snapped at him she pulled Sam up quickly and cried with him.

She cried and was sorry and couldn't talk. She wandered around and couldn't find her things and cried and said she was sorry. I told her not to worry. Everything is fine.

I would lie through my teeth to make her happy.

Sunday, December 2

Funny to watch Joe standing, his chin up just like Celeste's.

Friday, November 30

A little heart-broken today. The tone of my mother's voice. The girl at the bar Monday night. The way parts of the house feel cold even with the heat on.

I have been spending my days making things for other people to buy. I have been working until my fingers are sore.

It is another form of love: letting these things that are a part of me go.

Tuesday, November 20

Trying to get back to it, to get my wits about me. Today the snow and the rain fell around me and landed like crystals and tears.

I can't remember when I stopped singing my lover to sleep.

Friday, November 2

Driving home in the midnight light, stars bright above us and the moon a yellow shock behind Stage Fort. Every other car is a cab or a cop. Drive through the Fort, to find the moon again.

My city at night. It is quieter after I drop Jane off, up over Beacon Street and onto Washington. The cabs are driving like there are no lines and the streets are empty. The night shines down on City Hall. On Main Street. On the steamy laundromat on Maplewood Ave.

I miss you.

Wednesday, October 31

Water main broken down town. No laundry, no dishes. No baths for the kids. The water's brown. So dirty it leaves a ring in the bathroom sink. I can't make coffee.

At the market my mother tries to talk to everyone. She mistakes their wanting her to move her carriage for a more pleasant eye contact. She doesn't understand.

At the check-out the man looks at each thing. Says its name. Says its size. 28 ounce can of 'Kitchen Ready' tomatoes. Rings it in. Looks at the computer and reads what it says. 28 ounces. Kitchen-ready tomatoes. Artichokes. Oats-and-More cereal. Market Basket shredded chedder cheese. Martin's potato bread.

It is the longest check-out. Sam is crying. My mother puts him on the conveyor belt. He is happy. I bag my groceries as they come down. The man doesn't turn the second belt on and I have to reach for the tomatoes and the cereal and the cheese.

My mother is minding Sam. She doesn't put her groceries up. By the time I notice this the man behind her has his out, blue divider between his and mine. I pick Sam up and put her food where he was.

The man puts a pen in front of Sam. He picks it up. He gives Sam the receipt to sign. The man looks at my groceries and wants to bag the rest.

Sam is crying again. I ask the man to please ring her food in. He wants to bag. I ask again. I promise I can keep them seperate. He yields. By the time he is done naming her food it is almost all bagged. He tells her the total: $43. She only has $40. My card is already in my bag beneath the groceries. I dig it out. Take her $40. Pay for her food.

On the way home we stop for a cup of coffee. She digs in her purse for money to pay for it. I tell her it's my turn.

Saturday, October 27

Hard this week, the days of it all together with the days that have come before them. Those two houses. They make me remember. Standing in line for hours. Looking at bodies and trinkets. The delirious feeling after hours in one room. Saying I'm sorry and hearing I'm sorry and being sorry. The way faces all look the same. The way make-up cakes at the edge of a bullet hole.

Thursday, October 25

Today everybody is tired. Our feet are sore from standing in lines. Our babies are grumpy from lack of sleep.

We are the lucky ones.

Tuesday, October 23

Outside on the smoking deck blues inside and they're joking show it they say and he lifts his shirt under his arm the tatoo the numbers sniper's numbers and I can't help but think of what they mean what sniper means what marines means and I say something about peace and go inside and I am standing there standing my eyes are tearing and an older man talks to me tries to cheer me up tells me not to change the world not to try and says its okay but I'm thinking about numbers and snipers and murder and death and I'm thinking about babies and children and parents and I'm thinking about parents and dead children and death and I'm crying and the band is playing and the whiskey's gone and I'm crying I go outside I go back outside and talk to him and he's fine it's okay and I'm crying about number and dead children and he knows he agrees and he shows me a picture of his boy twelve years old and he talks about war and about being young and about politics and love and green energy and in the end we're talking about Colorado and the weather and in the end we are talking about baseball.

Friday, October 19

Stepping outside this morning it feels like spring. The birds singing in the bushes, a lightness in the air, a new crop of peas coming up in the pot by the stairs.

We are dancing in the kitchen, a baby on each hip, singing in full voice. We are eating root vegetables and ripe pears.

I am remembering how important it is to hear your name spoken out loud.

Wednesday, October 17

The day is half-way done and I am starting to slow. We are drinking tea to stay warm. We are remembering how to layer our clothing.

Around every corner there's another thing to do. Trying to keep up with it, trying to be productive. I have a picture in my mind and I doubt I'll get to it.

I am holding my head high. Trying to find value in matching socks. I'll have to turn the heat on soon.

Tuesday, October 16

Waking up every morning to the price of oil rising. The sunflowers outside have all turned brown. The birds are making the most of them.

Everything is one step away from desperation.

Monday, October 15

The house is cold again, today like yesterday and the day before. I won't turn the heat on.

An hour at the market and at the end of it the fear of not being able to pay. Electrical glitch last week, expected money absent all weekend. I packed the cold things together in case my card didn't work. Crossed fingers. It did.

Leeks from Friday at Appleton Farm and potatoes from last week's sale on the stove. Everything I do gets quickly undone and I do it again. All day this way. Clean up the blocks. Sweep the floor. Fold laundry. Repeat.

I'm listening to songs I shouldn't bother listening to. They fit the futility of the day. Only recently familiar and already like old friends.

The sheets are in the wash. This is recycling week. The soup on the stove is warming the kitchen a little and there's coffee almost ready to drink. I might slip away and ignore the whole thing.

If you think I'm crying for you today you are less than half right.

Friday, October 12

On the way to the doctor she says she is going to throw up. She is wringing her hands. She says she is going to be bad.

She has new buttons on her jacket. Buttons all over the front. Where the top button should be is a string of five or six buttons that jingles when she walks. There are buttons on the side with button holes. Silver and gold, silver and gold. One with a pearl center. She has sewn antique buttons all over the front of her jacket.

When we get to the door she starts to run away. I grab her, hold her. She screams at me and tries to shake her way out. The buttons on her jacket jingle. She frees her arms and swings at me. Let me go let me go no way no way no way. I hold her again and tell her I love you mom I love you. She is crying.

I ask her if she remembers last year. She doesn't. I tell her how dark it was. How she couldn't talk or paint or sew. How she wanted to die. I ask her if she is happy now. She says yes. She lets me bring her in.

When the Mormons came this week they tried to answer my questions by the book. They told me I need the milk before the meat. They sat and knit and let me ask about celestial marriage and sexism and the spirit mother. We talked about love and god. In trying to tell me that love is god the talking one read a passage that made me an antichrist. She was so sad when I pointed it out.

Before they left they sang a song for me and said a prayer for my mother.

Inside the doctor's office she is mad and she is crying and she says no no no. She doesn't want to be there. She won't let him touch her. By the end she has answered his questions. She is mostly quiet. She is resigned.

Driving down Washington Street bringing her home she says I take good care of her. She says she loves me. She says thank you.

Tuesday, October 9

Every time I have to tell someone it becomes new again. When I say it I can see the parts of her brain going away. The dark spots on the scan. When they start to cry I cry too.

Tomorrow when the Mormons come back to talk to me about heaven I will ask them. Is there a place in heaven for the parts of a person that go away?

Wednesday, October 3

When the Mormons come I don't know what to do with them. So I teach them how to knit. They sit with the kids while I look for yarn. They pick shiny metal needles from my extras. They chose colors.

I cast on for them. They are nervous. They fumble with the wool and it slides all over the place.

The quiet one gets it right away. Her hands know what to do. The one who talks about blessings and the prophet and the book is having a hard time. Her stitches are tight. She splits the yarn.

I ask them what they are doing. Four hours of service a week. They came to my house to weed-whack my lawn and I start them knitting hats for Afghans. They ask if I was raised in a church. I ask why circumstances of class and connections are called blessings.

The quiet one finishes a row. She says something thoughtful every so often. The one who talks has trouble with her tight stitches. She keeps returning to the book. She tells me about rules and blessings. About following laws even if you don't know them. I talk to them about anarchy and Jane Eyre.

I lend them a book of knitting instructions. I know they will be back to return it. The one who talks asks me to write down my questions so she can research them. She says she's no genius. They leave me with the Book of Mormon. With passages to read.

They say I must be obediant to have the blessing of my home and children.

They have no idea.

Tuesday, October 2

I called this morning to tell her I would be late. Just after noon. When I got there she was upset. She didn't know where I was. It continued like that today. Missed cues, little complications. Typical for a Tuesday.

There are things I want from a Monday. Sometimes they come, sometimes not. I have no right to them but I want them just the same. A little music to dance to, some Monday night words. The best I got last night was reading My Vote Counts to a most offensive mayoral candidate.

Sometimes these days of the week have minds of their own.

Thursday, September 27

Reading translations in the tub after everyone else is asleep. I'm not sure where I fit into it all, the elbows and the wool. But the peace of it.

I have been ignoring my mother lately. That is not true. What I should say is that sometimes when I wake at night I let myself think of something else and I am happy.
The thing about letting everything go to seed is that the birds love it. They hop about the yard, past the mustard and the thistle. The whole things is a place to hide.

Thursday, September 20

I can't stop thinking of those children watching their mother die. Waiting as her body slowly gives up. Remembering my father as his body stopped working. Watching the pieces go.

Sitting at N.'s counter, her feeding me cookies and pouring me tea. Talking about our lives, our families. Her children doing well, playing music, applying for school. Mine still in my belly.

Potatoes were on sale yesterday at the market. Buy one bag get two free. Spinach too, buy one and get one free. We'll be having spinach-oatmeal soup soon, and shepherd's pie. Potatoes roasted with salt and pepper and rosemary from the garden if I can find any.

I wonder if her family came, if they figured it out.

Yesterday's spider came back, crawling up the kitchen cabinet this morning. Up and down with his seven legs. Abigail didn't want him there. Wanted to use a napkin to shoosh him away. Instead I caught him in a cup and left him outside.

N.'s copy of Bartok for Children is still on my piano. The spine taped where I said I would fix it.

I will bake something to leave there at their door. I can't expect them to get it. I can't expect it will matter.

There is love we put into things. We can never get it back.

Wednesday, September 19

It had beena good day. The kind of day that makes you wonder why sometimes it is so hard. The kind of day that makes you think you are good. And then it happened. Nothing major, a run-in with the recycling man, about what numbers mean, number two and number six.

I have been wrong. For months I have been putting plastic bags and styrofoam in my bin. I believed the numbers. I should have known better.

My horoscope warned me about this, about being comfortable. On the way to the park I couldn't get coffee. I couldn't get a styrofoam cup I couldn't recycle.

What else am I doing that is wrong?

Cleaning the living room this evevning I came out from under my desk to find myself staring at the spider with seven legs. I must have severed his line from the ceiling. I didn't want him there but days ago I had decided that he, with his seven legs, had the right to live on my ceiling. I didn't know what to do.

I got up to put a bowl in the sink. A sock in the hamper.

When I came back he was gone.

Tuesday, September 11

It's funny, tonight, how much I want to talk to someone. I wish I could talk on the phone. I wish I had something to say.

I meant to tell you about my long day last week. The phone call inthe morning asking me to call if my mother died. Crying in the tunnel over everything lost. Bringing the kids to Boston Medical to see Other Grammie with her broken neck. Parking on the top floor just to see the sky. Red Jello spilled all over the car. Lunch at Real Taco with a funeral on TV. An hour and a half of traffic on the way home. Counting at the supermarket. Rissoto with mushrooms and carmelized onions and spinach. Salmon with mustard dill sauce. Driving the kids to sleep.

It struck me that day, watching the people come and go. People in uniforms, people in hospital beds, people in cars, how odd it is that we love the people we love. That frail man in the next bed. The driver of the truck that cut me off. The older woman talking to me in line. How funny it is that with a different twist of fate they could be the people I love.

Wednesday, September 5

I am still amazed that it worked. I had sorrows. And I drank. And they went away.

For the first time inmy life I drank my sorrows away.

I am still shocked at the effect. Falling asleep without thinking at all. Sleeping deeply without a care.

It was a delicious few hours. But the next day was no better.

Tuesday, September 4

Driven home tonight in a '67 Dodge Dart convertible. The one Joe slowed so suddenly to look at. With Iggy Pop and the Stooges playing.

It was alright.

Friday, August 31

I am looking for self-confidence this morning.

I can't say quite what it is, quite why it is. A pile of fabric scraps on the kitchen floor. Chicken that should be cooked tonight. But there is something wavering about the day, a little breeze of uncertainty.

Maybe it is because I can't really read you. Or that the weed whacker is broken. Or that yesterday's mail sits unopened. I feel like I've been giving too much away.

I still want to open the windows to the morning air.

Saturday, August 25

She was well on Sunday, a ride for coffee and to look at the water.

On Monday a morning visit to give her her pills. She had made coffee herself. After Sam's appointment we went again, this time a ride to Newburyport. Lunch at the diner. A little walk around. A ride to Plum Island.

Tuesday morning, her birthday, a quick get-ready then coffee with her father. A card with a picture of her as a girl holding her baby sister, now dead. She doesn't cry. She didn't sleep well, thunder and all. Has a hard time following conversation.

Wednesday morning and she is tired. She can't sleep without him, where is he? I explain again: He'll be home soon. Coffee with her aunt and uncle. She can't find her words. Stutters. Says the wrong things. Sam, just walking, keeps stumbling into Bernie's paintings. Left out for an agent to look at later. By the time we leave she doesn't make sense but she is comfortable. You can hear it in her voice.

I bring her to her friend's house. Stopping in the art store the man asks how she is, if she's better. He's know her for years. And I tell him no, she's not better. She is not going to get better. I pay for my paper and leave.

That evening I bring her to the hospital to meet her newest grandchild. She manages the crowd, laughs at the wrong times. She is quiet on the way home.

This is how our hearts break. We watch the people we love hurt and nobody can say a thing.

Thursday, August 16

Tonight I am despondent, quiet in the face of it. Days go by and I can ignore the way thngs are, the way they will be.

I thank every one of you who distracts me.

There is a rash on her side, a sore on her face. One is caused by bugs crawling out of her skin. The other is from blood dripping out of her ear. I recommend a bandage and a cotton dress. More time spent looking for heart-shaped rocks, less time wandering around rooms alone.

There is a pit in my stomach, an empty feeling in my head. I'm going to try a drink.

Wednesday, August 15

It's horrible, the waya face looks with all of that makeup. The tokens we put in coffins.

What do you say to a woman standing alone? As alone as she'll ever be?

I wanted to say a lot here, about being back in that place. About Galen and my father and the look of death.

But I can't do it. All I can say is I'm sorry.

Tuesday, August 14

Hard to get up in the morning. Head groggy, noggy groggy, groggy noggin. Morning shower, telephone call, unexpected progress and unexpected bliss.

My mother was resting in the sunlight when I went in to get her. Her dogs were at her feet.

We were wasting time, sunlight on us, driving around and stopping where we could. At the chinese restaurant we waited outside for the food to be done, singing songs together. Oh, don't you cry for me. Little bits of love finding their way in.

Across the parking lot the man I feared for years and years was talking to a ward councilor. He stopped to wave to me. I waved back.

Beautiful hangover day.

Monday, August 13

Funny to see the picture of it in Abigail's little book of pictures. Me dancing with my father, his oxygen against my wedding gown. In the background is Herb Pomeroy. Herb blowing his horn.

It was just over ten years ago. Even though they said rain the sun was shining. After an argument with a superstitious minister about Wagner Herb had an idea. We agreed. A little bit later we walked up the brick-path aisle to Making Whoopie, played as a dirge. My Catholic inlaws weren't offended. They didn't know jazz. My godless family loved it.

Twelve years ago I was sitting in a jazz class atEmerson when I misheard the teacher say that Herb Pomeroy was dead. I left quickly to call my family. A chain of phone calls later we found that no, Herb was alive. It was the gig that was dead. The joke was on me for misunderstanding my crippled teacher's slur.

Today we are not so lucky. Goodbye, Herb.

Friday, August 10

I am trying hard not to be in a bad mood right now. I came home from a few days away to find my computer broken. It won't start. Won't turn on. I think it is a problem of power but who the hell knows. Oddly enough there is an extra computer here, slower and messier, lacking all content the broken one has.

It makes me sad, this losing things.

Picking raspberries in Lancaster I was thinking about my grandmother. I wanted to sing a song for her. I sang the song that made me sad after she died. I sang the song I sang at her service. Neither worked. As raspberries fell off the bushes into my hands I tried to think of a song she loved as much as she loved her raspberries. Nothing came. I started to sing the song I sang when my grandfather remarried. I felt like a traitor.

This keyboard makes different mistakes than my own. When does a house take over? Their house was always filled with his music. Even what she liked was his. I know she loved Bergman films and watching tennis and seeing schoolchildren when they were abroad. I can't thinkof one song sthat was hers.

I am in a sour mood and it is hard to explain. Even to myself. Sam has climbed the stairs and will cry when I get him. Maybe if I do something good I will feel better. Bake muffins for the neighbors. All the stories in my new book were sad about love. I'm beginning tothink that's all the Irish write about: sad love.

Maybe I'll do something bad. Bake little unzippered gingermen. Serve them with whiskey and fuck it all.

Sunday, August 5

Tonight I am killing flies. They have taken over the kitchen. Little fruit flies landing on the sink and the cabinets and the mirror my grandfather's uncle made. I have cleaned everything: the sink, the dish drain, the pitcher from on top of my grandmother's piano. I have set glasses of wine all over the kitchen. Quarter-full of old white wine, a drop of dish soap in each. Poisoned wine for unwanted guests.

There is so much to go through. Satin ribbon, rickrack, embroidery floss and piping all jumbled together. Rayon seam binding. Hundreds of zippers. I try my best to sort it out, untangle the ends. I will never use all these zippers. It is impossible to know which ones I will.

In the back of the car is a trash bag full of jingle bells. Hundreds and thousands of jingle bells. You should hear the sound they make.

She came back from California and spent the next day in bed not eating or drinking. When we saw her she looked thin. She was shaking. Even the kids couldn't make her smile.

By the next day she was fine.

Wednesday, August 1

;/. There are so many people to think of in a day. Looking through her things, trying to get them in some order. Piecing together her story.

In a plastic bag her silver beads are held together by white acrylic paint, the tube left open. And the earrings I bought her in Cobh. A tin painted with enamels, black with green dots and a white dove. An olive branch. Old bank statements and lots of socks, covered in dog hair, never matching. Glittery gold tights.

A closet full of raw silk scraps. Each color in its own bags, each bag used before for something else. Rusts and browns bagged together. A bag of black the size of a laundry basket, baby blue the size of a loaf of bread. For years her palette, somebody else's scraps. Hours spent cutting and ironing and piecing together. I pack the bags in plastic bins to be put in storage and probably never seen again.

I couldn't take it home.

Pictures from my freshman year of high school, hair long and blonde, next to a boy who loved me. He spent hours sunbathing in my driveway, talking to the neighbors, waiting for me to come home. Brought me to watch the sun rise. Waited for me for hours.

Anne Marie across the street sees me and calls me in. She has had a dress in her hallway closet for twenty years. Purple gingham, made by my mother, worn by my sister, then me, then her daughter. She gives it to me for Abby. The finishing is perfect.

Today Sam took four steps. It should be noted.

Tuesday, July 31

These days I am baking scones for neighbors. Making whales of old fabric. Saving bottle caps and pull tabs.

Sunday morning the sun rose first like a pink ghost then orange with a red halo and finally bright and bold and yellow. I am making stories out of hellos and goodbyes and writing middles where nothing was before.

I am making myself giddy with thin air.

Today I locked my keys in the car and breathed reconditioned air. I ate bland food and sat through idle chatter. I bought diapers and fabric and buttons and bug spray. I didn't care through all of it because I am using my imagination. I am making characters to suit my needs.

They gather little bits of quiet exuberance and try to build a life of it.

Tuesday, July 17

Tuesday morning again. It always seems to come. The babies are coughing, doctor in the afternoon.

Find a hammer. Do all the chores that need a hammer. Fix the curtain rod. Pound a loose nail.

If I had twenty minutes I would pull the dried peas out of the garden. I would water the plants. Pick flowers.

Find a pen. Do all the chores that need a pen. Thank you notes. Bills. Make a list of things to do.

If I had twenty minutes I would piece together a picture of fabric. Black and white and red. Like I am thinking of you. Right angles and spirals. Black and white.

Turn the computer on. Do all the chores that require a computer. Check email. Reply to friends. Waste time.

If I had twenty minutes I would tell the birds stories that would make them grow teeth to bite the stones from cherries.

Sunday, July 8

Winding yarn from a cone bought unseen, a mistake from years ago. Silk with some wool for good measure. A color called grass, it feels rough like jeans dried on the line. Tough, ropelike, on my hands. Trying to wind the perfect ball.

Apple-sized ball and the first knot appears. Break the yarn, start again. Almond-sized for the next knot. Once more, clean start, winding the yarn around my fingers then around itself and around the ball it is becoming. Right arm winding like a machine. Mind of its own. Change the axis. Keep the ball even.

Tired of the burden of product, knitting this time for the process. The pattern comes in bits, weekly, and I don't know what it will be. A stole of some kind. I don't pray. Instead of a prayer shawl I knit memories into each stitch. I can't pray. I remember into each stitch things I hope she won't forget.

Thread on bead. Cast on two stitches. The big glass jar of plastic beads we strung on fishing line, trying to make the longest string of all, up the stairs and onto the bathroom, down the hall and into every room. Knit into the front and back of each stitch. Four stitches. Making eggrolls around the kitchen table, plums and apples bubbling on the stove for a homemade duck sauce. Knit the next row. Driving down 133 in the old Singer to the White Lion. Galen throwing a piece of kielbasa with tamari out the window.

Knit one. Place bead. The birthday party after my father left. Me in my Chinese outfit, sick with the throw bug. All adults except for two girls my age. I wanted a cocktail party. Yarn over. A bowl of cheese curls. Place bead. Knit one.

Knit two, purl to last two stitches, knit two. All even rows. The smell of a bathroom frilled with coffee and cigarette smoke. Follow the chart carefully. Kids lining up for her tremendous chocolate chip cookies, no recipe, each the size of a hockey puck. All the teeth lost in those cookies. Keep the first and last two stitches in each wrong-side row in garter stitch.

The dresses she made me. Lines of yarn overs climbing the edges of the stole. Swimming in the waves after hurricanes. Legs raw from the barnacles on the rocks. Place a bead on the center stitch.

Yarn rough on my hands, the melon-sized ball showing no signs of shrinking. Following the chart carefully, trying hard not to get any of the memories wrong.

Wednesday, July 4

Today I have to do things my way. I have to have coffee in the morning. Dishes mostly done.

Listen to the same song. Over and over. Empty the baskets she filled and sort them out. Clean laundry in one. Mail on the desk. Plastic cup in the sink.

Monday set me back weeks. Brakes gone. Everything from the car thrown into my sewing room. Feet tired from all the walking.

A month of paper recycling under my desk. I can't miss it again next week. I just can't.

The living room in nearly clean. J. is upstairs with a headache. Sam needs a nap. He won't take one.

I will make another cup of coffee. I will vacuum the living room. I will listen to sports radio for comfort. What are we coming to? A meltdown.

Tuesday, July 3

I am trying to make up with poetry.

Just writing this now seems full of artifice.

If I could have been alone tonight I would have stayed home, picked peas from the garden and sauteed them with ginger.

There is no hope for it.
I can only write love poems.

Monday, July 2

Going to see her the car is faltering, making a grinding noise. Around curves. When braking. The front wheel on my side.

Abby in yesterday's clothes, Sam dressed and smiling. She is crying. Take her in.

Eat together, breaking bread. The waitress pours coffee right over the baby. He ignores her. Too much food, too much to think about.

The car makes it home. Out with the car seats. Out with the carriages. Have it towed.

She is sweeping my rug. Cleaning. Folded laundry, shoes and toys in a box. Keeping busy. Helping.

She dumps my pocketbook into the toy box. Fills it with legos. Rolls it up.

The day goes by.

This is how time is spent.

Friday, June 22

There is so little to do when the sky keeps falling. Blue for hours, hang the laundry out. Rain like a curtain, hide away.

There is a game people play when they don't know what to do with themselves. A bit of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Or Operation. Put inthe pieces, quickly, where you think you have plastic holes. Don't touch the sides. Don't connect. Hope you don't hit the wall. As if that little plastic femur fills in the empty bits.

Hanging the laundry this morning a green bug fell from the tree above me and landed on my chest. I over reacted. I am sorry for it.

Thursday, June 21

These days the sun comes up with birds a-twitter and babies crying for the breast. The coffee is hot and the cream is sweet. These days the greens are from the garden. These days the morning dew is just enough to keep the garden happy.

We have jobs to help us buy drinks. We have dryers to pile papers and fabric on. We have babies to sing them to sleep.

Today I may bake a cake with almonds and butter and lemon. I will drink more coffee than I mean to. I will not open the mail.

You ask me what I am looking for.

What can I possibly say?

Sunday, June 17

Tired from the heat of almost-summer. Windows still shut and fans still away. Afternoon rain in car windows. Baby crying upstairs.

Clean the spiders off of the new bookcase. Clean up puzzles. Move a speaker. Listen to that song. When I go deaf. When I go deaf.

Wash the dishes. Sneak dolls and Telletubbies into the wash. Slip mother's MRI behind the new bookcase. Think of that song. When I go deaf.

Pick up newspapers. Consider gardening at night. Doll's head against the washer. Think about water. Deep water. Hang clothes to dry.

Find a box. Fold a blanket. Try to find things I don't need. When I go deaf.

Tuesday, June 5

Biographers will accuse me of trying to reconstruct the people I have lost.

It's all a patchwork.

Tuesday, May 15

A cool morning, rain falling on yesterday's laundry. Last night the air was full of blossoms. It made a kind of mischief in me, like May Day girls dancing in white. It felt like cherry blossoms and cherry blossoms feel like you.

I tried to call you. Dropping Gerrit off as the late-morning sun broke through the rain. Looking back through his jungle, the taste of sorrel in my mouth. The air smelled like rain and earth and rain on earth and I missed you. I dialed your number. That is all that came of it.

Tuesday, May 1

It is late on Monday night and I am up alone. I've got that feeling that I can see evrything clearer now. Not intellectually but physically: cigarette butts on the sidewalk, streetlights up above me. I've been thinking of you all week.

It's getting close now. You know how all the rocks have names and all the marshes have mazes. You have always jumped in first while I shivered afraid on the dock. Even the glittering water of Lobster Cove makes me worry I may not come back.

I will turn 31 soon. Prime numbers have treated me well. Things could turn on a dime and I am ready for that but I think I'll go into it with optimism. Tomorrow I will bring my mother and my daughter to the beach and they will look for rocks together. We will chose which beach depending on which life we want to live. We will chose which life we want to live.

The other night I thought the fog horn was a train approaching. Funny how the sounds trade places. It's been years since I've heard a bell buoy. Last week on Front Beach there were pieces of blue beach glass everywhere. Must have been the storm that kicked them up. I haven't told anybody until now.

I had forgotten about irrational numbers but I know they have their place. Days and months and years go by and I don't think of them.

My peas have started to come up. By the time you get back they will have run their course and we will be deep in tomatoes and zucchini. The windows will be open. We will be waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 24

The shape of it all coming to me, coming back to me. Pilings rising from the water like the Giant's Causeway. The same thing happens over and over again.

The weather is changing again. Warm air comes in the windows and heats the rooms upstairs. The girls walk down the streets in as little as they can manage. Bass pours out of the cars. The drunks walk home at night. The city breathes with slow breaths, deep, making sure they don't lose their step.

Tuesday, April 3

Just got home and I'm trying not to cry. It's not that there's anything to cry about but sometimes the part of me that is you comes through and I just don't know what to do about it.

I think the old man across the street died today. Old women looking worried, coming and going with their dyed hair. Coming and going all week. And now they've stopped.

The woman in the next house down is on bed rest. So she sits on the front porch smoking cigarettes. Let's the dog out. I don't know how much longer before the baby comes but I'm worried.

I've got that fuzzy feeling in my head like I should be doing more. Or else. Like I should be doing else. Like somebody has decided my decisions aren't right.

I hate them for it.

Tuesday, March 27

When she got her Massachusetts liscense she took it out to show us. She took out his liscense too. She did it. She copied his smile. She got it right. Her husband, two months gone. She got his smile. Her husband. Hanged.

In the paper there is a letter from Wayne Lo. A letter addressed to the people of a well-to-do place. A letter telling them to remember. That they should have learned. That they should have learned when he killed my friend Galen.

I come home to the house smelling like a burnt-out car. The furnace is gone, running with no water. Cracked. The basement is hot. Nothing catches.

Abigail is better now. Not quite right, but better. Her lungs still making that crinkly noise. Every time she breathes in the tube I think of my father and the things he breathed. I think of my father and his lungs. His lungs.

A stone skips along the surface of the water until it stops and goes under.

Tuesday, March 6

Quiet omens in the night. A gate left open. The bone we found in the graveyard. A flag flapping against wrought iron.

Oh, Molly!

While they are talking I am thinking of you.

Tuesday, February 27

It is Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning always comes. Today when it comes I admit defeat.

This morning came with cold and sun. The house smelling like winter needs to end. Everyhere I look there are more things. More decisions. Apples in a bag left in the car for too long. Frozen and pock-marked. Paper on the floor from hours spent drawing and painting. Mustard-wine sauce in a pan on the stove.

Tuesday morning is a time for reckoning.

The man came a little after ten o'clock. He looked at the heating system. Asked if we had a dishwasher, a garbage disposal. Looked at the box in the basement. I told him the house had won. I admitted defeat. He said it was none of his business.

It is Tuesday morning. In a little whle I will try to get the kids out of the house to face Tuesday afternoon. But for now it is still morning. It is Tuesday morning and I admit defeat.

Thursday, February 22


He's taken her off of one of her medications. I come home to this. He has told one doctor. Not the one that matters.

There is always laundry when you get home. And things to unpack. The mail keeps coming and trash day comes too. There is ice in the driveway and the sky is gray.

She thinks she has bugs in her fingers and she is picking them out. She is angry. Angry. He's taken her off one of her medications. She is picking them out. I am doing laundry and opening mail.

Sunday, January 28

Trying to figure what it means to be remembered, why it matters. A cold morning. I remember that. A boarding pass to Shannon. A present never mailed.

Cleaning my desk, finding things I may have forgotten. A string of beads. An old violin. Letters written and not mailed. Letters recieved and not returned.

Trying to think of why it matters to be remembered. Graveyards full, full of people. Graveyards full of people I know. People I knew. People I remember. Graveyards full of forgotten people.

Smiles of a summer night. My grandmother, feet on the coffee table, drinking coffee out of a small white mug and watching old movies. I remember the swans swimming, candles growing long tails. What of this remembering? Red velveteen. Smoking on walks around the block, then only in the bathroom, then not at all. Cherries soaked in her Manhattans. Eating oranges before bed.

I tried this morning to remember my father's voice. How he answered the phone. Gave advice. I'm not sure I got it but I remembered the way he looked when there was nothing he could do. I remember his look. Sympathy. Empathy.

Looking down at my son at my breast. What does it matter more than this? Ice on the inside of the window, his body warm against mine. What does it matter to be remembered? His looking up at me, his eyes. He won't remember. But that moment will do.

Cleaning my desk of ways to be remembered. Yarn to knit a sweater. Pictures of my babies. Beads and silver. Fabric for quilts. Letters and bills and bills and bills.

The rug by the door is stained black from the shoes of the man who repaired the boiler.

Saturday, January 20

Knitting a lace shawl for a friend, for her wedding. Hours and hours of sleepless nights, minutes caught between daily routines. Ten minutes here when I should be holding Abby. Ten minutes there when I should be holding Sam.

At the market tonight Abby and I put cans in the machine. Abby standing in pig slippers in the carriage dropping them in one by one, the machine gobbling them like a snake eats mice. Fifteen cans. The machine spits out a paper.

Bug-eyes has new glasses and I nearly miss him, nearly walk right into a conversation. But I hear his voice and turn away. Something about a letter to the editor. Some woman trying hard to break out of the converstaion. Trying not to be caught. The last thing I need is for him to talk to me, to talk about poetry. That was years ago, nearly eleven. I haven't kept up.

Rows taking half an hour at the end. 178 rows of easy knitting. Then 60 or so rows at half and hour each. Making holes and more holes. Making points.

The wind is howling outside. Abigail and James are asleep. Sam is asleep. I am going to have to talk to a lawyer soon. I am going to have to make decisions for her. I am going to have to talk to a lawyer to make decisions for her. The wind is coming in at the windows and the doors. The house is cold.

This binding off is taking forever. Thirteen stitches and a lace point falls off the needles. Another thirteen stitches. Another point. I am drinking red wine that should have been dumped. My breasts are full and the baby is asleep. I have eight points bound off and dozens more to go. Purl two, slip stitches back to the left needle, purl two together. Purl one. Slip stitches. Purl two together. Binding off the holes.