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.