Friday, April 30, 2010


This is the last sentence; I deem it so because I so love sentences that it’s painful to continue using them—do you see, class, I am building a metaphor, an extended explanation about why I can no longer remain with a person I adore—my heart gets all shredded from the inside-outness giant love creates: my skin is no longer my own, my hair’s on fire, and my chest wails, a wild animal pounding at its cage for an exit, to run and grab and devour. . .never do this, class—create a hodge-podge of metaphors; it was my father who told me not to mix them and I wanted to take them to a stainless steel bowl and use a whisk, but oh, I love that word—I have to, since whiskey’s now officially out of my vocabulary (can’t put it in my mouth), but that’s another story, one much too long for this (already hobbling, wrong) sentence, the last one written on the entire planet of April.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Speeches I practiced to the mirror

It wasn’t children only—I wanted other things, too. Not a Bachelor’s degree—that thick piece of paper thrown away long ago with the poems I wrote in college, all the useless ceremony and words disintegrating in some land fill East of San Diego. I wanted a heavy trophy, a won award, a king-sized bed; I wanted song. I wanted my father to put down the bottle. I wanted the boy with the pink cheeks and brown hair. I wanted an album cover, a national tour. I wanted the children in baskets, cradles—to come back to my hotel room and hear their beautiful cries of hunger.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Talking to this guy

I was in the hallway in high school, talking to this guy. We weren’t flirting. He and I knew each other pretty well. We did plays together and were both crazy in our own way. He asked me what I was planning after graduation. Go to college, I guess. I’m sure to most people it seemed like a privilege that I was born into, even if it wasn’t what I wanted. But I didn’t know how to not do what I thought was expected of me, except I failed again and again. I woke up the next year chronically confused by thesis statements and acting objectives, lost in lecture halls, Proust, bottles and Barthes. That day in the gray hallway when this guy said how great it was I was going to college, I just shook my head. What would you rather do instead, he asked. Get married and have babies. It sounded stupid and felt wrong but it was what I wanted even though there was no one to marry and my parents were no model for young love. They’d wed at twenty—in my baby photos my long-haired mother looks like a young teen, her wide eyes sad. My father was no gem. (But I loved him.) I traded in my hope, fell into the fire of the wrong direction—fought till I could swim the flames upstream. And here I am over two decades later, seven neighbors with babies. Babies in my arms all the time. But none of them mine.

St. Olga

My great-grandmother, Olga Halko, came to America and worshipped in Russian. Olga, I want to ask you if it was confusing—a Polish immigrant landing in an English-speaking country and having to talk to God in a new tongue. Her fierce namesake, Olga of Kiev, sent a band of Drevlians to their death, burying them alive in a ship grave, to avenge her husband’s death. Later, she worshipped with the same fierceness, spreading her faith without apology, being named for her work, “Equal-to-the-Apostles.” Great-grandmother, I write your name on the prayer roster, so you can pass through a Priest's lips toward humble assurance you will lift to the new life. I’d like to meet you there. Show me the way. Will you lend me your name—I will wear it, a loose garment, the scarf I wrap over my hair, before I am plunged into the baptismal water.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Every day today, Jesus dies. I held a baby today—he was fat and beautifully groggy and his small eyelids scrunched as he fussed and his mother opened her arms, calling him back to her chest. Tonight, the choir chants, I finger my prayer rope, gazing at the icon of the Merciful Virgin, her Child’s arm reaching across her chest. Even in this infant’s eyes, we see today, His end. As teenagers, my friend and I wanted to be virgin mothers. We communicated this wish without words. If an angel came to either of us, its glory went unnoticed. Past forty now, no longer a virgin, I hold, glancingly, what can never be mine. But there’s a fire in my belly, it burns.

Easter Egg

Over two thousand years ago, they gather for Passover. This would be their last. Now, I’m boiling beets and eggs and preparing to end this long fast, this ever waiting. In the church, we are always waiting, while also constantly aware of the ever-present arrival. I will press onto the eggs leaves and ferns, fasten with a woman’s stocking, stretched tight around each egg, plunge into the beet broth, just the way my mother taught me. The color is the blood of Jesus. We bury one in the vineyard for a fertile year. I save a white boiled egg and bury it on the side of the house near the honeysuckle bush, and squat atop the spot for a year, hoping the blood that won’t stop flowing from between my legs will find a home on the egg and my body, the doctors say has run out of eggs, will find inspiration in what I’ve planted.