Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For Elizabeth

Preparing for the Funeral

On the bench a hammer waits for gnarled
fingers to play familiar tunes of swing
and pop. 

Rubber galoshes skid to the barn, bruise
the grass.  The window frames dad tinkering
hinges from a door.  He spins familiar
talk, his jaw a common bone we share.

The call came . . . too late; his relic detoured
to dance in our front room.  Dad lit the air
swayed like a constellation, a fragment
of the Milky Way.  I worried the house
with silent bellows.

Sun filters through dirty glass to lay
silent on the hardwood floor in angular

I knew him better for that airy jig. 
His explanation of black, bunched eyebrows
over eyes that had seen World War II,
water stains on the ceiling, and holes
in his daughter’s socks.

From Arizona, California,
Idaho, Montana they came.  I
loaned them pillows, fed them.  Dad rambled
among us brushing a cheek, riding
a chuckle.  His best profile was called

The bouquet on the piano drips petals. 
Its scent, like over ripened fruit, oils
the musty air.

A.M. Adams

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doggy Blog--How we got Happy!

My cousin, Jackie, called me on our old landline and told me that her chocolate lab had delivered six puppies.  She called on the landline because that was all we had, all anyone had, in 1986.  She said that this would be Hershey’s last litter.  I grabbed Tim and Sine, then five and four respectively, and ran down the hill to Jackie’s house.  When we arrived there were seven puppies rolling and squeaking, toddling and flopping about their laughing chocolate lab mother.  There might have been other people there looking at puppies that day, but all I remember was one black puppy with bright eyes, a slender tail, and a fuzzy coat. 

Tim, Sine, and I watched her as she’d step forward to sniff, then scooted backward until she was touching her mother again.  She was shy.  I understood shy.  Tim and Sine stood glued to my side, silent and watchful for a couple minutes until the puppies charmed them.  The little fur balls barked their squeaky barks, growled their mini-growls, ran their stubby runs, and sniffed their puppy butts, all except one.  One watched.  She seemed a thoughtful puppy, and Sine agreed she must come home with us.  Tim chose three others that we must also have to keep our puppy company, but I knew what Mike’s reaction would be to one, let alone three or four puppies.  We picked up our “free” puppy, and thus began my sleepless nights.

My husband, Mike, worked for Boeing and still does.   He happened to be on a business trip to Chicago at this time, but he called every night to talk to the kids and touch base, home base.  That’s one of the things I love about my husband.  He loves his home and he loves his family.  What he doesn’t love is change, and a few things other things that I prize very highly, like horses, dogs, and lots of friends.  I’ve come to realize that even though he’s not shy around me, he is shy, and he’s very sensitive, when I actually believed him to be quite a brut. 
When Hershey had her first litter and my cousin called, I ran down and picked out a puppy.  The thunderclouds of Mike’s disapproval came complete with lightening bolts.  The puppy was returned, and order was returned to the kingdom.   This time my cousin called, though, he was two time zones and over a thousand miles away, and he wasn’t due home for another week.

I knew by the time he returned that I could break the news gently, and that he’d love our new lab puppy.  I carefully schooled the children on this subject.  Do not tell Daddy on the phone about Happy.  We will wait until he comes home, so he will be really surprised.  Okay?

Mike called that afternoon.  He raved about his visit to the Chicago Museum of History and Industry and about the Italian restaurant he’d found within walking distance of his hotel.  Sine could wait no longer.  She had to talk to Dad, so I handed her the phone with a reminder about our secret.  She smiled, nodded, and took the phone.  I grabbed the other phone (this was in 1986—no cell phones) and listened while my sweet daughter almost shouted.

“Daddy, we got a puppy!”

The silence roared between Chicago and our little farm in Auburn, Washington.  I waited.  Sine could not stop herself.  She gushed about Happy, how cute she was, how tiny, how soft, how sharp her little teeth were.  No detail was too small for the Daddy she missed.  She couldn’t wait to share her news.  I looked at Tim, who even at five-years of age knew what she had done. 

Mike finally interrupted her.

“That’s nice,” he said, in a quiet thunder I recognized from previous disagreements.  Mike was the tall, silent type.  He was my stoic husband, and I love him still, but he was angry, when Sine handed me the phone, I knew it was coming.

“Is she off the line?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered, waiting.
“I thought we’d talked about this.”
He started to sound like my father, and I felt my hackles rise. 
“We did,” I said.
“But you got a puppy anyway?  What about Cuddles?  What about Cruiser?”
Okay, we already had a dog, but we’d inherited her.  She was a German Shepherd, and although she loved us and the kids, she didn’t love anyone else. 
It was a problem. 
She’d belonged to our brother-in-law who worked full-time, as did my sister.  Cruiser had been terrorizing my horse, the neighborhood dogs, the UPS man, and any car with mud flaps for several years when she finally met her match, Happy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Do You See This Moon?

A harvest moon hangs in a starry sky
with Jupiter tagging along, like a puppy.

Clear-cut hills, green and still,
fade to blue in twilight, layer upon layer.

Each ripple of the lake catches reminders
of day, laps them up to the shore. 

I gather my reminders of you,
the warm flannel shirt, the whisper

of your breath in my ear and send them back
to the full-faced orb. 

Basalt pillars stand like giants on surrounding
mountains, watching their goodnight,

as I watch from below them.  I stand here wondering,
do you see this moon?  The same moon I see? 

Does it send its ancient smile over the Cascades
through Chinook Pass 
to you?

By A.M. Adams

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I meant to post this poem in February, but the month got away from me!  Here it is now, not too much after the fact. :)
A poem in response to Carnival Evening, by Henri Rousseau.


When two clowns
such as we are
meet under the moon

full in the midst
of bare trees
to expose our souls,

our shoulders,
our teeth
in this naked season,

we see each other
as we were
before this carnival

foliage adorned
our limbs,
and grow calm

in the serenity
of colorless days.

by A. M. Adams