With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lavender, Streetside

My auto-immune system does not relish heat, and I fall limply to couch or bed each afternoon in peril of not rising again in time to make dinner, pick kids up from camp, make some sense of the ravished house. Here's a brief ode to this roasting period of the summer, when air conditioners heave in exhaustion, kids flee the burning pavement pool-side, and shade is a gift from the gods.

Lavender, Streetside

Forks of lavender tine the air,
Spearing bees as those buzzers
Dive-bomb the purple pollen.
Flowery limbs season heated gases
Exhaled by asphalt,
Secreting peace as they rise sky-ward.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Swim Team Finale

Our Willow Creek Wahoos tent always sits in a swamp outside the Finals pool, a murky mess that grows more squishy and stinky over the course of an 11-hour day. From pre-dawn warm-ups in the chill of a misty summer morning to the final screams of a 15 - 18 200 Free relay, we lived an eternity. Somewhere between FaceTiming my parents for Aden's and William's 50 M freestyles and prepping for Rob's volunteer timing shift behind the blocks, several lightning strikes within a 1-mile radius put Finals on a long delay.

The swimmers played cards in the tents and swallowed rainbow-colored Icees in blissful ignorance of passing time and swirling storm clouds. Parents scanned the horizon for dropping funnels and more electric upheaval, vacillating between a strong desire to pull up stakes and go home, and the competitive urge to get those last swims in before the end of the season.

After an impromptu dance party on the pool deck to funky chicken and electric slide, several meetings of parent reps and swim league board members, and some near-drownings in our mud swamp, the meet rallied for a re-start. I took Rob's timing shift while he jetted south to Colorado Springs to buy a car for Aden, who dropped time and improved places in all of her events. We told her not to expect a new car for every successful swim meet.

William also dropped loads of time (seven seconds off his time from three days prior - how do young people improve in such leaps? Did that happen for me at 14?) He took as his reward the knowledge that our new car will be his in two years. Daniel enjoyed his time with dad and the stop for Wendy's on the way home from the Springs. The Frosty has been elevated to its own food group in our family - despite most of us being sugar-intolerant and dairy-free we just can't resist.

And there was more to the day - our annual party and celebration of coaches, swimmers and parents. We rolled down the hill in raincoats and prepared to retreat home immediately after eating, but were pleasantly surprised when a strong Colorado sun re-emerged and sent us to alternately shading our eyes and clapping loudly throughout the evening.  Today was recovery day, my mud-stinking sandals banished to the porch for a hosedown, piles of towels washed and dried and tired kids sleeping in through sunrise and catcalls for breakfast. Another season down, a few more grey hairs sprung, and many good memories planted. Many thanks to the Wahoos.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sanctuary

I've been apolitical this summer, exhausted by headlines and cable news horror stories. Though I can largely drown my concerns in the kids' swimming and water polo, several immigrant stories have ripped at my heart.

A father of two was deported out of the blue. He had no criminal record and was  flown to Indonesia within two days of his detention. His wife and teenage son are left to mourn their husband and father, as well as the son and brother who died several years ago. The boy's grave is here.

A young mother arrested and deported to Juarez, leaving behind three tiny girls under the age of four. She writes of her shock and heartbreak from a distant cousin's twin bed, trying to make a path to reunite with her babies. We contribute to a fund for childcare.

My daughter returned from a mission trip to Nogales, Mexico, telling stories of a man who was deported from Las Vegas. He lived in the US for 47 years and had his papers, including a green card. They were at his house when he was arrested, but ICE would not make a detour. He awaits his court case from Mexico.

I wrote the poem, Sanctuary, using the common wording of invitations from the American Friends Service Committee, or Quakers. The AFSC's local invitations to eat, dance, sing and participate in action all begin with the phrase, "In the shelter of the people." The AFSC is a driving force behind the Sanctuary movement, and the miracle of community protection, of sanctuary provided to fathers and mothers and children awaiting court cases, provides hope for immigrants and residents alike.


Sanctuary

Take refuge in the shelter of the people.
Sagging upper arms and aging bodies
Hold stronger than drywall or doorframe,
Support without suffocating,
Brace the locked door or swing open in welcome.

In the shelter of the people
Elders karaoke to Juan Gabriel or Beyoncé,
Swap off-key notes in alternating accents,
Salsa across wood floors, hips abrading pew benches
Or hoisting brown-skinned babies.

In the shelter of the people
No one can be discarded,
Thrown away like fingernail clippings,
Coffee grounds or last week's news.
No. We're connected by sinew, smile, heartbeat.

In the shelter of the people
Migrants live in welcome, not “go back where you came from.”
Visitors play tag with toddlers on church steps,
Prepare passports for babies we accept
To visit parents we reject.

In the shelter of the people
Mourners grieve the ones deported to Jakarta or Juarez,
Encircle the left-behind, hold hard around the gap.
Remembering shoulder-shape, a body’s warmth,
Linked arms pretend weakness, a nest knit from twigs.

The church building, a shell,
Echoes with forgotten mercies.
From aging windows a boy watches bulldozers raze
Next-door. Cottonwood roots claw the sky
Over earthen scar where family home once stood.

The boy hides like justice,
Refuses to play when cameras pry,
Frowns as reporters nod sagely,
"All countries need a scapegoat."
He knows this truth -

In the shelter of each other, the people do not.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fun on the Fourth

A little free verse and haiku on this blistering Tuesday morning. Preparing red-blue-and-white jello in honor of my mom's annual Fourth offering. Towels and sun-shades are holding our spots at the pool, and ice chills in the cooler. Bring it on!


Independence Day
Blue frosting red fingertips smooshed melon corn chips
Bike parades pool games waving flags firework flames
Sunburned shoulders cold beer firetruck hoses kids cheer
Sundown sparklers rockets flare kids nod off in smoky air.





Pool Games

Children dive for coins
Parents guzzle sweating beers

Lifeguards posed for flight