Monochrome #Writephoto

copyright – Sue Vincent

Monochrome

My mother’s home
bows to the leaden clouds
through withering years
her gravity weights us
frail fingers of need
suspended from my shoulders

She clutches my arm
like a worn-out child
I bear without bending
but why do I feel
my feet have grown tap roots
and I cannot extract them

They are declining together
that house and she
sagging and creaking
water-marked and fractured
fragile veins of rusted pipes
crumbling the foundation of bones

Beauty requires altered eyes
the blurred half-distance of memory
a chorus of overlapping echoes
in party dresses and baby’s breath
when the decay of age was nothing
a coat of paint couldn’t hide

She has lost the sharp-edged borders
scarlet tulips and peach-rimmed roses
glories of the morning in royal blue
black-eyed Susans and apricot orchids
mums in the amber blaze of twilight
winter’s bittersweet

I will remember
her spring blossoms
ceding to blood red chrysanthemums
and garlands of evergreen
until the day I too fade
into monochrome

**

I just got home from another visit to my parents. They’re doing fine but declining, especially my mother. This poem is bleaker than the real situation. It’s just the muse and image tugging me along. Thanks to Sue Vincent for another Thursday #Writephoto prompt. (I missed the deadline, but happily post this anyway.)

Galatea

Étienne Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion et Galatée (1763)

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo announced another winner, and I’m thrilled to have pulled off top honors with this one. Yay!

Challenge #4: In a double length Carrot Ranch flash, or 2 chapters of 99-words each (198 words total), tell a story that shows a scar. It can be memoir, other forms of creative non-fiction,  any genre of fiction, or based on a true story.

Galatea

My father was Pygmalion and I his child chiseled by his scowls and smiles into the woman of his daydreams, a huntress, a poet, a woman who walked barefoot over mountains. In the light of his approving eye, I flourished in the myth of Galatea, a living statue until age cracked my smooth skin. What he thought was carved of marble I revealed as plaster, the child beneath growing beyond the sculptor’s control. I was a betrayal of his art, his vision, a flesh and bone girl with her own daydreams, and he said, “I don’t love you anymore.”

And so, the sculptor became a butcher, his chisel traded for a cleaver, Galatea gone, my myth smashed into rubble on the floor. In pieces, I sought new masters to glue together my shattered heart, unable to accept I was clay, not stone, and the only artist was me. For decades, I fashioned a new myth, molded her with tender fingers and scraped away layers of pain, all the while longing for my maker to undo the original wound. But time cannot be undone or cuts unmade. I forgave and finally became a woman wholly of flesh and bone.

 

***

Many thanks to Carrot Ranch and to the judges, and congratulations to all those who entered. To read the powerful work of other top contenders, click here: Carrot Ranch

Mothers and Daughters

My great great great grandmother. Her mother was Indonesian and her father was a Dutch sea captain.

My great great great grandmother. Her mother was Indonesian and her father was a Dutch sea captain.

mothers allMy mother called me and told me I need to drive to Colorado (17 hrs each way) to pick up six boxes of family heirlooms and transport them back to Oregon…Now.

The timing isn’t convenient as I’m committed to weekly babysitting for the Overlord so his mother can work, and I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. I shall write on the plane…yes, I’m traveling by plane and engaging the services of USPS for the boxes.

My mom grew up in Indonesia where my grandfather worked for the Dutch government. Our family goes back quite a few generations in that part of the world, and we are proud of the sliver of Indonesian heritage that flows through our veins.

My mother still identifies as Indonesian, an assertion that earns her an odd look from time to time. During WWII, my grandfather was interred in a Japanese POW camp. My grandmother and her children escaped that fate – because of those droplets of Indonesian blood.

When I was a girl, my grandmother told me stories of those years, of supporting her children by painting portraits of Japanese officers, of lobbing chickens over the camp wall.  My grandfather, a large man, weighed 95 lbs at the end of the war.

My mother has a few Indonesian plates and vases, batiked linens, wood carvings, and other unusual pieces that I have mused over since I was a little girl and first allowed to touch them. I like old things that are infused with history. I think about the artists who made them, my ancestors who cared for them. Some pieces go back over two hundred years to my great great grandparents. They’re part of our family heritage and as the family grows, these heirlooms will be dispersed to an ever-widening circle of descendants.

Sometime in the next year or so my parents will be relocating to Oregon to live closer to me. My mom has entered a packing frenzy and has begun giving items away in an effort to lighten the load. I asked her not to part with the family history. She doesn’t understand what I mean. She wants me there to explain and so I will go.