Clean

I remember the 13 x 9 x 2 aluminum version
Carving out perfect brownies for a crowd
Or the glass model 8 x 6 x 2, the smaller size
For the rare few who stayed up late

I remember baked-on grease forever embedded
Into the fabric of the pans, creating their own
Modern artwork in a chaotic kitchen
The result of motherhood gone awry

Baking meant sustenance, but more than that
It revealed ingenious fortitude, cleverness and pride
Combined with creativity that surpassed all else
I remember that creativity, that strength

And I remember the love that went into each egg
Fried into a perfectly shaped circle inside a slice of bread
A circle that we called breakfast, along with crisp bacon
And always a glass of whole milk or juice, our choice

I remember taking turns at the bar, slipping onto a warm stool
In front of a previously occupied plate still wet with yellow yolk
That she shoved aside to replace with a new, warm toad
One that would be consumed in time to catch a school bus

I remember the burnt days, too, clouded with emotion
Fervent spirit doused for an hour or two, yet
Toad-in-a-hole breakfasts kept flying out of her kitchen
Into our hearts and souls, all four of us children

I remember her pans as I retrieve my own small one
From the dishwasher, not as clean as I would like
The glass still living with some of last night’s meal
My carelessness, the wrong machine setting

I remember we had no dishwasher then, a luxury,
Washed by hand, each greasy skillet or brownie pan
Thus why the grease remained, no doubt, what strength
Do children have to scrub away the toughest stains?

Tools at my disposal, I begin to work, fingers dry and sore
From steel wool combined with cleaning powder that
Lasts as long as I do to see every last speck of memory stain
Removed forever, or until the next chicken Marsala bakes

–Victoria Emmons, ©2017

Circus Dog

Jump, bark, challenge 
My authority
As you enter my life and 
Try to take over

Just a dog from the 
Animal shelter 
With no place to call home
Much like me

No place to call home
Drifting everywhere 
No roots to plant
Or debts to repay

Only the circus
Accepts us 
who are different, strange
And demand rights

Yet there you stood
Begging for adoption
When everything was against us
Twilight seemed dim 

You worked out okay
Me, too, since night was day
And you wanted to rule
But you learned

So why not stay 
Circus Dog
Stay until dawn and play
With the befuddled cat

I did not know you
Would appear so sweet 
Cocking your head to one side
To draw me in, to love you

And that I did, so you won 
The game we play
Each night as you demand 
I throw your toy for a fake pursuit

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

The Other Side

I’m on the right
You’re on the left
Sometimes you drift my way
Other times I drift yours

Often we meet
In the middle
Best of all
Warm up to each other

Now your side stripped bare
Too cold to creep over there
Empty and void of feeling
Plumped-up pillows for no purpose

Evening routine remains
Regimented, predictable
Yet morning cries reality
Evidence of attempts to reconcile

Edging slightly your way
Blanket all askew
Tugged by unknown forces
Mystic, ghost-like visions

The other side of my bed
Still lies in wait
For your arrival
That never comes

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

Light Bulb

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Halogen lives an eternity with
A halo
Dies with an oily thumbprint, he warns.
Wear gloves and do not touch the light bulb.
Do not touch. Do not turn on. Do not love.

Tall ladders are dangerous, can kill if you fall, but
Necessary to remove an old light and bring in something brighter
Easier to see in my living room.
Easier to see that love lies in a light bulb that
Burned out.

To replace a light requires research, visits to the hardware store
Long conversations with a young man who knows about light bulbs.

Too young to understand
All that lies in replacing a light bulb, changing a life
For eternity with one simple act
Yet not a simple fall. Not a simple love.

Tiny yet bright, the faded shower light
Unnoticed in the rain
As I cleanse myself in the darkness of life
Until one morning you changed the light bulb.
You changed me.

Do not touch. Do not turn on. Do not love.
I ignore the warnings.
The bulb burns too brightly to refuse
Light, laughter, love.

Tall ladders can kill if you fall.
Light bulbs burn out eventually.
No halo lasts forever.

Fall then.
Fall hard, but please don’t kill.
Do not touch. Do not turn on. Do not love.

Promises made to last
Rules made to break
Light and love
Burned out.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

Measuring Love

Fat, white flakes cover rooftops, fence lines
Rain upon sidewalks and parked cars
Plant themselves in mountains of cloud-like splendor
Snow painting a merry Christmas Day

Bright sky at midnight, enough reflection to guide Santa
And his reindeer to our home where children sleep
As grandmother lies eyes open and in wait
For laughter and expectation to fill the morning light

Check the empty plate for cookie crumbs
And leftover drops of milk, evidence of parental love
While children confirm today is the day, finally
Yes, dear Alex, Christmas has arrived

Presents bear his name, a word he can spell at three
His sister’s name, too, three letters he reads aloud
On a tag that hangs from a golden package
Wrapped with silver twine and sparkly stars

Help Zoe open her gifts, dear boy, you know how
She yet too young to rip paper and bows
He willing and eager to obey
Tears into each gift for baby sister

Delve into the unknown, discover what resides inside a box
Find out what hides within a heart, a soul
My decision to move, leave all that is known
Leave behind a life, a friend, a sunny world

The real gift is me, dear children, nearby you now
Far from the warmth of a California coastline
To the land of slips on the ice, long winters
Snow button in my car, four-wheel drive

The day after gifts revealed, wrapping paper gone
Two feet of snow to shovel from my deck
Under a clear, pink Boxing Day sky
Measuring love in twenty-four inches

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

Mon amour

do you know the sound of glory when it flies in your flushed face

and seizes your heart

ruffles your mind

farther from anything you have ever known

riveting noise clambers in your ears

oceans drip from your eyelashes

ooze through nostril chambers

until all senses have vanished

and your quivering lips can muster only trite and simple sounds

that your muddled brain wants to speak

but has no voice

Victoria Emmons © 2016

Longing

I know how to define longing
Feeling it as I do this day
With joyful news that I
Cannot share with you.

Longing to speak with you
To hear your laughter amidst
Guttural sounds that create
Music for my soul.

We now speak only in code
Your message somewhat blank
And mine only hesitant
Lacking in style or craft.

Longing so real that it hurts
A deep, agonizing pain
That makes me want to fly away
To a far-off destination.

I have nowhere to fly
Only stuck in my memories
Lost in dreams gone by
Longing for what will never be.

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

What to do

Gypsy

When daylight offers
Nothing more than
Funny cat videos
For eight hours

And blinds are meant
To remain shuttered
Food never consumed
Nor books devoured

The real cat awakens me
Her claws prick my neck
Startle me from a dreamland
Of fanciful dancing and love

My anger frightens her and me
She finds solace under a chair
I find it online in a site
Leading me elsewhere

A story on detergent choices
Liquid, powder or pacs
To clean the oils and scents
He left on my sheets

Buzz

A familiar buzz creates the strange backdrop of my kitchen, and my world. The sound of distress is repeated often in my head, but now it lives. I cannot locate the source. It continues to fill the cool air of an October morning. Where is he? I heard him in pain, buzzing so loudly that I must listen. He wants my attention as he cries for help.

I wait. I must be dreaming, my head repeats. He is gone. He no longer lives on this Earth. But then again, I want to think otherwise. I want to believe the signs that he flew my way six years past. The flutter of his wings upon my cheek. His flight was soft and gentle, aiming for me, for my face. Certain it was he, I broke into laughter. No disrespect, my love, but your wings tickled my nose. Made me smile. I knew it was you, free from pain.

So why now? Why this distress call to me? I look in every room as the sound grows in voice. That buzz remains. I cannot find you. Searching every fold of the house in which I call my home, but not really home since you are not here. Or are you? They tell me I am mad. La Femme Folle. But ’tis only folly, I know. I believe you, mon cher ami. Mon amant, mon amour. I believe you.

And there you are. Upside down, with your tiny wiggling legs. There you are wedged between the bends of a blue kitchen towel. You buzz with vigor, waiting to be freed. Who said a fly should be let free? You chose to be there, mon ami. You wanted to fly, so I let you free. Fly away now, safe to the outside air. Come alive. Don’t die. Keep flying. I love you.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Letters

First placed in a dresser drawer
Migrated to a shoebox
Burgeoned to a steamer trunk
Hidden away in a space in the wall
Letters kept safe over 50 years
Uncovered in a renovation

Home owners open them one by one
The story of two lovers unfolding on paper
Over time, through wars, marriage
And children born and died, the letters
Filled with life and hidden passion
Secrets that only lovers share

Those who discover the musings
Seek to find the children, now grown,
With no inkling of correspondence
Between mother and father, letters
Revealing struggles, patience, deep love
And devotion one to the other

Email is not wrapped in purple ribbon
Nor kept in a dresser drawer, perhaps
An iCloud drawer to be savored later
Or uncovered like Ashley Madison clients,
Not quite the same as thin Air Mail paper
With the familiar red, white and blue logo