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

The Box

Thirty years
More or less
Tumble away
In an instant

Tiny red sneakers
“Left” written
On one toe
“Right” the other

White tee-shirt
Snaps at the shoulder
Easier to slip
Over a wiggly head

Matching series of
Exercise books
A backwards five
Plus a rounded six

Smiley faces on
Stick bodies stand
In a crayon land of
Perpetual rainbows

Pink, smocked dress
Hand-stitched
Seldom worn
Still like new

Stuffed kangaroo
Carries joey
In her pocket
Warm and safe

Red corduroy
Slightly faded
Suits a small jacket
Quite stylish

Tap dance costume
With twirling skirt
Missing one blue
Sequined arm band

Four letters glued
On a volleyball shirt
Spell champion
For that year

Note cards with
College logo
Embossed on fine
Paper stock

Four corners of a hat
Frame a black square
Upon which a tassel
Crowns success

My Little Ponies
In a zip-locked tomb
Emerge to neigh with
The next generation

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Inbox 

Random communiques appear,
Signal a familiar ding at all hours
To make me feel important, feel loved
In an otherwise ordinary life
Of early morning battles with my cat,
Both of us stressed over boxes.

Headlines selected daily by news editors
At The Washington Post or NBC Bay Area
Foist themselves upon me, assuring
Intelligent conversation with friends
Mourning the loss of a kind sheriff who tried
In vain to help a drowning victim.

My realtor asks about furniture, do I want any 
Of the beds laid in, chairs sat upon,
Tables eaten at by children growing into
Adulthood as their parents age in place,
Now selling out for a condo in Hawaii
And margaritas on a black sand beach.

Carly Fiorina needs my help, as do
A host of others scratching and clawing
To reach the very top of the world,
Earn the right to pin a medal on a hero
Or start a war with China, perhaps Iran, or
Unknown corners of the Earth yet to be found.

An invitation to breakfast in September when
Graduates of a Chamber Leadership Class
Offer pats on the back to neophytes
Only starting out, eager to become what
You are, what looks like success from 
Their vantage point, if they only knew.

FaceBook comments on whatever was said
That day of frivolity with photos taken in jest
And posted for all the world to see when
They should have been deleted before 
The submit button was pressed but
Could we have known the outcome.

Six clutter-busting tips to solve my problem,
Accumulation of life’s debris as it piles
High with unread copies of The Economist,
London Review of Books and Bon Appetit
Each crowding my mind for the little space left
To compete with collections of unlit candles.

Attachments carry an offer of employment 
Eagerly awaited after interviews, visits and
Proper conversations on goals and benefits,
An airplane trip away to the north where new
Friends will be made, new rooms to decorate await,
Life promises to be fulfilled or at least chronicled.

Neighbors write about a vacation to the east, so
Keep watch over their house while they are gone,
And by the way, did you get the job? Have you
Heard anything about paying for the asphalt?
Did you ever get your garage sale organized?
What did the house across the street sell for?

Contractor inquires about a check not yet received
For painting, building, repairing a bathroom,
Replacing a balcony, renewing a home to be
Lived in by someone else, except the same 
Sparrows that come back in the spring, as they
Always do along with the deer and bats.

A receipt for $3.99 to continue iCloud storage,
Small price to pay for false security that precious
Possessions will never be stolen or lost 
To thieves who lurk in CyberSpace, followed
By announcements about new data breaches
In the government and my health insurer.

Nothing in my e-mail speaks of love, no sweet
Words to arouse my sense of desire save
The Poem-A-Day from The Poetry Foundation
That graces my inbox regularly, yet today
“Enough” by Ellen Bass is about death,
But also about love of family and self.

Then love arrives electronically with two words
That ring in my ears, two simple sounds that
My brain allows me to recreate exactly as spoken
For more than 30 years, words taught over time
Part of a lesson in communication essential to life
A single key to my existence … “Hi, Mom!”

—Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Real Estate

The owners seemed happy
With their new abode, a comfortable
Second floor room with a spectacular view.

It had been lived in, to be sure,
Yet they didn’t seem to mind its
Lack of newness or the scent of another.

The place became their own, each
Adding his or her special feature to create
A home worthy for their children.

On most days, the morning sun peeked
Sideways into the room they shared,
Huddled as though they were once homeless.

He flew out early for work on Tuesday,
Leaving her behind to tend the family
They both awaited with anticipation.

Before he returned, she knew
It was time. Each newborn arrived, as
Expected, all wet and wondrous.

Eager to tell him, she called out
And called again, to no avail, his
Response never heard nor sung.

To her surprise, a sudden great flood
Began to rise around the walls, encasing
The room where the children slept.

She screamed and begged for mercy
To a God she did not know, and fluttered
Aimlessly trying to protect those she loved.

The masked man saw her frightful motions,
Watched her flying in and out in fear,
Hoping someone would spare her family.

Don’t knock that one down, said the man to
His partner as they pressure washed the walls,
She has babies in that nest, babies who need to fly.

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015

Daddy

Your handsome face stares
out from a weathered picture frame
into my life, the life you created.

More than creation, you lifted me into
a world of puppy dogs’ tails, fish
at the end of a pole, and sharpshooters.

Your aim was straight and exact, calculated
so you hit the mark in your patient way, forever
waiting for the rest of us to follow.

You remain my tower of strength, a stable rock
upon which I can depend, the blessing
in an otherwise churning river of disappointment.

I imagine you perched on a stool in my kitchen, sipping
a cup of instant coffee, no cream,
listening to me talk about dreams and lovers.

I picture your advice to me this day, when
fathers everywhere are exalted just for being, for
their love, kindness and understanding.

To feel the comfort of your hug right now, Daddy,
just one more time, would revive my faith in men
and erase the pain for yet another day.

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015

Mother’s Day

As I get older
She fades just a little more
I try hard to remember
Try hard to find moments of love
Hugs and hearty breakfasts
Taxi duty and lessons in etiquette

I want to recall our 18 years
Together as mother and child
I try hard to remember
Her raucous laughter when
My sister made jokes about butterflies
Or the dog chewed up a pillow

I want to be in that moment
Relive my surprise birthday party
Family picnics at the zoo
Or the embarrassment of
Being 24 hours early
To a friend’s baby shower

I try hard to remember
Presents under a tree
A five-dollar bill mailed to France
To help pay for spring break
A torn hem in a wedding gown
Passed down for the ages

I try hard to remember
But my taste fades first
Cowboy cookies mailed in a neat box
Cherry pie under a sugary crust
Overcooked green beans
With bacon on the side

I try hard to remember
The smell of splattered grease on her apron
Orange rolls drizzled with white icing
A steaming cup of Folger’s instant coffee
Always instant, rarely ground
My nose no longer cooperates

I try hard to remember
Wrap my arms around her loving heart
To touch the silver watch
Too tight for her left wrist
And stop time forever
But touch is the next to go

I try hard to remember
The red lips painted on her pretty face
To match the colored fingernails
I replicate today
Her skin soft and smooth remains
A precious gift to me

I try, but it is hard to see
Unless I gaze in a mirror
Count the lines on my own face
Lines of time like hers
From laughter and tears
But my vision blurs now

I try hard to remember
Her loud wake-up calls
In early morning
As she flipped pancakes
And tried to roust the troops
Unwilling to face a new day

I listen and hear nothing
Of the countless story books
Read over and over
To an eager audience of children
And their friends always happy
To be at my house instead of theirs

I try hard to remember
Her sage advice as I stood there
On slippery courthouse steps
A marriage lost and long forgotten
A message of pride as to who I am
No matter the challenge life brings

But hearing also fades
The last to vanish

–Victoria Emmons, ©2015

Morning of a Different Kind

Wet nose nudges me
In the morning
Tells me a new day
Is about to launch

I groan for it is early
My brain not awake
My body too heavy
To face tomorrow

Dawn will not allow me
To linger too long in
The comfort of my pillow
Warmth of my covers

Outside of the bedding
Lies grief and pain
Too much sorrow
An empty world

I hide in my blanket
A castle of safety
Far away from
Impending storms

Wet nose a memory
A mere dream
Of what was
Will be no more

So on this day
This new year
Mourning
Of a different kind

In memory of Allie, 2001-2014

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/51491914/files/2015/01/img_0090.jpg

The Sting

of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the innocent
cheek, all
glowing and pink.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the lips,
the sensuous
lips, so
worthy and free.

The wrath
of the world
as it crushes
the head,
the pulsating
head, once
brilliant, now dead.

The sound
of the crowd
as it mimics
the man,
the jabbering
man, once
noble and proud.

The hush
of the wind
as it drifts through
the hair,
the beautiful
hair, all
silky and clean.

The joy
of the girl
as she opens
the lock,
the garden
unlocked, now
sodden and flush.

The birth
of the bud
as it carries
the sting,
the heart-wrenching
sting, all
hidden and fine.

The cry
of the babe
as he wants her
to stay,
the boy not
at play, so
tearful and pained.

The sting
of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the hardening
cheek, all
knowing and deep.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the heart,
the withering
heart, no
longer a part.

— Victoria Emmons ©2013

Open Doors for Baudelaire

BaudelaireI will not be ruled by my cat. No more is he allowed to curl up in the warmth of my lap. No longer is he invited to live under my roof. I brought him home five years ago when he only seven weeks old. The cute, little champagne kitten stood out from the rest of the litter in the cage that day. I only needed one kitten. That’s all. But the volunteer with the pet shelter convinced me I should have a pair. This kitten would need a playmate, she advised.

I have had cats for over half a century. I know all about cats. Or so I thought. I did know the volunteer’s suggestion had merit. Kittens like to play with one another, especially when I am off at work and they would be otherwise all alone. Having a playmate helps keep them from climbing curtains, scratching furniture and other untoward behavior.

Continue reading