My Son Goes After the World

My son goes after the world
with desperate hands,
as if it were a toy
he could hold and manipulate.

I tremble to watch
because I know where the toy has been:
in the dirt, on the floor, in some other kid’s mouth.

it’s been tossed about,
it’s been torn apart in places,
it’s been sneezed on.

Because the world is a public toy.

The most popular in the bunch,
and therefore, the most disgusting.
Cringeworthy, even.

So I push it away
— out of the line of sight,
a swift counter-flick to the hand of time
— hoping he loses interest.
I offer another,
one I brought with me,
prepared meticulously with soap and water,
and kept on a high shelf,
newly dusted.
One I was ready to show him.

“That will do the trick,” I say,
and steal the no-good world away
to take it home with me
and throw it in the laundry.
Hot water, dye-free detergent,
Gentle cycle.

But the boy claws and wails.
He reaches out farther, fingers taloned,
a glint in his eye.
Depth perception be damned,
he wants it now.

I suppose
I could put the world in his hands
even if he’s not ready,
even if
it’s not ready.

Dance into the cringe.

If he really wants the world,
Lord knows, he deserves it.

I just can’t help but wish
I’d found a way
to clean it up a bit first.

My son goes after the world
with desperate hands,
as if it were a toy
he could hold and manipulate.

I pass it off to them,
and in that moment
I can’t tell which hands are his
and which are mine.

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A Poem for Poetry Month: The Terminal

The Terminal
By Brigitta Burguess

waiting at 3:05
I scuff my shoes
on trodden floors
sandwiched between
two strangers,
eyeing their lunch meat.

The Camera,
once hung cautiously
from my lover’s neck,
now slips into its bag
settling there images:
hands holding,
suns setting.
Never tangible, really
But living in pixelated specks,
Seurat’s playthings.

Lips once expanded by joy
beneath soft locks
in disarray,
now are citrus twisted
on a face left wanting
under a too-large hat,
drooping.

until the old,
hereditary scent
of a last cigarette
returns, like a buddhist proverb
pitching forgiveness
to the life that destroys it.

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On Bowie

“My heart’s in the basement, my weekend’s at an all-time low.”

“I didn’t spend enough time with him,” I find myself saying, though, of course, Bowie and I have never shared a space. Not really.

I don’t want to compare it to the way I feel about other celebrity deaths because that’s not cool. But this death stings so much for me because his music means a lot to me.

It was comforting knowing that David Bowie was alive somewhere, reacting to the events of the world and retaining himself all the while. It scares me in a way to know that the person who thought what he thought and was what he was is gone now from the Earth. I feel this sort of welling in each of my organs knowing that no one else is going to be that way for us.

The word you’re looking for here is, “Anyway.”

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Reflections on Fatherhood

I know Father’s Day was practically ages ago, but we have had a lot going on since then. Plus, in my family, since my Dad’s birthday is in July, we usually celebrate him more then, or kind of just intermittently during several weekends in the Summer when we can all get together. Anyway, I do want to give dads their proper praise, so here goes.

On Father’s Day, we did manage to get together and I had a great time celebrating my Dad and my husband, both wonderful fathers. My Dad wanted to go fishing, like he pretty much always does, so we all went to the beach and spent the day in the sun. It was wonderful.

It brought to mind to me the question of what it means to be a father and how our fathers teach us to parent even if we aren’t fathers (that is to say, if we are those other things called mothers).

It began because I was thinking a bit about those people who are raised by single parents. In society, when we talk about single parents we say that they are “taking on both roles.” We also often refer to the man in a child’s life as his or her “father figure” (put your tiny hand in mine?).  But what really is the difference between the role of a mother and the role of a father? I mean, it’s not the fifties anymore, so gone are the days of mothers waiting in kitchens for disciplinarian dads to arrive and put rules into place. Those days are gone, right? Oh, I hope so.

I think we are mistaken when we talk of single parents as the only ones who take on both sets of qualities, though, because a huge percentage of those qualities which we adopt for ourselves come from our own parents, male or female, gentle or disciplinary, protective or dismissive. It is for this reason that I believe it behooves mothers to learn from both their mothers and their fathers as they become who they are as parents over time. And here I don’t mean just to begrudgingly accept that we are going to be like our mothers and fathers in ways we wouldn’t have predicted, but to embrace those similarities and cherry-pick the ones we would like to cement long-term. So, perhaps, in some Darwinian way, we parents can become better parents than those who came before us, and our kids can be better still.

So that leads me to my own father. He is one of the most kind, dedicated, and personable people I’ve ever known. He is the kind of guy who always knows what to say and can pretty much talk to anyone at a party with ease. And he enjoys talking to other people (in fact, I think that’s a big part of why he is so good at his job, which is selling really nice cars to people who probably ask annoying questions all day). He isn’t the kind of salesman you hate because he also listens, which is just as important, if not all the more. I like to think he gave me some of that personality, because on occasion, I can be a real hoot! (Does telling people you are a hoot make you dramatically less of a hoot?)

My dad is not only kind to others, but he is also very enthusiastic. He made my brother, my sister, and I feel like we were just the best things God had ever created. When we learned new things he would always share in them with us with equal or more zeal. In doing this, he would make us feel like we were the first people on Earth to be good at these things, which instilled in us the confidence necessary to take on whatever was to come. Sometimes there was some overconfidence, of course, but kids are like that. I remember when my Dad made me feel so special for taking a gifted exam in Maths in middle school that I honestly thought I might have been the best sixth grade Math student of all time anywhere. And while I later found out that that wasn’t true, I did end up getting a degree in Math, so I am thankful that he was around to keep me going at it.

But more than his kindness, his personality, and his enthusiasm, I would like to bring to my family something all the more imperative. That is, in a word, fun.

My dad is just a fun guy. He always encouraged us to enjoy ourselves, whether that meant having friends over for elaborate birthday parties, picking out tons of junk food at the grocery store, or spending hours every Sunday afternoon playing kickball in the yard. We had fun. And tons of it. Whenever we developed new interests he would join in with us.  I’m thinking of the days when he turned our first floor into a Nerf gun war zone, built skateboard ramps for us during our x-treme sports phase, or turned our yard into a badminton court when I developed a mild obsession with the sport. He somehow even made chores fun, by singing songs or making games out of them. I think this might be the most important thing he gave (and continues to give) to me, and I truly hope to bring this fun to my family in the future.

My dad’s qualities are so important to me, and I don’t think they were dependent on him being the “dad.” Those qualities are thing he just inherently has and offers to the world. Would adopting those qualities mean I was working twice as hard and taking on the fathering role as well? No, not at all. It would mean I was trying to be the best parent I could be.

So let’s be the best moms we can be and learn from our dads too. Because parenting is always many roles and never simple, no matter how many parents there are. And that’s part of what makes it so great.

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Perhaps the Most Significant #tbt Childhood Crush

I am falling way behind on the #tbt childhood crush series that I began not long ago.  I know my readers have been waiting with bated breath to see who my next #tbt childhood crush would be, and I must sincerely apologize for the wait. Sometimes it’s tough to really differentiate between those nineties heartthrobs who I truly crushed on and the ones who simply took up space on my teenage fangirl bedroom walls. It’s a rough job, guys.

But fear not, my friends!  For I am about to present to you one of my biggest and most memorable childhood crushes of all time.

3.

….

2.

…….

1.

…………

GO!

fbreadpizza

Oh my gosh, he’s dreamy.

Yep. That’s right. My fourth and perhaps most significant #tbt childhood crush is the one and only Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (PEPPERONI, OF COURSE).  He is the greatest microwaveable invention to come out of the nineties, with his gooey cheese that’s only partly burnt on the edges and his perfectly triangular pepperonis sprinkled on top.  I saw him at least once a week, whether it was after school or when I snuck a midnight snack on weekends just because eating at night was the coolest when you were eleven.

There were occasions when French Bread Pizza would act like he couldn’t care less about me, though, to be sure. I don’t even want to talk about those times when he would burn a massive blister onto the roof of my mouth, apologize by being extra delicious and filling, and then turn back around and scrape my mouth with his tough baguette crust moments later. He was never a constant lover.

BUT. The fact remains. French Bread Pizza is the only crush on my list who truly reciprocated my love for him, and for that, well, I will never forget him.

Congratulations, Stouffer’s. You guys rule.

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Nature or Bust

Summer is finally here (knock on wood), so I am really stoked to show Roland all of its greatness. Especially since he is a Winter baby and this is his very first Summer ever.

We are trying to do a ton of hiking and general exploration (insert “How I Met Your Mother” General Exploration salute) this Summer. So today we went out into the woods and made it pretty far, considering it was 77 degrees out (and felt like way more). I tried to get a shot of us after our hike, but it was a tricky angle for the timer. Just moments after this was taken some adorable old women came up to us to offer us some bug spray, since apparently the ticks are really bad this year. I didn’t have the heart to tell them how terrified I am of putting chemicals on babies, so I accepted a spray and we were on our way. They seemed like a very pious group of old women (potentially Catholic) and I always trust pious groups of old women, especially if they are Catholic.

Summer is the very best.

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Emily Dickinson Gets it Right

There is an Emily Dickinson poem called “Bee! I’m expecting you!”

Somewhere around my due date I was organizing all of Roland’s new books and I happened upon it.  I recall being big and impatient at the time (that was my rapper name).

Anyway, I read the poem and couldn’t get over how approrpriate it was to my current state. What were the chances I would read this poem about a bee being “expect[ed],” and “due” so close to the due date of my own little creature?  In fact, the first two stanzas of the poem were almost verbatim what I had been saying to my son over the past few days.

HEY, I’M EXPECTING YOU!

So, of course, like the millennial I am, I took a photo of it and posted it on Instagram with the caption “A perfect poem from the poetry book Auntie Niki got us.”

But at the time I didn’t actually realize just how perfect this poem was for us.

found this poem again this morning in yet another children’s poetry book (are children a huge part of the Dickinson demographic?).  When I read the last stanza I was nearly dumbfounded.

You’ll get my Letter by

The seventeenth; Reply

Or better, be with me–

Yours, Fly.

And what was it that happened on the 17th of December? Oh right, my little “bee” got “my letter” and chose the latter.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Fly.

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