daughtersofnormabates











{November 8, 2012}   Home Alone

With my parents on their cruise, I had the house all to myself. I walked through noiseless rooms looking at objects that had become so familiar that I didn’t notice them. The dining room centered around an ornate table and chairs where no one ever sits down for dinner. There was the hand-crafted china cabinet filled with elegant plates, saucers and crystal glasses we never used. There was a wooden box of silverware that hadn’t been touched since the last polishing over a year ago. In the living room, a gold floral couch that was still covered in plastic. Mother was shopping for a new one because, although no one had ever touched the fabric, it was getting old. There were figurines and trinkets on end tables, perfectly polished, and a chandelier in the entryway with light bulbs that were never replaced. The piano was the only thing that was used, and that was only when I came in the room to play Clair de lune or try to figure out out a Beatle’s melody. There were drawers, closets and cabinets where clutter was kept out of sight. The surface of the house was spotless, waiting for visitors who never came. The house was designed for someone to admire it. The only regular guests we had were Maw Maw and Aunt Cheryl and they never left the kitchen when they came over. They sat around the bar drinking Coca Colas and talking about what color to choose for Cheryl’s bedroom curtains or calculating what a lamp would cost if Maw Maw used her Rich’s discount once it went on sale.

I walked down the hall to my room and collapsed on the blue bedspread. I pulled out my spiral notebook from English class where I’d taken notes. Mrs. Johnson explained the “journey of the soul” many spiritual seekers take. They exit society and go through challenges and temptations until they finally experience nirvana. But the great ones do not stay in nirvana. They leave the mountain top and return to ordinary life to tell others about their journey.  My notebook was there just when I needed it. I thought about the people who helped me on my way to Florida and back–Lillian, Walt, Mike, Rhonda, the deputy and his wife, and Miss Russett.  I wondered if the prayers my grandparents said for me every night were what protected me from being harmed. Maybe there are “Angels Watching Over Me”, like we sang in my grandparent’s Methodist church.

I reached under my bed for my English textbook and flipped to a poem Mrs. Johnson read in class. “These beauteous forms, through a long absence, have not been to me as is a landscape to a blind man’s eye; but oft, in lonely rooms and ‘mid the din of towns and cities, I have owed to them, in hours of weariness, sensations sweet, felt in the blood and felt along the heart…” I could hear Mrs. Johnson’s slow, heavy pronunciation…”oft…in lonely rooms…” I was often in a lonely room where I endured the din of people who didn’t see me. I was invisible to my family, and leaving home wouldn’t make me materialize any more than blowing smoke would create a marble statue. I’d vanished from their minds long before I vanished from sight. There was no entry point for me to come back home. I read on, “…and this prayer I make, knowing that nature never did betray the heart that loved her, ‘tis her privilege…to lead from joy to joy: for she can so inform the mind that is within us, so impress with quietness and beauty, and so feed with lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, rash judgements, nor the sneers of selfish men, nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all the dreary intercourse of daily life, shall e’er prevail against us or disturb our cheerful faith…” Those were lines that showed the way to strength. I wanted to write something in my own words. I grabbed my spiral notebook and wrote my first poem. I titled it:

The Cup

Hide her broken cup behind the box of tea.

She has always spoken lovingly

about the cup,

how frail its painted flowers,

how familiar it grew through the years, like a friend.

You will mend the fragments carefully

but there will always be a flaw.

You’ll know it’s there though she doesn’t see it.

You’ll avoid her next time she drinks tea.

When she looks at you lovingly,

you will think of the cup

and be silent.

The cup will disrupt your sleep.

The cup will appear in traffic,

on sidewalks, everywhere.

The cup will become ugly

and you will fail to recognize it.

You will want to break the cup

and not repair it.

When time passes, you will tell her about it,

say it was an accident,

say you didn’t mean to break it.

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