Friday, November 01, 2002

Day of the Dead

The day of the dead. The day that the barrier between the spirit world and the world of the living is the thinnest.

Ten years ago, November 29, 1992, the son of two of my closest friends was killed in a drunk driving accident. I was 28, he was 22. He was a passenger. He was named after my father, Malcolm, Mac for short. His parents and my parents had been close friends since before I was born.

I don't think any of us knew how serious a problem he had with alcohol. I had known him much better as a kid, than as a young man, and I think I still saw him through my growing up eyes: he was the first baby I ever got to take care of, the first one younger than me.

We are welcoming in the dead today. My new housemate is definitely a pagan, so we are having a group of friends to dinner. We've asked everyone to bring a dish that they associated with someone they've lost. It took me so long to figure out what to cook - I don't know why, because the person who is most recently lost to me is my mother, and she taught me how to cook. The problem was not that I could not think of anything to associate with her, but that there is all too much.

I am honoring three of my dead. Mac, my mother, and my grandmother. When I think about the day of the dead, and about honoring the spirits, I get the image of a crowd, gathering around the doorway, wanting to be invited in, hoping they have not been forgotten. All four of my grandparents. Other friends. Other ancestors, who I know only from pictures and family history. Other friends....children.

We live in a culture that wants to pretend that death doesn't exist. You have to sign a piece of paper to STOP doctors from taking "heroic measures" to keep you alive. This is odd to me - do the doctors really think ultimately that they can prevent it? How? And why?

But in a way, it feels right to sit here, and think about the dead. Not good, but right.

These three people are still a part of my life. Their dying was, and is, a part of my life. Mac's death was a huge catalyst for me to reconsider the choices I was making, and to some extent it put me on a new path. I wish it hadn't taken that big a jolt to get me to pay attention, but there it is. My mother and grandmother were probably two of the most influential people in my life, in many other ways, mostly good, but a few bad. They were both amazingly hospitable, generous, loving. My grandmother had a mean streak, and I see it in myself once in a while. My mother at times was not good for standing up for what she needed, for taking care of herself instead of everyone else; and I see it in myself once in a while. Mac struggled with his place, with his role within this overachieving family - he was a bit of a rebel...

I see it in myself, once in a while.

So I'm cooking a cherry pie, and creating altars in my head for each person. The cherry pie is for Helen. At this time of year, my mother used to turn into the Holiday Mom from Hell - she loved holidays, and pretty much from thanksgiving until boxing day she was going full speed and then some. Her altar includes a silver spoon - how I hated polishing all that damn silverware for the Thanksgiving table. It also includes two watercolors, one of hers, one of mine. Some flowers - I think my love of plants jumped whole from her head into mine, like Minerva from the head of Zeus. A teapot, of her making. In our house, love is taken up in tea cups.

Mac's altar is harder. When I think of him, I first think of the summer at the lake, when he was about 7, so I would have been 13. He lived in a complete fantasy world, wearing a superman t-shirt every day, and morphing from Superman to Spiderman to Spiderfrog over the course of the summer. As I remember, he wouldn't answer to his own name, only to the proper superhero form of address. A comic book, preferably old and well-thumbed. A bag full of balsam fir needles. He loved our cabins, in Ontario, and the smell of the needles can instantly transport me there.

I cannot imagine a worse loss than the death of a child. My grandmother died at 94; she was mourned, but her memorial was also a wake, a true celebration of an amazing life. My mother died at 61 - a life truncated, but she had packed an enormous amount of living into those 61 years. I grieve, for my loss, but not for hers.

But 22. 22 years old. How can I not rage against this loss, against a life that he was not allowed to finish? That realistically, he was barely allowed to begin? I imagine what he would be doing now, at 32. Of the places he would have been, the experiences we might have shared, of the things we might talk about. This is the death I still don't understand. Not a death I can honor - I can honor his life, but not his death. I still rage against the cruel unfairness of it, of the blow to his parents, the hole that can never be filled. Children should bury their parents, not vice versa......

My grandmother, Katy. Can you tell I live in a matrilineal family? A china cup, with a saucer. I like my tea in a mug, preferably holding about 20 ounces, very strong with milk and sugar, but she liked hers in a delicate china cup. I wonder how many hours of our lives we spent together, drinking tea, talking. More fir needles. She kept coming up to our cabins until she was 92, and I remember taking her on a three day camping trip when she had to be at least 80. I want to be able to chop wood, with an axe, when I'm that age, so I have a good example. A scrap of wood, to remind me of this. A baby quilt. I remember her nimble fingers helping me to make doll dresses, tiny quilts and seams.

So much of who and what i am is taken up with these people, these ancestors, my dead. I refuse to take this stiff-upper-lip New Englander stance that we won't talk about them, that I won't continue to mourn them, laugh at their foibles, cry at my missing them, have conversations with them.

I don't know who W.H. Auden wrote Funeral Blues for. It's a favorite poem of mine, and I think expresses perfectly the light that goes out in the world when you lose someone precious to you. I'm glad he wrote it. I'm not sad and mournful today, but reflective. One wonderful line in the poem is I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong. But in a way love does last forever, at least beyond death. As long as I am alive, my love for these people, my life twined with theirs, will be alive. The pieces of who they are are carried inside, and will be passed along to Tessie, and then whoever she in turn loves.

Maybe as long as love is passed along in teacups, it can last forever.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

A temporary goodbye

I said goodbye to my daughter this morning.

She is four. I have never lived with her father: figuring out how to be parents as a team when we never really were a team had been a long road; for the time being, it is relatively harmonious.
She will be gone for two weeks. They are flying to Hawaii, then getting on a Norwegian cruise line, to float around in the islands. Priveleged child, her auntie bought her a new wardrobe for this trip. (Eek!)

I've never been to Hawaii. Tessie has been on airplanes more in the four years since she was born than I had until well into my 20s. Her first sail at nine days old, her first airplane ride, at twelve. Days. Old. We flew from Port Townsend up to San Juan Island, just for the day, her, her dad, me, still recovering from labor, and my parents. Although we didn't know it at that point, my mother in the early stages of dying of cancer. It was an idyllic day, walking from the tiny airport into the town of San Juan, checking out the shop and the islanders, who have remarkably the same kind of mein as Port Townsenders, tending toward the fuzzy, mossy, besweatered, bearded and long-haired.

This saying goodbye. Goodbye for me, is a hard thing to say. For a moment the goodbye echoes - how can I know, saying goodbye is really for only two weeks? It was still dark, in the early morning, when I walked outside, carrying her, to tuck her into the car seat to say goodbye. And becuase it was dark, I was aware of the potential demons there, waiting, perhaps to pounce on me after they left. Visions of the plane crashing. Her father neglecting her, falling, down, off the edge of the boat, breathing water in. I know these imaginings are just that, imaginings, so I get a comforting book and a cup of tea to chase the demons out of my mind until the sun comes up, when they will not be able to "get" me.

But now that the sun is up, I'm aware of this dull ache, not so much sadness as the feeling of having lost a limb - of something that is so close to being a part of me that I take it for granted, until it's not there any more. The closest parallel feeling I can describe to this was when I left my husband. When I did, it wasn't so much the conciousness of being apart, that was my choice. It was the almost subconcious awareness of something missing; the common vocabulary, memory, experience, the reflection of all the time shared back from someone else that is suddenly, palpably absent. I still also feel this about my mother, who at certain time has a presence more palpable in its absence, that it sometimes was when she was alive. Her art lines my walls; her gifts occupy every niche on my shelves; her life, every niche in my mind. Tessie starts to replace the occupation of these niches....

Being a parent is learning to live with an intensity of emotion that is unfamiliar. This small human, who I jokingly named imp/buddha here, has been living up to her nickname. She can drive me to pinnacles of joy, tears of laughter, and tears of rage and defeat all in the same day. I recognise our hideous inadequacy, when faced with the realization that someone is so dependent, that their character is shaped by our hand, our words, our own behavior and very soul. This knowledge would probably paralyze anyone who came into it with full awareness of what they are getting into, but luckily, I doubt that anyone ever does. Loving someone as a parent is loving generously by default. Children are fundamentally selfish. They never know the struggles, the sacrifices, the doubts, that a parent goes through; then they walk away and say, "Bye, mom, I'm going off to college, see you in a year!" without ever realizing that they have walked away with a significant chunk of your soul, and all, all of your heart. If you try to turn a child to your own will to make them into someone for yourself rather than for their own self, my strong suspicion is you will be hoist to your own petard. The more you wrap them up and try to keep them close, the more they will struggle, fight their bonds, try to get away from you.

Conversly, the only way to keep them close is to let them go. My parents were good at this: both my sister and I went off on our merry way, and eventually came to know our parents as friends and colleagues, rather than people to whom we owed duty and who had expectations of us. I think I was singularly lucky in having this, but I never appreciated the challenge it provokes.

Tessie starts kindergarten next fall; in the Bay area the choice of, and agonizing over, applying for kindergarten seems to cause almost as much angst as applying for college causes parents in more civilized places. People fight, struggle, schmooze, discuss the pros and cons of various schools and educational approaches. Yesterday we visited a Waldorf kindergarten. I fell in love with this place; in a way it is a microcosm of what I imagine when I talk about Everything, Kansas. The kids are encouraged to grow amazingly as whole people, to learn control of their bodies, their emotions, and their minds. The teachers talk about how they help the children blossom - who is this person, and how can we support them in becoming themselves? A high school senior is there speaking; he is incredibly articulate, talking about being a "global citizen", and being in control of his own learning. I have a hard time imagining a public school student talk like this in front of 60 people; I certainly couldn't at that age.

At one point I leaned over to my housemate, and said the hell with the kids, I want to go to kindergarten here. "The children dance, sing, hear poetry, paint, every day". Can I please spend MY day like this? And your child could too, to the tune of around twelve thousand dollars a year.
I look around the room. There is one other couple who's child is mixed race: mom is asian american, dad is white. Everyone else in the room is white, whiter, whitest....WASPS. I can hazard a guess that everyone in the room is also college educated, probably professional, almost all two parent families (with the exception of my single-mom housemate and me) northern european ancestry. So much for diversity. Waldorf education has an underlayment of privelege, of christianity, of entitlement, that I find off-putting. I long for this for clean, so safe, so touchy-feely, and yet it also scares me. With this choice, will I also take her away from a sense of the diversity, the incredible variation, the great unwashed-ness of human kind? Probably. Will she end up in this lily-white classroom, and come home one day, crying about the fact that she is "different"? Probably. Is there anything I can do to protect her from it? Probably not. She is a future "woman of color"; I am not. I fundamentally cannot share her experience. So I agonize over how to help her, how to take the rough and scraping edges of the world off as much as possible, knowing she will still be hurt by the sharpnesses I don't see, don't anticipate.

There is really not a specific point to this rambling: only the observation of my own experience as a parent, loving my child, wanting what is best and easy for her, dreading what will be hard. Saying a temporary goodbye like this, makes me pause a moment on the bigger goodbyes that are yet to come, inevitably. I dislike saying goodbye; friends notice that I have a tendency to disappear instead of saying elaborate goodbyes; perhaps this is why. Within each temporary goodbye is encapulated the bigger goodbyes...which I never, ever, want to have to say.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Hugging Trees

Re: to a conversation about having epiphanies in the woods. yes, that's right, it happens to me all the time.

I recently went camping with my daughter at King's Canyon Sequoia National Park. While we were there, Tess I did all the tourist-y stuff, including stopping at "General Sherman", supposedly the world's largest sequioa, surrounded by loud tourists videotaping each other in front of signs.

General Sherman, and all the huge sequioas in this grove, is fenced off. Sequioas (sequioadendron gigantea, for all you plant geeks out there) have very shallow root systems, and if they get walked on too much, it can kill them.

I set Tessie up on the fence. Babe, this tree is phenomenal. A few of the stats: 65 feet in diameter, somewhere between 2300-2700 years old. A living ent, if there ever was one.

As I was saying, I set Miss Tess up on the fence. She got quiet, for the first time the entire weekend. Being a metaphysical fool, I said, "Tessie, can you hear the tree talking to us?"

"Trees don't talk, silly mama."

"Yes they do, but they don't talk to our ears, like people do, they talk directly to our hearts.
"Sit quietly, and feel here" - I touched her chest - "and listen with your heart."

She sat, I stood behind her, balancing her on the fence.

"Can you hear it, Tessie?" For some reason, we're whispering.

"Yes, mama."

"What's it saying?"

"It's saying that it loves me."


A miracle! She sits still, for longer than she has for the entire weekend, except, perhaps, when strapped, immobile, sometimes against her will, in the car seat. This is child who can normally wear her pretty high energy mama out in considerably less than a weekend.

"Ready to go?" (I was starving.)

"Wait mama, I'm still talking to the tree."

"What are you saying?"

"I was telling the tree that we love it."

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I get to feel like I'm a great mom - few and far between, perhaps, but it happens. This was one of those times.

I don't really know if I think that trees talk, or not. But this tree has an incredible, spiritual presence. It took my breath away, but it also took Tessie's away, and this is the first time I've noticed her sharing this kind of awareness.

Either way, this memory floods me with the same sense of[awe that I felt standing in the grove. It also fills me with pleasure that Tessie seems to hold the same love of the outdoors and wild nature that I do. We spent a lot of the weekend talking about bears, bugs], stars, you name it, but this was the moment that will stick with me the longest.

I don't belive in god, at least not as our current xenophobic and paranoid western christianity describes him/it. (Jesus wants american military supremacy...) When people ask about my spirituality, my flippant response is usually that I am a buddhist unitarian quaker pagan, or variations on that. In part because I subscibe to pieces of all those, and partly because for me, it is an extremely private question. Normally they don't ask anything else, but if they do, I can indeed, describe what I mean by that combination, up to a point. I'm more likely to exclaim "ye gods and goddesses!" or "thank the gods", (or "bother" as winnie the pooh does), when I need emphasis. (Although I have been known to mutter "hell, hell, hell", in certain situations, and out of Tessie's hearing.) But the point is, if parenting is about transmitting values, among other things, it seems to be working.

"Mama, I'm still telling the tree that WE love IT."

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

It was just a crush

A letter I won’t send.

Yes, I knew you were attracted to me, I just managed to ignore it. It would not be useful, at any level, to pursue.

I’m older than you are. You have that ease of freshness and youth and breezing through a charmed life that always tastes like magic]to me. A boy, in the way that boys are attractive to me, and men aren’t. I know the pain an impulsive choice could lead to. Would lead to.

Yes, I knew you wanted me. I knew that you would not make any move toward me. I knew that if anyone would cross that electrical divide, it would be me. But I would not. I will not. I touched your hand, once, and a spark jumped across. That’s when I knew our poses, relaxed and friendly, were just poses. That in spite of that, I would not follow you up the stairs.

But in my imagination, something else happened. In my imagination, I walked across that divide. The first thing I noticed was your hands, narrow, with long fingers. Expressive. I always notice hands. So different from my hands, which are square and sturdy, craftsman’s hands, that hold all the work that I do. Mine, that carry and schlep and wash and dig and clench, and also, when not too tired, that try to bring music from the body of a guitar or a mandolin. When not too tired and careworn, or worn of spirit and soul. Music takes a little bit of energy, and so often now I have none. I sing, even with no energy left, I sing. I learn the blues. But to play as well, so often now there is not enough of me, right now, to play.

In my imagination, those hands started to touch me. Just snuck across the divide, and stroked my arm. And we both pretended it wasn’t happening, and kept chatting, with most of our senses focussed on that hand. My skin tingles, even thinking about it now.

But then my hand reached over, and wove it’s own fingers into yours. That’s when we stopped talking, and eyes took over. So blue, like falling into the sky in a wheat field.

Then I reached across and touched your hair. Those curls, so different from my own straight darkness, I want to rub my face in those curls.

I imagine the hands, then starting to explore in other ways. Tentatively at first. We still haven’t kissed, although when you were talking, I did think about the shape of your mouth, and the shape of your words. Wanting to kiss you. Wanting you. Those hands reach over to the side of my neck, and stroke down, running across my collarbone. How did you know? How did you know so easily, so well, how to touch so that I burn like fire? Those hands……..

A button undone. Two. Skin, revealed. A question in the eyes. We should not do this, but soon it will be too late to turn back. I feel the tug of war, the fight we both are fighting in our heads. Suddenly grins split apart, almost simultaneously. Laughs.

Another choice. Again, my imagination takes two paths, one in knowing that I will not, would not follow you. The other, that I would, and in my mind, I do. We take hands, and I follow you up the stairs.

It seems so quiet, it is so late, here, the smell of eucalyptus filters through the open window. I rub my cheek against yours, roughness of a day of beard against my smoothness.

You take my hair out. Most of the day, it is wrapped, or braided, under control, out of my way. Today, as I write this, its still wet from the morning, from having to throw it into a bun, and having no time for anything else.

In love, my hair takes on a life all of its own. The only time I really like it long. I’ve only recently realized how much it is a measure of my emotions – tight back, I’m trying to concentrate. Don’t bother me, I’m working. Braided once it is convenient, and symbolizes me in efficiency. No nonsense. In two braids, and wrapped over the top of my head, it symbolizes my playful self, my kid side, playing in the woods. But loose, it becomes something else. Silky, it wraps down around us, enclosing us in another layer of darkness. You reach up, and start to run your fingers through it. I close my eyes, to better feel that sensation. Heaven. You pull me down toward you. Wrapped in a cocoon of silk, we finally kiss. It jolts through me, turning from this soft sensuousness to raw desire, in one moment so sharp it is almost painful. We are together, surrounded in the dark by the crowded space that is bursting with too many things, the stuff of my life, the paintings, the books, the sketchbooks piled to the ceiling. We are together, and it feels right.

I won’t write the rest of the story here. But yes, I knew. And I know, and you will never, how many times this has replayed in my head. I get a lot of mileage out of fantasy, now, since that’s mostly where my love life lives. I don’t mind a lot of the time, I’m not sure I have time for a lover. I would want time for you.

I would want so much time, freedom, emancipation from all the cares that weigh me down. Time to stand in a garden and watch our tomatoes grow. Time to stay up late, letting our minds wander where they will. Time for silly word play, sharing the flavor of the language that we love to mess with. Time to make love, so slowly, by a campfire, with a sky spilling with stars overhead. To grin at each other’s sillyness, and yes, I would cook you dinner. I would cook you many dinners. I want that time. Time, which so often feels like there is much too little of.

You are a dreamer. I see those dreams leap out of you, so many. You remind me of myself. I want to see you make those dreams come true. I want to be a part of making them come true, and I can, but not in the way that I want. Or that, at least at this moment, that I want.

This then, is a crush. I call it that, knowing it is more, but that is all I will name it. A crush. It will pass, with all likelyhood. But for now I will enjoy the flush, the flow of energy, the spark it adds to my day. A glint in my eye, a rosy cheek, a flush rising over my breastbone as I think about you. About your hands.

About your hand, that I touched. Once.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Mother's Day

I hate Mother's Day.

My mother died two years ago, on May 15th, of ovarian cancer, at age 61. The day she died was the day after Mother's Day, 2000. She would have been 62 on May 31st.

She was my favorite person in the entire world. She was funny, charming, beautiful, incredibly charismatic. She taught me how to draw, how to paint, how to see. Any time I see beauty in the world I see it through her eyes.

She was the epitome of the Fun Mom. She went to a play with me and my sister when we were both in high school, wearing her jeans and high tops, and they gave us 3 student tickets. We all laughed. She had the most amazing ability to find a way to make to best of any situation, even when time in my family were difficult.

I miss her every day. I miss her more at this time of year, when the spring coming out makes me remember the spring she died. Sitting by her hospital bed, at my parents house, and her looking out the window and wishing she could be in the garden. Asking me to weed, so she could watch. I see a garden, and I miss her. I hear a funny story, and I think "I have to remember to tell that to Helen on Sunday". Then I remember that I can't. We talked almost every Sunday through thick and thin, and the phone still doesn't ring on Sunday in a way that makes the house echo with its silence.

I remember her telling me about one summer day when my father's alcohol consumption was out of control. She was walking up our street to the corner store, and stopped to get herself an ice cream cone. As she walked back down in the dripping hot Washington D.C. summer, she thought to herself, "this is all I need. This moment is perfect".

I remember easter, and her watching her two granddaughters, both two, toddle around grasping easter eggs and chortling. I remember injecting anti-nausea drugs into a tube, when she was choking, so she could fall asleep. I remember turning up the morphine when she was in pain, wondering if this was the dose that was going to make her stop breathing instead of just provide ease. I remember seeing her get thinner every day, suddenly seeing her look like my grandmother, going from 60 to 75 to 90 in a matter of days. I remember her hair all falling out, and her covering her head with rub-on tattoos, to make us all laugh. I remember thinking about shaving my head in sympathy with her. And then again, and now, in mourning her.

I remember her saying "I feel like I should be saying something profound..." and both of us laughing. And later, my telling her that our love wasn't made up of profundities, it was made up of little things - a cup of tea, a long and rambling conversation, a shared book, an art lesson, a walk around the garden, a sketch on a napkin. A shared sympathy, a sense that here was love, unconditional. I remember her telling me I was her best friend. I remember telling her, in response, that she was also my best friend.

I remember visiting gardens, being amazed with how she could name every plant and tree. Once I started working in the woods, I remember taking her on a hike and her admiring the fact that I knew all the wildflowers. I remember going on camping trips almost every weekend in upstate New York, starting at age 5, and being lured to keep hiking with sour balls, and the promise of chocolate at the end of the hike. (No chocolate during the hike, it will make you too thirsty.) I realize now that my first camping trip with Tess, we fed her sour jelly bellies about every 100 yards. She hiked 3 miles, at age 2. A family tradition I didn't even realize I was carrying on, at the time.

I have the camping sketchbook now. Sketches of me and my sister, captions like "Chrissy holding a bouquet of 'pinky ways', so named by her". "The girls played in the creek all day, building moss boats and getting wrinkly toes". Many descriptions of the food: dinner was hamburger helper, potatoes, the grown-ups had whiskey sours, yummy! The trip where it snowed. The trip with the wild strawberries. The trip where we accidentally camped in a cow pasture, and were woken in the morning by very curious milk cows. The first trip in Virginia, where we all walked by the most enormous copperhead I've ever seen.

I remember her dying with incredible grace, and her making her going easier for us. I hope I made her going easier for her.

I remember people calling to talk to her, and they would remark that it sounded like she was having a party. She would reply "We are, I wanted to have the wake before I died. You should come and join us!" And she meant it. The first week after she was home from the hospital, we cooked dinner every night for anywhere from 10 to 14 people. She couldn't eat, but we would all take turns keeping her company and filling her in on the dinner conversation.

I recently wrote a note to all my housemates. "I miss my mom so much right now, I feel as though my whole body is covered with bruises. Forgive me if I've been a space cadet lately, its because I'm out to lunch. Or maybe vice versa." They all read it at various times, and hugged me.

Please understand, if you wish me a happy Mother's Day, and I don't respond, it's not because of you. It's because of a phone that doesn't ring, a cup of tea that will never be drunk, a garden that can never be shared, a granddaughter that will never know a grandmother. I love being a mom...but

I hate Mother's Day.

Dona nobis pacem, Helen Temple Burling Ottaway, 1938 - 2000.

Now it just says....
I miss Helen.

Monday, April 15, 2002

Butterfly Soup

When a caterpillar is undergoing the transformation from grub to butterfly, there is a point when it is neither: grub....nor butterfly. After constructing a chrysalis of some sort, the caterpillar dissolves. Yet even as the caterpillar dissolves, the butterfly has not really started to form. It is, in effect, butterfly soup. Cells of caterpillar, cells of butterfly, but neither one still/yet formed.

In some other, slightly more civilized cultures, when someone goes through a crisis, when someone needs a life change, when someone needs time to go inward and reflect, that need is respected. One could go into a temple and be a monk for a while, with a saffron robe and a begging bowl. One could go off on a vision quest, coming back with a new name and a new role, and the change would be understood.

But in this overpriced overtempoed overtired overstretched culture, I struggle to explain, excuse, beg for forgiveness for this state. "The world is too much with me, late and soon..." If I were a card in the tarot right now, I would be The Tower. Not necessarily associated with death and destruction in every deck or reference, but associated with an overpoweringly intense release of energy. Fire. There Be Dragons.

So if you want to know what's wrong with me, why my mind wanders, where is my attention? why aren't you...paying.....attention..... it is all the same answer, "butterfly soup".

Thursday, February 14, 2002

You are going to need to get a big princess type dress. I CANNOT fight for the honor of someone wearing cowgirl pjs

chivalry is not dead
I want to wear velvet
and have my hand kissed
and be presented with

an enormous heart-shaped
box of chocolates
in the shape of obscene
body parts. How smoothly

the sword and scabbard
slide together
Do you only take it out
Intending to kill

like the samurai
once did. Chivalry
is not dead. But now
I sleep in cowgirl pjs

And my lips are chapped
I'm waxing cronelike
Wearing smudged mascara
And feeling old.

Young and juicy inside
old and withered out
a girl in a summer dress
watches St. Valentine's Day

Slide by. I want to wear
A huge cinderella dress
And go to the ball.

Chivalry is not dead.

n.b. Originally posted on Everything2, the poem is mine but the title copyright belongs to jessica pierce of spidercamp. Copyright christine ottaway 2002.