Old Grey Friend
We unearth old bottles, the unbroken one
our treasure – suddenly bees bubble up
bursting behind us as we fly out of the woods.
Elbows and knees pump,
ramparts of open air can’t hold back the picadors.
We said it must’ve been your flaxen hair,
flashing like a matador’s cape.
Dad scoops mud, smooth and cool
in his mason-rough hands.
He hums low, soothes your stinging welts,
raises an eyebrow at me.
The cool tap water
baptizes our bottle,
washes away the bottle dump dirt –
fills it with weight.
Red food coloring drops,
unfurl into the world of water,
their tiny, wispy banners
blend into a tide of bottled sea.
On the sill’s ledge, in the sunlight
it stands, blood-red brilliance.
from my bed I’m transfixed
by our ruby-baptized bottle dump find
and I wonder how those piercing rays
can cut right through glass
without causing any pain at all.
My mother spent silent after-dinner hours
standing behind all three of us,
one at a time, by the kitchen sink.
She dipped her comb into a glass,
the edge upon which the comb’s teeth played,
droplets trailing in tonal drips,
over and over the same wet path.
The comb was her instrument.
It twanged and pinged the vessel of water,
while we each took our turns at the counter,
while we each sat on a stool in front of her,
while we each waited, our long hair hanging down in whispers.
My friends that summer had shown off their new shag haircuts,
the latest rage, boy haircuts –
Women everywhere were burning their bras.
It was on the six o’clock news,
and Dad would not allow it, none of it, and
Mom’s transistor radio told of it.
Our mother toiled over the three of us,
One at a time, in silence those nights –
standing over us, our backs to her work,
separating the strands into girly bundles,
wetting, combing, coiling, and winding,
pressing each twist of hair into a tight-set pin curl fist
to our tender, scrubbed scalps.
She, crisscrossing Bobby pins, giving us a headful of x’s
placing and pulling the hairpins swiftly from her teeth
with fingers which smelled of bleach,
digging in to assure the secure fit –
to ensure the perfect result.
-Bonnie J. Toomey
It pleases us to read
a need which raises
society up and the
propriety of the child.- BJT
No one cares for May Day,
at least not any more!
It seems that all the May Days
once hailed from the great outdoors
have been clicked and tagged and filed away
in electronic desks and drawers.
French is not the easiest class to miss.
I missed almost two weeks straight
after Mom died
and a lot of other days before that
and now I am really behind.
Mom wanted me to take French
because she thought it would help
in ballet class.
Dad lost a couple of bids.
He says people are losing
the economy is bad.
The TV keeps warning
unemployment is up,
gas prices are up,
and people are fed up,
according to Dad.
I don’t know why he
has to watch,
it only makes him
yell at the TV.
Dad says we need to conserve
more than we have been.
Now the house feels cooler
and when I complain
to go outside and come back in,
then I’ll feel warmer.
Harriet and I spend our time bundled in
an extra layer of clothes
dragging around our afghans mom made
like giant moths in cocoons.
We are out of butter again.
to try using peanut butter.
Well isn’t the word
Harriett won’t eat her toast
and it just sits on the plate
like the floors
in this house
and suddenly one phrase comes to me.
Il fait froid.
Il fait froid dans la maison!