Round three

July 30th, 2009

The exhaustion is familiar, the way my body crashes after the adrenaline rush of gathering the keys, my wallet, a diaper bag (the hospital has diapers, why do I always make Small Boy grab his brother’s diaper bag? I do it to give him something to do, I think, a job that will make him feel like he helped, a job that will keep him from crying, from becoming another child I have to take care of), getting the boys in the car, the short drive to the pediatric emergency room at the Inselspital. The check in, the exam (we had the same doctor as last time, a friendly young Austrian man who remembered us as well), the treatment: cleaning the wound – a sharp angular cut high on his forehead bleeding down his face, cutting away some of his beautiful hair, opting for glue and butterfly strips over stitches, waiting a bit afterwards to make sure he didn’t react to the medication, getting the discharge instructions, driving home. It is then, when we come home, that it sweeps over me, the exhaustion, the stress, the fear. It is then that I cry. It is then that I shake. It is then, afterwards, after the fact, that the walls come tumbling down. It is always after, after, that I fall apart.


July 28th, 2009

A thunderstorm moves through in the late evening, lightning flickering like a dying light bulb, thunder far then suddenly near, a crack outside the window and then the thunder keeps rippling, rippling. The sky is illuminated again and again, the rain slowly grows softer but the lightning flashes, flashes again and I remember watching together with R a thunderstorm roll in across a vast Wyoming plain. He is still working downstairs. I go and get him and together we lean out the bedroom window and watch the sky flash.

Yoga! Hiking! Mountains!

July 25th, 2009

I’ve just registered for my yoga retreat in Arosa; it’s at the start of September and I can’t wait!


July 21st, 2009

Finally, an acceptance letter, like an air bubble showing a temporarily stunned surfer which way is up, an acceptance letter.


July 16th, 2009

Boychen’s words are coming gradually now. Up and down and out. Mouth and nose and eyes. Hi. Bye-bye. Cheese, which he said just today, deez, and is his new cutest. word. ever. The baby books would tell me he is slow at this, as his brother was, according to the books. Late to start. Slow to get going. Perhaps. He’ll be twenty months old next week and if I push it and stretch the understanding of “words” he might squeak by the twenty-words-by-twenty-months rule of thumb. Maybe. Probably not. But they are coming now, his first little words. Late, according to the books that I cast aside when it comes to all things language in this polyglot life.

The books would have called Small Boy a late speaker as well. Perhaps he was. Even for a bilingual child, he was probably slow to get going. He had his Bumblebee Moment – the moment when he got it, the moment when I saw understanding pass across his face: there is a word for everything and every word is different – came well after his second birthday. Now Small Boy is a Plappermou – a chatterbox – in two languages, open and friendly and starting up conversations with people on the bus. He knows, instinctively now, when to switch from Swiss to English or vice-versa. His default language with children on the playground, at the zoo or in the museums, is Swiss, but if he hears a girl on the playground speaking English with her Dad, he’ll walk up and start talking to them in English. His default language with me and my friends and their children is English even though most of them are bilingual as well; he takes his cues from the Mamas. He moves smoothly between his two worlds, from this International Herald Tribune reading, NPR listening, Dr. Suess reading house to his grandparents’ Swiss farm with Die Berner Zeittung and DRS and the Schellen-Ursli stories. He passes back and forth from his Swiss playgroup to our English Moms’ group changing his languages like shoes.

Maybe they are slow to get going, these bilingual boys of mine, the books would tell me so. Late. But they’ve got two languages, two lives, two cultures. Two worlds they pass between without even realizing they have crossed a boundary. Boychen’s first little words are leading him here, to join us in this polyglot life.

From my notebook

July 15th, 2009

“I’m trying to force out poetic phrases in the hope that they will lead to thoughts when what I really need to do is let my thoughts run until they trip over a poetic phrase.”


July 12th, 2009

I have nine poems that are more or less ready to go out the door. If I’m remembering my maths right, there are 3,024 possible four-poem submission packages I could make out of nine poems. How is it possible that out of these nine poems I cannot put together a single package? How is it possible that I can’t find three poems that hang together and fit for one of the several journals I’ve got in mind. Three thousand twenty-four possible combinations, and all of them fall short.

In which our heroine experiences a minor setback

July 7th, 2009

One step forward, one step sideways. The first of the month, my poems in ouroboros. The fourth of the month, a rejection letter. It’s how it goes, I know. I’m still learning, I know. It doesn’t necessarily mean the poems are bad, I know, just that this particular journal passed on them. I know. It still smarts though. Even with a little hand-written note from the editor, it still smarts. It still gives power to that little voice in my head, the one that says, maybe I’m not that good. Maybe this isn’t going to happen. Maybe it’s not meant to happen.

But it is what I want. More than that, it is what I do. This is what I do. Put a moment on paper. Find, somehow, a word for the way it feels to walk down the street with my little boy’s fingers wrapped around my index finger while he licks at a cherry dangling from his other hand. A word for the cherry, fresh from the Seeland. A word for the stone that I bite out of the fruit so the Boychen doesn’t choke on it. A word for the pie I am going to make later. A word for the way the last bite of pie tastes, the last pie from the last cherries of the season. Find, somehow, a word.

So first I will be disappointed. Then I will find the word. And put it on the paper.

And now for some better news

July 1st, 2009

My poems “Royal Coachman,” “aloft,” and “Seasons. Change.” are in the new issue of ouroboros review (starting on page 44).