Wished-for Treasure

            My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. We always had a clean place to live, even if it wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods. We always had a car, although never a new one. My mom was a frugal cook, so there was food on the table and while you might feel a bit hungry, you never starved.

            When we got our first television when I was twelve, I was exposed to commercials for the first time. That’s when I became aware of all that I was missing. There were dolls and soldiers, board games and sports equipment. Sweets of all kinds and varieties of cold cereals that made my mouth water just dreaming about that first bite.

            We watched about an hour of television a day, but it was enough for me to notice what people wore and didn’t wear. They didn’t dress like me in hand-me-down threadbare clothes. They didn’t wear conservative clothes that covered a body from head to foot.

            When a commercial came on for a Barbie doll, I salivated. Oh, how I wanted one! The girl across the street who sometimes played with me had one. It was so beautiful! So fashionable! So desirable!

            One time when we were going to the local five-and-dime, I brought my saved allowance. The store sold Barbie dolls! But they were too expensive. There was a cheap replica which I could afford, so I bought that one. I understood that it was a fake, but it looked enough like a Barbie that I could use the patterns for the real thing to make clothes for this one.

            Every afternoon I carried my sewing supplies out to the backyard where there was a shady place along the back fence. I made my doll skirts, blouses, pants and dresses. When I had what could have been considered an ensemble, I worked up the courage to carry it across the street to the girl’s house.

            I was pretty proud of what I had done. She destroyed me when she laughed at my cheap plastic replica.

            When Christmas rolled around a few months later, all I asked for was a real Barbie. I didn’t get one. But my younger sister did. My parents explained, as I wiped away the tears of disappointment that streamed down my cheeks, that I was too old for a doll.

            I didn’t dream of owning anything else again for a long time.

            A television program came on with a doctor in the lead role. It was a good show, one that was popular with not just my parents, but with my peers.

            One time when we went shopping, a “doctor” blouse hung on a rack. Oh, how I wanted one! School had started by now and many of my peers had them. I knew that I had almost enough saved up to buy one for myself. My mom wouldn’t buy it then even though I promised to pay her back when we returned home. Instead she made me wait until the next trip to the store.

            I don’t recall how much time passed between trips, but when we did return to the store, the blouses had been marked down. I was so happy! I finally got my “doctor” blouse.

            Imagine how proud I was to wear it to school! I pictured my peers recognizing that I was finally wearing something that was popular. But, oh, that did not happen. You see, styles had changed. The other girls had moved on to whatever the newest fad was. That’s when I discovered that things on a clearance rack were there for a reason.

            Around that same time my dad learned of a bargain store a good hour’s drive from home. I had little expectations of finding anything there of interest. I was right. There were car and bike tires, car parts, miscellaneous household goods and clothing that a worker would wear, such as overalls and jumpsuits.

            We returned several weeks later. I remember that it had snowed but the roads were clear. Mounds of snow were piled along the sides of roads and along the perimeter of the store’s parking lot. Once again I knew there would be nothing there that I would want.

            Imagine my surprise when just inside the doors of the store was a circular rack holding a variety of white and black “leather” coats. When I touched the sleeve of one, it felt so soft that I found myself salivating at the thought of wearing it.

            When I showed them to my mom, she informed me that they were not made of real leather. They were fakes. I didn’t care. I still wanted one.

            She told me that I’d only get it dirty, that I’d ruin it by spilling something on it and it was be a complete and total waste of money.

            I didn’t care. I still wanted one.

            My mom refused to buy it for me even when I begged. I promised to work jobs around the house to earn enough money to reimburse her if she bought it right then. She refused.

            I cried all the way home.

            I had never had a new coat or one that mirrored what other girls wore. I had seen girls wearing similar coats, so in my mind I pictured myself walking the halls of my high school wearing that jacket, feeling proud as all eyes smiled with appreciation.

            No matter how much I begged or tried to finagle a way to pay for it, my parents refused to take me back to the store.

            Dreams of that coat haunted me. It was all that I cold think of, all I wanted. My hopes for popularity depended upon having that coat. I sensed its power deep inside.

            The next time we went to the store, the coats were still on the same circular rack, but there were none left in my size. I walked about the store with tear-filled eyes.

            Christmas arrived a few weeks later. My gifts were needed, but boring: underwear, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a new comb and other necessities. Nothing frivolous. Nothing fun.

            After all gifts had been unwrapped, my family gathered around the television to watch a Christmas show. I don’t recall what it was because I was heartbroken.

            We ate dinner. Don’t ask me what it was.

            It was time for bed. I changed into my pajamas, brushed my teeth and came out to tell my parents goodnight.

            My parents demanded hugs, which by then I felt too old for. I hated being wrapped in my mother’s arms, but it was even worse being hugged by my dad. He had a way of giving me the creeps.

            This time, when I approached my dad, he pulled a large present out from behind his chair. He said he’d found it in his closet.

            I sat on the floor, wishing upon wish that it was that which I most wanted. I wanted to rip the paper to shreds, but that would have been a sin. Every bow, every piece of ribbon and paper had to be saved for the next Christmas.

            I carefully slid my fingers under the ribbon until it came undone. I rolled the ribbon up into a ball, an expected action that had to happen before moving on. I used a pair of scissors to cut the tape on the paper. When it fell off the plain white box, I folded the paper along its creases.

            The box was taped shut. Once again the scissors broke the tape.

            I slowly removed the lid. Pulled aside the tissue paper.

            It was there! The coat of my dreams was inside that box. I didn’t believe my eyes at first, thinking it was a mirage.

            When reality hit, I pulled the coat out of the box and put it on. It fit over my fat body! I could button it all the way from top to bottom. The sleeves were the right length. It was as soft as I remembered. I was speechless.

            I wore that coat until bedtime. When it was time to take it off, I hung it in my half of the closet.

            Every day I wore that coat, even if we never left the house. I stood taller, held my shoulders squarer and my head higher. I knew that when school began, people would see me for the first time. Instead of being the fat girl who wore hand-me-downs and homemade clothes, I’d be the girl in the white leather (fake leather) coat.

            When school began in January, I wore that coat even though it was well below zero and too cold for a thin jacket. I didn’t care even though I was shivering when the school bus finally arrived.

            I smiled as I climbed the three steps into the bus. I nodded to the students already on board. No one returned my smile.

            At school when I walked the halls, I was still smiling. Not a single student or teacher acknowledged my new coat. As each class ended with no change in my status, I seemed to shrink a little bit more.

            By the time I boarded the bus to go home, my new-found confidence was shattered.

            To make things worse, sometime during the course of the day I had encountered something that left a mark on the sleeve of my coat. My mom was right: I wouldn’t be able to keep it clean.

            I had learned important lessons: don’t ask for things, don’t dream of having things, don’t think that owning something would improve my social status.

Sunny, Summer Days

Sunny summer days

Drift along

Taking my lazy ways

Across river deep and wide

Burst-of-color leaves

Silently fall

Calling my soul to grieve

For things unfinished

Speckled blue skies

Fill with migrating birds

Loudly, their cries

Call, inviting me along

I yearn to travel

To see family far away

Concerns, worries unravel

Twisting around my fingers

Earth-bound am I

As winter approaches

Eager eyes look to the sky

Seeking freedom

Winds of Time

winds blow me away

to a land where

peace prospers

respect rules

equality exists

carry me far, far from here

to someplace new

wonders wait

marvels multiply

magic mystifies

above the blossoming clouds

freer than feathery friends

bouncing bravely

viewing vistas

amazingly awed

allow me to soar on breezes

free-wheelin’

experience ecstasy

senses stretched

eyes enlightened

I await the revelation

the days of glory revealed

whispery winds

far-flung journeys

colossal clouds

wonders whisper

awe-struck ageless

eyes envision

a land where

winds will blow me away

On the Way


   

It’s a long way to the top,

but I’m going to get there.

I’ll fight, scrap, and never stop

until my soul is ‘most bare

Step by step I slowly march

eyes focused, brain sharp, heart pure

even though my mouth may parch

I continue on, straight and sure

My goals are set as I go

Do this, then that, this once more

Never complaining, aglow

toward the heavenly shore

I move, completing my plans

Surely as a mountain goat

Until I hear golden fans,

Only then I get to gloat

For here I stand, smiling me,

Successfully satisfied

My Lord, my God, soon to be

My guide, my shelter; I cried. 

Dream Logic

When delicious dreams dance

Through your sleepy cerebrum

Do you see ghosts galloping by?

Are angels announcing successful situations?

Or decidedly deadly demons destroying

Your timely treasure trove?

Might competing cherubim choruses clash

Creating unheavenly harmonies, or

Little leprechauns lustily leap through,

Waving windswept rainbows bending

Toward the lavish land?

When unlucky lions lust for

Momentous meals does your being believe

It’s treacherously true, or does

Righteous reasoning untangle gigantic gnomes

Grappling on your luscious lawn?

Carefree cats carouse in your yard

Delirious dogs dangerously stalk prey

As your heavy head haltingly falls back upon

Puffy pillows of dainty down.

Soldiers slash and burn buildings while

Crafty commanders shriek scrabbled sentences

Waving wicked wands that sprinkle sparkles

In the deepest, darkest night.

Vicious venomous vipers sizzle zooed zebras

Lounging lazily behind links while

Porcine pandas ponder bulky bamboo

Priests praise gods in unholy ululations

While communities corrupt into chaos

Rioting right through your lonely life

Mothers majestically cradle crying babies

Born in proud poverty while

Faith filled fathers find superior strength,

Saving all from untimely death

Logic, luckily leaves as soon as eyes

Close and delirious dreams drip

Drop by drop preparing paths for

Dream logic to wind its wicked way

Into your nightly nirvana.

Never can one predict what may emerge

When the eyelids languorously close and

Dream logic descends.

Midnight Blues

Midnight blues sing through my veins

Filling my heart with discordant strains

 

Untamed beats chase away smooth rhythms

Binding my emotions in velvet ribbons.

 

Saxophones and trumpets blaze into the night

Screaming in agony: writhing with fright

 

Discordant voices lost in the devilish din

Succumbing to the mesmerizing power of sin

 

Dreams of orchestras lost in unholy pleas

Drag me down, down, onto wobbly knees

 

Rending sounds screech, moan, and tear

apart my soul; laying my heart bare

 

In supplicant voice, a sweet melody

Springs forth; a personal symphony

 

Gentle flutes settle the lopsided score

As piccolos delve straight to the core

 

Softly discontent relaxes its grip

Into the night, those pesky blues slip.

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Dreams

Visions of a long ago past

keep clouding my brain,

carrying me back in time

when herds of shaggy buffalo

roamed the verdant plains,

grazing peacefully on the lush

grasses and thinking of little

except taking the next bite.

 

Nomadic tribes followed the

mighty herds, giving praise

to their gods for the wonders

of sustenance freely given.

Every sinew, every shard of bone,

every inch of hide valuable gems

for improving the quality of life.

 

Brave warriors, dressed in hides

and lathered in specially-made

potions encircle the unmindful

beasts, seeking those best suited

for the entire tribe’s needs.

 

Never taking more than would be

consumed, never wasting gifts

for the sake of one small part,

and always thanking the beast’s soul,

for dying so that others may live.

 

Traditions broken by the arrival

of ungrateful hunters who willingly

destroyed the herds to line their small

pockets with precious gold coins,

in their wake leaving only the

footprints of times long past.

Mother’s Dreams

Mother, with hair tightly rag-wrapped

Settled in the recliner, napped

 

Dreams drifted to far-flung places

Filled with her relatives’ faces

 

Family friends passed in and out

Love scenes soaked with tremulous doubt

 

A new shape, unfocused, appeared

Walking and snarling, horror feared

 

Creature crazed by darkened deals

Upon the rack, its story reels

 

Angels intrude with halos worn

Arrive with blazing golden horn

 

Suddenly Mother does awake

Feeling fulfilled from her short break

 

Forgotten, threat of creature spawn

Instead aglow with love’s full dawn

What Could Have Been

I don’t spend time dwelling on

what could have been

if I’d done this or not done that.

 

I don’t lament those events

I missed or the wrong steps I took

As I floundered my way through life.

 

Instead I rejoice

In what I was fortunate enough to do,

and those things that I was a part of,

no matter how small or insignificant

it might have seemed to others.

 

I couldn’t always see

the sunshine due to tears that flooded my eyes,

sorrow that held my face to the ground,

and regrets that froze my feet in place.

 

Periodically the lenses of my eyes opened

and the black curtain parted

allowing a glimmer of light to break through

so that new horizons appeared.

 

Here I am in my twilight years

with dreams still appearing of things

I yearn to do, places I hope to visit,

without ever thinking

about what could have been.

    All things Must End

Dreamers navigate their way

through shadows deep and dark,

searching for the light of morning,

as they march across dry deserts

 

or over towering mountain peaks

crowned by heavenly angels

whose glittery gossamer wings

flutter fleetingly in a gentle breeze

 

brushing the sleeper’s cheek

as lightly as mother once did,

helping to climb the ladder

of delicious dreams toward

 

a blushing sky, streaked

orange, pink, and baby blue

as the sun, ever so slowly,

rises to greet the morning

 

shirking off terrifying nightmares

of hideous monsters, demons, sprites

or relishing romantic love stories

sung by twinkling firelight

 

in a lover’s embrace,

broken most unwillingly only

to greet the dawn of day,

without thinking, without choosing,

 

unable to stop the inevitable

awakening as all must for

dreamers’ dreams must end.