The Blanket

diaryofaquilter

photo: diaryofaquilter.com

 

He took it with him everywhere: School, the doctor’s office, the park, the car, the dinner table. He carried it in hand, in the backpack, over his shoulder. It was to him a cape, a comfort, a memory of tucking in, a constancy.

It’s always been there. He couldn’t remember a time before.

Well-worn, oft-washed, much-handled.

His blanket.

Never out of sight.

He’d sit before the washing machine and watch it spinning, floppy, in a foamy sea. Later he’d guard the dryer as the blanket tumbled, already impatient to come back warm and scented into his arms.

He’d place it at the ready on the bathroom stepstool to guard him as he washed. A sentinel over his pajamas.

It waited right under the chair at mealtime, in temporary exile from his lap after his argument that the blanket could make an excellent napkin had failed.

Even at school, where he wasn’t allowed to hold it, he’d leave a small blanket-ear peeking out of his cubby; to remind him it was there, with him, waiting for the end of the school-day.

It was a coat of heart, a shroud of courage, a cover against storms of any kind.

It was almost part of him. His blanket.

Then the fire came. He was carried half-in-sleep and heavy-headed, by a man whose giant shadow painted wall-monsters against the orange flicker and the swirling smoke.

There was more flicker outside: blue and red and white and blinding. Shouts and calls and creaks and cries and movement. Yellow coats, red truck, bright door, funny mask.

And no blanket.

It was gone. To Blanket Heaven.

A spark in the sky now. A spot of cloud. A star.

Lost along with Curious George and Teddy Ben and his dinosaur car.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

 

Do Not Be Silenced

The Childrens Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem
The Children’s Memorial, Yad Vashem

 

 

In remembrance of times

Of horror

Never to repeat

Never to minimize:

Do not shy

Of voice

Do not shy

Of fact

Do not shy

Of holding truth

To challenge

Those who in their blindness,

In their hunger to cause pain,

Seek to deny

The cost of hate

The force of harm

The voice of those who had been silenced.

Do not be silenced.

Be brave.

Walk tall.

Remember:

Those who seek to silence

To zip history closed

To limit learning,

Can only do so

If they make you forget

The truth

Entrusted to you — to all of us —

By those who’d perished

And those who’d managed

To survive.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

Small Fry

Children phototechnique.com

They may be small

They may be young

They may often get taken, transferred, pushed around.

They may get little voice

About things that affect their lives.

They may have few actual ways

To keep alive.

Their views may be ignored

Laughed at

Minimized.

Their needs may all too often be relegated

To agendas others have.

But small as they are, they are mighty

They are brave of soul

And heart.

They hold opinions

Dreams

Ideas

Insights.

Our care makes all the difference

To the future

That they hold

Inside.

For The Daily Post

 

Tenacity

orphanage

 

He lay alone. A crib among a sea of cribs.

No one. No home.

Lifted, unwrapped, rewrapped, put down.

Indistinct sounds

Disembodied cries: His own? Others? Anyone?

His voice ignored.

Too many babies, too few staff.

He learned to rock himself to sleep.

His mind took him away from hunger, fear, despair, exhaustion.

Alone.

Alone.

Alone.

Contracted world. Folded unto its own.

 

Eternity.

 

Then in the numbing monotony

Different arms.

 

Lifted into chaos

Faces too close, movement too rapid, changes too many.

Sounds mouthed.

Rapid. Jumbled. Urgent.

Unknown.

Numbness threatened, overwhelm piled on.

Snail in. Check out. Burrow deep into alone.

 

Still something tugged. Come back.

Smiles. Cooing. Soft hands.

Gentle rocking that filtered into his own and

Enveloped

Awakened

Yearning. Sorrow. Despair. Hope. Panic. Need.

Too much. Too much. Too much.

He fled into his mind.

He peeked out. Fled back in.

Moments alternated:

Aware, away, awake, afraid, alarmed, asleep.

 

Days passed on

Eternity or weeks or months.

Soft words repeated gently

More faces

More holding arms

In rocking, humming, tenderness

Language.

Song.

New scaffold rose as

Meaning slowly dispersed fog

Into words.

A world.

Gentle hands.

Comfort.

Soothing voices at disembodied cries: his own?

His own.

His voice.

Calling.

For someone.

To come.

And they come.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Symptomatology

Reflection--Photographer unknown

He over-eats because he’s nervous.

She over-sleeps because she’s sad.

He hits because he doesn’t know another way to show he doesn’t understand.

Her stomach hurts when there’s a test

His when a certain uncle comes.

She ‘checks out’ when her parents fight

or students raise a hand.

He cries with every little scratch.

She’s stoic with a shattered arm.

Their eyes glaze over at the sight of checkered shirts

Or painted nails

A hairdo

A certain aftershave

Or lip balm.

He can’t sit still.

She won’t stop day dreaming.

He mopes. She cries. He pouts. She flies

Off the handle

If someone meets her eyes.

He wets the bed.

She carves red lines into her thigh.

He fights because he’s scared.

She spits because she’s feeling trapped

and

flirts because it is the only way she knows

to interact.

They’re judged

For all

Of the above

When in fact

Their behaviors speak a loud broadcast

Of unabated stress

And lives

That turned

Hard

To survive.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Controversy: Friend or Foe?

heart-stone

In the current climate of contention, many seem to see controversy as indication of animosity or ‘wrongness’ rather than an entry point to discussion.

What is that turns a difference of opinion or even heated disputes into declarations of allegiance or betrayal?

How does dissent become a call for combative rhetoric, rather than an invitation for conversation and possibly a point of understanding where one might’ve been wrong, been wronged, been blind, been blinded, yet can still find growth?

Why do so many find arguments a threat and varied views a sign of weakness or enmity?

Where have we gone so wrong, so long, that we forgot what we should already know?

In the give and take of conversation, even very young children learn that not all share their point of view, and that they cannot always get their way (not should they). They hopefully learn how to persuade as well as how to accept that not all persuasion means they’ll get their heart’s desire … That they aren’t wrong to have wishes even if those did not manifest, and that to not get their way doesn’t make them weak or ‘losers’, nor does it make the other ‘stronger’ or a ‘winner.’

Living as part of a healthy society requires we accept differences and listen to more than just the echoes of our personal view chambers – be it in the small groupings of family, classroom, playground, and work environment; or in the bigger congregations of towns and cities, countries and religions and cultures and the whole blue marble we’re all traveling on.

How much do we lose if we refuse to engage with anyone who sees a different perspective; if we attack any who disagree with words that are meant to silence, put down, dismiss, disown, distract?

How much do we limit our humanity – and our children’s, for they are watching – if we divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’; into those in the ‘right’ and those in the ‘wrong’ (and any who do not share our views we place automatically into the latter …). If we split the world into those who are ‘with us’ and therefore somehow morally superior, and those who ‘must be against us’ if they challenge things to not be exactly as we see then?

Controversy is the soil of growth. It can be made good use of, or it can be muddied into insult-slinging till it buries up real issues under heaps of refusal and refuse. Dissent can offer new space and pathways, or it can become no-mans-lands where any who dare venture risk a wounding and the blame for encroaching their view point onto another’s walled-off boundary.

I listen to children negotiating play: who will be whom, what the rules would be, how best to proceed, who gets to ‘be whom’ for how long, how far to push the limits of roles and imagination and possibility … And I think to myself: It is from the mouths of babes we should re-learn how to engage. How to take turns listening. How to accept that we do not hold absolute truth about almost anything, and that our views do not give us the right to hurt, to harm, to wound, to bully.

Much power is already cemented into viewpoints. An ossification of attitudes as proof for battles ‘won’ or ‘lost’ in pseudo-righteousness tips the balance of discussion so it loses any common ground and becomes blind to shared humanity and understanding. It is past time we all re-learn, remember, and take on added practice … for how to keep open hearts to and amidst controversy.

negotiation--prepare2play

Photo by: prepare2play

 

For The Daily Post

Learned Instinct

churning

What do you do when you are worried?

How do you act when you feel harmed?

If angered, wronged, misheard, left out?

What do you do when someone threatens?

How do you manage double binds

That tangle up your mind?

 

Do you cower away?

Do you lash out?

Do you curl into a ball under the covers

And turn off all reaction, action, light?

Does your body compensate

In sweet diversions

Or does your gut churn ire

Into acid

And shuts down?

Do you sob, mope, break down

Break something

Break someone?

 

Does your heart thunder in your eardrums

As your blood pressure spikes red

Behind your eyes

Or does it plummet

Grayish

Into numb?

 

Do you respond in kind

To wound another

To give as good as you had gotten

To show who’s boss

To cut to size any potential bully

So they stay down?

 

Or do you shrink

Into wall flowered corners

Get by through fading into

Silence

Till all turmoil passes

And you can seek the bits you hadn’t managed

To protect

And tentatively try to

Patch life up?

 

When feelings flood, how do you manage:

Float on? Hold tight? Spit out? Swirl dizzyingly in the eddies?

Drown?

 

What is the language of reaction

In your body?

Does your mind

Command

Reflexively

Or does it find a pause

Between a stimuli and action

To weave insight to choice

And sort true danger from benign?

 

Do you collapse

Into outdated paths

Formed by a not-good-enough childhood

And unhealed histories

Still near

Or has your palette widened

To allow volition

Over instinct

And

Kindness — to yourself, to others —

To find courage

Over fear?

 

 

For The Daily Post

For The Record

dressup

 

For the record, she is fierce, even if she is in fluffy skirts and fleecy socks and every color of barrette holding on to dear life in her hair.

For the record, she is loving, even if she screams at her baby brother, narrows her eyes to daggers when she doesn’t get her way, and pushes every one of her mother’s buttons till something gives and tantrums fly.

For the record, she is smart, even if she cannot quite “do numbers” the way some of her classmates can and even if her words tend to come out upside down and sideways and in the wrong order and all too often not quite on the topic.

For the record, she has lots to say, even if she shrugs an “I don’t know” or grunts a precocious “whatever” because explaining feels too hard and some words hide and narrative does not form the way she senses that it ought to.

For the record, she is funny, even if she may not laugh at some jokes other people say, because she doesn’t get the puns and is still out to lunch on idioms and doesn’t quite see humor in confusing riddles.

For the record, she is thoughtful, even if she often acts before she seems to think (because she cannot always get the thought in time to matter), and reacts as if she doesn’t care (when she if fact cares more than many).

For the record, she is brave, and utterly indomitable. She works harder than most realize and deals with more frustration than is reasonable. And yet, she does still try. She may do so in frowns and pouts and at times even in ways that appear less than fully loveable. But she has no bone in her that isn’t kind. Just all too many that are over-tender.

For the record, she is a handful and a heart-full. She is bubbling with spirit and wriggling with life. She’d keep you on your toes, but oh boy would you earn a good dance for it! For a little body, she packs some serious soul punch.  She is fabulous personified. A guaranteed-to-wake-you-up-in-the-morning child.

 

 

For The Daily Post

The Sounds In The Silence …

 

“Hello darkness,

My old friend,

I’ve come to talk to you again …”

The song plays incessantly in my head, sparked awake by the words of a pre-teen who shared her nighttime worries with me.

She finds it difficult to sleep. Her ears strain to pick up any errant sound: A car’s brakes, a slammed door, people’s voices, steps, a distant bark. She’s afraid they’ve come.

She’s been told she shouldn’t worry. She’s done nothing wrong. Yet there are those who hadn’t, and still had loved ones taken. And she’s not from here. Not really. Not from birth, anyway.

What if the rules change and she’s deemed “returnable”?

What if they keep her away from her parents, send her back to where she’d come from? What if she cannot find the words, if they not let her explain that she is finally, finally, home?

She lies in bed at night. Listening. Making and discarding plans. Fretting in the dark.

Maybe she’ll hide. But where? Someone at school said they sometimes have dogs. She loves dogs. Police dogs — beautiful and focused and proud — never used to scare her. They do now. At their handlers’ command, they can hunt her down. She’s seen it. On TV. In her mind. Now her dreams.

“I listen to the sounds in the silence,” she whispered, eyes bright. “And I wait. Even in my dreams, I listen … and I cry when they come.”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Can You Hear?

Can you hear the hearts that beat

across the mountains, deserts, oceans

hoping for safe harbor,

an anchor

home?

Can you see small fingers gripping

other little hands

bereft of parents,

lost,

alone?

Can you hear the soft breaths

of babies

sleeping

in tired arms

weighted by

desperation,

violence, hate, war?

Can you hear the calls

in dreams

in prayer

for safe passage

for a welcome

to belong?

Can you —

how can you not —

hear,

the urgency

of hope

that hardship snuffed

and yet

still

yearns to grow?

 

refugees-express-co-uk

Photo by express.co.uk

 

 

For the Daily Post