Recently I heard of the Japanese method of Kintsugi, the art of fixing broken pieces. Immediately came to mind a Cronin-blue tea pot we had growing up, one from which we drank tea when Mom, veering away from serving a traditional supper, made us bacon, eggs and toast instead. I loved that tea pot. On the front of it was a little Dutch boy and girl facing each other, reminding us of Holland, a city far away from our small town in West Virginia. The tea pot sat on a metal holder above a warmer which held a lit candle, to keep the tea hot for the duration of the meal. It was a special time for my sisters and me, memory-making time with Mom. Oh, how Icoveted that tea pot! Years down the road when I had a family of my own Mom gave the teapot to me. In a cramped apartment with little kitchen space I stored it with various glassware on metal shelving in the living room. It sat there in its Cronin-blue glory until one fateful day my husband’s buddies came over, got a little too drunk and a fight ensued. As if in slow motion I can still see his friend staggering from a shove and crashing into the shelving, my beloved tea pot teetering then falling and breaking into several pieces on the floor. I muttered only five words, get them out of here! Somewhat apologetic for his friends’ behavior, he swept up the pieces and threw them away as I sat crying on the back-porch glider. If only I’d known then about Kintsugi, I might still have my teapot today, not worse for wear but made more beautiful, each jagged piece cemented in glittering gold.
Saying, this time I really mean it! Then my children asked me to bake a cake, And of course, I didn’t want to disappoint them. Really, I couldn’t. That’s how I am, Eager to please my family, Desiring to give them what they want.
Determined to stay on my diet I said I’ll just have a little taste. Eventually This little taste led
To another, and another until On my plate was a big piece of cake Drizzling with icing. After I ate it I thought to myself, Yeah, tomorrow I’m going to start a diet…
My body is no longer the flawless manuscript most men would take time out of their busy day to read, no longer as exciting as the latest novel nor as interesting as the daily news. There was a time when everything was capitalized at all the right places, the i’s were dotted and there were no uncrossed t’s. Everything was worded right. Sentences had the appropriate emphasis and titles fit me perfectly.
Now, I am more like the comics and even some of them aren’t funny but rather tragic. I was beginning to think I was of no more use than a rolled-up newspaper used to swat flies. But then you found me. You read the manuscript, overlooking the flaws. There is no need for spell check, you accept me as I am. My words come off of your lips in the form of poetry, and in your eyes I am the sonnet I had always hoped to be.
In the photo my mother is beautiful. Though it is in black and white, I picture her cheeks rosy as pink Chablis. Her hair cascades thick and wavy to meet the soft slant of her shoulders covered demurely in a dark dress I imagine, a shade of red. She is smiling coyly for the camera, as if she is the keeper of some secret, about to spring a surprise.
The couch she sits on is splattered with clusters of tiny white blossoms. Behind her the wallpaper is enmeshed in huge leaves pointing skyward; between each two leaves is a single flower. The floor linoleum is a characteristic 1950’s pattern of multicolored and sized diagonal stripes. In the photo my mother is a constant, in surroundings I can only describe as busy, and so she has been for most of her life.
The photo was taken after mine and my older sister’s birth, before those of our siblings; before school days, dating, marriages, children, divorces, grandchildren and all forms of crises imagined or real which have transformed her once vibrant brown hair to gray, strand by strand. Long before wrinkles claimed her face, Arthritis wreaked havoc on her joints, Osteoporosis settled in her bones.
In the photo my mother is beautiful. She is poor but happy, innocent and trusting, hinging on a promise, glimmering with love.
By a fountain in Columbus, Ohio we sit side by side listening to a jazz band. Recently acquainted we came to the festival not as dates but, as we both told ourselves, friends. The Columbus skyline is a perfect backdrop-the
sky so blue and wide, dotted with puffy clouds, the yellow sun sparkling off the water, dancing in the windows of downtown buildings. It is a perfect summer day but the only heat I feel comes from your body so close to mine
and your blue eyes, bluer than the afternoon sky. My heart is doing flip flops sitting this close to you as you study my face, my smile, as if it were a memory you were making to keep. The crowd around us is clapping to the music,
chattering, laughing… but all fades into the background so intent am I on what you are saying I find myself leaning into you, surprised that you are leaning into me. A few people get up to dance and you hold out your hand, but I
am too shy for that. Instead, I toss my hair over my shoulder, laugh at something you say, your smile so warm and inviting I want to stay here forever, this close, under this perfect sky, as the band plays on, as you look at me with those blue eyes.
From the moment I read in my first-grade reader, See Dick run, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to view the pictures and see what other sorts of things Dick could do. But my bigger passion was art, so it was an easy task for me to draw and color big letters to make an alphabet book, which we were told we could take home to keep.
With the first letter, A, Sister Clara wrote on the chalkboard, A is for apple. In an effort to encourage us to pick appropriate colors she asked the class, What colors areapples? The class responded with red, yellow, green. I was proud of myself as I colored the letters, keeping within the lines, and based on Sister Clara’s beaming smile, just knew my alphabet book was the best one in the whole class!
Today, going through old boxes I take out that alphabet book and smile as I open it to the first page, the letter A jumping out at me in boldly colored sections of plaids, polka dots, and stripes. My face beams its own smile of approval at the pleasant discovery that even at the tender age of five, I was already a rebel before my time.