Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Graveyard Full Of Dolls

My mother had a story for every occasion, usually along these call and response lines -- you might say, I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled and she'd say, I knew someone who died getting a wisdom tooth pulled. Ended up in the hospital with a blood infection and died. When I got all four of my badly infected wisdom teeth pulled, I was put under so deeply that I didn't wake up until I was home in bed. I crawled to the telephone and dialed home, told my mother that I did not have to mind her or obey her rules anymore and promptly hung up. The glories of painkiller! I was about twenty-nine when this happened, and my only company for the entire day of pain was a creepy-ass Tigger doll, a gift from my then-boyfriend whose head moved back and forth as if possessed. Tigger spoke, saying things like, How's about let's do some counting? Or my favorite -- How's about sharing a secret? I don't know what we talked about as I worried about getting dry sockets, but I can only imagine that if it was like the phone call to my mother, I spent the entire time saying what I would and would not be doing anymore.
A couple years later, my mother was dead and there would not be any phone calls to make except ones I did not want to make. The most complicated relationship in my life had ended and what was there to say? I think about her often, of course, in the most confused of ways, with great love and great fear. Sometimes I see her in my own expressions and it startles me. I like to think of her at her best -- brave and strong and funny before life turned on her and broke her down. But that's not the whole story. She is, even dead, my ultimate cautionary tale, someone full of life and death, someone lonely beyond belief, someone damaged by a terrible past, infused by a better future, the woman I am most like, my mother.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I lived in a graveyard full of dolls/ avoiding myself." Anne Sexton
Cocktail Hour
Drinking essay suggestion: Plan B Anne Lamott
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Mother's Day!


Charles Gramlich said...

My ex was a bit like your mother in her comments. I remember when we were interviewing a job candidate one time and took them to a restraunt by the lake. The candidate was admiring the beauty of the lights on the water until my wife mentioned how many people had died by being sucked into holes under the banks by the undertow.

TV Guide said...

Twenty-one more days until the last day of the Sopranos!

Native Detroiter said...

Go Red Wings!!!Beat da Ducks!!!

Typista said...

Always a pleasure to read about your mom. Reminds me of a lot of things.
Talk to me soon

Happy Mother's Day said...

I remember getting sodium pentathol for dental work a couple of times. It was quite a rush both times. The first time I remember telling my mother how great she was. The second time I told both my parents that I loved them very much and how great they were. I always remember my mother fondly on Mother's Day.

Tony Soprano said...

My mother plotted to have me killed but that's history and I try to enjoy life as much as possible. Thanks for all your support of the Sopranos, Michelle, and remember there are only three episodes left after today. I hope you enjoy the show!--Tony

Cheri said...

I don't think that anyone has a perfect relationship with their mother. I sure as hell don't.

Holidays like this I think are contrived for money makers only- there is no sentiment. Should I be thankful for my mother on only one day of the year? No, I should be everyday. But not everyday that I spend with her is good and fun games. (you know what i mean)

the walking man said...

My mother was most likely an exact opposite of your mom Michelle, an only child that during the depression had a father who was usually able to find work and never beat or swore in front of her or granny.

She was a very much realist, being a social worker her specialty was delivery of service knowing how to get through red tape as if there was no such thing, rising to be the (without the title or pay) Director of Catholic Social Services of Wayne county.

She was the first one to place an AIDS baby in an adoptive home and began the education of the non communicability of the virus. All in all hundreds of these kids found foster and adoptive homes.

But what I miss most about her, she died a year ago this month, is talking to her. Something we did for years on a variety of subjects, hell even when I was stoned on acid, we'd talk for hours. we shared many political beliefs and no spiritual ones but we always found common ground.

I wonder what I would be like had I had a different female parental unit. certainly not the kind caring loving motherfucker I am today.

e-bag said...


Last month I took my grandma’s
favorite cold steel Colt forty five
The Mule was her name for this
loving, faithful piece that used to
protect her from grandpa’s drunken lunacy
back in the nights of their white-lightning youth

I pulled the trigger after pointing
It kicked me back
The lamp bloomed with electric fire
and faded into nothing
down the weed grown road
from my front door for the last time by my hand

Over the years
I have been responsible
for putting the lights out
in Detroit
My neighbors would kill me if they could
The City would crush me
under its bowels
The state would rehabilitate me
in a diseased box called a cell

But that was a different man
Grandma is 88 and hasn’t fired a gun in years
She most likely will never have the chance again
The lone streetlight replaced so recently
it hums a new song
tonight night for the gypsy moths
For the sake of its lonely gleam
in the night
it has been reprieved
from the Mule’s kick

And now another has destroyed what I could not
The light above me shattered glass and wire
the only spark was white lightning
And beyond I notice
that there are still no stars in the gray night sky
Like every nighttime shrouded over this city
no matter how many lights
have been shot out on Heidelberg Street.

e said...

Happy Mother's Day, m.
Beautiful pic!

Guerrilla Typista said...

And the post was excellent, once again. My best to you.
And we all hope for your best every day.

Susan Miller said...

Beautiful, Michelle. My mother and I were sitting having breakfast this morning and after a discussion she said, "You are so exactly me in those ways."

It startled me. Maybe because I never thought I was.

Guerrilla Typista said...

Hey m! Just got off work. Yes indeed, Mother's day pizza is the new rage.

Glad to write earlier, inspiration hit timely and hard.

But your post pulls me back. My mom and I get along great--on a proletarian/agricultural level, at least.
Not so good for me... but I love her, and I love working outdoors, so I never complain about handling roses and bags of manure those fertilizer spikes and then digging shallow graves for her green leafy victims of the summer. Sounds dramatic, but they never live--no matter what--here in SCS.

She buys red and yellow roses
every spring
I plant red and yellow roses
every spring
funny that thorns heal the gashes
in our bond

And I buy her a few more roses
of any color, every year
because they always wither and die

they sacrifice themselves
each winter of discontent
in horticultural blood rituals
just in time for next Mother's Day;
nothing ever breaks the chain

Sheila said...

I know people like that!! Hey, wait, I am people like that! haha such a beautiful photo Michelle. Hey I posted some poems that I wrote about my boyfriend (posted under 5-12-07) Let me know what you think! You are a great writer and I really value your opinion. I haven't written a poem since the ones you saw that were from the seventh grade... I'm a bit scared!

e the poet of last call said...

If you have time
to have one more drink
one more smoke
one more kiss
one more morning after
or one more year notched on your heart
there is time to
to find one slinking voice
one feel
one breaking rhythm
out from the back
of the pile
and build a menagerie for one
for anyone
and rest
feeling your poet's soul
is a little closer to the surface
and knowing
that most
would not have tried

eric said...

I should have changed the last line to "would not have the time", tying up the theme of time established in the first line.


I have a folder of first and second drafts thirty something strong, all new. Unprecedented for me. I finally quit being a damn perfectionista and let it go.

Now I'm going to have to sift though the mash to see how it'll boil down.

Poetry can be addictive, Sheilla. Keeping the faith daily is key.

Grouchie said...

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy. This is my first one as a writer so I forgot to comment on Mother's Day. I hope you understand. ;O)