There is still part of my heart that hopes
Let it hope, I think, sitting between cynicism and pragmatism.
We all need hope to get us through;
And maybe this hope
Is not unwarranted
Is not hopeless
Is not destined to fail.

Unencumbered by hope, I could be free and light
To rise and fly
Like a bird
Like a leaf
Like a cloud
But equally, I might also sink
Entombed in ice like dirty water
Death within death.

So let it shelter, somewhere between my breastbone and my shoulder blade
In the small house where the future lives

Only time will tell
If that doorway remains empty, more a promise
Than a portal.
However, even if no-one comes through it but my courage
My indomitable will
My recklessly beating heart
Not twinned but lone
That is enough.

It will have to be


Copyright ©2016 Christine Mitchell


Poetry Month, Day 23: Tool/Weapon


It occurs to me that I
Am afraid to hope,
Lest I get hurt.
When did I learn to fear hope?
When did hope become a knife
Too sharp for me to touch,
Too dangerous for me to trust?
When did I decide
I was too inept
Too stupid
Not worthy
Of hope?
I always thought of hope as a gift
But now I see it as a tool
That can also be used as a weapon.

Copyright ©2015 C. Mitchell

Poetry Month, Day 1: My Life Is Not

I just discovered that April is NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month. And 30 poems in 30 days sounds like a good challenge to me. So, with 6 minutes to spare in Day 1, here’s my first effort. The prompt was to describe something by what it is not. Of course, I can’t stick with that strictly, so… well. You’ll see.

My life is not

My life is not
What it once was
What it might have been
What I had believed

My life is not
A random set of chances
Circumstance beyond my understanding
Meaningless babble

My life is not

My life is not

My life is full of
Small plants and pretty rocks
And tiny things that have crept down into the cracks

They nourish there,

And when the time is right, they will stretch
And flourish
And reach for the sun.

Copyright ©2015 C. Mitchell

Waiting to go on.

So this morning as I eat my breakfast cereal, I’m thinking about gestations. Those times in your life where you’re going through a process (you may not even realize it at the time), or completing a journey, or waiting for something to be finished so you can move on to the next step. I thought I’d had one, starting in Dec. 2011 when I took the “red pill” (actually, it was pink) and started my personal journey down the rabbit hole. It ended (I hoped) in January of 2014, newly divorced, hopefully healthier, mojo recaptured, new house new friends new lease on life. Done. Dusted. Hurrah!! Right?

Well, now I’m sitting in another of life’s waiting rooms, listening to the clock tick; breathing in the acrid scent of cold coffee and waiting for someone to come to the door and let everything start again. 

And as I’m waiting, I’m pondering the gestational periods, the waiting times, we go through in life. How they define us, shape our goals and our thoughts and our emotions. How some are so well known and others belong to those who are In The Know, In The Club. There’s 40 weeks, that’s a baby. 16 years before you get your coveted driver’s license. 12 years to graduate from high school. 

2 weeks for a biopsy. 1 of those left to go right now. 7 days. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. And in the meantime, I feel like my heart is raw hamburger in my chest. My tear ducts are spring-loaded. I am an agony of sadness and steely control, punctuated by surprising moments of delirious forgetfulness; but at the back of it all, the bitter aftertaste: 7 more days. And then, in the words of the doctor, we’ll do what we have to do. 

Such hard, utilitarian words, each word falling to the ground like a stone. I felt like looking down to make sure the floor tiles hadn’t actually cracked. We’ll do what we have to do. There is hope in those words, but also a sentence in them, beyond appeal. The decision has been made at a higher court. Now we can only wait until that decision is handed down. 

I am usually an optimistic person, but the birth of hope is beyond me at the moment for some reason. I can only sit, and wait, and pray.

(Perhaps this is when I should be reading JRR Tolkien, with his overarching themes of hope beyond hopelessness, love beyond despair, and the glory of the human spirit. I don’t mean watching the movies; for all that LotR were good movies, in this moment I need “Drink Entire, against the madness of the crowds”. I need Tolkien unblemished. I need the plaintiveness and pureness of his language, calling my soul back from this dark, strange place. I need his immaculate weavings of starlight and the awe-inspiring beauty that can come from pain and noble sacrifice, all underlain with the simple things that make life at once worthwhile and accessible… Hobbitty things like a good supper and singing regrettable songs with friends. I think people sometimes imagine Tolkien admired Elves the most. I think Tolkien’s true “children” were the Hobbits. Good food, a good chair by the fire, and a good scratch of your back while in a nice, hot bath.) 

Postscript: Sigh. :} I think too damn much. I know I wouldn’t be so gummed up about this whole thing if my mother – the biopsy is hers – hadn’t lost hope herself. We’re going to do this thing. God, more utilitarian, awful words. Words in starched nurses’ aprons. I think I’ll stop now. No wonder I’ve gained ten pounds over Christmas break. snort.

For my original entry about my mom’s condition, look here towards the middle.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, I sum up.

So I’m back, after three weeks in Florida with my parents. I had internet, but only kind of. I’d be in the middle of something and *poof!* no more Internet, sometimes for the rest of the day or night. I could say it was liberating and that I discovered a connection with Nature, but I’d be lying.

Instead, I learned to knit. I knitted (is that the word? I kniten? Knitae? I don’t know. Knitted will have to do) 13 scarves and part of a pillowcover while on vacation, and I actually gave myself knitter’s arm and had to take the middle week off. So that’s actually 13 scarves (and a partial pillowcover) in about 14 days. I’m knitting a scarf right now, well. Not right now, because I’m typing. But I’m working on scarf #15 and Snaps is starting to eye it rebelliously. He doesn’t even know I bought the yarn to knit him am adorable little sweater this week too…

So what else happened while I was on vacation? I rediscovered my mojo in some ways and that’s a very good thing. I’ll be watching that play out over the next few months, I hope – hopefully in a positive way. :}

***Cathy — if you’re reading this, brace up. This bit is about Mom. Just to let you know. xoxoxo***

Something came up that’s a negative. Possibly a big negative. Possibly the biggest negative I’ve ever faced in my life. My mom went in for a colonoscopy and they found two polyps; one normal one they just snipped, and one that was very large and that they had to try to take out piecemeal. The simple 30-minute procedure turned into an over 3-hour surgery, and they didn’t get all of it. The doctor talked to us, after, about some very scary concepts, and Mom was terrified when she came to. I think she still is, although she’s the sort to hide it and balls through (as am I). I’m glad I was there, but it was… it was serious. It is serious.

She looked at me at one point, shaking and with terror and tears in her eyes, and she said: “this could be it, Chris. This could be the start of the downhill slide. This could be the start of the end.” And I know what she meant.

When we were Christmas caroling for the retirement park she and Dad live in, we visited the shut-ins and, inevitably, those near death. She and I sat on the back of the golf cart together, shuttling from house to house, and with each stop, her grip on my arm grew tighter. She knew the colonoscopy was scheduled, she knew there was a problem, and she knew what it might mean. She would lean over to me sometimes, voice tight with strain, and say: “she’s lost so much weight since Thanksgiving. We don’t know if she’ll see New Year’s.” or, “He just lost his wife six months ago, and he’s stopped eating. He wants to go.”

They live among people for whom this is the beginning of the end, if not the middle or the end of it. They’ve buried more friends this year than any other – so many, in fact, that they are quite matter-of-fact about it. Fifteen years ago, it was a shock. Now, it’s a Thursday. It’s a huge wake-up call to me; it’s easy to see these seniors driving around in their golf carts, planning luncheons and planting gardens, and miss the way they check in with each other. Where’s Darlene? Have you seen her today? And did you hear there was an ambulance on the block last night? Oh, lord. Who was it?

For my mom, I fervently – and there is not enough emotion in that word, “fervently”, to convey how much I’m praying for this – hope that this is a close call, a nothing or a not-much. I want this NOT to be the beginning of any end.

But if it is, ah, God, if it is; well. As Dad said, “we’ll do what we have to do.” And we’ll do it together.