Tuesday, January 31, 2023

I wrote this poem in 2021
but did not take the photo.
As with most of my poetry,
I set it aside and just now
re-read it. I think it aged
well, but did it yellow as
it did so?

Yellow  by Sara J. Glerum


 it’s a noun

an adjective

an intransitive verb

when it’s painted on a bus

we know who’s inside

when it’s painted on a car

we know we could herald it

it’s uninvited like dandelions

and sour like lemon pucker

tasty like spread on warm bread

lends its fragrance to cheese

and radiates from sweet corn

it’s my favorite precious metal

and my long-gone teddy bear

and the gorgeous linen sundress

stained into ruin by breast milk

it’s the color of breast milk itself

it heralds spring with highlights

it beams through summer sun

it warns of coming autumn

and perks up winter drab

it’s my birth month’s flower

and a child’s crayoned stars

it can make people happy

except when it’s their teeth,

eyeballs or a tuxedo shirt

it can make a person sad

when it overtakes a book

or crinkles a long-saved letter

when our mother departed earth

we asked the florist to weave a pall

of roses in her favorite hue and

yellow became for us her daughters

the color of heartbreak

the color of devastation

the color of mourning

the color of memory

it’s rarely seen in gloomy paintings

except to make the dark seem darker

and on its own it bursts with joy

like angels shining forth

to quench our thirst for light

 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

A fresh look at a stale reality

An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . . a trite saying that is actually damn good advice. I eat apples often but because my teeth are old, began to dislike biting into them in the traditional way.

When I admired the clever device my son, Phil, had in his kitchen, I received one like it for Christmas several years ago. Thus I have eliminated biting through apple skin. Now I core the apple and immediately dispose of it, then slice it and eat it as finger food. Much easier and convenient, too.

A couple days ago I didn't see the corer in the drawer where it was supposed to be (yeah, that aspect of old age with its brain fuzzies), so I cut out the core with a knife. For fun--just because I was holding the knife--I cut it in half, then half again. And what to my wondering eyes did appear . . . but this beautiful star! 

Years ago when I taught preschool at our Catholic parish, using a new and beautiful program for three-, four-, and five-year-olds conceived by Bonnie Dreves (blog post from 9.13.14, Power of Small). One of the lessons in the nine-month curriculum, Wonder, helped four-year-olds discover hidden beauty in surprising places. Teachers halved strawberries to discover hearts and facilitated discovery of the stars inside apples in the same way for a strong visual component in the lesson. What a joy it was to see four-year-olds react to these small gifts. I'd all but forgotten about the star that resides inside every apple.

Seeing it fresh made me step back in gratitude and even a bit of wonder. Beauty can be found in the most unexpected places. 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Linda and the Unforgettable Event

It was a devastating moment in a child’s life—age eight. My guess is that Linda, who triggered the event, doesn’t have any recollection of what happened that December day in third grade. I do, though, and will never forget it, at least until dementia wipes it clear. It happened at the morning recess on the playground at St. Nicholas Girls' School. By the time recess was over, my life had changed, but I held everything inside until the dismissal bell rang.  

When school was out that afternoon in 1948, I got into the car, wet from running through the now pouring rain where my mom had parked in front of the school. I couldn’t keep it inside any longer. Mother didn’t even have time to greet me before I burst into tears.
 
“Linda called me a baby . . . and everyone on the playground laughed  . . and they called me a baby too,  because . . . because,” and here the sobs so overcame me so I couldn't finish the sentence. My mother started the car and pulled out onto 10th Avenue and headed the car south toward Madison St. where we'd turn east for home. She was quiet but I could tell she was listening.
 
I covered my eyes and tried to push the tears away, but they kept coming. The windshield wipers were echoing the chant: baby/baby/baby.  Mother remained silent, so I continued. “Because . . . because I believe in Santa Claus!” I finally blurted it out. “But they’re wrong, aren’t they? They’re wrong about Santa Claus! He’s real . . . I know he is. Daddy said he is and Daddy doesn’t lie. He’s real . . .  isn’t he?”
 
What felt like miles went by before she spoke.
 
“Oh, dear Sallie, forgive us for not telling you sooner, but . . ..”  There was a big pause here and looking back, I'm sure she was fighting back her own tears, “. . . but no. Linda was right, he isn't real. Daddy and I are  Sa. . ..”

I covered my ears to not hear the rest. Mother kept driving and I kept sobbing. At one point I looked up and saw the radio towers on Madison Street blinking above me. This didn’t make sense. It couldn’t be right. Just last year Daddy and I were listening on Christmas Eve and we heard  his bells! My tears kept gushing and the windshield wipers kept squeaking. Baby/baby/baby.
 
Once my father had told me he saw Santa in the sky. He knew more than even my mother did and lots and lots more than Linda did. How could this be? My mother was telling me Linda was right? that Linda knew more than my father? Baby/baby/baby. I cried all the way home and almost all the way to dinnertime.
 
If I were to meet Linda now, I hope I could be gracious to her. But remembering the person who took such glee in shattering her classmate’s belief in Santa would make it challenging to be genuinely interested in pursuing an adult friendship with her. It was bad enough having Santa Claus disappear from the real world, but being the target of the playground chant baby/baby/baby made it mortifying.  A visceral memory, for sure, and still evoked anytime I drive by the radio towers on Madison Street in Seattle. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Hedgehog? 

Porcupine? 

Mrs. Tiggywinkle in disguise? 

Imagine my surprise to see this creature by the side of a building as I walked by.

I did a double take. Then I took the picture. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Someone to watch over me . . .

I added a label to this post from 2009 and inadvertently transformed it into a new post. Obviously, it isn't Easter and this is not my now-sixteen-year-old granddaughter running after a kite. 
----------------------------------------------------------------------- 

What a poster for Spring! A small child running carefree into the wind, triumphantly keeping her tiny kite aloft and her papa following behind to keep her safe. What a lovely visual expression for those who of us who believe in a Higher Power, a Loving Spirit, a Creator, a Guardian Angel, or a Savior who lovingly watches over us. Happy Easter. The child is Mae, the father Phil. I hope you like the picture.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Who Am I?

The prompt for my bimonthly poetry group that meets in two weeks is: "If you were a bird, what would you be?"

It only took me ten seconds to know the bird, but what to write about it had me stumped. To me, a true poem wrenches something from within that hasn't necessarily ever been articulated before. Not only does it convey something to others, but it helps identify within something that maybe hasn't ever been considered or realized by the person who creates the work.

So while I knew the bird, I didn't know how to write the poem. Until Thanksgiving morning. Something triggered the phrase, "snooping is my cup-o-tea," and I began to write. Often when I write a poem I revise and revise. This one, not so much. In fact, I changed only a couple of words. Only occasionally do I write silly poems, but that's the compelling reason to share it. Smile away, please. The verses spilled out; the rhymes flowed; it pretty wrote itself. Enjoy!

                WHO AM I? 

Helping, oh, how I adore it
And snooping is my cup-o-tea
Nothing is more fun than teasing
Except for counting . . . beyond just 3.
 
Finding treats upon the streets
Bumping friends up in the air
Yowling, calling, chatting, brawling
My mama taught me how to share.
 
I love crowds and I love herds
Safety comes in lotsa ways
Loud sometimes, sneaky others
My life is filled with raucous days.
 
But nighttime is the best there is
Scuffle, shuffle, trade jokes and tease
We laugh and chat comparing notes
Then settle into night with ease.
 
You think I’m evil scavenging
Berate me for my taste in food
But shame on you for all your scorn
My cleaning up does lotsa good.
 
We get movies made about us
We get stories written, too,
Yeah, we are a part of Poe-land
Ravens are our cousins, too.
 
So flap away your nasty thoughts
Caw your blessings when we flock
Murder may be how we gather
But never, never, do us mock.

                                 
                                                                            Copyright © 2022 by Sara J. Glerum
This drawing I did at an art session a few months
ago at my retirement community based on a 
photo provided. I drew the foot from a photo online.


Monday, November 21, 2022

Gratitude Expressed

Today I'm sharing something I've been doing lately that makes me happy. It seems a bit in keeping with Thanksgiving, as well. Basically, it's how I acknowledge random people I'm thankful for.

Today's episode is what triggered this post. I had occasion to shop at a grocery store I'd never been in before. I thought it would be easy because I needed just three things: butter, whipping cream, and a ready-to-bake pie crust. Yes, you know the reason. I'm going to be the (butterscotch--yummy) pie maker for Thanksgiving. 

I made my way to the dairy wall, but could not find whipping cream in the section where logically I thought it would be. After looking for what was probably one minute (but felt like five), I stopped a young man who'd burst his way through the 'back room' double doors with a cart loaded with produce. First he pointed to the shelf, then scurried ahead of me to the area . . . and noticed himself there didn't seem to be whipping cream in the case. Excusing himself, he returned to the 'back room' to ask, and reappeared a couple minutes later to help me again. We had both been looking for the wrong thing. Seems there were no cartons this year, just tiny plastic bottles instead, an incognito look for whipping cream. 

After thanking him for his help, I rounded the corner to get butter, but then became stymied at where to find the pie-crust. The same young man was unloading his cart in the next area over, and I apologetically interrupted him again. He smiled and marched over to the area--within sight of where I was standing. 

"What is your name?" I asked. "Dante," he replied. "Well, Dante, if you don't mind, I'm going to find your manager and tell him how helpful you are." Do I need to say that he broke out in a wide, melting smile? The manager was at lunch, so I called when I got home and left a message for him. The person who answered was smiling through the phone and sounded upbeat and happy at the reason for the call. 

Last week I did the same thing for a man at a nearby hospital where my sister was having surgery. Her husband and I were having a tough time finding her status on the board where patients are listed by initials and medical case-numbers only. An incredibly gracious man, Paul, solved our problem. I called his manager the next day to commend Paul as an employee who went out of his way to help people. Even though Paul's job was to assist from behind the 'Surgical Information Desk,' I saw him came out from behind his desk repeatedly whenever he noticed someone in any state of confusion regarding the information published on the status board. When I asked him for his manager's name in order to commend his diligence, he couldn't stop smiling.

I am making a point of letting the people know who help me just how much I appreciate them by telling their manager-boss. Even though simple a 'thank you' is appreciated, to have a boss hear about an employee can make a difference. I can recall from my own manager days how happy I was when a customer made the effort to tell me one of my employees had gone above and beyond. Once at a grocery store when I asked to speak to the manager, I learned that the employee I had commended had been on probation because of some less-than-skillful ways he interacted with customers. The manager told me it meant more to him than I'd ever know because it meant his extensive coaching of the employee was successful.

I hope I will never take for granted receiving help in its many forms. It is so easy to take a minute to tell a 'higher-up' about a good interaction. I hope everyone will try it.