My Baba with the Babushka

My Baba with Babushka

Comforting aroma of fresh bread
beaten, kneaded, punched down
frustration of monotonous existence
Sticky dough serves as punching bag for emotions
allayer of mood

Metallic tang of well water
dipped from pail on counter
smacks of earthiness and strength
necessary to draw it forth
to sustain others
How many pails have you hauled in your lifetime?
Buckets balanced in each hand
scales of impartiality measuring judgment in your mind?
Sloshing, spilling despite effort to save each precious drop
Water for washing, drinking, cooking
lever pulled and pushed
pumped up and down
brought back and forth
dogs nip at heels
white geese with orange beaks
honk indignantly as you cross their path
oblivious to your resentment with this plodding, repetitious task

Sweat on brow
hard working hands
calloused, hardened from toil in
garden and field
yet soft and welcoming
ready to lift and embrace
a teary tot or boisterous child

Mother Goose apron
fashioned from flour and potato sacks
full of seeds
or hand picked eggs
fresh from chicken coop nest
warm to touch
fodder for family meals
base of nutrition

Surrounded by relatives
Baba quietly goes about her business
stirring pots and pans
on wood burning stove
As she listens to conversations
raucous children
scurry about like
field mice underfoot
dart here and there
rustle her skirts
swishing movement
as little hands grab food
off the table
before dashing back outside
wooden door swinging in their wake

She patches clothes
sews patterns
in a mud chinked room
lit by kerosene lamp
electricity a luxury that she did not enjoy
until late in her life;
labours long after dark
heavy breathing, soft snores of family
nocturnal accompaniments
for this tiresome composition she is
performing

Ukrainian accent held in check
broken English strange on the tip
of her Slavic tongue
hair held in check
by her dark babushka
sombre color
an echo of her
dispirited mood
stray locks of hair
attempting freedom
are pushed back
with weary hands

Her family grows
one by one leaving her behind
to pump water
and knead bread

Returning with their own families on weekends
a growing brood gathers
continue to drink metallic water
continue to eat fresh baked bread
flour dust clouds
hide
Storm gathering behind Baba’s eyes

While the world progresses around her
her environment remains bleak and unevolved
pump and hold
pump and hold
pump
and
hold

Dimly lit
slowly fading
until one day

She leaves

She walks away
Her shift is done

She enters a home
for seniors
for those unable to care for themselves
for those unwilling to care for others

Some say she snapped
call her crazy
cuckoo-nana

She grew tired
this beautiful “Aunt Jemima” Baba of mine
Tired of serving others
Tired of the well
Tired of the back and forth, up and down,
punching and kneading

It was time for her to be served
and that’s how it was
until she passed away
No more time on her primitive farm
Her sentence had been served

 

In a Funk

Today is a melancholy day
Last night ‘lack of confidence’ arrived
along with her companion ‘cynicism’
followed closely by ‘sadness’ and ‘depression’
It’s a crowd
my soul balks at their presence

Rose colored glasses were trampled in haste
as these visitors clambered to enter my day
before my eyes were fully awake

An opaque shroud of blurred vision
with a fearful tinge of imagined obstacles
was left behind
the ‘Bogey man’ under the bed
who rode in on the coattails of these intruders

Misty grey skies
echo my somber mood

I have invited rest
to keep me company
as I hope sleep will escort
these uninvited callers elsewhere
while my eyes are closed

Searching

Sadness, sorrow, melancholy, blue
underlying feeling of loss
on the outside
can’t see in

Been together a long time
part of me won’t belong
No blame
No fault
part of life
hurts just the same
impossible to ignore

Not sure where I belong
don’t quite fit in
“Blood is thicker than water”
Not true!
How can own flesh and blood
own DNA
push one aside?
How horrible

Don’t feel real

so much promise
so much disappointment

struggle to maintain balance

push hard, run far
momentary blank
hurt from exertion
instead of internal pain that rises

problem yours
not mine
Not so!
can’t pretend nothing is wrong

Silence
holds far reaching repercussions

drifting, senseless unease

Many wonderful opportunities
Daily gifts provoke gratitude
Still…

Deep sense of something missing
close to the edge
threatens to swallow me
Whole

A fine balance
take care not to misstep

Weave and dodge through daily routine
skill of one who seems to have it all
A smile here, nod there,
cluck of disapproval
hug for one in need

Others oblivious

Terror
slip in the abyss

Hide it well

Sadness permeates all I do
Take nothing for granted

Much to be grateful for
If only I knew
Where I belong