Mama C Calls It Forth

Recently I went away to one of my favorite places in the world (so far) for a weekend with a single-mama friend to meditate, write, swim, laugh, and listen to God.

I connect to my visionary spirit, and my soul in this healing spot that I’ve been coming to since I was seven. When I get quiet, and a respite from my parenting modality I return in a palpable way to what I know to be true.

This time that truth cleary took shape in three distinct areas:

  • First is a deepening commitment to my sons feeling celebrated and accepted for exactly WHO THEY ARE today. (Middle school requires ferverent monitoring. Who are you-vs. who do you begin to believe your peers/teachers/ society or family says you SHOULD be.) This demands my being fully present, compassionate and flexible.
  • Second I heard that I will return to my dream of creating a one woman performative event (monologue/story telling+poetry) celebrating and exposing my first fifty years on the planet, and the events and people who shaped it.
  • Third, a new direction calls for my fifteen years as a transracial adoptive, biological, single and partnered parent. I will be unveilling this in more detail soon, but for the time-being it is already thrilling to announce it simply as a “Coming soon: Mama C Coaching and Consulting”. How can you help? If a particular post, conversation, article, or anything “Mama C” has been of help to you on your transracial/adoptive single or partnered/parenting/blending/ donor or other journey will you consider leaving me a comment I could use on my promotional materials?

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope everyone can create a little quiet space for themselves in the near future.

Reunion (poem)

Yesterday a copy of my most recent publication in a poetry anthology arrived in the mail. This poem feels like an arrival on so many levels as the readers of this blog can well imagine.

Keep writing. Keep telling your story. Hold the pencil and let God do the rest! We need to hear what you have to say.

With an Open Fist (poem reworked)

With an Open Fist

A fist curled tight
a foot stomped harder
three chairs pulled over
and a blankie ripped right down the middle.

It is common she said
for our children to experience rage
on a deeper level
to relive their loss in every loss

it is common she said
for our children to need more
reassurance that we are going
nowhere

Cannonball after cannonball you launch
into the deep end.
The splashes reach up over the edge
and dissolve over the concrete.

Here at the pool we can scream
and rage, and launch and submerge
and to everyone else it is perfectly normal.

I climb in beside you,
cold and uncomfortable.
Yet certain that you won’t go under
again in this lifetime.

That night you arrive in my room
after midnight
and crawl into bed
with your eyes closed.

Then you reach
underneath the pillow
in your sleep
to find my hand-
you grab on with a fierce grip

until like the water on the concrete
your uncertainty evaporates.

____________

This poem is one I am revisiting. It originally showed up on the first incarnation of the blog in August, 2009. It is part of a handful that have a “counselor” voice too, as I was getting lots of help at that moment.

It is almost completely different. I sort of love that. Last night the boys and fell asleep in my old bed, having  a Mother’s Day extended cuddle. Marcel’s hand, not Sam’s found mine in his sleep and grabbed me. Feeling his fingers slowly open as he fell back asleep brought me back to this poem today.

And I’m off…

take off... C 2013 MamaCandtheBoys
take off…  C 2013 MamaCandtheBoys

These are the last key strokes before I pack up this typer and head out to the great writing yonder on my one week residency.  Everyone here is poised for the journey in their own way, and calling on all their coping mechanisms. Shrek is nothing but supportive, light, and “we so got this” as he makes me a loaf of bread and his five star egg salad while prepping the pancakes.  Marcel is painting everywhere, and doing acrobatics at the same time. Sam is sleeping.

I am drinking too much coffee, and repeating a few necessary mantras like; “it will be exactly what it is meant to be.” And, “it’s OK if they don’t completely fall apart in my absence…” The dominant series being; “You did it. You designed it. You earned it. Now GET it. Enjoy it all Catherine…”

I have packed lightly; clothing, a few necessary altar items, and some don’t need to live without food items.  The main heft being a selection of books to inspire, distract, and push. Among the titles;  Annie Lamont’s Bird by Bird, Robert Pinsky’s The Sound of Poetry, Maxine Hong Kingston’s To Be the Poet. Richard Blanco, Philip Booth, Marge Piercy are in between the favorite sweatshirt, and the letters from the boys. Janna Malamud Smith’s An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery is in the bag next to my lunch.

Last night I read Smith’s chapter on solitude and the creative. She provides a compelling argument for why we crave and believe in the importance of time away to do the art. She debunks the myth in part as well. In between I found myself embracing this line on the eve of my first such journey;

We hold a distorted notion that our feelings and creative impulses need to be only ours and harvested by us in isolation. But the reality is richer…Simply put, to sustain the effort of art making, it helps to have a sense, felt more than thought, sometimes eroticized, sometimes not- of someone, or several who stay(s) near you in your mind, and who is interested in you and what you have to say. Such fantasies are ubiquitous parts of mental life, hardly only the domain of art-makers. But the difference is that they particularly need to arrange a balance that stimulates their creativity yet supports their solitude. (p. 133)

So dear readers, friends, and family know that I can not enjoy a moment of this without the knowledge that you are coming with me in my mind, asking me to do more of what I do best. Because, I believe that you care about the results.

Bowing with gratitude here.

 

 

 

Acceptance 101: A Writers Residency in April

Celebrating Mama
Celebrating Mama

It’s official. I’ve been accepted to my first writer’s residency in the spring. I sent a selection of poems from my manuscript to the director along with the application and imagined myself arriving there a few months from now with a bag of books, my cozies, my laptop, and “the binder”.  I heard the sound of the ferry as it pulled away leaving me and the other nine writers from all around the world engulfed in a late morning sun drenched anticipatory fog… Then the daydream would be rudely interrupted by the sound of “Mom, Marcel just gave me a wedgie!”  No matter what happens, I would think at those moments the possibility of a week away in my own room, with just my writing and the sound of the waves crashing outside my window was a delicious gift.

To that end I also have to admit the sending of the work out into the world, to be deemed worthy or not, was a test of my work, and a test of my readiness to be seen. Would I make it into the “maybe next time” the “to be invited” or the “to be fed to the gerbil’s cage” pile? (Now isn’t that an image for a short story? Lines of poetry all over the gerbil’s cage?)   So when I read the line; I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your poems from “Black  Enough” and am looking forward to meeting you and to talking with you more about your work I felt my skin expanding.

My work is ready.

So, am I?

____

Are you interested?  I came across this post this morning by Tracy Marchini on looking for a writer’s residency while searching residencies as a topic. It looks super useful, and I hope to return to it to learn more.

Have you?  Have you been to a retreat or residency? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it? How did you prepare?

In the air (poem)

In the Air

Daybreak-
I am momentarily alone,
meditating in the big blue chair,
framed by orange yellow daffodils,
reaching for that sliver of light in the air.

The creak of the bunk bed ladder
delivers his little heavy footed feet
barely balancing
his needing
to climb into my lap,
wearily
and crawl sweetly back
into an earlier version of himself.

His skin is the color of the warm coffee
suddenly out of my reach.
I watch as he returns deeply into
his gentle mocha dreaming
on the backs of flying dragons
still so easily within his reach.

I pull him closer towards me all the seven years
I’ve had so far to hold him
no amount of this will ever be enough.
Now I am teetering on the edge of another mother’s grieving with
all the other mothers now fearing
their seventeen year olds
leaving the house (and not coming back).

Maybe it was seeing Trayvon’s mother’s vacancy
where her son, and her heart ought to be
that made me
cross the street the other day
when we were all outside at play
over to that young Black man
who was just walking along,
ignoring us until I got up in his way
to just say; hello!

He stopped short and looked long into my eyes
and told me how he
used to live across the street from my family.
He remembered when my littlest boy was little little

Those curls of his, they were so wild, and free.
They’re all gone-he asked or was he telling me?
Surprised, I blurted how I cut them off, because they were- unruly.

He nodded and smiled while walking slowly away from me-
this twenty something version of Sammy
has every bloody reason to be unruly.

Unruly.

Be unruly in your dreams boys
whack the ball clear
over Jackie Robinson’s legacy
leap and extend yourselves
further than Alvin Alley.
President, engineer, poet and astronaut-
not holding back but
breaking free from our shared history
and stomp, don’t stand all over the unequal ground
bequeathed to you indirectly.

Like the time the referee
held onto Sammy a little too long
while he was squirming, anxious to move along.
Admonished apparently to pass the ball more
and shoot less,
I wondered when the other light skin boys
might get a similar address.

But for now my little love,
just sleep and breathe in deeply your
luscious dark brown dreaming
conquer your dragons while clad in
your heavy armor and mesh hoodies.

My brown skinned prince so sweet and near me-
if squeezing you tighter will keep you fear free
and holding you here
will not let (my) fear ever take you from me.

Evening-
I am no longer alone,
meditating on that moment in the big blue chair
framed by orange yellow daffodils,
and sensing a mass of hope in the air.

– C. Anderson 2012

This is where you’ll find me

A poem that I wrote while waiting for Sammy to come into my life.

This is where you’ll find me*

This is where you’ll find me
whenever I stop
wiping the counter and
folding the clothes or
mapping out the rest of the week
in yet another to do list, today.
And this is where you’ll find me
when the papers are graded,
the dog hair swept up,
and the bills to be avoided just stay put-
so I can sit in the rocker and hold

you

in my imagination. Pushing off into next
month? Next year? When?
When will I find you here
in my arms-
wriggling, wiggling, drooling, crying, giggling, cooing,
and wondering just how
you arrived here
with me from wherever you may be now
in your birth mother’s belly

listening to her muffled laughing or
singing or crying into you her hopes
for the little miraculous one you will grow up to be
away from her. Outside of that
unfathomable moment when you

arrive here

where I’m waiting
for you unfolding the baby clothes I’ve collected
in between the dreams I’ve collected,
and the future I’ve coveted
watching you crawl
then walk,
then run into this,
our room, our house calling “Mom”
always knowing that this is where you’ll find me.

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved C. Anderson

*Originally published in 2004 in Single Mother’s By Choice Quarterly. My first published poem. Recently a friend came across this poem, my poem,  in the literature provided at an all day “Adoption Triad” education class for adoptive parents to be. It seemed like it might be a good idea to publish it here, so that future seekers could find it’s original home.