1. Jean West says

    It was nearly Christmas in the Washington, D.C. area and so cold and damp the heater was running fairly continuously. The resulting dryness in the apartment produced memorable static shocks and, for my young daughter, nosebleeds. I’d been running the humidifier to counter them, but the gallon water chamber needed to be emptied and sanitized. My daughter had charged out the condo door with her grandfather to accompany him to the trash chute and it slammed loudly behind her. Visions of gift-wrapping, meal-preparing, and family-juggling stomped through my brain. Then, in a second, as I was emptying the water into the bathtub, my right knee gave way under me. If it had been my trampoline-injured left knee, I would have understood. But the right knee? Down I came like a rock, but precisely between the bath-tub and toilet. At the same time as I hit the ground, I heard knocking on the door and my father’s voice announce, “We’re locked out!”

    “Get the door!” My mother shouted from the kitchen.

    I tried to get up, but couldn’t turn to leverage myself up on the left knee, so was trying to get out of my predicament by pushing up with my arms in the narrow space. “I fell and I can’t get up!” I shouted back.

    “Let us in!” Dad called louder and pounded harder.

    “What?” Mom yelled?

    “My knee gave out!” I shouted back.

    “Somebody get the door!” Dad yelled.

    “Get the door, Mom!” I bellowed, still unable to unstuck.

    Mom finally opened the door and the family trooped around the corner where I was still on the floor.

    “What are you doing there, Mommy?” my daughter asked solemnly.

    “My knee gave way and I fell.”

    “Oh, your bad knee?” Dad commiserated.

    “No, my good knee,” I corrected. “Now, will somebody help me up?”

    Instead wrapping gifts in festive paper, I wrapped my knee in an Ace bandage and spent the holiday in a fairly horizontal position. My right leg gave me the gift of remembering that Christmas is not a to-do list to be checked off, but in the words of the Dr. Seuss, “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”

  2. Camilla Sørensen says

    What a nice evening-
    The sunset touching the water disappearing in the horizon – the ducks and swans quietly, gracefully laying in still water – the red orange sky tugging them in – the warm wind so gentle barely noticeable – the summer is at its latest – the cold darkness of wintertime waiting in the horizon – thus at this moment in the stillness of summer light – there is a feeling of peace – the swans going to sleep with their long, majestic necks tugged underneath their wings – which makes them so gracefully and wonderfully different from all the ducks – with all their small duck hearts – I hope they look the same – I doubt feel blame and pain – why – I know they came the same – half the ducks would die during wintertime – not the swans though – with white wings a swan is beautifully free to swim in innocent water – even frozen – to love and sacrifice for all animals – even if they cross in a bad way – in the end they still live in the same pond – that is why – I realize – loving beauty lies within a broken but not torn swan heart – ducks and swans quietly going to sleep – in the dusk – on a quiet sommer evening – in the magic of summer light – I was walking.

  3. Tempered Ashes says

    Certain excretions came out of my body that I didn’t expect. I was a young girl who had been molested–and violated. I then simply wiped them aside and went on with my life–telling nobody. As I got older, and began having consensual sex (as consensual as it can be, that is, after not dealing with being physically torn apart as a little girl..), I thought that it was normal–and it was–kind of (but then again, not really.) It happens sometimes when I don’t expect it–when i’m not “turned on” in any kind of way–but still feel it coming–literally. Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have sex anymore, I don’t even like to think about my body being properly pleasured in a loving way–because it makes me sad. I think that I will never have that–since I don’t think I ever really have… But a part of me knows I will–that part is still alive. I guess I’m just waiting–for who or what–I don’t know–just some-thing.
    Now I see how it goes–you reach mid-life and realize: hmmmph!–what a crappy dance this has been–and you get into your ugly red sports car and drive away. .
    laughter, my friends, laughter–that is all we can do: laughter!

  4. Susan Smith says

    The Three-Month-Old Newborn

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, my second pregnancy, I knew that I was getting very large and gaining way too much weight. I had gained excessive weight with my first pregnancy, and I wasn’t too surprised that when my son arrived, he weighed over nine pounds. Although I had weighed in at an average weight, my husband came into the world weighing over nine pounds. My mother had also weighed over nine pounds at birth. So, I knew that babies who were above average in weight were in our genes.
    As my due date loomed closer, friends as well as complete strangers started asking if I was expecting twins. No, I said. Our family just produces big babies. I figured this bundle of joy would be about the size of his/her brother.
    After several weeks of sciatic pain, I was relieved to start labor in earnest. Because I was experiencing the symptoms of shock when I arrived at the hospital, I was cocooned in a warm blanket, and I received the epidural that I had requested. This was a more painful, yet shorter labor, than my son, and she came into the world some four hours after we arrived. I was given a shot of ether as her head came through, and when I awoke a few minutes later, both my husband and my obstetrician were jumping for joy. It seems that I had produced a gold medal in the baby Olympics. Kathryn weighed over ten pounds, and she was nearly twenty-two inches in length. Dr. Juscowicz saw to it that an announcement went out over the hospital sound system that he had just delivered a 10 pound, one and a half pound baby girl. I guess he got the gold medal. The shocker, however, was her thick dark brown hair and dark eyebrows – this in a family of blonds and red heads. My husband fell in love once again as he marveled at this perfect girl. She really was the size of a three-month-old and slept through the night almost from the beginning. She was a gift that I didn’t expect.

  5. Carolina Evans-Roman says

    Forever Frozen
    By Carolina Evans-Roman

    I never imagined I would be told I had cancer. Somehow I thought it could never happen to me. The moment is forever frozen in my mind. It was Tuesday a.m., Oct. 20, 2009. My cell phone rang while I was in the middle of a lesson with six first grade students. I was teaching at Prunedale Elementry School as the Title 1 Spanish Literacy Intervention Teacher. I worked with small groups of students who were in most need of literacy instruction. Normally I would have not answered my cell phone, but as I had had a biopsy on my left breast the week before, I was anxiously waiting for a call from my doctor to inform me of the results. I looked at my caller ID and saw that the call was from him. I excused myself and instructed my students to continue writing in their journals. I answered the phone a short distance away where I could still monitor the group. After a minute of phone etiquette, he started to give me the results of the biopsy. I had had two small tumors tested. He began by telling me that the one on the left side of my breast was negative for cancer “but….”, and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I braced myself for the bad news I was about to hear. He continued to tell me that the tumor on the right side of my nipple was malignant. Cancer was growing in my body. I felt a rush to my head and every hair on my head was tingling. At that moment I became aware of six pair of six year-old eyes watching me. I felt like crying and shouting, “no, no”, but had to use restraint for fear of scaring the children. I very calmly made an appointment to see him the next day and hung up. I went on with the lesson hearing my voice very far away. I felt numb. Somehow I was able to successfully block the feelings I initially had when I received the devastating information.
    The students left a short time later and I continued to feel the numbness, not knowing what to do or think. There was no one to share it with. I did not want to tell my children. Could not even think of what I would say. The other teacher with whom I shared the room walked in. She began talking about something that had happened just before, but I could not understand what she was saying. I told her about the call, but still the tears did not come. She hugged me and said supportive things that I still could not understand.
    I remained that way for a couple of months, busying myself with blood tests, x-rays and MIR’s. I attended support groups and still could not cry. I went through surgery and was home recovering when I got another call from my doctor. He said the tests showed that he had not gotten all of the cancer cells and I had to undergo another surgery. Then the tears began to flow. I thought they would never stop. I called my daughter, but could hardly speak. Just then another call buzzed in and I noticed it was from Women’s Care, an agency in our county that provides support for women experiencing cancer. I told my daughter I would call her back and answered the call, still sobbing uncontrollable. It was a counselor from the program calling to inform me of their services. I cried my story. She listened and validated my distress. She shared stories of other women who she knew had had to endure more than one surgery. I began to calm down with her words and knew that I would survive this disease. Other women had gone through what I was experiencing and there were people with whom I could share my fears. When I hung up the phone, I realized that she was indeed an angel for me at my moment of need, one of the first I would meet through my journey with cancer.

  6. mary k says

    Surprise, surprise

    I couldn’t take my eyes off the two lines, the red, deep lines. I was stumped. The advertisements said it was foolproof, so how come I still felt like a fool? Wasn’t this supposed to be the moment that young couples grin widely and embrace with tender togetherness while they envision their lives as a growing family?

    Scratch. That wasn’t my boyfriend or myself. In fact, I wasn’t really expecting to get pregnant. Somewhere, somehow, I thought I wasn’t going to get pregnant. Maybe I figured I was different, different than the close friends who had read those same two lines and had grinned widely. They were young, pregnant, single and not career crazy like I was. I might have thought that I was loftier and falsely smarter, so I guess, my body figured it would snap all of us – brain, loins, heart and all – back into reality. There I sat, on the toilet with two red lines in my hand. Proof positive that my body had other plans.

  7. Bobbie Anne says

    My body is a wonder. It is such a gift to be able to be here on earth living and breathing. This is a poem about massage therapy.
    Massage Therapy

    Strong firm hands
    gently easing tension
    restoring and rejuvenating
    releasing and rerelaxing
    letting the inner self
    come to the surface
    feeling comfortable
    in one’s skin
    stress slowly
    melting away
    it’s sheer bliss
    it feels so good
    to be kneaded (needed)
    My body is giving me joy!

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